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Nature and Human Nature By Thomas Chandler Haliburton Characters: 51126

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

When I took leave of the family I returned to the room where I had left Peter and the doctor, but they had both retired. And as my chamber adjoined it, I sat by the fire, lighted a cigar, and fell into one of my rambling meditations.

Here, said I to myself, is another phase of life. Peter is at once a Highlander, a Canadian, a trapper, a backwoodsman, and a coaster. His daughters are half Scotch and half Indian, and have many of the peculiarities of both races. There is even between these sisters a wide difference in intellect, appearance, and innate refinement. The doctor has apparently abandoned his profession for the study of nature, and quit the busy haunts of men for the solitude of the forest. He seems to think and act differently from any one else in the country. Here too we have had Cutler, who is a scholar and a skilful navigator, filling the berth of a master of a fishing craft. He began life with nothing but good principles and good spirits, and is now about entering on a career, which in a few years will lead to a great fortune. He is as much out of place where he is, as a salmon would be in a horse pond. And here am I, Squire, your humble servant, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, not an eccentric man, I hope, for I detest them, they are either mad, or wish to be thought so, because madness they suppose to be an evidence of genius; but a specimen of a class not uncommon in the States, though no other country in the world but Yankeedoodledum produces it.

This is a combination these colonies often exhibit, and what a fool a man must be when character is written in such large print, if he can't read it even as he travels on horseback.

Of all the party assembled here to-night, the Scotch lasses alone, who came in during the evening, are what you call everyday galls. They are strong, hearty, intelligent, and good-natured, full of fun and industry, can milk, churn, make butter and cheese, card, spin, and weave, and will make capital wives for farmers of their own station in life. As such, they are favourable representatives of their class, and to my mind, far, far above those that look down upon them, who ape, but can't copy, and have the folly, because they sail in the wake of larger craft, to suppose they can be mistaken for anything else than tenders. Putting three masts into a coaster may make her an object of ridicule, but can never give her the appearance of a ship. They know this in England, they have got to learn it yet in the Provinces.

Well, this miscellaneous collection of people affords a wide field for speculation. Jessie is a remarkable woman, I must ask the doctor about her history. I see there is a depth of feeling about her, a simplicity of character, a singular sensitiveness, and a shade of melancholy. Is it constitutional, or does it arise from her peculiar position? I wonder how she reasons, and what she thinks, and how she would talk, if she would say what she thinks. Has she ability to build up a theory of her own, or does she, like half the women in the world, only think of a thing as it occurs? Does she live in instances or in generalities, I'll draw her out and see. Every order, where there are orders, and every class (and no place is without them where women are), have a way of judging in common with their order or class. What is her station I wonder in her own opinion? What are her expectations? What are her notions of wedlock? All girls regard marriage as an enviable lot, or a necessary evil. If they tell us they don't, it's because the right man hante come. And therefore I never mind what they say on this subject. I have no doubt they mean it; but they don't know what they are a talking about.

You, Squire, may go into a ball-room, where there are two hundred women. One hundred and ninety-nine of them you will pass with as much indifference as one hundred and ninety-nine pullets; but the two hundredth irresistibly draws you to her. There are one hundred handsomer, and ninety-nine cleverer ones present; but she alone has the magnet that attracts you. Now, what is that magnet? Is it her manner that charms? is it her voice that strikes on one of those thousand and one chords of your nervous system, and makes it vibrate, as sound does hollow glass? Or do her eyes affect your gizzard, so that you have no time to chew the cud of reflection, and no opportunity for your head to judge how you can digest the notions they have put into it? Or is it animal magnetism, or what the plague is it?

You are strangely affected; nobody else in the room is, and everybody wonders at you. But so it is. It's an even chance if you don't perpetrate matrimony. Well, that's a thing that sharpens the eyesight, and will remove a cateract quicker than an oculist can, to save his soul alive. It metamorphoses an angel into a woman, and it's plaguey lucky if the process don't go on and change her into something else.

After I got so far in my meditations, I lit another cigar, and took out my watch to look at the time. "My eyes," sais I, "if it tante past one o'clock at night. Howsomever, it ain't often I get a chance to be alone, and I will finish this here weed, at any rate." Arter which I turned in. The following morning I did not rise as early as usual, for it's a great secret for a man never to be in the way, especially in a house like Peter's, where his daughters had, in course, a good deal to see to themselves. So I thought I'd turn over and take another snoose; and do you know, Squire, that is always a dreamy one, and if your mind ain't worried, or your digestion askew, it's more nor probable you will have pleasant ones.

When I went into the keeping-room, I found Jessie and her sister there, the table set, and everything prepared for me.

"Mr Slick," said the elder one, "your breakfast is ready."

"But where is your father?" said I, "and Doctor Ovey?"

"Oh, they have gone to the next harbour, Sir, to see a man who is very ill there. The doctor left a message for you, he said he wanted to see you again very much, and hoped to find you here on his return, which will be about four o'clock in the afternoon. He desired me to say, if you sailed before he got back, he hoped you would leave word what port he would find you in, as he would follow you."

