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Title: Gov. Bob. Taylor's Tales
Author: Taylor, Robert L.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gov. Bob. Taylor's Tales" ***

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[Illustration]



Gov. Bob. Taylor's Tales.

"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW,"

"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS",

"VISIONS AND DREAMS."

ILLUSTRATED.

    Published by
    DeLONG RICE & COMPANY.
    Nashville, Tenn.



    COPYRIGHTED, 1896.
    _All rights reserved by DeLong Rice & Co._

    UNIVERSITY PRESS CO.,
    NASHVILLE, TENN.



PREFACE.


This volume presents the first publication of the famous lectures
of Governor Robert L. Taylor. His great popularity as an orator and
entertainer, and his wide reputation as a humorist, have caused repeated
inquiries from all sections of the country for his lectures in book
form; and this has given rise to an earlier publication than was
expected.

The lectures are given without the slightest abridgment, just as
delivered from the platform throughout the country. The consecutive
chain of each is left undisturbed; and the idea of paragraphing, and
giving headlines to the various subjects treated, was conceived merely
for the convenience of the reader.

In the dialect of his characters, the melody of his songs, and the
originality of his quaint, but beautiful conceptions, Governor Taylor's
lectures are temples of thought, lighted with windows of fun.

                                                            DELONG RICE.



  Temples of Thought,
     Lighted with
       Windows
       Of Fun.



CONTENTS.


  "THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."                                9
    Cherish the Little Ones                               19
    Fat Men and Bald-Headed Men                           22
    The Poet Laureate of Music                            23
    The Convict and His Fiddle                            25
    A Vision of The Old Field School                      27
    The Quilting and the Old Virginia Reel                36
    The Candy Pulling                                     44
    The Banquet                                           48
    There is Music All Around Us                          53
    The Two Columns.                                      61
    There is a Melody for Every Ear                       63
    Music is the Wine of the Soul                         66
    The Old Time Singing School                           72
    The Grand Opera                                       78
    Music                                                 80


  "THE PARADISE OF FOOLS."                                83
    The Paradise of Childhood                             90
    The Paradise of the Barefooted Boy                    98
    The Paradise of Youth                                104
    The Paradise of Home                                 112
    Bachelor and Widower                                 117
    Phantoms                                             119
    The False Ideal                                      121
    The Circus in the Mountains                          123
    The Phantom of Fortune                               128
    Clocks                                               130
    The Panic                                            133
    Bunk City                                            135
    Your Uncle                                           137
    Fools                                                140
    Blotted Pictures                                     143


  "VISIONS AND DREAMS."                                  147
    The Happy Long Ago                                   151
    Dreams of the Years to Come                          160
    From the Cave-man to the Kiss-o-phone                169
    Dreams                                               175
    Visions of Departed Glory                            178
    Nature's Musicians                                   181
    Preacher's Paradise                                  185
    Brother Estep and the Trumpet                        189
    "Wamper-jaw" at the Jollification                    190
    The Tintinnabulation of the Dinner Bells             193
    Phantoms of the Wine Cup                             196
    The Missing Link                                     197
    Nightmare                                            198
    Infidelity                                           200
    The Dream of God                                     201



"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."


[Illustration]

I heard a great master play on the wondrous violin; his bow quivered
like the wing of a bird; in every quiver there was a melody, and every
melody breathed a thought in language sweeter than was ever uttered by
human tongue. I was conjured, I was mesmerized by his music. I thought I
fell asleep under its power, and was rapt into the realm of visions and
dreams. The enchanted violin broke out in tumult, and through the rifted
shadows in my dream I thought I saw old ocean lashed to fury. The wing
of the storm-god brooded above it, dark and lowering with night and
tempest and war. I heard the shriek of the angry hurricane, the loud
rattling musketry of rain, and hail, and the louder and deadlier crash and
roar of the red artillery on high. Its rumbling batteries, unlimbered on
the vapory heights and manned by the fiery gunners of the storm, boomed
their volleying thunders to the terrible rythm of the strife below. And
in every stroke of the bow fierce lightnings leaped down from their dark
pavilions of cloud, and, like armed angels of light, flashed their
trenchant blades among the phantom squadrons marshalling for battle on
the field of the deep. I heard the bugle blast and battle cry of the
charging winds, wild and exultant, and then I saw the billowy monsters
rise, like an army of Titans, to scale and carry the hostile heights of
heaven. Assailing again and again, as often hurled back headlong into
the ocean's abyss, they rolled, and surged, and writhed, and raged, till
the affrighted earth trembled at the uproar of the warring elements.
I saw the awful majesty and might of Jehovah flying on the wings of
the tempest, planting his footsteps on the trackless deep, veiled in
darkness and in clouds. There was a shifting of the bow; the storm died
away in the distance, and the morning broke in floods of glory. Then the
violin revived and poured out its sweetest soul. In its music I heard
the rustle of a thousand joyous wings, and a burst of song from a
thousand joyous throats. Mockingbirds and linnets thrilled the glad
air with warblings; gold finches, thrushes and bobolinks trilled their
happiest tunes; and the oriole sang a lullaby to her hanging cradle that
rocked in the wind. I heard the twitter of skimming swallows and the
scattered covey's piping call; I heard the robin's gay whistle, the
croaking of crows, the scolding of blue-jays, and the melancholy cooing
of a dove. The swaying tree-tops seemed vocal with bird-song while he
played, and the labyrinths of leafy shade echoed back the chorus. Then
the violin sounded the hunter's horn, and the deep-mouthed pack of fox
hounds opened loud and wild, far in the ringing woods, and it was like
the music of a hundred chiming bells. There was a tremor of the bow,
and I heard a flute play, and a harp, and a golden-mouthed cornet;
I heard the mirthful babble of happy voices, and peals of laughter
ringing in the swelling tide of pleasure. Then I saw a vision of snowy
arms, voluptuous forms, and light fantastic slippered feet, all whirling
and floating in the mazes of the misty dance. The flying fingers now
tripped upon the trembling strings like fairy-feet dancing on the
nodding violets, and the music glided into a still sweeter strain.
The violin told a story of human life. Two lovers strayed beneath the
elms and oaks, and down by the river side, where daffodils and pansies
bend and smile to rippling waves, and there, under the bloom of
incense-breathing bowers, under the soothing sound of humming bees and
splashing waters, there, the old, old story, so old and yet so new,
conceived in heaven, first told in Eden and then handed down through
all the ages, was told over and over again. Ah, those downward drooping
eyes, that mantling blush, that trembling hand in meek submission
pressed, that heaving breast, that fluttering heart, that whispered
"yes," wherein a heaven lies--how well they told of victory won and
paradise regained! And then he swung her in a grapevine swing. Young
man, if you want to win her, wander with her amid the elms and oaks,
and swing her in a grapevine swing.


  "Swinging in the grapevine swing,
   Laughing where the wild birds sing;
   I dream and sigh for the days gone by,
   Swinging in the grapevine swing."


[Illustration: "SWINGING IN THE GRAPEVINE SWING."]


  But swiftly the tides of music run, and swiftly speed the hours;
  Life's pleasures end when scarce begun, e'en as the summer flowers.


The violin laughed like a child and my dream changed again. I saw a
cottage amid the elms and oaks and a little curly-head toddled at the
door; I saw a happy husband and father return from his labors in the
evening and kiss his happy wife and frolic with his baby. The purple
glow now faded from the Western skies; the flowers closed their petals
in the dewy slumbers of the night; every wing was folded in the bower;
every voice was hushed; the full-orbed moon poured silver from the East,
and God's eternal jewels flashed on the brow of night. The scene changed
again while the great master played, and at midnight's holy hour, in the
light of a lamp dimly burning, clad in his long, white mother-hubbard,
I saw the disconsolate victim of love's young dream nervously walking
the floor, in his bosom an aching heart, in his arms the squalling baby.
On the drowsy air, like the sad wails of a lost spirit, fell his woeful
voice singing:

[Illustration: (Sheet Music)]

    With my la-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye ba-by,
    Danc-ing the ba-by ev-er so high; with my
    La-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye ba-by
    Mam-ma will come to you bye and bye.


It was a battle with king colic. But this ancient invader of the empire
of babyhood had sounded a precipitate retreat; the curly head had fallen
over on the paternal shoulder; the tear-stained little face was almost
calm in repose, when down went a naked heel square on an inverted tack.
Over went the work table; down came the work basket, scissors and all;
up went the heel with the tack sticking in it, and the hero of the
daffodils and pansies, with a yell like the Indian war-whoop, and with
his mother-hubbard now floating at half mast, hopped in agony to a lounge
in the rear.

[Illustration: A BATTLE WITH KING COLIC.]

There was "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" there were hoarse mutterings;
there was an angry shake of the screaming baby, which he had awakened
again. Then I heard an explosion of wrath from the warm blankets of the
conjugal couch, eloquent with the music of "how dare you shake my little
baby that way!!!! I'll tell pa to-morrow!" which instantly brought the
trained husband into line again, singing:

  "La-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, dancing the baby ever so high,
  With my la-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, mamma will come to you bye and bye."


The paregoric period of life is full of spoons and midnight squalls, but
what is home without a baby?

The bow now brooded like a gentle spirit over the violin, and the music
eddied into a mournful tone; another year intervened; a little coffin
sat by an empty cradle; the prints of baby fingers were on the window
panes; the toys were scattered on the floor; the lullaby was hushed; the
sobs and cries, the mirth and mischief, and the tireless little feet
were no longer in the way to vex and worry. Sunny curls drooped above
eyelids that were closed forever; two little cheeks were bloodless and
cold, and two little dimpled hands were folded upon a motionless breast.
The vibrant instrument sighed and wept; it rang the church bell's knell;
and the second story of life, which is the sequel to the first, was told.

Then I caught glimpses of a half-veiled paradise and a sweet breath from
its flowers; I saw the hazy stretches of its landscapes, beautiful and
gorgeous as Mahomet's vision of heaven; I heard the faint swells of its
distant music and saw the flash of white wings that never weary, wafting
to the bosom of God an infant spirit; a string snapped; the music ended;
my vision vanished.

The old Master is dead, but his music will live forever.



CHERISH THE LITTLE ONES.


Do you sometimes forget and wound the hearts of your children with
frowns and the dagger of cruel words, and sometimes with a blow?
Do you sometimes, in your own peevishness, and your own meanness, wish
yourself away from their fretful cries and noisy sports? Then think that
to-morrow may ripen the wicked wish; tomorrow death may lay his hand
upon a little fluttering heart and it will be stilled forever. 'Tis then
you will miss the sunbeam and the sweet little flower that reflected
heaven on the soul. Then cherish the little ones! Be tender with the
babes! Make your homes beautiful! All that remains to us of paradise
lost, clings about the home. Its purity, its innocence, its virtue,
are there, untainted by sin, unclouded by guile. There woman shines,
scarcely dimmed by the fall, reflecting the loveliness of Eden's first
wife and mother; the grace, the beauty, the sweetness of the wifely
relation, the tenderness of maternal affection, the graciousness of
manner which once charmed angel guests, still glorify the home.

If you would make your homes happy, you must make the children happy.
Get down on the floor with your prattling boys and girls and play horse
with them; take them on your back and gallop them to town; don't kick up
and buck, but be a good and gentle old steed, and join in a hearty horse
laugh in their merriment. Take the baby on your knee and gallop him to
town; let him practice gymnastics on top of your head and take your
scalp; let him puncture a hole in your ear with his little teeth, and
bite off the end of the paternal nose. Make your homes beautiful with
your duty and your love, make them bright with your mirth and your
music.

Victor Hugo said of Napoleon the Great: "The frontiers of kingdoms
oscillated on the map. The sound of a super-human sword being drawn from
its scabbard could be heard; and he was seen, opening in the thunder his
two wings, the Grand Army and the Old Guard; he was the archangel of
war." And when I read it I thought of the death and terror that followed
wherever the shadow of the open wings fell. I thought of the blood that
flowed, and the tears that were shed wherever the sword gleamed in his
hand. I thought of the human skulls that paved Napoleon's way to St.
Helena's barren rock, and I said, 'I would rather dwell in a log cabin,
in the beautiful land of the mountains where I was born and reared, and
sit at its humble hearthstone at night, and in the firelight, play the
humble rural tunes on the fiddle to my happy children, and bask in the
smiles of my sweet wife, than to be the 'archangel of war,' with my
hands stained with human blood, or to make the 'frontiers of kingdoms
oscillate on the map of the world, and then, away from home and kindred
and country, die at last in exile and in solitude.'



FAT MEN AND BALD-HEADED MEN.


It ought to be the universal law that none but fat men and bald-headed
men should be the heads of families, because they are always good
natured, contented and easily managed. There is more music in a fat
man's laugh than there is in a thousand orchestras or brass bands.
Fat sides and bald heads are the symbols of music, innocence, and meek
submission. O! ladies listen to the words of wisdom! Cultivate the
society of fat men and bald-headed men, for "of such is the Kingdom of
Heaven." And the fat women, God bless their old sober sides--they are
"things of beauty, and a joy forever."



THE VIOLIN, THE POET LAUREATE OF MUSIC.


How sweet are the lips of morning that kiss the waking world! How sweet
is the bosom of night that pillows the world to rest. But sweeter than
the lips of morning, and sweeter than the bosom of night, is the voice
of music that wakes a world of joys and soothes a world of sorrows.
It is like some unseen ethereal ocean whose silver surf forever breaks
in song; forever breaks on valley, hill, and craig, in ten thousand
symphonies. There is a melody in every sunbeam, a sunbeam in every
melody; there is a flower in every song, a love song in every flower;
there is a sonnet in every gurgling fountain, a hymn in every brimming
river, an anthem in every rolling billow. Music and light are twin
angels of God, the first-born of heaven, and mortal ear and mortal eye
have caught only the echo and the shadow of their celestial glories.

The violin is the poet laureate of music; violin of the virtuoso and
master, _fiddle_ of the untutored in the ideal art. It is the aristocrat
of the palace and the hall; it is the _democrat_ of the unpretentious
home and humble cabin. As violin, it weaves its garlands of roses and
camelias; as fiddle it scatters its modest violets. It is admired by the
cultured for its magnificent powers and wonderful creations; it is loved
by the millions for its simple melodies.



THE CONVICT AND HIS FIDDLE.


One bright morning, just before Christmas day, an official stood in
the Executive chamber in my presence as Governor of Tennessee, and
said: "Governor, I have been implored by a poor miserable wretch in
the penitentiary to bring you this rude fiddle. It was made by his own
hands with a penknife during the hours allotted to him for rest. It is
absolutely valueless, it is true, but it is his petition to you for
mercy. He begged me to say that he has neither attorneys nor influential
friends to plead for him; that he is poor, and all he asks is, that when
the Governor shall sit at his own happy fireside on Christmas eve, with
his own happy children around him, he will play one tune on this rough
fiddle and think of a cabin far away in the mountains whose hearthstone
is cold and desolate and surrounded by a family of poor little wretched,
ragged children, crying for bread and waiting and listening for the
footsteps of their father."

Who would not have been touched by such an appeal? The record was
examined; Christmas eve came; the Governor sat that night at his own
happy fireside, surrounded by his own happy children; and he played one
tune to them on that rough fiddle. The hearthstone of the cabin in the
mountains was bright and warm; a pardoned prisoner sat with his baby on
his knee, surrounded by _his_ rejoicing children, and in the presence of
_his_ happy wife, and although there was naught but poverty around him,
his heart sang: "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;" and
then he reached up and snatched his fiddle down from the wall, and
played "Jordan is a hard road to travel."



A VISION OF THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL.


Did you never hear a fiddler fiddle? I have. I heard a fiddler fiddle,
and the hey-dey-diddle of his frolicking fiddle called back the happy
days of my boyhood. The old field schoolhouse with its batten doors
creaking on wooden hinges, its windows innocent of glass, and its great,
yawning fireplace, cracking and roaring and flaming like the infernal
regions, rose from the dust of memory and stood once more among the
trees. The limpid spring bubbled and laughed at the foot of the hill.
Flocks of nimble, noisy boys turned somersaults and skinned the cat and
ran and jumped half hammon on the old play ground. The grim old teacher
stood in the door; he had no brazen-mouthed bell to ring then as we have
now, but he shouted at the top of his voice: "Come to books!!!" And they
came. Not to come meant "war and rumors of war." The backless benches,
high above the floor, groaned under the weight of irrepressible young
America; the multitude of mischievous, shining faces, the bare legs and
feet, swinging to and fro, and the mingled hum of happy voices, spelling
aloud life's first lessons, prophesied the future glory of the State.
The curriculum of the old field school was the same everywhere--one
Webster's blue backed, elementary spelling book, one thumb-paper, one
stone-bruise, one sore toe, and Peter Parley's Travels.

The grim old teacher, enthroned on his split bottomed chair, looked
terrible as an army with banners; and he presided with a dignity and
solemnity which would have excited the envy of the United States Supreme
Court: I saw the school commissioners visit him, and heard them question
him as to his system of teaching. They asked him whether, in geography,
he taught that the world was round, or that the world was flat. With
great dignity he replied: "That depends upon whar I'm teachin'. If my
patrons desire me to teach the round system, I teach it; if they desire
me to teach the flat system, I teach that."

At the old field school I saw the freshman class, barefooted and with
pantaloons rolled up to the knees, stand in line under the ever uplifted
rod, and I heard them sing the never-to-be-forgotten b-a ba's. They sang
them in the _olden_ times, and this is the way they sang: "b-a ba, b-e
be, b-i bi-ba be bi, b-o bo, b-u bu-ba be bi bo bu."

I saw a sophomore dance a jig to the music of a dogwood sprout for
throwing paper wads. I saw a junior compelled to stand on the dunce
block, on one foot--(_a la_ gander) for winking at his sweetheart in
time of books, for failing to know his lessons, and for "various and
sundry other high crimes and misdemeanors."