"Oh," said I, "we shall not go before to-morrow, at the earliest, so he will be in very good time. But who in the world is Doctor Ovey? He is the most singular man I ever met. He is very eccentric; ain't he?"

"I don't know who he is," she replied. "Father agrees with you. He says he talks sometimes as if he was daft, but that, I believe, is only because he is so learned. He has a house a way back in the forest, where he lives occasionally; but the greater part of the year he wanders about the woods, and camps out like--"

She hesitated a moment, and then brought out the reluctant word: "an Indian. He knows the name of every plant and flower in the country, and their uses; and the nature of every root, or bark, or leaf that ever was; and then he knows all the ores, and coal mines, and everything of that kind. He is a great hand for stuffing birds and animals, and has some of every kind there is in the province. As for butterflies, beetles, and those sort of things, he will chase them like a child all day. His house is a regular--. I don't recollect the word in English; in Gaelic it is 'tigh neonachais.'"

"Museum?" said I.

"Ah, that's it," said she.

"He can't have much practice," I said, "if he goes racing and chasing over the country that way, like a run-away engine."

"He don't want it, Sir," she replied, "he is very well off. He says he is one of the richest men in the country, for he don't spend half his income, and that any man who does that is wealthy. He says he ain't a doctor. Whether he is or not, I don't know; but he makes wonderful cures. Nothing in the world makes him so angry as when anybody sends for him that can afford a doctor, for he don't take pay. Now, this morning he stormed, and raved, and stamped, and foamed at the mouth, as if he was mad; he fairly swore, a thing I never heard him do before; and he seized the hammer that he chips off stones with, and threatened the man so who come for him, that he stood with the door in his hand, while he begged him to go.

"'Oh, Sir,' said he, 'the Squire will die if you don't go.'

"'Let him die, then,' he replied, 'and be hanged. What is it to me? It serves him right. Why didn't he send for Doctor Smith, and pay him? Does he think I am a going to rob that man of his living? Be off, Sir, off with you. Tell him I can't come, and won't come, and do you go for a magistrate to make his will.'

"As soon as the man quitted the house, his fit left him.

"'Well," said he, 'Peter, I suppose we musn't let the man perish after all; but I wish he hadn't sent for me, especially just now, for I want to have a long talk with Mr Slick.'

"And he and father set off immediately through the woods."

"Suppose we beat up his quarters," said I, "Jessie. I should like to see his house and collection, amazingly."

"Oh," said she, "so should I, above all things; but I wouldn't ask him for the world. He'll do it for you, I know he will; for he says you are a man after his own heart. You study nature so; and I don't know what all, he said of you."

"Well, well," sais I, "old trapper as he is, see if I don't catch him. I know how to bait the trap; so he will walk right into it. And then, if he has anything to eat there, I'll show him how to cook it woodsman fashion. I'll teach him how to dress a salmon; roast, boil, or bake. How to make a bee-hunter's mess; a new way to do his potatoes camp fashion; and how to dispense with kitchen-ranges, cabouses, or cooking-stoves. If I could only knock over some wild-ducks at the lake here, I'd show him a simple way of preparing them, that would make his mouth water, I know. Truth is, a man that lives in the country ought to know a little of everything a'most, and he can't be comfortable if he don't. But dear me, I must be a movin."

So I made her a bow, and she made me one of her best courtseys. And I held out my hand to her, but she didn't take it, though I see a smile playin' over her face. The fact is, it is just as well she didn't, for I intended to draw her--. Well, it ain't no matter what I intended to do; and therefore it ain't no use to confess what I didn't realise.

"Truth is," said I, lingering a bit, not to look disappointed, "a farmer ought to know what to raise, how to live, and where to save. If two things are equally good, and one costs money, and the other only a little trouble, the choice ain't difficult, is it?"

"Mr Slick," sais she, "are you a farmer?"

"I was bred and born on a farm, dear," sais I, "and on one, too, where nothin' was ever wasted, and no time ever lost; where there was a place for everything, and everything was in its place. Where peace and plenty reigned; and where there was a shot in the locker for the minister, and another for the poor, and--"

"You don't mean to say that you considered them game, did you?" said she, looking archly.

"Thank you," sais I. "But now you are making game of me, Miss; that's not a bad hit of yours though; and a shot for the bank, at the eend of the year. I know all about farm things, from raisin' Indian corn down to managing a pea-hen; the most difficult thing to regulate next to a wife, I ever see."

"Do you live on a farm now?"

"Yes, when I am to home," sais I, "I have returned again to the old occupation and the old place; for, after all, what's bred in the bone, you know, is hard to get out of the flesh, and home is home, however homely. The stones, and the trees, and the brooks, and the hills look like old friends--don't you think so?"

"I should think so," she said; "but I have never returned to my home or my people, and never shall." And the tears rose in her eyes, and she got up and walked to the window, and said, with her back towards me, as if she was looking at the weather: "The doctor has a fine day for his journey; I hope he will return soon. I think you will like him."

And then she came back and took her seat, as composed as if I had never awakened those sad thoughts. Poor thing! I knew what was passing in her mind, as well as if those eloquent tears had not touched my heart. Somehow or another, it appears to me, like a stumblin' horse, I am always a-striking my foot agin some stone, or stump, or root, that any fellow might see with half an eye. She forced a smile, and said:

"Are you married, Sir?"

"Married," sais I, "to be sure I am; I married Flora."

"You must think me as innocent as she was, to believe that," she said, and laughed at the idea. "How many children have you?"

"Seven," sais I:

"Richard R., and Ira C.,

Betsey Anne, and Jessie B.,

Sary D., Eugeen--E,

And Iren--ee."

"I have heard a great deal of you, Mr Slick," she said, "but you are the queerest man I ever see. You talk so serious, and yet you are so full of fun."

"That's because I don't pretend to nothin', dear;" sais I, "I am just a nateral man. There is a time for all things, and a way to do 'em too. If I have to freeze down solid to a thing, why then, ice is the word. If there is a thaw, then fun and snow-ballin' is the ticket. I listen to a preacher, and try to be the better for his argufying, if he has any sense, and will let me; and I listen to the violin, and dance to it, if it's in tune, and played right. I like my pastime, and one day in seven is all the Lord asks. Evangelical people say he wants the other six. Let them state day and date and book and page for that, for I won't take their word for it. So I won't dance of a Sunday; but show me a pretty gall, and give me good music, and see if I don't dance any other day. I am not a droll man, dear, but I say what I think, and do what I please, as long as I know I ain't saying or doing wrong. And if that ain't poetry, it's truth, that's all."

"I wish you knew the doctor," said she; "I don't understand these things, but you are the only man I ever met that talked like him, only he hante the fun you have; but he enjoys fun beyond everything. I must say I rather like him, though he is odd, and I am sure you would, for you could comprehend many things he sais that I don't."

"It strikes me," sais I to myself, for I thought, puttin' this and that together; "her rather likin' him, and her desire to see his house, and her tryin' to flatter me that I talked like him; that perhaps, like her young Gaelic friend's brother who dreamed of the silver dollars, she might have had a dream of him."

So, sais I, "I have an idea, Jessie, that there is a subject, if he talked to you upon, you could understand."

"Oh, nonsense," said she, rising and laughing, "now do you go on board and get me your book; and I will go and see about dinner for the Doc--for my father and you."

Well, I held out my hand, and said,

"Good-morning, Miss Jessie. Recollect, when I bring you the book that you must pay the forfeit."

She dropt my hand in a minute, stood up as straight as a tragedy actress, and held her head as high as the Queen of Sheby. She gave me a look I shan't very easily forget, it was so full of scorn and pride.

"And you too, Sir," said she, "I didn't expect this of you," and then left the room.

"Hullo!" sais I, "who's half-cracked now; you or the doctor? it appears to me it's six of one and half-a-dozen of the other;" and I took my hat, and walked down to the beach and hailed a boat.

About four I returned to the house, and brought with me, as I promised, the "Clockmaker." When I entered the room, I found Jessie there, who received me with her usual ease and composure. She was trimming a work-bag, the sides of which were made of the inner bark of the birch-tree, and beautifully worked with porcupine quills and moose hair.

"Well," sais I, "that is the most delicate thing I ever saw in all my born days. Creation, how that would be prized in Boston! How on earth did you learn to do that?" sais I.

"Why," said she, with an effort that evidently cost her a struggle, "my people make and barter them at the Fort at the north-west for things of more use. Indians have no money."

It was the first time I had heard so distinct an avowal of her American origin, and as I saw it brought the colour to her face, I thought I had discovered a clue to her natural pride, or, more properly, her sense of the injustice of the world, which is too apt to look down upon this mixed race with open or ill-concealed contempt. The scurvey opens old sores, and makes them bleed afresh, and an unfeeling fellow does the same. Whatever else I may be, I am not that man, thank fortune. Indeed, I am rather a dab at dressin' bodily ones, and I won't turn my back in that line, with some simples I know of, on any doctor that ever trod in shoe-leather, with all his compounds, phials, and stipties.

In a gineral way, they know just as much about their business as a donkey does of music, and yet both of them practise all day. They don't make no improvements. They are like the birds of the air, and the beasts of the forest. Swallows build their nests year after year and generation after generation in the identical same fashion, and moose winter after winter, and century after century, always follow in each other's tracks. They consider it safer, it ain't so laborious, and the crust of the snow don't hurt their shins. If a critter is such a fool as to strike out a new path for himself, the rest of the herd pass, and leave him to worry on, and he soon hears the dogs in pursuit, and is run down and done for. Medical men act in the same manner.