A twist of the fiddler's bow brought a yell from the fiddle, and in
my dream, I saw the school come pouring out into the open air. Then
followed the games of "prisoner's base," "town-ball," "Antney-over;"
"bull-pen" and "knucks," the hand to hand engagements with yellow
jackets, the Bunker Hill and Brandywine battles with bumblebees, the
charges on flocks of geese, the storming of apple orchards and hornet's
nests, and victories over hostile "setting" hens. Then I witnessed the
old field school "Exhibition"--the _wonderful_ "exhibition"--they call
it Commencement now. Did you never witness an old field school
"exhibition," far out in the country, and listen to its music? If you
have not your life is a failure--you are a broken string in the harp of
the universe. The old field school "exhibition" was the parade ground of
the advance guard of civilization; it was the climax of great events in
the olden times; and vast assemblies were swayed by the eloquence of the
budding sockless statesmen. It was at the old field school "exhibition"
that the goddess of liberty always received a broken nose, and the
poetic muse a black eye; it was at the old field school "exhibition"
that _Greece_ and _Rome_ rose and fell, in seas of gore, about every
fifteen minutes in the day, and,

  The American eagle, with unwearied flight,
  Soared upward and upward, till he soared out of sight.


It was at the old field school "exhibition" that the fiddle and the bow
immortalized themselves. When the frowning old teacher advanced on the
stage and nodded for silence, instantly there _was_ silence in the vast
assembly; and when the corps of country fiddlers, "one of which I was
often whom," seated on the stage, hoisted the black flag, and rushed
into the dreadful charge on "Old Dan Tucker," or "Arkansas Traveller,"
the spectacle was sublime. Their heads swung time; their bodies rocked
time; their feet patted time; the muscles of their faces twitched
time; their eyes winked time; their teeth ground time. The whizzing
bows and screaming fiddles electrified the audience who cheered at every
brilliant turn in the charge of the fiddlers. The good women laughed for
joy; the men winked at each other and popped their fists; it was like
the charge of the Old Guard at Waterloo, or a battle with a den of
snakes. Upon the completion of the grand overture of the fiddlers the
brilliant programme of the "exhibition," which usually lasted all day,
opened with "Mary had a little lamb;" and it gathered fury until it
reached Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!!!" The
programme was interspersed with compositions by the girls, from the
simple subject of "flowers," including "blessings brighten as they take
their flight," up to "every cloud has a silver lining;" and it was
interlarded with frequent tunes by the fiddlers from early morn till
close of day.

[Illustration: MUSIC OF THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL EXHIBITION.]

Did you never hear the juvenile orator of the old field school speak?
He was not dressed like a United States Senator; but he was dressed with
a view to disrobing for bed, and completing his morning toilet instantly;
both of which he performed during the acts of ascending and descending
the stairs. His uniform was very simple. It consisted of one pair of
breeches rolled up to the knees, with one patch on the "western
hemisphere," one little shirt with one button at the top, one "gallus,"
and one invalid straw hat. His straw hat stood guard over his place on
the bench, while he was delivering his great speech at the "exhibition."
With great dignity and eclat, the old teacher advanced on the stage and
introduced him to the expectant audience, and he came forward like a
cyclone.

[Illustration: THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL ORATOR.]

"The boy stood on the burnin' deck whence all but him had fled----The
flames that lit the battle's wreck shown 'round him o'er the dead,
yet beautiful and bright he stood----the boy stood on the burnin'
deck----and he wuz the bravest boy that ever wuz. His father told him to
keep a-stan'in' there till he told him to git off'n there, and the boy
he jist kep' a stan'in' there----and fast the flames rolled on----The
old man went down stairs in the ship to see about sump'n, an' he got
killed down there, an' the boy he didn't know it, an' he jist kept a
stan'in' there----an' fast the flames rolled on. He cried aloud: "say
father, say, if _yit_ my task is done," but his father wuz dead an'
couldn't hear 'im, an' the boy he jist kep' a stan'in' there----an' fast
the flames rolled on.----They caught like flag banners in the sky, an'
at last the ol' biler busted, an' the boy he went up!!!!!!!!"

At the close of this great speech the fiddle fainted as dead as a
herring.



THE QUILTING AND THE OLD VIRGINIA REEL.


The old fiddler took a fresh chew of long, green tobacco, and rosined
his bow. He glided off into "Hop light ladies, your cake's all dough,"
and then I heard the watch dog's honest bark. I heard the guinea's merry
"pot-rack." I heard a cock crow. I heard the din of happy voices in the
"big house" and the sizz and songs of boiling kettles in the kitchen.
It was an old time quilting--the May-day of the glorious ginger cake and
cider era of the American Republic; and the needle was mightier than the
sword. The pen of Jefferson announced to the world, the birth of the
child of the ages; the sword of Washington defended it in its cradle,
but it would have perished there had it not been for the brave women of
that day who plied the needle and made the quilts that warmed it, and
who nursed it and rocked it through the perils of its infancy, into
the strength of a giant. The quilt was attached to a quadrangular frame
suspended from the ceiling; and the good women sat around it and quilted
the live-long day, and were courted by the swains between stitches. At
sunset the quilt was always finished; a cat was thrown into the center
of it, and the happy maiden nearest to whom the escaping "kitty-puss"
passed was sure to be the first to marry.

Then followed the groaning supper table, surrounded by giggling
girls, bashful young men and gossipy old matrons who monopolized the
conversation. There was a warm and animated discussion among the old
ladies as to what was the most delightful product of the garden.
One old lady said, that so "fur" as she was "consarned," she preferred
the "per-turnip"--another preferred the "pertater"--another the
"cow-cumber," and still another voted "ingern" king. But suddenly a wise
looking old dame raised her spectacles and settled the whole question by
observing: "Ah, ladies, you may talk about yer per-turnips, and your
pertaters, and your passnips and other gyardin sass, but the sweetest
wedgetable that ever melted on these ol' gums o' mine is the 'possum."

At length the feast was ended, the old folks departed and the fun and
frolic began in earnest at the quilting. Old uncle "Ephraham" was an old
darkey in the neighborhood, distinguished for calling the figures for
all the dances, for miles and miles around. He was a tall, raw-boned,
angular old darkey with a very bald head, and a great deal of white in
his eyes. He had thick, heavy lips and a very flat nose. I will tell
you a little story of uncle "Ephraham." He lived alone in his cabin,
as many of the old time darkeys lived, and his 'possum dog lived with
him. One evening old uncle "Ephraham" came home from his labors and
took his 'possum dog into the woods and soon caught a fine, large,
fat 'possum. He brought him home and dressed him; and then he slipped
into his master's garden and stole some fine, large, fat sweet
potatoes--("Master's nigger, Master's taters,") and he washed the
potatoes and split them and piled them in the oven around the 'possum.
He set the oven on the red hot coals and put the lid on, and covered
it with red hot coals, and then sat down in the corner and nodded and
breathed the sweet aroma of the baking 'possum, till it was done. Then
he set it out into the middle of the floor, and took the lid off, and
sat down by the smoking 'possum and soliloquized: "Dat's de fines' job
ob bakin' 'possum I evah has done in my life, but dat 'possum's too
hot to eat yit. I believes I'll jis lay down heah by 'im an' take a nap
while he's coolin', an' maybe I'll dream about eat'n 'im, an' den I'll
git up an' eat 'im, an' I'll git de good uv dat 'possum boaf times
dat-a-way." So he lay down on the floor, and in a moment he was sleeping
as none but the old time darkey could sleep, as sweetly as a babe in
its mother's arms. Old Cye was another old darkey in the neighborhood,
prowling around. He poked his head in at "Ephraham's" door ajar, and
took in the whole situation at a glance. Cye merely remarked to himself:
"I loves 'possum myself." And he slipped in on his tip-toes and picked
up the 'possum and ate him from tip to tail, and piled the bones down by
sleeping "Ephraham;" he ate the sweet potatoes and piled the hulls down
by the bones; then he reached into the oven and got his hand full of
'possum grease and rubbed it on "Ephraham's" lips and cheeks and chin,
and then folded his tent and silently stole away. At length "Ephraham"
awoke--"Sho' nuf, sho' nuf--jist as I expected; I dreampt about eat'n
dat 'possum an' it wuz de sweetest dream I evah has had yit." He looked
around, but empty was the oven--"'possum gone." "Sho'ly to de Lo'd,"
said "Ephraham," "I nuvvah eat dat 'possum while I wuz a dreamin' about
eat'n 'im." He poked his tongue out--"Yes, dat's 'possum grease sho,--I
s'pose I eat dat 'possum while I wuz a dreamin' about eat'n 'im, but ef
I did eat 'im, he sets lighter on my constitution an' has less influence
wid me dan any 'possum I evah has eat in my bo'n days."

Old uncle "Ephraham" was present at the country dance in all his glory.
He was attired in his master's old claw-hammer coat, a very buff vest,
a high standing collar the corners of which stood out six inches from
his face, striped pantaloons that fitted as tightly as a kid glove, and
he wore number fourteen shoes. He looked as though he were born to call
the figures of the dance. The fiddler was a young man with long legs,
a curving back, and a neck of the crane fashion, embellished with an
Adam's apple which made him look as though he had made an unsuccessful
effort to swallow his own head. But he was a very important personage
at the dance. With great dignity he unwound his bandana handkerchief
from his old fiddle and proceeded to tune for the fray.

Did you never hear a country fiddler tune his fiddle? He tuned, and he
tuned, and he tuned. He tuned for fifteen minutes, and it was like a
melodious frog pond during a shower of rain.

At length uncle "Ephraham" shouted: "Git yo' pardners for a
cow-tillion."

The fiddler struck an attitude, and after countless yelps from his eager
strings, he glided off into that sweet old Southern air of "Old Uncle
Ned," as though he were mauling rails or feeding a threshing machine.
Uncle "Ephraham" sang the chorus with the fiddle before he began to call
the figures of the dance:

  "Lay down de shovel an' de hoe--hoe--hoe, hang up de fiddle an'
           de bow,
   For dar's no mo' work for poor ol' Ned--he's gone whar de good
           niggahs go."


Then, drawing himself up to his full height, he began! "Honah yo'
pardnahs! swing dem co'nahs--swing yo' pardnahs! fust couple for'd an'
back! half right an' leff fru! back agin! swing dem co'nahs--swing yo'
pardnahs! nex' couple for'd an' back! half right and leff fru! back agin!
swing dem co'nahs--swing yo' pardnahs! fust couple to de right--lady in
de centah--han's all around--suhwing!!!--nex' couple suhwing!!! nex'
couple suhwing!!! suh-wing, suh-wing, suh-wing!!!!!!"

[Illustration: UNCLE "EPHRAHAM" CALLING THE FIGURES OF THE DANCE.]

About this time an angry lad who had been jilted by his sweetheart,
shied a fresh egg from without; it struck "Ephraham" square between the
eyes and broke and landed on his upper lip. Uncle "Ephraham" yelled:
"Stop de music--stop de dance--let de whole circumstances of dis
occasion come to a stan' still till I finds out who it is a scram'lin
eggs aroun' heah."

And then the dancing subsided for the candy-pulling.



THE CANDY PULLING


The sugar was boiling in the kettles, and while it boiled the boys and
girls played "snap," and "eleven hand," and "thimble," and "blindfold,"
and another old play which some of our older people will remember:

  "Oh! Sister Phoebe, how merry were we,
   When we sat under the juniper tree--
   The juniper tree-I-O."


And when the sugar had boiled down into candy they emptied it into
greased saucers, or as the mountain folks called them, "greased
sassers," and set it out to cool; and when it had cooled each boy and
girl took a saucer; and they pulled the taffy out and patted it and
rolled it till it hung well together; and then they pulled it out a foot
long; they pulled it out a yard long; and they doubled it back, and
pulled it out; and when it began to look like gold the sweethearts
paired off and consolidated their taffy and pulled against each other.
They pulled it out and doubled it back, and looped it over, and pulled
it out; and sometimes a peachblow cheek touched a bronzed one; and
sometimes a sweet little voice spluttered out; "you Jack;" and there was
a suspicious smack like a cow pulling her foot out of stiff mud. They
pulled the candy and laughed and frolicked; the girls got taffy on their
hair--the boys got taffy on their chins; the girls got taffy on their
waists--the boys got taffy on their coat sleeves. They pulled it till
it was as bright as a moonbeam, and then they platted it and coiled it
into fantastic shapes and set it out in the crisp air to cool. Then the
courting in earnest began. They did not court then as the young folks
court now. The young man led his sweetheart back into a dark corner
and sat down by her, and held her hand for an hour, and never said
a word. But it resulted next year in more cabins on the hillsides and
in the hollows; and in the years that followed the cabins were full of
candy-haired children who grew up into a race of the best, the bravest,
and the noblest people the sun in heaven ever shone upon.

In the bright, bright hereafter, when all the joys of all the ages are
gathered up and condensed into globules of transcendent ecstacy, I doubt
whether there will be anything half so sweet as were the candy-smeared,
ruby lips of the country maidens to the jeans-jacketed swains who tasted
them at the candy-pulling in the happy long ago.


(Sung by Gov. Taylor to air of "Down on the Farm.")

  In the happy long ago,
  When I used to draw the bow,
  At the old log cabin hearthstone all aglow,
  Oh! the fiddle laughed and sung,
  And the puncheons fairly rung,
  With the clatter of the shoe soles long ago.

  Oh! the merry swings and whirls
  Of the happy boys and girls,
  In the good old time cotillion long ago!
  Oh! they danced the highland fling,
  And they cut the pigeon wing,
  To the music of the fiddle and the bow.

  But the mischief and the mirth,
  And the frolics 'round the hearth,
  And the flitting of the shadows to and fro,
  Like a dream have passed away--
  Now I'm growing old and gray,
  And I'll soon hang up the fiddle and the bow.

  When a few more notes I've made,
  When a few more tunes I've played,
  I'll be sleeping where the snowy daises grow.
  But my griefs will all be o'er
  When I reach the happy shore,
  Where I'll greet the friends who loved me long ago.


Oh! how sweet, how precious to us all are the memories of the happy long
ago!

[Illustration: THE OLD VIRGINIA REEL.]



THE BANQUET.


Let us leave the "egg flip" of the country dance, and take a bowl of
egg-nog at the banquet. It was a modern banquet for men only. Music
flowed; wine sparkled; the night was far spent--it was in the wee sma'
hours. The banquet was given by Col. Punk who was the promoter of a town
boom, and who had persuaded the banqueters that "there were millions
in it." He had purchased some old sedge fields on the outskirts of
creation, from an old squatter on the domain of Dixie, at three dollars
an acre; and had stocked them at three hundred dollars an acre. The old
squatter was a partner with the Colonel, and with his part of the boodle
nicely done up in his wallet, was present with bouyant hopes and
feelings high. Countless yarns were spun; numberless jokes passed 'round
the table until, in the ecstacy of their joy, the banqueters rose from
the table and clinked their glasses together, and sang to chorus:

  "Landlord, fill the flowing bowl
   Until it doth run over;
   Landlord fill the flowing bowl
   Until it doth run over;
   For to-night we'll merry merry be,
   For to-night we'll merry merry be,
   For to-night we'll merry merry be;
   And to-morrow we'll get sober."


The whole banquet was drunk (as banquets usually are), and the principal
stockholders finally succumbed to the music of "Old Kentucky Bourbon,"
and sank to sleep under the table. The last toast on the programme was
announced. It was a wonderful toast--"Our mineral resources:" The old
squatter rose in his glory, about three o'clock in the morning, to
respond to this toast, and thus he responded:

"Mizzer Churman and Gent-tul-men of the Banquet: I have never made
mineralogy a study, nor zoology, nor any other kind of 'ology,' but
if there haint m-i-n-e-r-l in the deestrick which you gent-tul-men
have jist purchased from me at sitch magnifercent figers, then the
imagernation of man is a deception an' a snare. But gent-tul-men, you
caint expect to find m-i-n-e-r-l without plenty uv diggin'. I have been
diggin' thar for the past forty year fur it, an' haint never struck it
yit, I hope you gen-tul-men will strike it some time endurin' the next
forty year." Here, with winks and blinks and clinched teeth, the old
Colonel pulled his coat tail; he was spoiling the town boom. But he
would not down. He continued in the same eloquent strain: "Gent-tul-men,
you caint expect to find m-i-n-e-r-l without plenty uv diggin.' You
caint expect to find nothin' in this world without plenty uv diggin'.
There is no excellence without labor gent-tul-men. If old Vanderbilt
hadn't a-been persevering in his pertickler kind uv dig-gin', whar would
he be to-day? He wouldn't now be a rich man, a-ridin' the billers of old
ocean in his magnifercent 'yatchet.' If I hadn't a-been perseverin',
an' hadn't a-kep on a-dig-gin' an' a-diggin, whar would I have been
to-day? I mout have been seated like you gent-tul-men, at this
stupenduous banquet, with my pockets full of watered stock, and some
other old American citizen mout have been deliverin' this eulogy on our
m-i-n-e-r-l resources. Gent-tul-men, my injunction to you is never to
stop diggin'. And while you're a-diggin', cultivate a love for the
beautiful, the true and the good. Speakin' of the beautiful, the true,
and the good, gent-tul-men, let us not forgit woman at this magnifercent
banquet--Oh! woman, woman, woman! when the mornin' stars sung together
for joy--an' woman--God bless 'er----Great God, feller citerzens, caint
you understand!!!!"

[Illustration: THE BANQUET.]

At the close of this great speech the curtain fell to slow music, and
there was a panic in land stocks.



THERE IS MUSIC ALL AROUND US.


There is music all around us, there is music everywhere. There is no
music so sweet to the American ear as the music of politics. There is
nothing that kindles the zeal of a modern patriot to a whiter heat than
the prospect of an office; there is nothing that cools it off so quickly
as the fading out of that prospect.

I stood on the stump in Tennessee as a candidate for Governor, and thus
I cut my eagle loose: "Fellow Citizens, we live in the grandest country
in the world. It stretches

  From Maine's dark pines and crags of snow
  To where magnolia breezes blow;


It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the east, to the Pacific Ocean
on the west"--and an old fellow jumped up in my crowd and threw his hat
in the air and shouted: "Let 'er stretch, durn 'er--hurrah for the
Dimocrat Party."

An old Dutchman had a beautiful boy of whom he was very proud; and
he decided to find out the bent of his mind. He adopted a very novel
method by which to test him. He slipped into the little fellow's room
one morning and placed on his table a Bible, a bottle of whiskey, and
a silver dollar. "Now," said he, "Ven dot boy comes in, ef he dakes dot
dollar, he's goin' to be a beeznis man; ef he dakes dot Bible he'll
be a breacher; ef he dakes dot vwiskey, he's no goot--he's goin' to
be a druenkart." and he hid behind the door to see which his son would
choose. In came the boy whistling. He ran up to the table and picked up
the dollar and put it in his pocket; he picked up the Bible and put it
under his arm; then he snatched up the bottle of whiskey and took two or
three drinks, and went out smacking his lips. The old Dutchman poked his
head out from behind the door and exclaimed: "Mine Got--he's goin' to be
a bolitician."

There is no music like the music of political discussion. I have heard
almost a thousand political discussions. I heard the great debate
between Blaine and Ben Hill; I heard the angry coloquies between Roscoe
Conkling and Lamar; I have heard them on down to the humblest in the
land. But I prefer to give you a scrap of one which occurred in my own
native mountains. It was a race for the Legislature in a mountain county,
between a straight Democrat and a straight Republican. The mountaineers
had gathered at the county site to witness the great debate. The
Republican spoke first. He was about six feet two in his socks, as slim
as a bean pole, with a head about the size of an ordinary tin cup and
very bald, and he lisped. Webster in all his glory in the United States
Senate never appeared half so great or half so wise. Thus he opened the
debate:

"F-e-l-l-o-w T-h-i-t-i-t-h-e-n-s: I come befo' you to-day ath a
Republikin candidate, fer to reprethent you in the lower branch uv
the Legithlachah. And, fellow thitithens, ef I thould thay thumpthin
conthernin' my own carreckter, I hope you will excuthe me. I sprung frum
one of the humbletht cabins in all thith lovely land uv thweet liberty;
and many a mornin' I have jumped out uv my little trundle bed onto the
puncheon floor, and pulled the splinterth and the bark off uv the wall
of our 'umble cabin, for to make a fire for my weakley parenth. Fellow
thitithenth, I never had no chanthe. All that I am to-day I owe to my
own egtherthionth!! and that aint all. When the cloud of war thwept like
a bethom of destructhion over this land uv thweet liberty, me and my
connecthion thouldered our musketh and marched forth on the bloody
battlefield to fight for your thweet liberty! Fellow thitithenth, if you
can trust me in the capathity uv a tholjer, caint you trust me in the
capathity uv the Legithlature? I ask my old Dimocrat competitor for to
tell you whar he wath when war shook thith continent from its thenter to
its circumputh! I have put thith quethtion to him on every stump, and
he's ath thilent ath an oysthter. Fellow citithenth, I am a Republikin
from printhiple. I believe in every thing the Republikin Party has
ever done, and every thing the Republikin Party ever expecthts to do.
Fellow thitithenth, I am in favor of a high protective tarriff for the
protecthion of our infant induthtreth which are only a hundred yearth
old; and fellow thitithenth, I am in favor of paying of a penthun to
every tholjer that fit in the Federal army, while he lives, and after
hethe dead, I'm in favor of paying uv it to hith Exthecutor or hith
Adminithtrator."

He took his seat amid great applause on the Republican side of the
house, and the old Democrat who was a much older man, came forward
like a roaring lion, to join issue in the great debate, and thus he
"joined:"

"Feller Citerzuns, I come afore you as a Dimocrat canderdate, fur to
ripresent you in the lower branch of the house of the Ligislator. And
fust and fomust, hit becomes my duty fer to tell you whar I stand on the
great queshtuns which is now a-agitatin' of the public mind! Fust an'
fomust, feller citerzuns, I am a Dimocrat inside an' out, up one side
an' down tother, independent defatigly. My competitor axes me whar I wuz
endurin' the war--Hit's none uv his bizness whar I wuz. He says he wuz
a-fightin' fer yore sweet liberty. Ef he didn't have no more sense than
to stand before them-thar drotted bung-shells an' cannon, that's his
bizness, an' hit's my bizness whar I wuz. I think I have answered him
on that pint.

"Now, feller citerzuns, I'll tell you what I'm fur. I am in favor uv
payin' off this-here drotted tariff an' stoppin' of it; an' I'm in favor
of collectin' jist enuf of rivenue fur to run the Government ekernomical
administered, accordin' to Andy Jackson an' the Dimocrat flatform. My
competitor never told you that he got wounded endurin' the war. Whar did
he git hit at? That's the pint in this canvass. He got it in the back,
a-leadin' of the revance guard on the retreat--that's whar he got it."

This charge precipitated a personal encounter between the candidates,
and the meeting broke up in a general battle, with brickbats and tan
bark flying in the air.

It would be difficult, for those reared amid the elegancies and
refinements of life in city and town, to appreciate the enjoyments of
the gatherings and merry-makings of the great masses of the people who
live in the rural districts of our country. The historian records the
deeds of the great; he consigns to fame the favored few; but leaves
unwritten the short and simple annals of the poor--the lives and actions
of the millions.

The modern millionaire, as he sweeps through our valleys and around our
hills in his palace car, ought not to look with derision on the cabins
of America, for from their thresholds have come more brains and courage
and true greatness than ever eminated from all the palaces of this
world.

The fiddle, the rifle, the axe, and the Bible, symbolizing music,
prowess, labor, and free religion, the four grand forces of our
civilization, were the trusty friends and faithful allies of our
pioneer ancestry in subduing the wilderness and erecting the great
Commonwealths of the Republic. Wherever a son of freedom pushed his
perilous way into the savage wilds and erected his log cabin, these were
the cherished penates of his humble domicile--the rifle in the rack
above the door, the axe in the corner, the Bible on the table, and the
fiddle with its streamers of ribbon, hanging on the wall. Did he need
the charm of music, to cheer his heart, to scatter sunshine, and drive
away melancholy thoughts, he touched the responsive strings of his
fiddle and it burst into laughter. Was he beset by skulking savages, or
prowling beasts of prey, he rushed to his deadly rifle for protection
and relief. Had he the forest to fell, and the fields to clear, his
trusty axe was in his stalwart grasp. Did he need the consolation, the
promises and precepts of religion to strengthen his faith, to brighten
his hope, and to anchor his soul to God and heaven, he held sweet
communion with the dear old Bible.

The glory and strength of the Republic today are its plain working
people.

  "Princes and Lords may flourish and may fade,
   A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
   But an honest yeomanry--a Country's pride,
   When once destroyed, can never be supplied;"


Long live the common people of America! Long live the fiddle and the
bow, the symbols of their mirth and merriment!



THE TWO COLUMNS.


Music wooes, and leads the human race ever onward, and there are two
columns that follow her. One is the happy column, ringing with laughter
and song. Its line of march is strewn with roses; it is hedged on either
side by happy homes and smiling faces. The other is the column of
sorrow, moaning with suffering and distress. I saw an aged mother with
her white locks and wrinkled face, swoon at the Governor's feet; I saw
old men tottering on the staff, with broken hearts and tear stained
faces, and heard them plead for their wayward boys. I saw a wife and
seven children, clad in rags, and bare-footed, in mid-winter, fall upon
their knees around him who held the pardoning power. I saw a little
girl climb upon the Governor's knee, and put her arms around his neck;
I heard her ask him if he had little girls; then I saw her sob upon his
bosom as though her little heart would break, and heard her plead for
mercy for her poor, miserable, wretched, convict father. I saw want,
and woe, and poverty, and trouble, and distress, and suffering, and
agony, and anguish, march in solemn procession before the Gubernatorial
door; and I said: "Let the critics frown and rail, let this heartless
world condemn, but he who hath power and doth not temper justice with
mercy, will cry in vain himself for mercy on that great day when the two
columns shall meet! For, thank God, the stream of happy humanity that
rolls on like a gleaming river, and the stream of the suffering and
distressed and ruined of this earth, both empty into the same great
ocean of eternity and mingle like the waters, and there is a God who
shall judge the merciful and the unmerciful!"



THERE IS A MELODY FOR EVERY EAR.

[Illustration: THE MID-NIGHT SERENADE.]


The multitudinous harmonies of this world differ in pathos and pitch as
the stars differ, one from another, in glory. There is a style for every
taste, a melody for every ear. The gabble of geese is music to the goose;
the hoot of the hoot-owl is lovlier to his mate than the nightingale's
lay; the concert of Signor "Tomasso Cataleny" and Mademoiselle "Pussy"
awakeneth the growling old bachelor from his dreams, and he throweth his
boquets of bootjacks and superannuated foot gear.

The peripatetic gentleman from Italy asks no loftier strain than the
tune of his hand organ and the jingle of the nickels, "the tribute of
the Cæsars."

The downy-lipped boy counts the explosion of a kiss on the cheek of his
darling "dul-ci-ni-a del To-bo-so" sweeter than an echo from paradise;
and it is said that older folks like its music.

The tintinnabulations of the wife's curtain lecture are too precious to
the enraptured husband to be shared with other ears. And in the hush of
the bed-time hour, when tired daddies are seeking repose in the oblivion
of sleep, the unearthly bangs on the grand piano below in the parlor,
and the unearthly screams and yells of the budding prima donna, as she
sings to her admiring beau:

[Illustration: (Sheet Music)]

  "Men may come and men may go, but
   I go on 'for-ev-oor' 'ev-oor'
   I go on 'for-ev-o-o-r' 'e-v-o-o-r'
   I go on 'for-ev-oor.'"


It is a thing of beauty, and a "nightmare" forever.



MUSIC IS THE WINE OF THE SOUL.


Music is the wine of the soul. It is the exhileration of the palace;
it is the joy of the humblest home; it sparkles and glows in the
banquet hall; it is the inspiration of the church. Music inspires every
gradation of humanity, from the orangoutang and the cane-sucking dude
with the single eye glass, _up to man_.

There was "a sound of revelry by night," where youth and beauty were
gathered in the excitement of the raging ball. The ravishing music of
the orchestra charmed from the street a red nosed old knight of the
demijohn, and uninvited he staggered into the brilliant assemblage and
made an effort to get a partner for the next set. Failing in this, he
concluded to exhibit his powers as a dancer; and galloped around the
hall till he galloped into the arms of a strong man who quickly ushered
him to the head of the stairs, and gave him a kick and a push; he went
revolving down to the street below and fell flat on his back in the mud;
but "truth crushed to earth will rise again!" He rose, and standing
with his back against a lamp post, he looked up into the faces that were
gazing down, and said in an injured tone: "Gentlemen, (hic) you may be
able to fool some people, but, (hic) you can't fool me, (hic) I know
what made you kick me down them stairs, (hic, hic). You don't want me
up there--that's the reason!" So, life hath its discords as well as its
harmonies.

There was music in the magnificent parlor of a modern Chesterfield.
It was thronged with elegant ladies and gentlemen. The daughter of the
happy household was playing and singing Verdi's "Ah! I have sighed to
rest me;" the fond mother was turning the pages; the fond father was
sighing and resting up stairs, in a state of innocuous desuetude,
produced by the "music" of old Kentucky Bourbon; but he could not
withstand the power of the melody below. Quickly he donned his clothing;
he put his vest on over his coat; put his collar on hind side foremost;
buttoned the lower buttonhole of his coat on the top button, stood
before the mirror and arranged his hair, and started down to see the
ladies and listen to the music. But he stumped his toe at the top of the
stairs, and slid down head-foremost, and turned a somersault into the
midst of the astonished ladies. The ladies screamed and helped him to
his feet, all crying at once: "Are you hurt Mr. 'Rickety'--are you
hurt?" Standing with his back against the piano he exclaimed in an
assuring tone: "Why, (hic) of course not ladies, go on with your music,
(hic) that's the way I always come down----!"

[Illustration: MR. "RICKETY."]

Two old banqueters banqueted at a banquet. They banqueted all night
long, and kept the banquet up together all the next day after the
banquet had ended. They kept up their banqueting a week after the
banquet was over. But they got separated one morning and met again
in the afternoon. One of them said: "Good mornin':" The other said:
"Good evenin'!" "Why;" said one, "It's mornin' an' that's the sun;
I've investigated the queshtun." "No-sir-ee," said the other, "You're
mistaken, it's late in the evenin' an' that's the full moon." They
concluded they would have no difficulty about the matter, and agreed to
leave it to the first gentleman they came to to settle the question.
They locked arms and started down the street together; they staggered
on till they came upon another gentleman in the same condition, hanging
on a lamp post. One of them approached him and said: "Friend (hic) we
don't desire to interfere with your meditation, (hic) but this gen'lman
says it's mornin' an' that's the sun; I say it's evenin' an' that's the
full moon, (hic) we respectfully ask you (hic) to settle the question."
The fellow stood and looked at it for a full minute, and in his despair
replied:

"Gen'lmen, (hic) you'll have to excuse me, (hic) I'm a stranger in this
town!"

[Illustration: AFTER THE BANQUET.]



THE OLD TIME SINGING SCHOOL.


Did you never hear the music of the old time singing school? Oh! who can
forget the old school house that stood on the hill? Who can forget the
sweet little maidens with their pink sun bonnets and checkered dresses,
the walks to the spring, and the drinks of pure, cold water from the
gourd? Who can forget the old time courtships at the singing school?
When the boy found an opportunity he wrote these tender lines to his
sweetheart:

  "The rose is red; the violet's blue--
   Sugar is sweet, and so are you."


She read it and blushed, and turned it over and wrote on the back of it:

  "As sure as the vine clings 'round the stump,
   I'll be your sweet little sugar lump."


Who can forget the old time singing master? The old time singing master
with very light hair, a dyed mustache, a wart on his left eyelid, and
with one game leg, was the pride of our rural society; he was the envy
of man and the idol of woman. His baggy trousers, several inches too
short, hung above his toes like the inverted funnels of a Cunard
steamer. His butternut coat had the abbreviated appearance of having
been cut in deep water, and its collar encircled the back of his head
like the belts of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. His vest resembled
the aurora borealis, and his voice was a cross between a cane mill
and the bray of an ass. Yet beautiful and bright he stood before the
ruddy-faced swains and rose-cheeked lassies of the country, conscious
of his charms, and proud of his great ability. He had prepared, after a
long and tedious research of Webster's unabridged dictionary, a speech
which he always delivered to his class.

[Illustration: THE SINGING MASTER DELIVERING HIS GREAT SPEECH.]

"Boys and girls," he would say, "Music is a conglomeration of pleasing
sounds, or a succession or combernation of simultaneous sounds modulated
in accordance with harmony. Harmony is the sociability of two or more
musical strains. Melody denotes the pleasing combustion of musical and
measured sounds, as they succeed each other in transit. The elements
of vocal music consist of seven original tones which constitute the
diatonic scale, together with its steps and half steps, the whole being
compromised in ascending notes and half notes, thus:

  Do re mi fa sol la si do--
  Do si la sol fa mi re do.


Now, the diapason is the ad interium, or interval betwixt and between
the extremes of an octave, according to the diatonic scale. The turns
of music consist of the appoggiatura which is the principal note, or
that on which the turn is made, together with the note above and the
semi-tone below, the note above being sounded first, the principal note
next and the semi-tone below, last, the three being performed sticatoly,
or very quickly. Now, if you will keep these simple propersitions clear
in your physical mind, there is no power under the broad canister of
heaven which can prevent you from becoming succinctly contaminated with
the primary and elementary rudiments of music. With these few sanguinary
remarks we will now proceed to diagnosticate the exercises of the
mornin' hour. Please turn to page thirty-four of the Southern harmony."
And we turned. "You will discover that this beautiful piece of music is
written in four-four time, beginning on the downward beat. Now, take the
sound--sol mi do--All in unison--one, two, three, _sing_:

[Illustration: (Sheet Music)]

  Sol sol, mi fa sol, la sol fa, re re re, re mi fa
  Re mi fa, sol fa mi, do do do--
  Si do re, re re re, mi do si do, re do si la sol,
  Si do re, re mi fa sol la, sol fa mi, do do do."


[Illustration: BEATING TIME.]



THE GRAND OPERA.

[Illustration: THE GRAND OPERA SINGER.]


I heard a great Italian Tenor sing in the Grand Opera, and Oh! how like
the dew on the flowers is the memory of his song! He was playing the
role of a broken-hearted lover in the opera of the "Bohemian Girl."
I can only repeat it as it impressed me--an humble young man from the
mountains who never before had heard the _Grand Opera_:

[Illustration: (Sheet Music)]

  "When ethaer-r-r leeps and ethaer-r-r hairts,
   Their-r-r tales auf luff sholl tell,
   In longwidge whose ex-cess impair-r-r-ts.
   The power-r-r-r they feel so well,
   There-r-r-e may per-haps in-a such a s-c-e-n-e
   Some r-r-re-co-lec-tion be,
   Auf days thot haive as hop-py bean--
   Then you'll-a r-r-r-re-mem-b-a-e-r-r-r me-e-e,
   Then you'll-a r-re-mem-b-a-e-r-r,
   You'll-a r-re-mem-ber a-me-e-e!!"



MUSIC.