Brother Eldad, the doctor, used to say to me when riggin' him on the subject:

"Sam, you are the most conceited critter I ever knew. You have picked up a few herbs and roots, that have some virtue in them, but not strength enough for us to give a place to in the pharmacopia of medicine."

"Pharmacopia?" sais I, "why, what in natur is that? What the plague does it mean? Is it bunkum?"

"You had better not talk on the subject," said he, "if you don't know the tarms."

"You might as well tell me," sais I, "that I had better not speak English if I can't talk gibberish. But," sais I, "without joking, now, when you take the husk off that, and crack the nut, what do you call the kernel?"

"Why," sais he, "it's a dispensary; a book containin' rules for compoundin' medicines."

"Well then, it's a receipt-book, and nothin' else, arter all. Why the plague can't you call it so at once, instead of usin' a word that would break the jaw of a German?"

"Sam," he replied, "the poet says with great truth,

"'A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.'"

"Dear, dear," said I, "there is another strange sail hove in sight, as I am alive. What flag does 'Pierian' sail under?"

"The magpies," said he, with the air of a man that's a goin' to hit you hard. "It is a spring called Pierus after a gentleman of that name, whose daughters, that were as conceited as you be, were changed into magpies by the Muses, for challenging them out to sing. All pratin' fellows like you, who go about runnin' down doctors, ought to be sarved in the same way."

"A critter will never be run down," said I, "who will just take the trouble to get out of the way, that's a fact. Why on airth couldn't the poet have said Magpian Spring, then all the world would understand him. No, the lines would have had more sense if they had run this way:

"'A little physic is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or drink not of the doctor's spring.'"

Well, it made him awful mad. Sais he, "You talk of treating wounds as all unskilful men do, who apply balsams and trash of that kind, that half the time turns the wound into an ulcer; and then when it is too late the doctor is sent for, and sometimes to get rid of the sore, he has to amputate the limb. Now, what does your receipt book say?"

"It sais," sais I, "that natur alone makes the cure, and all you got to do, is to stand by and aid her in her efforts."

"That's all very well," sais he, "if nature would only tell you what to do, but nature leaves you, like a Yankee quack as you are, to guess."

"Well," sais I, "I am a Yankee, and I ain't above ownin' to it, and so are you, but you seem ashamed of your broughtens up, and I must say I don't think you are any great credit to them. Natur, though you don't know it, because you are all for art, does tell you what to do, in a voice so clear you can't help hearing it, and in language so plain you can't help understandin' it. For it don't use chain-shot words like 'pharmacopia' and 'Pierian,' and so on, that is neither Greek nor Latin, nor good English, nor vulgar tongue. And more than that, it shows you what to do. And the woods, and the springs, and the soil is full of its medicines and potions. Book doctrin' is like book farmin', a beautiful thing in theory, but ruination in practice."

"Well," said he, with a toss of his head, "this is very good stump oratory, and if you ever run agin a doctor at an election, I shouldn't wonder if you won it, for most people will join you in pullin' down your superiors."

That word superiors grigged me; thinks I, "My boy, I'll just take that expression, roll it up into a ball, and shy it back at you, in a way that will make you sing out 'Pen and ink,' I know. Well," sais I, quite mild (I am always mild when I am mad, a keen razor is always smooth), "have you any other thing to say about natur?"

"Yes," sais he, "do you know what healin' by the first intention is, for that is a nateral operation? Answer me that, will you?"

"You mean the second intention, don't you?" sais I.

"No," he replied, "I mean what I say."

"Well, Eldad," sais I, "my brother, I will answer both. First about the election, and then about the process of healin', and after that we won't argue no more, for you get so hot always, I am afraid you will hurt my feelins. First," sais I, "I have no idea of runnin' agin a doctor either at an election or elsewhere, so make yourself quite easy on that score, for if I did, as he is my superior, I should be sure to get the worst of it."

"How," said he, "Sam?" lookin' quite pleased, seein' me kinder knock under that way.

"Why dod drot it," sais I, "Eldad, if I was such a born fool as to run agin a doctor, his clothes would fill mine so chock full of asafoetida and brimstone, I'd smell strong enough to pysen a poll-cat. Phew! the very idea makes me sick; don't come any nearer, or I shall faint. Oh, no, I shall give my superiors a wide berth, depend upon it. Then," sais I, "secondly, as to healin' by the first intention, I have heard of it, but never saw it practised yet. A doctor's first intention is to make money, and the second is to heal the wound. You have been kind enough to treat me to a bit of poetry, now I won't be in your debt, so I will just give you two lines in return. Arter you went to Philadelphia to study, Minister used to make me learn poetry twice a week. All his books had pencil marks in the margin agin all the tid bits, and I had to learn more or less of these at a time according to their length; among others I remember two verses that just suit you and me.

"'To tongue or pudding thou hast no pretence,

Learning thy talent is, but mine is SENSE.'"

"Sam," said he, and he coloured up, and looked choked with rage, "Sam."