[Illustration]


The spirit of music, like an archangel, presides over mankind and the
visible creation. Her afflatus, divinely sweet, divinely powerful, is
breathed on every human heart, and inspires every soul to some nobler
sentiment, some higher thought, some greater action.

O music, sweetest, sublimest ideal of Omniscience, first-born of God,
fairest and loftiest Seraph of the celestial hierarchy, Muse of the
beautiful, daughter of the Universe!

In the morning of eternity, when the stars were young, her first grand
oratorio burst upon raptured Deity, and thrilled the wondering angels;
all heaven shouted; ten thousand times ten thousand jeweled harps, ten
thousand times ten thousand angel tongues caught up the song; and ever
since, through all the golden cycles, its breathing melodies, old as
eternity, yet ever new as the flitting hours, have floated on the air
of heaven. The Seraph stood, with outstretched wings, on the horizon
of heaven--clothed in light, ablaze with gems; and with voice attuned,
swept her burning harp strings, and lo! the blue infinite thrilled with
her sweetest note. The trembling stars heard it, and flashed their joy
from every flaming center. The wheeling orbs that course their paths
of light were vibrant with the strain, and pealed it back into the
glad ear of God. The far off milky way, bright gulf-stream of astral
glories, spanning the ethereal deep, resounded with its harmonies, and
the star-dust isles floating in that river of opal, re-echoed the happy
chorus from every sparkling strand.

[Illustration]



"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS."


Have you ever thought of the wealth that perished when paradise
was lost? Have you ever thought of the glory of Eden, the first
estate of man? I think it was the very dream of God, glowing with
ineffable beauty. I think it was rimmed with blue mountains, from whose
moss-covered cliffs leaped a thousand glassy streams that spread out in
mid-air, like bridal veils, kissing a thousand rainbows from the sun.
I think it was an archipelago of gorgeous colors, flecked with green
isles, where the grapevine staggered from tree to tree, as if drunk
with the wine of its own purple clusters, where peach, and plum, and
blood-red cherries, and every kind of berry, bent bough and bush,
and shone like showered drops of ruby and of pearl. I think it was
a wilderness of flowers, redolent of eternal spring and pulsing with
bird-song, where dappled fawns played on banks of violets, where
leopards, peaceful and tame, lounged in copses of magnolias, where
harmless tigers lay on snowy beds of lilies, and lions, lazy and
gentle, panted in jungles of roses. I think its billowy landscapes
were festooned with tangling creepers, bright with perennial bloom,
and curtained with sweet-scented groves, where the orange and the
pomegranate hung like golden globes and ruddy moons. I think its air was
softened with the dreamy haze of perpetual summer; and through its midst
there flowed a translucent river, alternately gleaming in its sunshine
and darkening in its shadows. And there, in some sweet, dusky bower,
fresh from the hand of his Creator, slept Adam, the first of the human
race; God-like in form and feature; God-like in all the attributes of
mind and soul. No monarch ever slept on softer, sweeter couch, with
richer curtains drawn about him. And as he slept, a face and form, half
hidden, half revealed, red-lipped, rose-cheeked, white bosomed and with
tresses of gold, smiled like an angel from the mirror of his dream; for
a moment smiled, and so sweetly, that his heart almost forgot to beat.
And while yet this bright vision still haunted his slumber, with
tenderest touch an unseen hand lay open the unconscious flesh in his
side, and forth from the painless wound a faultless being sprang; a
being pure and blithesome as the air; a sinless woman, God's first
thought for the happiness of man. I think he wooed her at the waking of
the morning. I think he wooed her at noon-tide, down by the riverside,
or by the spring in the dell. I think he wooed her at twilight, when
the moon silvered the palm tree's feathery plumes, and the stars looked
down, and the nightingale sang. And wherever he wooed her, I think the
grazing herds left sloping hill and peaceful vale, to listen to the
wooing, and thence themselves, departed in pairs. The covies heard it
and mated in the fields; the quail wooed his love in the wheat; the
robin whistled to his love in the glen;

  "The lark was so brim-full of gladness and love,
   The green fields below him--the blue sky above,
   That he sang, and he sang, and forever sang he:
   I love my Love, and my Love loves me."


Love songs bubbled from the mellow throats of mocking-birds and
bobolinks; dove cooed love to dove; and I think the maiden monkey, fair
"Juliet" of the House of Orang-outang, waited on her cocoanut balcony
for the coming of her "Romeo," and thus plaintively sang:

[Illustration: JULIET.]

(Sung to the air of My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon.)

  "My sweetheart's the lovely baboon,
   I'm going to marry him soon;
   'Twould fill me with joy
   Just to kiss the dear boy,
   For his charms and his beauty
   No power can destroy."

  "I'll sit in the light of the moon,
   And sing to my darling baboon,
   When I'm safe by his side
   And he calls me his bride;
   Oh! my Angel, my precious baboon!"


[Illustration: ROMEO.]

All paradise was imbued with the spirit of love. Oh, that it could have
remained so forever! There was not a painted cheek in Eden, nor a bald
head, nor a false tooth, nor a bachelor. There was not a flounce, nor
a frill, nor a silken gown, nor a flashy waist with aurora borealis
sleeves. There was not a curl paper, nor even a threat of crinoline.
Raiment was an after thought, the mask of a tainted soul, born of
original sin. Beauty was unmarred by gaudy rags; Eve was dressed in
sunshine, Adam was clad in climate.

Every rich blessing within the gift of the Almighty Father was poured
out from the cornucopia of heaven, into the lap of paradise. But it
was a paradise of fools, because they stained it with disobedience
and polluted it with sin. It was the paradise of fools because, in the
exercise of their own God-given free agency, they tasted the forbidden
fruit and fell from their glorious estate. Oh, what a fall was there! It
was the fall of innocence and purity; it was the fall of happiness into
the abyss of woe; it was the fall of life into the arms of death. It was
like the fall of the wounded albatross, from the regions of light, into
the sea; it was like the fall of a star from heaven to hell. When the
jasper gate forever closed behind the guilty pair, and the flaming
sword of the Lord mounted guard over the barred portal, the whole
life-current of the human race was shifted into another channel; shifted
from the roses to the thorns; shifted from joy to sorrow, and it bore
upon its dark and turbulent bosom, the wrecked hopes of all the ages.

I believe they lost intellectual powers which fallen man has never
regained. Operating by the consent of natural laws, sinless man would
have wrought endless miracles. The mind, winged like a seraph, and armed
like a thunderbolt, would have breached the very citadel of knowledge
and robbed it of its treasures. I think they lost a plane of being only
a little lower than the angels. I believe they lost youth, beauty, and
physical immortality. I believe they lost the virtues of heart and soul,
and many of the magnificent powers of mind, which made them the images
of God, and which would have even brushed aside the now impenetrable
veil which hides from mortal eyes the face of Infinite Love; that Love
which gave the ever-blessed light, and filled the earth with music of
bird, and breeze, and sea; that Love whose melodies we sometimes faintly
catch, like spirit voices, from the souls of orators and poets; that
Love which inlaid the arching firmament of heaven with jewels sparkling
with eternal fires. But thank God, their fall was not like the
remediless fall of Lucifer and his angels, into eternal darkness. Thank
God, in this "night of death" hope _does_ see a star! It is the star of
Bethlehem. Thank God, "listening Love" _does_ "hear the rustle of a
wing!" It is the wing of the resurrection angel.

The memories and images of paradise lost have been impressed on every
human heart, and every individual of the race has his own ideal of that
paradise, from the cradle to the grave. But that ideal in so far as its
realization in this world is concerned, is like the rainbow, an elusive
phantom, ever in sight, never in reach, resting ever on the horizon of
hope.



THE PARADISE OF CHILDHOOD.


I saw a blue-eyed child, with sunny curls, toddling on the lawn before
the door of a happy home. He toddled under the trees, prattling to the
birds and playing with the ripening apples that fell upon the ground.
He toddled among the roses and plucked their leaves as he would have
plucked an angel's wing, strewing their glory upon the green grass at
his feet. He chased the butterflies from flower to flower, and shouted
with glee as they eluded his grasp and sailed away on the summer air.
Here I thought his childish fancy had built a paradise and peopled it
with dainty seraphim and made himself its Adam. He saw the sunshine
of Eden glint on every leaf and beam in every petal. The flitting
honey-bee, the wheeling June-bug, the fluttering breeze, the silvery
pulse-beat of the dashing brook sounded in his ear notes of its swelling
music. The iris-winged humming-bird, darting like a sunbeam, to kiss the
pouting lips of the upturned flowers was, to him, the impersonation of
its beauty. And I said: Truly, this is the nearest approach in this
world, to the paradise of long ago. Then I saw him skulking like a
cupid, in the shrubbery, his skirts bedraggled and soiled, his face
downcast with guilt. He had stirred up the Mediterranean Sea in the slop
bucket, and waded the Atlantic Ocean in a mud puddle. He had capsized
the goslings, and shipwrecked the young ducks, and drowned the kitten
which he imagined a whale, and I said: _There_ is the original Adam
coming to the surface.

[Illustration: THE PARADISE OF CHILDHOOD.]

"Lo'd bless my soul! Jist look at dat chile!" shouted his dusky old
nurse, as she lifted him, dripping, from the reeking pond. "What's you
bin doin' in dat mud puddle? Look at dat face, an' dem hands an' close,
all kivvered wid mud an' mulberry juice! You bettah not let yo' mammy
see you while you's in dat fix. You's gwine to ketch it sho'. You's jist
zackly like yo' fader--allers git'n into some scrape or nuddah, allers
breakin' into some kind uv devilment--gwine to break into congrus some
uv dese days sho'. Come along wid me dis instinct to de baff tub. I's
a-gwine to dispurgate dem close an' 'lucidate some uv dat dirt off'n
dat face uv yone, you triflin' rascal you!" And so saying, she carried
him away, kicking and screaming like a young savage in open rebellion,
and I said: _There_ is some more of the original Adam. Then I saw him
come forth again, washed and combed, and dressed in spotless white, like
a young butterfly fresh from its chrysalis. And when he got a chance,
I saw him slip on his tip-toes, into the pantry;

  I heard the clink of glassware,
  As if a mouse were playing there,


among the jam pots and preserves. There two little dimpled hands made
trip after trip to a rose-colored mouth, bearing burdens of mingling
sweets that dripped from cheek, and chin, and waist, and skirt, and
shoes, subduing the snowy white with the amber of the peach, and the
purple of the raspberry, as he ate the forbidden fruit. Then I watched
him glide into the drawing room. There was a crash and a thud in there,
which quickly brought his frightened mother to the scene, only to find
the young rascal standing there catching his breath, while streams of
cold ink trickled down his drenched bosom. And as he wiped his inky
face, which grew blacker with every wipe, the remainder of the ink was
pouring from the bottle down on the carpet, and making a map of darkest
Africa. Then the rear of a small skirt went up over a curly head and the
avenging slipper, in lightning strokes, kept time to the music in the
air. And I said: _There_ is "_Paradise Lost_." The sympathizing, half
angry old nurse bore her weeping, sobbing charge to the nursery and
there bound up his broken heart and soothed him to sleep with her old
time lullaby:

[Illustration: PARADISE LOST.]

  "Oh, don't you cry little baby, Oh, don't you cry no mo',
   For it hurts ol' mammy's feelin's fo' to heah you weepin' so.
   Why don't da keep temptation frum de little han's an' feet?
   What makes 'em 'buse de baby kaze de jam an' zarves am sweet?

   Oh, de sorrow, tribulations, dat de joys of mortals break,
   Oh, it's heb'n when we slumber, it's trouble when we wake.

   Oh, go to sleep my darlin', now close dem little eyes,
   An' dream uv de shinin' angels, an' de blessed paradise;
   Oh, dream uv de blood-red roses, an' de birds on snowy wing;
   Oh, dream uv de fallin' watahs an' de never endin' spring.

   Oh, de roses, Oh, de rainbows, Oh, de music's gentle swell,
   In de dreamland uv little childun, whar de blessed sperrits dwell."


"Dar now, dar now, he's gone. Bless its little heart, da treats it like
a dog." And then she tucked him away in the paradise of his childish
slumber.

[Illustration: OLD BLACK "MAMMY."]

The day will come when the South will build a monument to the good old
black mammy of the past for the lullabies she has sung.

I sometimes wish that childhood might last forever. That sweet fairy
land on the frontier of life, whose skies are first lighted with the
sunrise of the soul, and in whose bright-tinted jungles the lions, and
leopards, and tigers of passion still peacefully sleep. The world is
disarmed by its innocence, the drawn bow is relaxed, and the arrow is
returned to its quiver; the Ægis of Heaven is above it, the outstretched
wings of mercy, pity, and measureless love!



THE PARADISE OF THE BAREFOOTED BOY.

[Illustration]

I would rather be a barefooted boy with cheeks of tan and heart of joy
than to be a millionaire and president of a National bank. The financial
panic that falls like a thunderbolt, wrecks the bank, crushes the
banker, and swamps thousands in an hour. But the bank which holds the
treasures of the barefooted boy never breaks. With his satchel and his
books he hies away to school in the morning, but his truant feet carry
him the other way, to the mill pond "a-fishin'." And there he sits the
livelong day under the shade of the tree, with sapling pole and pin
hook, and fishes, and fishes, and fishes, and waits for a nibble of the
drowsy sucker that sleeps on his oozy bed, oblivious of the baitless
hook from which he has long since stolen the worm. There he sits, and
fishes, and fishes, and fishes, and like Micawber, waits for something
to "turn-up." But nothing turns up until the shadows of evening fall and
warn the truant home, where he is welcomed with a dogwood sprout. Then
"sump'n" _does_ turn up. He obeys the call of the Sunday school bell,
and goes with solemn face, but e'er the "sweet bye and bye" has died
away on the summer air, he is in the wood shed playing Sullivan and
Corbett with some plucky comrade, with the inevitable casualties of
_one_ closed eye, _one_ crippled nose, _one_ pair of torn breeches and
_one_ bloody toe. He takes a back seat at church, and in the midst of
the sermon steals away and hides in the barn to smoke cigarettes and
read the story of "One-eyed Pete, the Hero of the _wild_ and _woolly_
West." There is eternal war between the barefooted boy and the whole
civilized world. He shoots the cook with a blow-gun; he cuts the strings
of the hammock and lets his dozing grandmother fall to the ground; he
loads his grandfather's pipe with powder; he instigates a fight between
the cat and dog during family prayers, and explodes with laughter when
pussy seeks refuge on the old man's back. He hides in the alley and
turns the hose on uncle Ephraim's standing collar as he passes on his
way to church, he cracks chestnut burrs with his naked heel; he robs
birds' nests, and murders bullfrogs, and plays "knucks" and "base-ball."
He puts asafetida in the soup, and conceals lizzards in his father's
hat. He overwhelms the family circle with his magnificent literary
attainments when he reads from the Bible in what he calls the "pasalms
of David"--"praise ye the Lord with the pizeltry and the harp."

[Illustration: THE PARADISE OF THE BAREFOOTED BOY.]

His father took him to town one day and said to him: "Now John, I want
you to stay here on the corner with the wagon and watch these potatoes
while I go round the square and see if I can sell them. Don't open your
mouth sir, while I am gone; I'm afraid people will think you're a fool."
While the old man was gone the merchant came out and said to John: "What
are those potatoes worth, my son?" John looked at him and grinned. "What
are those potatoes worth, I say?" asked the merchant. John still looked
at him and grinned. The merchant turned on his heel and said: "You're a
fool," and went back into his store. When the old man returned John
shouted: "Pap, they found it out and I never said a word."

His life is an endless chain of pranks and pleasures. Look how the
brawling brook pours down the steep declivities of the mountain gorge!
Here it breaks into pearls and silvery foam, there it dashes in rapids,
among brown bowlders, and yonder it tumbles from the gray crest of a
precipice. Thus, forever laughing, singing, rollicking, romping, till
it is checked in its mad rush and spreads into a still, smooth mirror,
reflecting the inverted images of rock, and fern, and flower, and tree,
and sky. It is the symbol of the life of a barefooted boy. His quips,
and cranks, his whims, and jollities, and jocund mischief, are but the
effervescences of exuberant young life, the wild music of the mountain
stream.

If I were a sculptor, I would chisel from the marble my ideal of the
monumental fool. I would make it the figure of a man, with knitted brow
and clinched teeth, beating and bruising his barefooted boy, in the
cruel endeavor to drive him from the paradise of his childish fun and
folly. If your boy _will_ be a boy, let him be a boy still. And remember
that he is following the paths which your feet have trodden, and will
soon look back upon its precious memories, as you now do, with the
aching heart of a care-worn man.

[Illustration: THE WILD MUSIC OF THE MOUNTAINS.]

(Sung to the air of Down on the Farm.)

  Oh, I love the dear old farm, and my heart grows young and warm,
    When I wander back to spend a single day;
  There to hear the robins sing in the trees around the spring,
    Where I used to watch the happy children play.
  Oh, I hear their voices yet and I never shall forget
    How their faces beamed with childish mirth and glee.
  But my heart grows old again and I leave the spot in pain,
    When I call them and no answer comes to me.



THE PARADISE OF YOUTH.


[Illustration: THE PARADISE OF YOUTH.]

If childhood is the sunrise of life, youth is the heyday of life's ruddy
June. It is the sweet solstice in life's early summer, which puts forth
the fragrant bud and blossom of sin e'er its bitter fruits ripen and
turn to ashes on the lips of age. It is the happy transition period,
when long legs, and loose joints, and verdant awkwardness, first stumble
on the vestibule of manhood. Did you never observe him shaving and
scraping his pimpled face till it resembled a featherless goose, reaping
nothing but lather, and dirt, and a little intangible fuzz? That is the
first symptom of love. Did you never observe him wrestling with a pair
of boots two numbers too small, as Jacob wrestled with the angel? That
is another symptom of love. His callous heel slowly and painfully yields
to the pressure of his perspiring paroxysms until his feet are folded
like fans and driven home in the pinching leather; and as he sits at
church with them hid under the bench, his uneasy squirms are symptoms of
the tortures of the infernal regions, and the worm that dieth not; but
that is only the penalty of loving. When he begins to wander through the
fragrant meadows and talk to himself among the buttercups and clover
blossoms, it is a sure sign that the golden shaft of the winged god has
sped from its bended bow. Love's archer has shot a poisoned arrow which
wounds but never kills. The sweet venom has done its work. The fever of
the amorous wound drives the red current bounding through his veins, and
his brain now reels with the delirium of the tender passion. His soul is
wrapped in visions of dreamy black eyes peeping out from under raven
curls, and cheeks like gardens of roses. To him the world is transformed
into a blooming Eden, and _she_ is its only Eve. He hears her voice in
the sound of the laughing waters, the fluttering of her heart in the
summer evening's last sigh that shuts the rose; and he sits on the bank
of the river all day long and writes poetry to her. Thus he writes:

  "As I sit by this river's crystal wave,
   Whose flow'ry banks its waters lave,
   Me-thinks I see in its glassy mirror,
   A face which to me, than life is dearer.
   Oh, 'tis the face of my Gwendolin,
   As pure as an angel, free from sin.
   It looks into mine with one sweet eye,
   While the other is turned to the starry sky.
   Could I the ocean's bulk contain,
   Could I but drink the watery main,
   I'd scarce be half as full of the sea,
   As my heart is full of love for thee!"


Thus he lives and loves, and writes poetry by day, and tosses on his bed
at night, like the restless sea, and dreams, and dreams, and dreams,
until, in the ecstacy of his dream, he grabs a pillow.

One bright summer day, a rural youth took his sweetheart to a Baptist
baptizing; and, in addition to his verdancy and his awkwardness, he
stuttered most distressingly. The singing began on the bank of the
stream; and he left his sweetheart in the buggy, in the shade of a tree
near by, and wandered alone in the crowd. Standing unconsciously among
those who were to be baptized, the old parson mistook him for one of the
converts, and seized him by the arm and marched him into the water. He
began to protest: "ho-ho-hold on p-p-p-parson, y-y-y-you're ma-ma-makin'
a mi-mi-mistake!!!" "Don't be alarmed my son, come right in," said the
parson. And he led him to the middle of the stream. The poor fellow made
one final desperate effort to explain--"p-p-p-p-parson, l-l-l-l-let me
explain!" But the parson coldly said: "Close your mouth and eyes, my
son!" And he soused him under the water. After he was thoroughly
baptized the old parson led him to the bank, the muddy water trickling
down his face. He was "diked" in his new seersucker suit, and when the
sun struck it, it began to draw up. The legs of his pants drew up to his
knees; his sleeves drew up to his elbows; his little sack coat yanked up
under his arms. And as he stood there trembling and shivering, a good
old sister approached him, and taking him by the hand said: "God bless
you, my son, how do you feel?" Looking, in his agony, at his blushing
sweetheart behind her fan, he replied in his anguish: "I fe-fe-fe-feel
l-l-l-l-like a d-d-d-d-durned f-f-f-f-fool!"

[Illustration: THE SEERSUCKER YOUTH AT THE BAPTIZING.]

If I were called upon to drink a toast to life's happiest period,
I would hold up the sparkling wine, and say: "Here is to youth, that
sweet, Seidlitz powder period, when two souls with scarcely a single
thought, meet and blend in one; when a voice, half gosling, half
calliope, rasps the first sickly confession of puppy love into the
ear of a blue-sashed maiden at the picnic in the grove!" But when she
returns his little greasy photograph, accompanied by a little perfumed
note, expressing the hope that he will think of her only as a sister,
his paradise is wrecked, and his puppy love is swept into the limbo
of things that were, the school boy's tale, the wonder of an hour.

But wait till the shadows have a little longer grown. Wait till the
young lawyer comes home from college, spouting Blackstone, and Kent, and
Ram on facts. Wait till the young doctor returns from the university,
with his whiskers and his diploma, to tread the paths of glory, "that
lead but to the grave." Wait till society gives welcome in the brilliant
ball, and the swallow-tail coat, and the patent leather pumps whirl with
the decollette and white slippers till the stars are drowning in the
light of morning. Wait till the graduate staggers from the giddy hall,
in full evening dress, singing as he staggers:

  "After the ball is over, after the break of morn,
   After the dancer's leavin', after the stars are gone;
   Many a heart is aching, if we could read them all--
   Many the hopes that are vanished, after the ball."


[Illustration: AFTER THE BALL.]

It is then that "somebody's darling" has reached the full tide of his
glory as a fool.



THE PARADISE OF HOME.


How rich would be the feast of happiness in this beautiful world of
ours, could folly end with youth. But youth is only the first act in
the "Comedy of Errors." It is the pearly gate that opens to the real
paradise of fools.

  "It's pleasures are like poppies spread--
   You seize the flower, its bloom is shed,
   Or like the snowfall on the river--
   A moment white then melts forever."


Whether it be the child at its mother's knee or the man of mature years,
whether it be the banker or the beggar, the prince in his palace or the
peasant in his hut, there is in every heart the dream of a happier lot
in life.

I heard the sound of revelry at the gilded club, where a hundred hearts
beat happily. There were flushed cheeks and thick tongues and jests and
anecdotes around the banquet spread. There were songs and poems and
speeches. I saw an orator rise to respond to a toast to "Home, sweet
home," and thus he responded:

"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: John Howard Payne touched millions of
hearts when he sang:

  'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
  Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.


But as for me, gentlemen, give me the pleasures an' the palaces--give me
liberty, or give me death. No less beautifully expressed are the tender
sentiments expressed in the tender verse of Lord Byron:

  "'Tis sweet to hear the watchdog's honest bark
   Bay deep mouthed welcome as we draw near home;
   'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming,
   And look brighter when we come."


But as for me, gentlemen, I would rather hear the barkin' of a gatlin'
gun than to hear the watch dog's honest bark this minute. I would rather
look into the mouth of a cannon than to look into the eyes that are now
waitin' to mark my comin' at this delightful hour of three o'clock in
the morning."

Then he launched out on the ocean of thought like a magnificent ship
going to sea. And when the night was far spent, and the orgies were
over, and the lights were blown out at the club, I saw him enter his own
sweet home in his glory--entered it, like a thief, with his boots in his
hands,--entered it singing softly to himself:

  "I'm called little gutter pup, sweet little gutter pup,
     Though I could never tell why--(hic),
   Yet still I'm called gutter pup, sweet little gutter pup,
     Poor little gutter pup--I--(hic)."


He was unconscious of the presence of the white figure that stood at
the head of the stairs holding up a lamp, like liberty enlightening
the world, and as a tremulous voice called him to the judgment bar, the
door closed behind him on the paradise of a fool, and he sneaked up the
steps, muttering to himself, "What shadows we are--(hic)--what shadows
we pursue." Then I saw him again in the morning, reaping temptation's
bitter reward in the agonies of his drunk-sick; and like Mark Twain's
boat in a storm,

  "He heaved and sot, and sot and heaved,
     And high his rudder flung,
   And every time he heaved and sot,
     A mighty leak he sprung."


If I were a woman with a husband like "that," I would fill him so full
of Keely's chloride of gold that he would jingle as he walks and tinkle
as he talks and have a fit at every mention of the silver bill.

The biggest fool that walks on God's footstool is the man who destroys
the joy and peace of his own sweet home; for, if paradise is ever
regained in this world, it must be in the home. If its dead flowers
ever bloom again, they must bloom in the happy hearts of home. If its
sunshine ever breaks through the clouds, it must break forth in the
smiling faces of home. If heaven ever descends to earth and angels tread
its soil, it must be in the sacred precincts of home. That which heaven
most approves is the pure and virtuous home. For around it linger all
the sweetest memories and dearest associations of mankind; upon it hang
the hopes and happiness of the nations of the earth, and above it shines
the ever blessed star that lights the way back to the paradise that was
lost.

[Illustration: RETURNING FROM THE CLUB.]



BACHELOR AND WIDOWER.


I saw a poor old bachelor live all the days of his life in sight of
paradise, too cowardly to put his arm around it and press it to his
bosom. He shaved and primped and resolved to marry every day in the year
for forty years. But when the hour for love's duel arrived, when he
stood trembling in the presence of rosy cheeks and glancing eyes, and
beauty shook her curls and gave the challenge, his courage always oozed
out, and he fled ingloriously from the field of honor.

Far happier than the bachelor is old Uncle Rastus in his cabin, when he
holds Aunt Dina's hand in his and asks: "Who's sweet?" And Dina drops
her head over on his shoulder and answers, "Boaf uv us."

A thousand times happier is the frisky old widower with his pink bald
head, his wrinkles and his rheumatism, who

  Wires in and wires out,
  And leaves the ladies all in doubt,
  As to what is his age and what he is worth,
  And whether or not he owns the earth.


He "toils not, neither does he spin," yet Solomon, in all his glory was
not more popular with the ladies. He is as light-hearted as "Mary's
little lamb." He is acquainted with every hog path in the matrimonial
paradise and knows all the nearest cuts to the "sanctum sanctorum" of
woman's heart. But his jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Woe unto the
bachelor who dares to cross his path.

An old bachelor in my native mountains once rose in church to give his
experience, in the presence of his old rival who was a widower, and with
whom he was at daggers' points in the race to win the affections of one
of the sisters in Zion. Thus the pious old bachelor spake: "Brethren,
this is a beautiful world. I love to live in it just as well to-day as
I ever did in my life. And the saddest thought that ever crossed this
old brain of mine is, that in a few short days at best, these old eyes
will be glazed in death and I'll never get to see my loved ones in this
world any more." And his old rival shouted from the "amen corner,"
"_thank God!_"



PHANTOMS.


In every brain there is a bright phantom realm, where fancied pleasures
beckon from distant shores; but when we launch our barks to reach them,
they vanish, and beckon again from still more distant shores. And so,
poor fallen man pursues the ghosts of paradise as the deluded dog chases
the shadows of flying birds in the meadow.

The painter only paints the shadows of beauty on his canvas; the
sculptor only chisels its lines and curves from the marble; the sweetest
melody is but the faint echo of the wooing voice of music.

We stumble over the golden nuggets of contentment in pursuit of the
phantoms of wealth, and what is wealth? It can not purchase a moment of
happiness. Marble halls may open wide their doors and offer her shelter,
but happiness will flee from a palace to dwell in a cottage. We crush
under our feet the roses of peace and love in our eagerness to reach the
illuminated heights of glory; and what is earthly glory?

  "He who ascends to mountain tops shall find
   The loftiest peaks most wrapped in clouds and snow;
   He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
   Must look down on the hate of those below.
   Though high above the sun of glory glow,
   And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
   'Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
   Contending tempests on his naked head."

I saw a comedian convulse thousands with his delineations of the
weaknesses of humanity in the inimitable "Rip Van Winkle." I saw him
make laughter hold its sides, as he impersonated the coward in "The
Rivals;" and I said: I would rather have the power of Joseph Jefferson,
to make the world laugh, and to drive care and trouble from weary brains
and sorrow from heavy hearts, than to wear the blood-stained laurels of
military glory, or to be President of the United States, burdened with
bonds and gold, and overwhelmed with the double standard, and three girl
babies.



THE FALSE IDEAL.


It is the false ideal that builds the "Paradise of Fools." It is the
eagerness to achieve success in realms we cannot reach, which breeds
more than half the ills that curse the world. If all the fish eggs were
to hatch, and every little fish become a big fish, the oceans would be
pushed from their beds, and the rivers would be eternally "dammed"--with
fish; but the whales, and sharks, and sturgeons, and dog-fish, and eels,
and snakes, and turtles, make three meals every day in the year on fish
and fish eggs. If all the legal spawn should hatch out lawyers, the
earth and the fullness thereof would be mortgaged for fees, and mankind
would starve to death in the effort to pay off the "aforesaid and the
same." If the entire crop of medical eggs should hatch out full fledged
doctors, old "Skull and Cross Bones" would hold high carnival among the
children of men, and the old sexton would sing:

  "I gather them in,
   I gather them in."


If I could get the ear of the young men who pant after politics, as the
hart panteth after the water brook, I would exhort them to seek honors
in some other way, for "Jordan is a hard road to travel."

The poet truly said: "How like a mounting devil in the heart is the
unreined ambition. Let it once but play the monarch, and its haughty
brow glows with a beauty that bewilders thought and unthrones peace
forever. Putting on the very pomp of Lucifer, it turns the heart to
ashes, and with not a spring left in the bosom for the spirit's lip,
we look upon our splendor and forget the thirst of which we perish."



THE CIRCUS IN THE MOUNTAINS.


[Illustration: THE CIRCUS IN THE MOUNTAINS.]

I saw a circus in a mountain town. The mountaineers swarmed from far
and near, and lined the streets on every hand with open mouth and bated
breath, as the grand procession, with band, and clown, and camels,
and elephants, and lions, and tigers, and spotted horses, paraded in
brilliant array. The excitement was boundless when the crowd rushed
into the tent, and they left behind them a surging mass of humanity,
unprovided with tickets, and destitute of the silver half of the double
standard. Their interest rose to white heat as the audience within
shouted and screamed with laughter at the clown, and cheered the girl
in tights, and applauded the acrobats as they turned somersaults over
the elephant. But temptation whispered in the ear of a gentleman in tow
breeches, and he stealthily opened his long bladed knife and cut a hole
in the canvas. A score of others followed suit, and held their sides and
laughed at the scenes within. But as they laughed a showman slipped
inside, armed with a policeman's "billy." He quietly sidled up to the
hole where a peeper's nose made a knot on the tent on the inside.
"Whack!" went the "billy"--there was a loud grunt, and old "Tow
Breeches" spun 'round like a top, and cut the "pigeon wing," while his
nose spouted blood. "Whack!" went the "billy" again, and old "Hickory
Shirt" turned a somersault backwards and rose "a-runnin'." The last
"whack" fell like a thunderbolt on the Roman nose of a half drunk old
settler from away up at the head of the creek. He fell flat on his back,
quivered for a moment, and then sat up and clapped his hand to his
bleeding nose and in his bewilderment exclaimed: "Well I'll be durned!
hel-lo there stranger!" he shouted to a bystander, "whar wuz you _at_
when the lightnin' struck the show?" Then I saw a row of bleeding noses
at the branch near by, taking a bath; and each nose resembled a sore
hump on a camel's back.

[Illustration: "WHACK!" WENT THE "BILLY!"]

So it is around the great arena of political fame and power. "Whack!"
goes the "billy" of popular opinion; and politicians, like old "Tow
Breeches," spin 'round with the broken noses of misguided ambition and
disappointed hope. In the heated campaign many a would-be Webster lies
down and dreams of the triumph that awaits him on the morrow, but he
wakes to find it only a dream, and when the votes are counted his
little bird hath flown, and he is in the condition of the old Jew.
An Englishman, an Irishman and a Jew hung up their socks together on
Christmas Eve. The Englishman put his diamond pin in the Irishman's
sock; the Irishman put his watch in the sock of the Englishman; they
slipped an egg into the sock of the Jew. "And did you git onny thing?"
asked Pat in the morning. "Oh yes," said the Englishman, "I received a
fine gold watch, don't you know. And what did you get Pat?" "Begorra,
I got a foine diamond pin." "And what did you get, Jacob?" said the
Englishman to the Jew. "Vell," said Jacob, holding up the egg. "I got
a shicken but it got avay before I got up."



THE PHANTOM OF FORTUNE.


I would not clip the wings of noble, honorable aspiration. I would not
bar and bolt the gate to the higher planes of thought and action, where
truth and virtue bloom and ripen into glorious fruit. There are a
thousand fields of endeavor in the world, and happy is he who labors
where God intended him to labor.

The contented plowman who whistles as he rides to the field and sings as
he plows, and builds his little paradise on the farm, gets more out of
life than the richest Shylock on earth.

The good old spectacled mother in Israel, with her white locks and
beaming face, as she works in her sphere, visiting the poor, nursing the
sick, and closing the eyes of the dead, is more beautiful in her life,
and more charming in her character, than the loveliest queen of society
who ever chased the phantoms of pleasure in the ballroom.

The humblest village preacher who faithfully serves his God, and leads
his pious flock in the paths of holiness and peace, is more eloquent,
and plays a nobler part than the most brilliant infidel who ever
blasphemed the name of God.

The industrious drummer who travels all night and toils all day to win
comfort for wife, and children, and mother, and sister, is a better man,
and a far better citizen, than the most successful speculator on Wall
Street, who plays with the fortunes of his fellow-man as the wolf plays
with the lamb, or as the cyclone plays with the feather.

Young ladies, when the time comes to marry, say "yes" to the good-natured,
big-hearted drummer. For he is a spring in a desert, a straight flush in
a weary hand, a "thing of beauty and a joy forever," and he will never
be at home to bother you.



CLOCKS.


Oliver Wendell Holmes says: "Our brains are seventy year clocks. The
angel of life winds them up once for all, closes the case, and gives the
key into the hand of the resurrection angel." And when I read it I
thought, what a stupendous task awaits the angel of the resurrection,
when all the countless millions of old rickety, rusty, worm-eaten clocks
are to be resurrected, and wiped, and dusted, and repaired, for mansions
in the skies! There will be every kind and character of clock and
clockwork resurrected on that day. There will be the Catholic clock with
his beads, and the Episcopalian clock with his ritual. There will be
an old clock resurrected on that day wearing a broadcloth coat buttoned
up to the throat; and when he is wound up he will go off with a whizz
and a bang. He will get up out of the dust shouting, "hallelujah!" and
he will proclaim "_sanctification!_" and "_falling from grace!_" and
"_baptism by sprinkling and pouring!_" as the only true doctrine by
which men shall go sweeping through the pearly gate, into the new
Jerusalem. And he will be recognized as a Methodist preacher, a little
noisy, a little clogged with chicken feathers, but ripe for the Kingdom
of Heaven.