"Dad," sais I, and it stopped him in a minute. It was the last syllable of his name, and when we was boys, I always called him Dad, and as he was older than me, I sometimes called him Daddy on that account. It touched him, I see it did. Sais I, "Dad, give me your daddle, fun is fun, and we may carry our fun too far," and we shook hands. "Daddy," sais I, "since I became an author, and honorary corresponding member of the Slangwhanger Society, your occupation and mine ain't much unlike, is it?"

"How?" said he.

"Why, Dad," sais I, "you cut up the dead, and I cut up the livin."

"Well," sais he, "I give less pain, at any rate, and besides, I do more good, for I make the patient leave a legacy to posterity, by furnishing instruction in his own body."

"You don't need to wait for dissection for the bequest," said I, "for many a fellow after amputation has said to you, 'a-leg-I-see.' But why is sawing off a leg an unprofitable thing? Do you give it up? Because it's always bootless."

"Well," said he, "why is an author the laziest man in the world? Do you give that up? Because he is most of his time in sheets."

"Well, that is better than being two sheets in the wind," I replied. "But why is he the greatest coward in creation in hot weather? Because he is afraid somebody will quilt him."

"Oh, oh," said he, "that is an awful bad one. Oh, oh, that is like lead, it sinks to the bottom, boots, spurs, and all. Oh, come, that will do, you may take my hat. What a droll fellow you be. You are the old sixpence, and nothin' will ever change you. I never see a feller have such spirits in my life; do you know what pain is?"

"Oh," sais I, "Dad," and I put on a very sad look, "Daddy," sais I, "my heart is most broke, though I don't say anythin' about it. There is no one I can confide in, and I can't sleep at all. I was thinkin' of consultin' you, for I know I can trust you, and I am sure your kind and affectionate heart will feel for me, an

d that your sound, excellent judgment will advise me what is best to be done under the peculiar circumstances."

"Sam," said he, "my good fellow, you do me no more than justice," and he took my hand very kindly, and sat down beside me. "Sam, I am very sorry for you. Confide in me; I will be as secret as the grave. Have you consulted dear old Minister?"

"Oh, no," said I, "Minister is a mere child."

"True, true, my brother," said he, "he is a good worthy man, but a mere child, as you say. Is it an affair of the heart, Sam?"

"Oh, no," sais I, "I wish it was, for I don't think I shall ever die of a broken heart for any one, it don't pay."

"Is it a pecuniary affair?"

"No, no, if it was it might be borne, an artful dodge, a good spekelation, or a regular burst would soon cure that."

"I hope it ain't an affair of law," said he, lookin' frightened to death, as if I had done something dreadful bad.

"No, I wish it was, for a misnomer, an alibi, a nonjoinder, a demurrer, a nonsuit, a freemason or a know-nothin' sign to a juror, a temperance wink, or an orange nod to a partisan judge, or some cussed quirk or quibble or another, would carry me through it. No, it ain't that."

"What is it then?"

"Why," sais I, a bustin' out a larfin, "I am most dead sometimes with the jumpin' toothache."

"Well, well," said he, "I never was sold so before, I vow; I cave in, I holler, and will stand treat."

That's the way we ended our controversy about wounds.

But he may say what he likes. I consider myself rather a dab at healing bodily ones. As to those of the heart, I haven't had the experience, for I am not a father confessor to galls, and of course ain't consulted. But it appears to me clergymen don't know much about the right way to treat them. The heart is a great word. In itself it's nothin' but a thing that swells and contracts, and keeps the blood a movin; a sort of central post-office that communicates with all the great lines and has way stations to all remote parts. Like that, there is no sleep in it day or night. Love, hope, fear, despair, disappointment, ambition, pride, supplication, craft, cant, fraud, piety, speculation, secrets, tenderness, bitterness, duty, disobedience, truth, falsehood, gratitude, humbug, and all sorts of such things, pass through it or wait till called for; they "are thar." All these are dispersed by railways, expresses, fast and slow coaches, and carriers. By a figure of speech all these things are sumtotalized, and if put on paper, the depository is called the post-office, and the place where they are conceived and hatched and matured, the heart.

Well, neither the one nor the other has any feeling. They are merely the edifices respectively designed for these operations. The thing and its contents are in one case called the heart; but the contents only of the other are called the mail. Literally therefore the heart is a muscle, or some such an affair, and nothing more; but figuratively it is a general term that includes, expresses, and stands for all these things together. We talk of it therefore as a living, animated, responsible being that thinks for itself, and acts through its agents. It is either our spiritual part, or something spiritual within us. Subordinate or independent of us--guiding or obeying us--influencing or influenced by us. We speak of it, and others treat it, as separate, for they and we say our heart. We give it, a colour and a character; it may be a black heart or a base heart; it may be a brave or a cowardly one; it may be a sound or a weak heart also, and a true or a false one; generous or ungrateful; kind or malignant, and so on.

It strikes me natur would have been a more suitable word; but poets got hold of it, and they bedevil everything they touch. Instead of speaking of a critter's heart therefore, it would to my mind have been far better to have spoke of the natur of the animal, for I go the whole hog for human natur. But I suppose nobody would understand me if I did, and would say I had no heart to say so. I'll take it therefore, as I find it--a thing having a body or substance that can be hurt, and a spirit that can be grieved.

Well, as such, I don't somehow think ministers in a general way know how to treat it. The heart, in its common acceptation, is very sensitive and must be handled gently; if grief is there, it must be soothed and consoled, and hope called in to open views of better things. If disappointment has left a sting, the right way is to show a sufferer it might have been wuss, or that if his wishes had been fulfilled, they might have led to something more disastrous. If pride has been wounded, the patient must be humoured by agreeing with him, in the first instance, that he has been shamefully used (for that admits his right to feel hurt, which is a great thing); and then he may be convinced he ought to be ashamed to acknowledge it, for he is superior to his enemy, and in reality so far above him it would only gratify him to think he was of consequence enough to be hated. If he has met with a severe pecuniary loss in business, he ought to be told it's the fortune of trade; how lucky he is he ain't ruined, he can afford and must expect losses occasionally. If he frets over it, it will hurt his mercantile credit, and after all, he will never miss it, except in a figure in the bottom of his balance-sheet, and besides, riches ain't happiness, and how little a man can get out of them at best; and a minister ought to be able to have a good story to tell him, with some point in it, for there is a great deal of sound philosophy in a good anecdote.

He might say, for instance: "Did you ever hear of John Jacob Astor?"

"No, never."

"What not of John Jacob Astor, the richest man in all the unevarsal United States of America? The man that owns all the brown and white bears, silver-gray and jet-black foxes, sables, otters, stone martins, ground squirrels, and every created critter that has a fur jacket, away up about the North Pole, and lets them wear them, for furs don't keep well, moths are death on 'em, and too many at a time glut the market; so he lets them run till he wants them, and then sends and skins them alive in spring when it ain't too cold, and waits till it grows again?"

"No, never," sais the man with the loss.

"Well, if you had been stript stark naked and turned loose that way, you might have complained. Oh! you are a lucky man, I can tell you."

"Well," sais old Minus, "how in the world does he own all them animals?"

"If he don't," sais preacher, "perhaps you can tell me who does; and if nobody else does, I think his claim won't be disputed in no court under heaven. Don't you know him? Go and see him. He will make your fortune as he has done for many others. He is the richest man you ever heard of. He owns the Astor House Hotel to New York, which is bigger than some whole towns on the Nova Scotia coast." And he could say that with great truth, for I know a town that's on the chart, that has only a court-house, a groggery, a jail, a blacksmith's shop, and the wreck of a Quebec vessel on the beach.

"Well, a man went to him lately, and sais he: 'Are you the great John Jacob?'

"'I am John Jacob,' said he, 'but I ain't great. The sun is so almighty hot here in New York, no man is large; he is roasted down like a race-horse.'

"'I don't mean that,' said the poor man, bowin' and beggin' pardon.

"'Oh,' sais he, 'you mean great-grandfather,' laughing. 'No, I hante come that yet; but Astoria Ann Oregon, my grand-daughter, says I am to be about the fore part of next June.'

"Well, the man see he was getting rigged, so he came to the pint at once. Sais he, 'Do you want a clerk?'

"'I guess I do,' said he. 'Are you a good accountant?'

"'Have been accountant-book-keeper and agent for twenty-five years,' sais stranger.

"Well, John Jacob see the critter wouldn't suit him, but he thought he would carry out the joke. Sais he, 'How would you like to take charge of my almighty everlastin' property?'

"'Delighted!' says the goney.

"'Well,' said Mr Astor, 'I am tired to death looking after it; if you will relieve me and do my work, I'll give you what I get out of it myself.'

"'Done!' said the man, takin' off his hat, and bowin' down to the ground. 'I am under a great obligation to you; depend upon it you will get a good account of it.'

"'I have no doubt of it,' said John Jacob. 'Do your part faithfully' ('Never fear me,' said the clerk) 'and honestly, and I will fulfil mine. All I get out of it myself is my board and clothing, and you shall have the same."

"Ah! my friend," the preacher might say, "how much wisdom there is in John Jacob Astor's remark. What more has the Queen of England, or the richest peer in the land, out of all their riches than their board and clothing. 'So don't repine, my friend. Cheer up! I will come and fast on canvas-back duck with you to-morrow, for it's Friday; and whatever lives on aquatic food is fishy--a duck is twice-laid fish. A few glasses of champaine at dinner, and a cool bottle or two of claret after, will set you all right again in a jiffy."