There will be another old clock resurrected on that day, dressed
like the former, but a little stiffer and straighter in the back,
and armed with a pair of gold spectacles and a manuscript. When he is
wound up he will break out in a cold sepulchral tone with, firstly:
"_foreordination!_" secondly: "_predestination!_" and thirdly: "_the
final perseverance of the saints!_" And he will be recognized as a
Presbyterian preacher, a little blue and frigid, a little dry and
formal, but one of God's own elect, and he will be labeled for Paradise.

There will be an old Hard-shell clock resurrected, with throat whiskers,
and wearing a shad-bellied coat and flap breeches. And when he is wound
up a little, and a little oil is squirted into his old wheels, he will
swing out into space on the wings of the gospel with: "My Dear Beloved
Brethren-ah: I was a-ridin' along this mornin' a-tryin' to study up
somethin' to preach to this dying congregation-ah; and as I rid up by
the old mill pond-ah lo and behold! there was an old snag a sticking
up out of the middle of the pond-ah, and an old mud turtle had clim
up out uv the water and was a settin' up on the old snag a sunnin' uv
himself-ah; and lo! and behold-ah! when I rid up a leetle nearer to
him-ah, he jumped off of the snag, 'ker chugg' into the water, thereby
proving emersion-ah!"

Our brains _are_ clocks, and our hearts are the pendulums. If we live
right in this world, when the Resurrection Day shall come, the Lord God
will polish the wheels, and jewel the bearings, and crown the casements
with stars and with gold. And the pendulums shall be harps encrusted
with precious stones. They shall swing to and fro on angel wings, making
music in the ear of God, and flashing His glory through all the blissful
cycles of eternity!



THE PANIC.


Happy is the man who lives within his means, and who is contented with
the legitimate rewards of endeavor. The dreadful panic that checks the
progress of civilization and paralyzes the commerce of the world, is the
death angel that follows speculation. Everything is staked and hazarded
on contingences that are as baseless as the fabric of a dream. The day
of settlement comes and nobody is able to settle. The borrower is
powerless to meet his note in the bank; the banker is powerless to pay
his depositors, and confidence is stampeded like a herd of cattle. The
timid and suspicious old farmer catches the wild note of alarm, and
deserting his plow and sleepy steers in the field, he mounts his mule,
and urging him on with pounding heels, rushes pell-mell to the bank, and
with bulging eyes, demands his money. The excitement spreads like fire.
The blacksmith leaves his anvil, the carpenter his bench, and the tailor
his goose. The tanner deserts his hide, and the shoemaker throws down
his last to save his all. The mason with his trowel in his hand, rushes
from the half-finished wall; Pat drops his hod between heaven and earth
and slides down the ladder, muttering: "Oi'll have me moaney or _Oi'll_
have blood!" The fat phlegmatic Dutchman, dozing behind his bar, wakes
to the situation and waddles down the street, puffing and blowing like
an engine, and muttering: "Mine Got in Himmel--mine debosit ish
boosted!" And thus they make the run on the bank, gathering about it
like the hosts of Armageddon. The bottom drops out, and millionaires
go under like the passengers of a wrecked steamer.



"BUNK CITY."


Did you ever pass the remains of a "boom" town in your travels? Did you
never gaze upon the remains of "Bunk City," where but yesterday all was
life and bustle, and to-day it looks like the ruins of Babylon? The
empty fields for miles and miles around are laid off and dug up in
streets, and look like they had been struck with ten thousand streaks
of chain lightning. Standing here and there are huge frames holding up
mammoth sign boards, bearing the names of land companies, but the land
companies are gone. Half driven nails are left to rust in a few old
skeleton buildings, the brick lies unmortared in half finished walls,
and tenantless houses stand here and there like the ghosts of buried
hope. Down by the river stands the furnace, grim and silent as the
extinct crater of Popocatepetl; and the great hotel on the hill looks
like the tower of Babel two thousand years after the confusion of
tongues. The last of the speculators, with his blue nose and his old
battered plug hat which resembles an accordion that has been yanked by
a cyclone, stands on the corner and contemplates his old sedge fields
which have shrunk in value from one hundred dollars a front foot, to one
_dollar for a hundred front acres_, and balefully sings a new song:

  "After the boom is over, after the panic's on,
   After the fools are leavin', after the money's gone,
   Many a bank is "busted," if we could see in the room,
   Many a pocket is empty, after the boom."



"YOUR UNCLE."


[Illustration: COMING.]

An impecunious speculator once flooded a town with handbills and posters
containing this announcement: "Your Uncle is coming." The streams of
passers-by looked at the bill boards and wondered what it meant. The
speculator rented the theatre, and one day a new flood of handbills and
posters made this announcement: "Your Uncle is here." He gave orders
to his stage manager to raise the curtain exactly at eight o'clock.
The speculator himself stood in the door and received the admission fees
and then disappeared. In their curiosity to see the performance of "Your
Uncle," the villagers filled every seat in the theatre long before the
hour for the performance arrived. The curtain rose at the appointed
hour, and lo! on a board, in the center of the stage, was a card bearing
this announcement in large letters: "_Your Uncle is gone._"

What a splendid illustration of modern speculation and its willing
victims who are so easily led into the "Paradise of Fools!"

[Illustration: GONE.]



FOOLS.


But why mourn and brood over broken fortunes and the calamities of life?
Why tarry in the doldrums of pessimism, with never a breeze to catch
your limp and drooping sails and waft you on a joyous wave? Pessimism is
the nightmare of the world. It is the prophet of famine, pestilence, and
human woe. It is the apostle of the Devil, and its mission is to impede
the progress of civilization. It denounces every institution established
for human development as a fraud. It stigmatizes law as the machinery of
injustice; it sneers at society as hollow-hearted corruption and
insincerity; it brands politics as a reeking mass of rottenness, and
scoffs at morality as the tinsel of sin. Its disciples are those who
rail and snarl at everything that is noble and good, to whom a joke is
an assault and battery, a laugh is an insult to outraged dignity, and
the provocation of a smile is like passing an electric current through
the facial muscles of a corpse.

God deliver us from the fools who seek to build their paradise on the
ashes of those they have destroyed. God deliver us from the fools whose
life work is to cast aspersions upon the motives and characters of the
leaders of men. I believe the men who reach high places in politics
are, as a rule, the best and brainiest men in the land, and upon their
shoulders rest the safety and well-being of the peace-loving,
God-fearing millions.

I believe the world is better to-day than it ever was before. I believe
the refinements of modern society, its elegant accomplishments, its
intellectual culture, and its conceptions of the beautiful, are glorious
evidences of our advancement toward a higher plane of being.

I think the superb churches of to-day, with the glorious harmonies of
their choral music, their great pipe organs, their violins and cornets,
and their grand sermons, full of heaven's balm for aching hearts, are
expressions of the highest civilization that has ever dawned upon the
earth. I believe each successive civilization is better, and higher, and
grander, than that which preceded it; and upon the shining rungs of this
ladder of evolution, our race will finally climb back to the Paradise
that was lost. I believe that the society of to-day is better than it
ever was before. I believe that human government is better, and nobler,
and purer, than it ever was before. I believe the Church is stronger and
is making grander strides toward the conversion of the world and the
final establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, than it ever made
before.

I believe that the biggest fools in this world are the advocates and
disseminators of infidelity, the would-be destroyers of the Paradise
of God.



A BLOTTED PICTURE.


I sat in a great theatre at the National Capital. It was thronged with
youth, and beauty, old age, and wisdom. I saw a man, the image of his
God, stand upon the stage, and I heard him speak. His gestures were the
perfection of grace; his voice was music, and his language was more
beautiful than I had ever heard from mortal lips. He painted picture
after picture of the pleasures, and joys, and sympathies, of home. He
enthroned love and preached the gospel of humanity like an angel. Then
I saw him dip his brush in ink, and blot out the beautiful picture he
had painted. I saw him stab love dead at his feet. I saw him blot out
the stars and the sun, and leave humanity and the universe in eternal
darkness, and eternal death. I saw him like the Serpent of old, worm
himself into the paradise of human hearts, and by his seductive
eloquence and the subtle devices of his sophistry, inject his fatal
venom, under whose blight its flowers faded, its music was hushed, its
sunshine was darkened, and the soul was left a desert waste, with only
the new made graves of faith and hope. I saw him, like a lawless,
erratic meteor without an orbit, sweep across the intellectual sky,
brilliant only in his self-consuming fire, generated by friction with
the indestructible and eternal truths of God.

[Illustration: INFIDELITY.]

That man was the archangel of modern infidelity; and I said: How true
is holy writ which declares, "the fool hath said in his heart, there is
no God."

Tell me not, O Infidel, there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell!

  "A solemn murmur in the soul tells of a world to be,
   As travelers hear the billows roll before they reach the sea."


Tell me not, O Infidel, there is no risen Christ!

  When every earthly hope hath fled,
    When angry seas their billows fling,
  How sweet to lean on what He said,
    How firmly to His cross we cling!


What intelligence less than God could fashion the human body? What
motive power is it, if it is not God, that drives that throbbing engine,
the human heart, with ceaseless, tireless stroke, sending the crimson
streams of life bounding and circling through every vein and artery?
Whence, and what, if not of God, is this mystery we call the mind? What
is this mystery we call the soul? What is it that thinks and feels and
knows and acts? Oh, who can comprehend, who can deny, the Divinity that
stirs within us!

God is everywhere, and in everything. His mystery is in every bud, and
blossom, and leaf, and tree; in every rock, and hill, and vale, and
mountain; in every spring, and rivulet, and river. The rustle of His
wing is in every zephyr; its might is in every tempest. He dwells in the
dark pavilions of every storm cloud. The lightning is His messenger, and
the thunder is His voice. His awful tread is in every earthquake and on
every angry ocean; and the heavens above us teem with His myriads of
shining witnesses. The universe of solar systems whose wheeling orbs
course the crystal paths of space proclaim through the dread halls of
eternity, the glory, and power, and dominion, of the all-wise,
omnipotent, and eternal God.



"VISIONS AND DREAMS."


[Illustration]

The infinite wisdom of Almighty God has made a plane of intelligence,
and a horizon of happiness, for every being in the universe, from
the butterfly to the archangel. And every plane has its own horizon,
narrowest and darkest on the lowest level, but broad as the universe
on the highest. Man stands on that wondrous plane where mortality and
immortality meet. Below him is animal life, lighted only by the dim lamp
of instinct; above him is spiritual life, illuminated by the light of
reason and the glory of God. Below him is this old material world of
rock, and hill, and vale, and mountain; above him is the mysterious
world of the imagination whose rivers are dreams, whose continents are
visions of beauty, and upon whose shadowy shores the surfs of phantom
seas forever break.

We hear the song of the cricket on the hearth, and the joyous hum of
the bees among the poppies; we hear the light-winged lark gladden the
morning with her song, and the silver-throated thrush warble in the
tree-top. What are these, and all the sweet melodies we hear, but echoes
from the realm of visions and dreams?

The humming-bird, that swift fairy of the rainbow, fluttering down from
the land of the sun when June scatters her roses northward, and poising
on wings that never weary, kisses the nectar from the waiting flowers;
how bright and beautiful is the horizon of his little life! How sweet is
the dream of the covert in the deep mountain gorge, to the trembling,
panting deer in his flight before the hunter's horn and the yelping
hounds! How dear to the heart of the weary ox is the vision of green
fields and splashing waters! And down on the farm, when the cows come
home at sunset, fragrant with the breath of clover blossoms, how rich
is the feast of happiness when the frolicsome calf bounds forward to the
flowing udder, and with his walling eyes reflecting whole acres of "calf
heaven" and his little tail wiggling in speechless bliss, he draws his
evening meal from nature's commissariat. The snail lolls in his shell
and thinks himself a king in the grandest palace in the world. And how
brilliant is the horizon of the firefly when he winks his "other eye!"

The red worm delves in the sod and dines on clay; he makes no after-dinner
speeches; he never responds to a toast; but silently revels on in his
dark banquet halls under the dank violets or in the rich mould by the
river. But the red worm never reaches the goal of his visions and dreams
until he is triumphantly impaled on the fishhook of the barefooted boy,

  Who sees other visions and dreams other dreams,
  Of fluttering suckers in shining streams.


And Oh, there is no thrill half so rapturous to the barefooted boy as
the thrill of a nibble! Two darkies sat on a rock on the bank of a
river, fishing. One was an old darkey; the other was a boy. The boy got
a nibble, his foot slipped, and he fell headlong into the surging waters
and began to float out to the middle of the stream, sinking, and rising,
and struggling, and crying for help. The old man hesitated on the rock
for a moment; then he plunged in after the drowning boy, and after a
desperate struggle, landed his companion safely on shore. A passer-by
ran up to the old darkey and patted him on the shoulder and said: "Old
man, that was a noble deed in you, to risk your life that way to save
that good-for-nothing boy." "Yes boss," mumbled the old man, "I was
obleeged ter save dat nigger, he had all de bate in his pocket!"



THE HAPPY LONG AGO.


Not long ago I wandered back to the scenes of my boyhood, on my
father's old plantation on the bank of the river, in the beautiful land
of my native mountains. I rambled again in the pathless woods with my
rifle on my shoulder. I sat on the old familiar logs amid the falling
leaves of autumn and heard the squirrels bark and shake the branches
as they jumped from tree to tree. I heard the katydid sing, and the
whip-poor-will, and the deep basso-profundo of the bullfrog on the bank
of the pond. I heard the drumming of a pheasant and the hoot of a wise
old owl away over in "Sleepy Hollow." I heard the tinkling of bells on
the distant hills, sweetly mingling with the happy chorus of the song
birds in their evening serenade. Every living creature seemed to be
chanting a hymn of praise to its God; and as I sat there and listened
to the weird, wild harmonies, a vision of the past opened before me.
I thought I was a boy again, and played around the cabins of the old
time darkies, and heard them laugh and sing and tell their stories as
they used to long ago. My hair stood on ends again (I was afflicted with
hair when I was a boy), and the chills played up and down my back when I
remembered old Uncle Rufus' story of the panthers. He said: "Many years
ago, Mas. Jeems was a-gwine along de path by de graveyard late in de
evenin', an' bless de Lo'd, all of a sudden he looked up, an' dar was a
painter crouchin' down befo' 'im, a-pattin' de ground wid his tail, an'
ready to spring. Mas. Jeems wheeled to run, an' bless de Lo'd, dar was
annudder painter, crouchin' an' pattin' de groun' wid his tail, in de
path behind him, an' ready to spring. An' boaf ov dem painters sprung at
de same time, right toards Mas. Jeemses head; Mas. Jeems jumped to one
side. An' dem painters come to-gedder in de air. An' da was a-gwine so
fast, an' da struck each udder wid sitch turble ambition dat instid ov
comin' down, da went up. An' bless de Lo'd, Mas. Jeems stood dar an'
watched dem painters go on up, an' up, an' up, till da went clean out
o' sight a-fightin'. An' bless de Lo'd, de hair was a-fallin' for three
days. Which fulfills de words ob de scripchah whar it reads, 'De young
men shall dream dreams, an' de ol' men shall see visions.'"

[Illustration: THE MUSIC OF THE OLD PLANTATION.]

I remembered the tale Uncle Solomon used to tell about the first
convention that was ever held in the world. He said: "It wuz a
convenchun ov de animils. Bruder Fox wuz dar, an' Brudder Wolf, an'
Brudder Rabbit, an' all de rest ov de animil kingdom wuz geddered
togedder fur to settle some questions concarnin' de happiness ov de
animil kingdom. De first question dat riz befo' de convenchun wuz,
how da should vote. Brudder Coon, he took de floah an' moved dat de
convenchun vote by raisin' der tails; whereupon Brudder Possum riz wid
a grin ov disgust, an' said: 'Mr. Chaiahman, I's unanimous opposed to
dat motion: Brudder Coon wants dis couvenchun to vote by raisin' der
tails, kase Brudder Coon's got a ring striped an' streaked tail, an'
wants to show it befo' de convenchun. Brudder Coon knows dat de 'possum
is afflicted wid an ole black rusty tail, an I consider dat moshun an
insult to de 'possum race; an' besides dat, Mr. Chaiahman, if you passes
dis moshun for to vote by raisin yo' tails, de Billy-Goat's already
voted!'"

I sometimes think that Uncle Solomon's homely story of the goat would
be a splendid illustration of some of our modern politicians. It is
difficult to tell which side of the question they are on.

[Illustration: THE HAPPY LONG AGO.]

I remembered the yarn Uncle Yaddie once spun at the expense of
Uncle Rastus. Rastus looked sour and said: "You bettah not go too fur;
I'll tell about dem watermillions what disappeared frum Mas. Landon's
watermillion patch." But Uncle Yaddie was undismayed by the threatened
attack upon his own record, and said: "Some time ago Rastus concluded to
go into de egg bizness, an' he prayed to de Lo'd to send him some hens,
but somehow or nudder de hens never come; an' den he prayed to de Lo'd
to send him after de hens, an' lo! an' behold! nex' mornin' his lot wus
full ov chickens. Rastus fixed de nestiz, an' waited, an' waited fur de
hens to lay, but somehow or nudder de hens wouldn't lay dat summer at
all; an' Rastus kep git'n madder an' madder, till one day de ole rooster
hopped up on de porch an begun to flop his wings an' crow. Rastus looked
at him sideways, an' muttered, 'Yes! floppin' yo' wings an' crowin'
aroun' heah like an ole fool, an' you caint lay a egg to save yo' life!'"