If a man's wife races off and leaves him, which ain't the highest compliment he can receive, he should visit him; but it's most prudent not to introduce the subject himself. If broken-heart talks of it, minister shouldn't make light of it, for wounded pride is mighty tender, but say it's a dreadful thing to leave so good, so kind, so indulgent, so liberal, so confidin' a man as you, if the case will bear it (in a general way it's a man's own fault); and if it won't bear it, why then there really is a guilty man, on whom he can indulge himself, to expend a few flowers of speech. And arter restin' here awhile, he should hint at the consolation that is always offered, "of the sea having better fish than ever was pulled out of it," and so on.

Well, the whole catalogue offers similar topics, and if a man will, while kindly, conscientiously, and strictly sticking to the truth, offer such consolation as a good man may, taking care to remember that manner is everything, and all these arguments are not only no good, but do harm if the misfortunate critter is rubbed agin the grain; he will then prepare the sufferer to receive the only true consolation he has to offer--the consolation of religion. At least, that's my idea.

Now, instead of that, if he gets hold of a sinner, he first offends his delicacy, and then scares him to death. He tells him to confess all the nasty particulars of the how, the where, the when, and the who with. He can't do nothing till his curiosity is satisfied, general terms won't do. He must have all the dirty details. And then he talks to him of the devil, an unpronouncible place, fire and brimstone, and endless punishment. And assures him, if ever he hopes to be happy hereafter, he must be wretched for the rest of his life; for the evangelical rule is, that a man is never forgiven up to the last minute when it can't be helped. Well, every man to his own trade. Perhaps they are right and I am wrong. But my idea is you can coax, but can't bully folks. You can win sinners, but you can't force them. The door of the heart must be opened softly, and to do that you must be the hinge and the lock.

Well, to get back to my story, and I hardly know where I left off, I think the poor gall was speakin' of Indians in a way that indicated she felt mortified at her descent, or that somehow or somehow else, there was a sore spot there. Well, having my own thoughts about the wounds of the heart and so on, as I have stated, I made up my mind I must get at the secret by degrees, and see whether my theory of treatment was right or not.

Sais I, "Miss, you say these sort of things are bartered at the north-west for others of more use. There is one thing though I must remark, they never were exchanged for anything half so beautiful."

"I am glad you like it," she said, "but look here;" and she took out of her basket a pair of mocassins, the soles of which were of moose leather, tanned and dressed like felt, and the upper part black velvet, on which various patterns were worked with beads. I think I never saw anything of the kind so exquisite, for those nick-nacks the Nova Scotia Indians make are rough in material, coarse in workmanship, and ineligant in design.

"Which do you prefer?" said she.

"Well," sais I, "I ain't hardly able to decide. The bark work is more delicate and more tasteful; but it's more European in appearance. The other is more like our own country, and I ain't sure that it isn't quite as handsome as the other. But I think I prize the mocassins most. The name, the shape, and the ornaments all tell of the prairie."

"Well, then," she said, "it shall be the mocassins, you must have them, as the exchange for the book."

"Oh," said I, taking out of my pocket the first and second "Clockmakers," I had no other of my books on board, and giving them to her, "I am afraid, Miss, that I either said or did something to offend you this morning. I assure you I did not mean to do so, and I am very sorry for it."

"No, no," she said, "it was me; but my temper has been greatly tried since I came to this country. I was very wrong, for you (and she laid a stress on that word as if I was an exception) have been very kind to me."

"Well," sais I, "Miss, sometimes there are things that try us and our feelings, that we don't choose to talk about to strangers, and sometimes people annoy us on these subjects. It wouldn't be right of me to pry into any one's secrets, but this I will say, any person that would vex you, let him be who he will, can be no man, he'd better not do it while I am here, at any rate, or he'll have to look for his jacket very quick, I know."

"Mr Slick," she said, "I know I am half Indian, and some folks want to make me feel it."

"And you took me for one o' them cattle," said I, "but if you knew what was passin' in my mind, you wouldn't a felt angry, I know."

"What was it?" said she, "for I know you won't say anything to me you oughtn't to. What was it?"

"Well," sais I, "there is, between you and me, a young lady here to the southern part of this province I have set my heart on, though whether she is agoin' to give me hern, or give me the mitten, I ain't quite sartified, but I rather kinder sorter guess the first, than kinder sorter not so." I just throwed that in that she mightn't misunderstand me. "Well, she is the most splendiferous gall I ever sot eyes on since I was created; and," sais I to myself, "now, here is one of a different style of beauty, which on 'em is, take her all in all, the handsomest?"

Half Indian or half Gaelic, or whatever she was, she was a woman, and she didn't flare up this time, I tell you, but taking up the work-bag she said:

"Give this to her, as a present from me."

Thinks I, "My pretty brunette, if I don't get the heart opened to me, and give you a better opinion of yourself, and set you all straight with mankind in general, and the doctor in particular, afore I leave Ship Harbour, I'll give over for ever undervalyin' the skill of ministers, that's a fact. That will do for trial number one; by and by I'll make trial number two."

Taking up the "Clockmaker," and looking at it, she said: "Is this book all true, Mr Slick? Did you say and do all that's set down here?"