The darkies fell over in the floor, and every body laughed except
Rastus. But to appease his wrath, Uncle Yaddie rolled out a big
"watermillion" from under the bed, which lighted up the face of the
frowning old Rastus with smiles, and as the luscious red pulp melted
away in his mouth, he cut the "pigeon wing" in the middle of the floor,
and sang like a mocking bird:

  "Oh, de honeymoon am sweet,
   De chicken am good,
   De 'possum, it am very very fine,
   But give me, O, give me,
   Oh, how I wish you would!
   Dat watermillion hanging' on de vine!"


Then old Uncle Newt rosined his bow, and the welkin rang with the music
of the fiddle.

There I sat in the old familiar woods and dreamed of the happy long ago,
until a gang of blackbirds, spluttering in a neighboring treetop woke
me. And when I rose from the log and threw myself into the shape of an
interrogation point, and touched the trigger, at the crack of my rifle
old bullfrogg shot into the pond; the hoot-owl "scooted" into his castle
in the trunk of an old hollow tree; the blackbirds cut the "asymptote of
a hyperbolical curve" in the air; the squirrel fell to the ground at my
feet, with a bullet through his brain, and there was silence--silence in
the frog pond; silence in the trees; silence in "Sleepy Hollow;" silence
all around me.

I shouldered my rifle and wended my way back to the old homestead on the
bank of the river and silence was there. The voices of the happy long
ago were hushed. The old time darkies were sleeping on the hill, close
by the spot where my father sleeps. The moss-covered bucket was gone
from the well. The old barn sheds had "creeled." The old house where
I was born was silent and deserted.

As I looked upon these scenes of my earliest recollection, I was
softened and subdued into a sweet pensive sorrow, which only the
happiest and holiest associations of by-gone years can call into being.
There are times in our lives when grief lies heaviest on the soul; when
memory weeps; when gathering clouds of mournful melancholy pour out
their floods and drown the heart in tears.

Oh, beautiful isle of memory, lighted by the morning star of life! where
the roses bloom by the door, where the robins sing among the apple
blossoms, where bright waters ripple in eternal melody! There are echoes
of songs that are sung no more; tender words spoken by lips that are
dust; blessings from hearts that are still. There's a useless cradle,
and a broken doll; a sunny tress, and an empty garment folded away;
there's a lock of silvered hair, and an unforgotten prayer, and _mother_
is sleeping there!



DREAMS OF THE YEARS TO COME.


[Illustration: AMBITION'S DREAM.]

There, under the shade of the sycamores, on my father's old farm, I used
to dream of the years to come. I looked through a vista blooming with
pleasures, fruiting with achievements, and beautiful as the cloud-isles
of the sunset. The siren, ambition, sat beside me and fired my young
heart with her prophetic song. She dazzled me, and charmed me, and
soothed me, into sweet fantastic reveries. She touched me and bade me
look into the wondrous future. The bow of promise spanned it. Hope was
enthroned there and smiled like an angel of light. Under that shining
arch lay the goal of my fondest aspirations. Visions of wealth, and of
laurels, and of applauding thousands, crowded the horizon of my dream.
I saw the capitol of the Republic, that white-columned pantheon of
liberty, lifting its magnificent pile from the midst of the palaces,
and parks, the statues, and monuments, of the most beautiful city in
the world. Infatuated with this vision of earthly glory, I bade adieu
to home and its dreams, seized the standard of a great political party,
and rushed into the turmoil and tumult of the heated campaign. Unable to
bear the armor of a Saul, I went forth to do battle armed with a fiddle,
a pair of saddlebags, a plug horse, and the eternal truth. There was the
din of conflict by day on the hustings; there was the sound of revelry
by night in the cabins. The mid-night stars twinkled to the music of the
merry fiddle, and the hills resounded with the clatter of dwindling shoe
soles, as the mountain lads and lassies danced the hours away in the
good old time Virginia reel. I rode among the mountain fastnesses like
the "Knight of the woeful figure," mounted on my prancing "Rozenante,"
everywhere charging the windmill of the opposing party, and wherever
I drew rein the mountaineers swarmed from far and near to witness the
bloodless battle of the contending candidates in the arena of joint
discussion. My learned competitor, bearing the shield of "protection to
American labor," and armed to the teeth with mighty argument, hurled
himself upon me with the fury of a lion. His blows descended like
thunderbolts, and the welkin rang with cheers when his lance went
shivering to the center. His logic was appalling, his imagery was
sublime. His tropes and similes flashed like the drawn blades of
charging cavalry, and with a flourish of trumpets, his grand effort
culminated in a splendid tribute to the Republic, crowned with
Goldsmith's beautiful metaphor:

  "As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
   Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm;
   Though 'round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
   Eternal sunshine settles on its head."


I received the charge of the enemy "with poised lance, and visor down."
I deluged the tall cliff under a flood of "mountain eloquence" which
poured from my patriotic lips like molasses pouring from the bung-hole
of the universe. I mounted the American eagle and soared among the
stars. I scraped the skies and cut the black illimitable far out beyond
the orbit of Uranus, and I reached the climax of my triumphant flight
with a hyperbole that eclipsed Goldsmith's metaphor, unthroned the foe,
and left him stunned upon the field. Thus I soared:

"I stood upon the sea shore, and with a frail reed in my hand, I wrote
in the sand, 'My Country, I love thee;' a mad wave came rushing by and
wiped out the fair impression. Cruel wave, treacherous sand, frail reed;
I said, 'I hate ye I'll trust ye no more, but with a giant's arm, I'll
reach to the coast of Norway, and pluck its tallest pine, and dip it
in the crater of Vesuvius, and write upon the burnished heavens; 'My
Country, _I love thee_! And I'd like to see _any_ durned wave rub that
out!!'"

Between the long intervals of argument my speech grinned with anecdotes
like a basketfull of 'possum heads. The fiddle played its part, the
people did the rest, and I carved upon the tombstone of the demolished
Knight these tender words:

  "Tread softly 'round this sacred heap,
   It guards ambition's restless sleep;
   Whose greed for place ne'er did forsake him,
   Don't mention office, or you'll wake him!"


I reached the goal of my visions and dreams under that collossal dome
whose splendors are shadowed in the broad river that flows by the shrine
of Mt. Vernon. I sat amid the confusion and uproar of the parliamentary
struggles of the lower branch of the Congress of the United States.
"Sunset" Cox, with his beams of wit and humor, convulsed the house and
shook the gallaries. Alexander Stephens, one of the last tottering
monuments of the glory of the Old South, still lingering on the floor,
where, in by-gone years the battles of his vigorous manhood were fought.
I saw in the Senate an assemblage of the grandest men since the days
of Webster and Clay. Conkling, the intellectual Titan, the Apollo of
manly form and grace, thundered there. The "Plumed Knight," that grand
incarnation of mind and magnetism, was at the zenith of his glory.
Edmunds, and Zack Chandler, and the brilliant and learned Jurist, Mat.
Carpenter, were there. Thurman the "noblest Roman of them all" was there
with his famous bandana handkerchief. The immortal Ben Hill, the idol
of the South, and Lamar, the gifted orator and highest type of Southern
chivalry were there. Garland, and Morgan, and Harris, and Coke, were
there; and Beck with his sledge-hammer intellect. It was an arena of
opposing gladiators more magnificent and majestic than was ever
witnessed in the palmiest days of the Roman Empire. There were giants
in the Senate in those days, and when they clashed shields and measured
swords in debate, the capitol trembled and the nation thrilled in every
nerve.

But how like the ocean's ebb and flow are the restless tides of politics!
These scenes of grandeur and glory soon dissolved from my view like a
dream. I "saved the country" for only two short years. My competitor
proved a lively corpse. He burst forth from the tomb like a locust from
its shell, and came buzzing to the national capital with "war on his
wings." I went buzzing back to the mountains to dream again under the
sycamores; and there a new ambition was kindled in my soul. A new
vision opened before me. I saw another capitol rise on the bank of the
Cumberland, overshadowing the tomb of Polk and close by the Hermitage
where reposes the sacred dust of Andrew Jackson. And I thought if I
could only reach the exalted position of Governor of the old "Volunteer
State" I would then have gained the sum of life's honors and happiness.
But lo! another son of my father and mother was dreaming there under the
same old sycamore. We had dreamed together in the same trundle-bed and
often kicked each other out. Together we had seen visions of pumpkin pie
and pulled hair for the biggest slice. Together we had smoked the first
cigar and together learned to play the fiddle. But now the dreams of our
manhood clashed. Relentless fate had decreed that "York" must contend
with "Lancaster" in the "War of the Roses." And with flushed cheeks and
throbbing hearts we eagerly entered the field; his shield bearing the
red rose, mine the white. It was a contest of principles, free from the
wormwood and gall of personalities, and when the multitude of partisans
gathered at the hustings, a white rose on every Democratic bosom, a red
rose on every Republican breast, in the midst of a wilderness of flowers
there was many a tilt and many a loud huzzah. But when the clouds of war
had cleared away, I looked upon the drooping red rose on the bosom of
the vanquished Knight, and thought of the first speech my mother ever
taught me:

  "Man's a vapor full of woes,
   Cuts a caper--down he goes!"


The white rose triumphed. But the shadow is fairer than the substance.
The pathway of ambition is marked at every mile with the grave of some
sweet pleasure slain by the hand of sacrifice. It bristles with thorns
planted by the fingers of envy and hate, and as we climb the rugged
heights, behind us lie our bloody footprints, before us tower still
greater heights, scarred by tempests and wrapped in eternal snow. Like
the edelweiss of the Alps, ambition's pleasures bloom in the chill air
of perpetual frost, and he who reaches the summit will look down with
longing eyes, on the humbler plain of life below and wish his feet had
never wandered from its warmer sunshine and sweeter flowers.



FROM THE CAVE-MAN TO THE "KISS-O-PHONE."


But let us not forget that it is better for us, and better for the
world, that we dream, and that we tread the thorny paths, and climb
the weary steeps, and leave our bloody tracks behind in the pursuit
of our dreams. For in their extravagant conceptions lie the germs
of human government, and invention, and discovery; and from their
mysterious vagaries spring the motive power of the world's progress.
Our civilization is the evolution of dreams. The rude tribes of primeval
men dwelt in caves until some unwashed savage dreamed that damp caverns
and unholy smells were not in accord with the principles of hygiene.
It dawned upon his _mighty_ intellect that one flat stone would lie on
top of another, and that a little mud, aided by Sir Isaac Newton's law
of gravitation, would hold them together, and that walls could be built
in the form of a quadrangle. Here was the birth of architecture. And
thus, from the magical dreams of this unmausoleumed barbarian was
evolved the home, the best and sweetest evolution of man's civilisation.

John Howard Payne touched the tenderest chord that vibrates in the
great heart of all humankind when he gave to immortality his song of
"Home, Sweet Home;" and thank God, the grand mansions and palaces of the
rich do not hold all the happiness and nobility of this world. There
are millions of humble cottages where virtue resides in the warmth and
purity of vestal fires, and where contentment dwells like perpetual
summer.

The antediluvians plowed with a forked stick, with one prong for the
beam and the other for the scratcher; and the plow boy and his sleepy
ox had no choice of prongs to hitch to. It was all the same to Adam
whether "Buck" was yoked to the beam or the scratcher. But some noble
Cincinnatus dreamed of the burnished plowshare; genius wrought his dream
into steel and now the polished Oliver Chill slices the earth like a
hot knife plowing a field of Jersey butter, and the modern gang plow,
bearing upon its wheels the gloved and umbrella'd leader of the Populist
Party, plows up the whole face of the earth in a single day.

What a wonderful workshop is the brain of man! Its noiseless machinery
cuts, and carves, and moulds, in the imponderable material of ideas.
It works its endless miracles through the brawny arm of labor, and the
deft fingers of skill, and the world moves forward by its magic. Aladdin
rubbed his lamp and the shadowy genii of fable performed impossible
wonders. The dreamer of to-day rubs his fingers through his hair and the
genii of his intellect work miracles which eclipse the most extravagant
fantasies of the "Arabian Nights."

A dreamer saw the imprisoned vapor throw open the lid of a teakettle,
and lo! a steam engine came puffing from his brain. And now many a huge
monster of Corliss, beautiful as a vision of Archimedes and smooth in
movement as a wheeling planet, sends its thrill of life and power
through mammoth plants of humming machinery. The fiery courser of the
steel-bound track shoots over hill and plain, like a mid-night meteor
through the fields of heaven, outstripping the wind.

A dreamer carried about in his brain a great Leviathan. It was launched
upon the billows, and like some collossal swan the palatial steamship
now sweeps in majesty through the blue wastes of old ocean.

Six hundred years before Christ, some old Greek discovered electricity
by rubbing a piece of amber, and unable to grasp the mystery, he called
it soul. His discovery slept for more than two thousand years until it
awoke in the dreams of Galvani, and Volta, and Benjamin Franklin. In the
morning of the nineteenth century the sculptor and scientist, Morse, saw
in his dreams, phantom lightnings leap across continents, and oceans,
and felt the pulse of thunder beat as it came bounding over threads of
iron that girdled the earth. In each throb he read a human thought. The
electric telegraph emerged from his brain, like Minerva from the brow of
Jove, and the world received a fresh baptism of light and glory.

In a few more years we will step over the threshold of the twentieth
century. What greater wonders will the dreamers yet unfold? It may be
that another magician, greater even than Edison, the "Wizzard of Menloe
Park," will rise up and coax the very laws of nature into easy compliance
with his unheard-of dreams. I think he will construct an electric
railway in the form of a huge tube, and call it the "electro-scoot,"
and passengers will enter it in New York and touch a button and arrive
in San Francisco two hours before they started! I think a new discovery
will be made by which the young man of the future may stand at his
"kiss-o-phone" in New York, and kiss his sweetheart in Chicago with all
the delightful sensations of the "aforesaid and the same." I think some
Liebig will reduce foods to their last analyses, and by an ultimate
concentration of their elements, will enable the man of the future to
carry a year's provisions in his vest pocket. The sucking dude will
store his rations in the head of his cane, and the commissary department
of a whole army will consist of a mule and a pair of saddlebags. A train
load of cabbage will be transported in a sardine box, and a thousand fat
Texas cattle in an oyster can. Power will be condensed from a forty
horse engine to a quart cup. Wagons will roll by the power in their
axles, and the cushions of our buggies will cover the force that propels
them. The armies of the future will fight with chain lightning, and the
battlefield will become so hot and unhealthy that,

  "He who fights and runs away
   Will never fight another day."


Some dreaming Icarus will perfect the flying machine, and upon the
aluminium wings of the swift Pegassus of the air the light-hearted
society girl will sail among the stars, and

  "Behind some dark cloud, where no one's allowed,
   Make love to the man in the moon."


The rainbow will be converted into a Ferris wheel; all men will be bald
headed; the women will run the Government--_and then I think the end of
time will be near at hand_.



DREAMS.


I heard a song of love, and tenderness, and sadness, and beauty, sweeter
than the song of a nightingale. It was breathed from the soul of Robert
Burns. I heard a song of deepest passion surging like the tempest-tossed
waves of the sea. It was the restless spirit of Lord Byron.

I heard a mournful melody of despairing love, full of that wild, mad,
hopeless longing of a bereaved soul which the mid-night raven mocked at
with that bitterest of all words--"Nevermore!" It was the weird threnody
of the brilliant, but ill-starred Poe, who, like a meteor, blazed but
for a moment, dazzling a hemisphere, and then went out forever in the
darkness of death.

Then I was exalted, and lifted into the serene sunlight of peace, as
I listened to the spirit of faith, pouring out in the songs of our own
immortal Longfellow.

With Milton I walked the scented isles of long lost Paradise, and caught
the odor of its bloom, and the swell of its music. He led me through
its rose brakes, and under the vermilion and flame of its orchids and
honeysuckles, down to the margin of the limpid river, where the water
lilies slept in fadeless beauty, and the lotus nodded to the rippling
waves; and there, under a bridal arch of orange blossoms, cordoned by
palms and many-colored flowers, I saw a vision of bliss and beauty from
which Satan turned away with an envy that stabbed him with pangs unfelt
before in hell! It was earth's first vision of wedded love.

But the horizon of Shakespeare was broader than them all. There is no
depth which he has not sounded, no height which he has not measured.
He walked in the gardens of the intellectual gods and gathered sweets
for the soul from a thousand unwithering flowers. He caught music from
the spheres, and beauty from ten thousand fields of light. His brain was
a mighty loom. His genius gathered and classified, his imagination spun
and wove; the flying shuttle of his fancy delivered to the warp of
wisdom and philosophy the shining threads spun from the fibres of human
hearts and human experience; and with his wondrous woof of pictured
tapestries, he clothed all thought in the bridal robes of immortality.
His mind was a resistless flood that deluged the world of literature
with its glory. The succeeding poets are but survivors as by the ark,
and, like the ancient dove, they gather and weave into garlands only
the "flotsam" of beauty which floats on the bosom of the Shakespearean
flood.

Oh, Shakespeare, archangel of poetry! The light from thy wings drowns
the stars and flashes thy glory on the civilizations of the whole world!

  "Unwearied, unfettered, unwatched, unconfined,
   Be my spirit like thee, in the world of the mind;
   No leaning for earth e'er to weary its flight;
   But fresh as thy pinions in regions of light."


All honor to the poets and philosophers and painters and sculptors and
musicians of the world! They are its honeybees; its songbirds; its
carrier doves, its ministering angels.



VISIONS OF DEPARTED GLORY.


[Illustration]

I walked with Gibbon and Hume, through the sombre halls of the past, and
caught visions of the glory of the classic Republics and Empires that
flourished long ago, and whose very dust is still eloquent with the
story of departed greatness. The spirit of genius lingers there still
like the fragrance of roses faded and gone.

I thought I heard the harp of Pindar, and the impassioned song of the
dark-eyed Sappho. I thought I heard the lofty epic of the blind Homer,
rushing on in the red tide of battle, and the divine Plato discoursing
like an oracle in his academic shades.

The canvas spoke and the marble breathed when Apelles painted and
Phidias carved.

I stood with Michael Angelo and saw him chisel his dreams from the
marble.

I saw Raphael spread his visions of beauty in immortal colors.

I sat under the spirit of Paganini's power. The flow of his melody
turned the very air into music. I thought I was in the presence of
Divinity as I listened to the warbles, and murmurs, and the ebb and flow
of the silver tides, from his violin. And I said: Music is the dearest
gift of God to man. The sea, the forest, the field, and the meadow, are
the very fountain heads of music.

I believe that Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and Schubert, and Verdi, and all
the great masters, caught their sweetest dreams from nature's musicians.
I think their richest airs of mirth, and gladness, and joy, were stolen
from the purling rivulet and the rippling river. I believe their
grandest inspirations were born of the tempest, and the thunder, and the
rolling billows of the angry ocean.



NATURE'S MUSICIANS.


[Illustration]

I sat on the grassy brink of a mountain stream in the gathering twilight
of evening. The shadowy woodlands around me became a great theatre. The
greensward before me was its stage.

The tinkling bell of a passing herd rang up the curtain, and I sat there
all alone in the hush of the dying day and listened to a concert of
nature's musicians who sing as God hath taught them to sing. The first
singer that entered my stage was Signor Grasshopper. He mounted a
mullein leaf and sang, and sang, and sang, until Professor Turkey
Gobbler slipped up behind him with open mouth, and Signor Grasshopper
vanished from the footlights forevermore. And as Professor Turkey
Gobbler strutted off my stage with a merry gobble, the orchestra opened
before me with a flourish of trumpets. The katydid led off with a
trombone solo; the cricket chimed in with his E. flat cornet; the
bumblebee played on his violoncello, and the jay-bird, laughed with his
piccolo. The music rose to grandeur with the deep bass horn of the big
black beetle; the mocking bird's flute brought me to tears of rapture,
and the screech-owl's fife made me want to fight. The tree-frog blew
his alto horn; the jar-fly clashed his tinkling cymbals; the woodpecker
rattled his kettledrum, and the locust jingled his tambourine. The music
rolled along like a sparkling river in sweet accompaniment with the
oriole's leading violin. But it suddenly hushed when I heard a ripple
of laughter among the hollyhocks before the door of a happy country
home. I saw a youth standing there in the shadows with his arm around
"something" and holding his sweetheart's hand in his. He bent forward;
lip met lip, and there was an explosion like the squeak of a new boot.
The lassie vanished into the cottage; the lad vanished over the hill,
and as he vanished he swung his hat in the shadows, and sang back to her
his happy love song.

[Illustration: LOVE AMONG THE HOLLYHOCKS.]

Did you never hear a mountain love song? This is the song he sang:

  "Oh, when she saw me coming she rung her hands and cried,
   She said I was the prettiest thing that ever lived or died.
   Oh, run along home Miss Nancy, get along home Miss Nancy,
   Run along home Miss Nancy, down in Rockinham."


The birds inclined their heads to listen to his song as it died away on
the drowsy summer air.

That night I slept in a mansion; but I "closed my eyes on garnished
rooms to dream of meadows and clover blooms," and love among the
hollyhocks. And while I dreamed I was serenaded by a band of mosquitoes.
This is the song they sang:

[Illustration]

  "Hush my dear, lie still and slumber;
     Holy angels guard thy bed;
   Heavenly 'skeeters without number
     Buzzing 'round your old bald head!!!"



PREACHER'S PARADISE.


There is no land on earth which has produced such quaint and curious
characters as the great mountainous regions of the South, and yet no
country has produced nobler or brainier men.

When I was a barefooted boy my grandfather's old grist mill was the
Mecca of the mountaineers. They gathered there on the rainy days to
talk politics and religion, and to drink "mountain" dew and fight.
Adam Wheezer was a tall, spindle-shanked old settler as dark as an
Indian, and he wore a broad, hungry grin that always grew broader at the
sight of a fat sheep. The most prominent trait of Adam's character, next
to his love of mutton, was his bravery. He stood in the mill one day
with his empty sack under his arm, as usual, when Bert Lynch, the bully
of the mountains, with an eye like a game rooster's, walked up to him
and said: "Adam, you've bin a-slanderin' of me, an' I'm a-gwine to give
you a thrashin'." He seized Adam by the throat and backed him under
the meal spout. Adam opened his mouth to squall and it spouted meal
like a whale. He made a surge for breath and liberty and tossed Bert
away like a feather. Then he shot out of the mill door like a rocket,
leaving his old battered plug hat and one prong of his coat tail in the
hands of the enemy. He ran through the creek and knocked it dry as he
went. He made a bee line for my grandfather's house, a quarter of a mile
away, on the hill. He burst into the sitting-room, covered with meal and
panting like a bellowsed horse, frightening my grandmother almost into
hysterics. The old lady screamed and shouted: "What in the world is the
matter, Adam?" Adam replied: "That there durned Bert Lynch is down
yander a-tryin' to raise a fuss with me."

But every dog has his day. Brother Billy Patterson preached from the
door of the mill on the following Sunday. It was his first sermon in
that "neck of the woods," and he began his ministrations with a powerful
discourse, hurling his anathemas against Satan and sin and every kind of
wickedness. He denounced whiskey. He branded the bully as a brute and a
moral coward, and personated Bert, having witnessed his battle with Adam.
This was too much for the champion. He resolved to "thrash" Brother
Patterson, and in a few days they met at the mill. Bert squared himself
and said: "Parson, you had your turn last Sunday; it's mine to-day.
Pull off that broadcloth an' take your medicine. I'm a-gwine to suck
the marrow out'n them ole bones o' yourn." The pious preacher plead for
peace, but without avail. At last he said: "Then, if nothing but a fight
will satisfy you, will you allow me to kneel down and say my prayer
before we fight?" "O yes, that's all right parson," said Bert. "But cut
yer prayer short, for I'm a-gwine to give you a good sound thrashin'."

The preacher knelt and thus began to pray: "Oh Lord, Thou knowest that
when I killed Bill Cummings, and John Brown, and Jerry Smith, and Levi
Bottles, that I did it in self defense. Thou knowest, Oh Lord, that when
I cut the heart out of young Sliger, and strewed the ground with the
brains of Paddy Miles, that it was forced upon me, and that I did it in
great agony of soul. And now, Oh Lord, I am about to be forced to put in
his coffin, this poor miserable wretch, who has attacked me here to-day.
Oh Lord, have mercy upon his soul and take care of his helpless widow
and orphans when he is gone!"

And he arose whetting his knife on his shoe-sole, singing:

  "Hark, from the tomb a doleful sound,
   Mine ears attend the cry."


But when he looked around, Bert was gone. There was nothing in sight but
a little cloud of dust far up the road, following in the wake of the
vanishing champion.

[Illustration]



BROTHER ESTEP AND THE TRUMPET.


During the great revival which followed Brother Patterson's first
sermon and effective prayer, the hour for the old-fashioned Methodist
love feast arrived. Old Brother Estep, in his enthusiasm on such
occasions sometimes "stretched his blanket." It was his glory to get
up a sensation among the brethren. He rose and said: "Bretheren, while
I was a-walkin' in my gyardin late yisterday evenin', a-meditatin' on
the final eend of the world, I looked up, an' I seed Gabrael raise his
silver trumpet, which was about fifty foot long, to his blazin' lips,
an' I hearn him give it a toot that knocked me into the fence corner
an' shuck the very taters out'n the ground."

"Tut, tut," said the old parson, "don't talk that way in this meeting;
we all know you didn't hear Gabrael blow his trumpet." The old man's
wife jumped to her feet to help her husband out, and said: "Now parson,
you set down there. Don't you dispute John's word that-away--He mout
a-hearn a toot or two."



"WAMPER-JAW" AT THE JOLLIFICATION.


The sideboard of those good old times would have thrown the prohibition
candidate of to-day into spasms. It sparkled with cut glass decanters
full of the juices of corn, and rye, and apple. The old Squire of the
mill "Deestrict" had as many sweet, buzzing friends as any flower garden
or cider press in Christendom. The most industrious bee that sucked at
the Squire's sideboard was old "Wamper-jaw." His mouth reached from ear
to ear, and was inlaid with huge gums as red as vermilion; and when he
laughed it had the appearance of lightning. On the triumphant day of the
Squire's re-election to his great office, when everything was lovely and
"the goose hung high," he was surrounded by a large crowd of his fellow
citizens, and Thomas Jefferson, in his palmiest days, never looked
grander than did the Squire on this occasion. He was attired in his
best suit of homespun, the choicest product of his wife's dye pot.
His immense vest with its broad luminous stripes, checked the rotundity
of his ample stomach like the lines of latitude and longitude, and
resembled a half finished map of the United States. His blue jeans coat
covered his body as the waters cover the face of the great deep, and
its huge collar encircled the back of his head like the belts of light
around a planet.

The Squire was regaling his friends with his latest side-splitting
jokes. Old "Wamper-jaw" threw himself back in his chair and exploded
with peal after peal of laughter. But suddenly he looked around and
said: "Gen-tul-men, my jaw's flew out'n jint!"

His comrades seized him and pulled him all over the yard trying to get
it back. Finally old "Wamper-jaw" mounted his mule, and with pounding
heels, rode, like Tam O'Shanter, to the nearest doctor who lived two
miles away. The doctor gave his jaw a mysterious yank and it popped back
into socket. "Wamper-jaw" rushed back to join in the festivities at the
Squire's. The glasses were filled again; another side-splitting joke was
told, another peal of laughter went 'round, when "Wamper-jaw" threw his
hand to his face and said: "Gen-tul-men, she's out agin!!!" There was
another hasty ride for the doctor. But in the years that followed;
"Wamper-jaw" was never known to laugh aloud. On the most hilarious
occasions he merely showed his gums.

[Illustration: "WAMPER-JAW."]



THE TINTINNABULATION OF THE DINNER BELLS.


How many millions dream on the lowest planes of life! How few ever reach
the highest and like stars of the first magnitude, shed their light upon
the pathway of the marching centuries! What multitudes there are whose
horizons are lighted with visions and dreams of the flesh pots and soup
bowls,--whose Fallstaffian aspirations never rise above the fat things
of this earth, and whose ear flaps are forever inclined forward,
listening for the dinner bells!

  "The bells, bells, bells!
   What a world of pleasure their harmony foretells!
   The bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells!
   The tintinnabulation of the dinner bells!"


In my native mountains there once lived one of these old gluttonous
dreamers. I think he was the champion eater of the world. Many a time I
have seen him at my grandfather's table, and the viands and battercakes
vanished "like the baseless fabric of a vision,"--he left not "a wreck
behind." But one day, in the voracity of his shark-like appetite, he
unfortunately undertook too large a contract for the retirement of an
immense slice of ham. It scraped its way down his rebellious esophagus
for about two inches, and lodged as tightly as a bullet in a rusty gun.
His prodigious Adam's apple suddenly shot up to his chin; his eyes
protruded, and his purple neck craned and shortened by turns, like a
trombone in full blast. He scrambled from the table and pranced about
the room like a horse with blind staggers. My grandfather sprang at him
and dealt him blow after blow in the back, which sounded like the blows
of a mallet on a dry hide; but the ham wouldn't budge. The old man ran
out into the yard and seized a plank about three feet long, and rushed
into the room with it drawn.

"Now William," said he, "get down on your all-fours." William got down.
"Now William, when I hit, you swallow." He hit, and it popped like a
Winchester rifle.

William shot into the corner of the room like a shell from a mortar, but
in a moment he was seated at his place at the table again, with a broad
grin on his face. "Is it down William?" shouted the old man. "Yes, Mr.
Haynes, the durned thing's gone,--please pass the ham."

[Illustration: "WHEN I HIT, YOU SWALLOW."]

I thought how vividly that old glutton illustrated the fools who, in
their effort to gulp down the sensual pleasures of this world, choke the
soul, and nothing but the clap-board of hard experience, well laid on,
can dislodge the ham, and restore the equilibrium.



PHANTOMS OF THE WINE CUP.


[Illustration]

A little below the glutton lies the plane of the drunkard whose visions
and dreams are bounded by the horizon of a still tub. "A little wine for
the stomach's sake is good," but in the trembling hand of a drunkard,
every crimson drop that glows in the cup is crushed from the roses that
once bloomed on the cheeks of some helpless woman. Every phantom of
beauty that dances in it is a devil; and yet, millions quaff, and with
a hideous laugh, go staggering to the grave.

[Illustration]



THE MISSING LINK.


A little below the plane of the drunkard is the dude, that missing link
between monkey and man, whose dream of happiness is a single eye-glass,
a kangaroo strut, and three hours of conversation without a sensible
sentence; whose only conception of life is to splurge, and flirt, and
spend his father's fortune.

"Out of the fullness of his heart his mouth singeth:"

  "I'm a dandy; I'm a swell.
   Just from college, can't you tell?
   I'm the beau of every belle;
   I'm the swellest of the swell.

   I'm the King of all the balls,
   I'm a Prince in banquet halls.
   My daddy's rich, they know it well,
   I'm the swellest of the swell."



NIGHTMARE.


Unhappily for us all, in the world of visions and dreams, there is a
dark side to human life. Here have been dreamed out all the crimes which
have steeped our race in shame since the expulsion from Eden, and all
the wars that have cursed mankind since the birth of history. Alexander
the Great was a monster whose sword drank the blood of a conquered
world. Julius Cæsar marched his invincible armies, like juggernauts,
over the necks of fallen nations. Napoleon Bonaparte rose with the
morning of the nineteenth century, and stood, like some frightful comet,
on its troubled horizon. Distraught with the dream of conquest and
empire, he hovered like a god on the verge of battle. Kings and emperors
stood aghast. The sun of Austerlitz was the rising sun of his glory and
power, but it went down, veiled in the dark clouds of Waterloo, and
Napoleon the Great, uncrowned, unthroned, and stunned by the dreadful
shock that annihilated the Grand Army and the Old Guard, "wandered
aimlessly about on the lost field," in the gloom that palled a fallen
empire, as Hugo describes him, "the somnambulist of a vast, shattered
dream."



INFIDELITY.


It is in the desert of evil, where virtue trembles to tread, where hope
falters, and where faith is crucified, that the infidel dreams. To him,
all there is of heaven is bounded by this little span of life; all there
is of pleasure and love is circumscribed by a few fleeting years; all
there is of beauty is mortal; all there is of intelligence and wisdom is
in the human brain; all there is of mystery and infinity is fathomable
by human reason, and all there is of virtue is measured by the relations
of man to man. To him, all must end in the "tongueless silence of the
dreamless dust," and all that lies beyond the grave is a voiceless shore
and a starless sky. To him, there are no prints of deathless feet on its
echoless sands, no thrill of immortal music in its joyless air.

He has lost his God, and like some fallen seraph flying in rayless
night, he gropes his way on flagging pinions, searching for light where
darkness reigns, for life where Death is King.



THE DREAM OF GOD.


[Illustration]

I have wondered a thousand times, if an infidel ever looked through a
telescope. The universe is the dream of God, and the heavens declare
His glory. There is our mighty sun, robed in the brightness of his
eternal fires, and with his planets forever wheeling around him. Yonder
is Mercury, and Venus, and there is Mars, the ruddy globe, whose poles
are white with snow, and whose other zones seem dotted with seas and
continents. Who knows but that his roseate color is only the blush of
his flowers? Who knows but that Mars may now be a paradise inhabited by
a blessed race, unsullied by sin, untouched by death? There is the giant
orb of Jupiter, the champion of the skies, belted and sashed with vapor
and clouds; and Saturn, haloed with bands of light and jeweled with
eight ruddy moons; and there is Uranus, another stupendous world,
speeding on in the prodigious circle of his tireless journey around the
sun. And yet another orbit cuts the outer rim of our system; and on its
gloomy pathway, the lonely Neptune walks the cold, dim solitudes of
space. In the immeasurable depths beyond appear millions of suns, so
distant that their light could not reach us in a thousand years. There,
spangling the curtains of the black profound, shine the constellations
that sparkle like the crown jewels of God. There are double, and triple,
and quadruple suns of different colors, commingling their gorgeous hues
and flaming like archangels on the frontier of stellar space. If we
look beyond the most distant star, the black walls are flecked with
innumerable patches of filmy light like the dewy gossamers of the
spider's loom that dot our fields at morn. What beautiful forms we trace
among those phantoms of light! circles, and elipses, and crowns, and
shields, and spiral wreaths of palest silver. And what are they? Did
I say phantoms of light? The telescope resolves them into millions of
suns, standing out from the oceans of white hot matter that contain the
germs of countless systems yet to be. And so far removed from us are
these suns, that the light which comes to us from them to-night has been
speeding on its way for more than two million years.

What is that white belt we call the milky way, which spans the heavens
and sparkles like a Sahara of diamonds? It is a river of stars: it is
a gulf stream of suns; and if each of these suns holds in his grasp a
mighty system of planets, as ours does, how many multiplied millions
of worlds like our own are now circling in that innumerable concourse?

Oh, where are the bounds of this divine conception! Where ends this
dream of God? And is there no life and intelligence in all this throng
of spheres? Are there no sails on those far away summer seas, no wings
to cleave those crystal airs, no forms divine to walk those radiant
fields? Are there no eyes to see those floods of light, no hearts to
share with ours that love which holds all these mighty orbs in place?

It cannot be, it cannot be! Surely there is a God! If there is not,
life is a dream, human experience is a phantom, and the universe is
a flaunting lie!



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