"Well," sais I, "I wouldn't just like to swear to every word of it, but most of it is true, though some things are embellished a little, and some are fancy sketches. But they are all true to nature."

"Oh, dear," said she, "what a pity! how shall I ever be able to tell what's true and what ain't? Do you think I shall be able to understand it, who know so little, and have seen so little?"

"You'll comprehend every word of it," sais I, "I wrote it on purpose, so every person should do so. I have tried to stick to life as close as I could, and there is nothin' like natur, it goes home to the heart of us all."

"Do tell me, Mr Slick," said she, "what natur is, for I don't know."

Well, now that's a very simple question, ain't it? and anyone that reads this book when you publish it, will say, "Why, everybody knows what natur is," and any schoolboy can answer that question. But I'll take a bet of twenty dollars, not one in a hundred will define that tarm right off the reel, without stopping. It fairly stumpt me, and I ain't easily brought to a hack about common things. I could a told her what natur was circumbendibusly, and no mistake, though that takes time. But to define it briefly and quickly, as Minister used to say, if it can be done at all, which I don't think it can, all I can say is, as galls say to conundrums, "I can't, so I give it up. What is it?"

Perhaps it's my own fault, for dear old Mr Hopewell used to say, "Sam, your head ain't like any one else's. Most men's minds resembles what appears on the water when you throw a stone in it. There is a centre, and circles form round it, each one a little larger than the other, until the impelling power ceases to act. Now you set off on the outer circle, and go round and round ever so often, until you arrive to the centre where you ought to have started from at first; I never see the beat of you."

"It's natur," sais I, "Minister."

"Natur," sais he, "what the plague has natur to do with it?"

"Why," sais I, "can one man surround a flock of sheep?"

"Why, what nonsense," sais he; "of course he can't."

"Well, that's what this child can do," sais I. "I make a good sizeable ring-fence, open the bars, and put them in, for if it's too small, they turn and out agin like wink, and they will never so much as look at it a second time. Well, when I get them there, I narrow and narrow the circle, till it's all solid wool and mutton, and I have every mother's son of them. It takes time, for I am all alone, and have no one to help me; but they are thar' at last. Now, suppose I went to the centre of the field, and started off arter them, what would it end in? Why, I'de run one down, and have him, and that's the only one I could catch. But while I was a chasin' of him, all the rest would disperse like a congregation arter church, and cut off like wink, each on his own way, as if he was afraid the minister was a-goin' to run after 'em, head 'em, and fetch 'em back and pen 'em up again."

He squirmed his face a little at that part about the congregation, I consaited, but didn't say nothin', for he knew it was true.

"Now, my reason," sais I, "for goin' round and round is, I like to gather up all that's in the circle, carry it with me, and stack it in the centre."

Lord! what fun I have had pokin' that are question of Jessie's sudden to fellows since then! Sais I to Brother Eldad once--

"Dad, we often talk about natur; what is it?"

"Tut," sais he, "don't ask me; every fool knows what natur is."

"Exactly," sais I; "that's the reason I came to you."

He just up with a book, and came plaguy near lettin' me have it right agin my head smash.

"Don't do that," sais I, "Daddy; I was only joking; but what is it?"

Well, he paused a moment and looked puzzled, as a fellow does who is looking for his spectacles, and can't find them because he has shoved them up on his forehead.

"Why," sais he, spreadin' out his arm, "it's all that you see, and the law that governs it."

Well, it warn't a bad shot that, for a first trial, that's a fact. It hit the target, though it didn't strike the ring.

"Oh," said I, "then there is none of it at night, and things can't be nateral in the dark."

Well, he seed he had run off the track, so he braved it out. "I didn't say it was necessary to see them all the time," he said.

"Just so," said I, "natur is what you see and what you don't see; but then feelin' ain't nateral at all. It strikes me that if--"

"Didn't I say," said he, "the laws that govern them?"

"Well, where are them laws writ?"

"In that are receipt-book o' yourn you're so proud of," said he. "What do you call it, Mr Wiseacre?"

"Then, you admit," sais I, "any fool can't answer that question?"

"Perhaps you can," sais he.

"Oh Dad!" sais I, "you picked up that shot and throwed it back. When a feller does that it shows he is short of ammunition. But I'll tell you what my opinion is. There is no such a thing as natur."

"What!" said he.

"Why there is no such a thing as natur in reality; it is only a figure of speech. The confounded poets got hold of the idea and parsonified it as they have the word heart, and talk about the voice of natur and its sensations, and its laws and its simplicities, and all that sort of thing. The noise water makes in tumblin' over stones in a brook, a splutterin' like a toothless old woman scoldin' with a mouthful of hot tea in her lantern cheek, is called the voice of natur speaking in the stream. And when the wind blows and scatters about all the blossoms from your fruit trees, and you are a ponderin' over the mischief, a gall comes along-side of you with a book of poetry in her hand and sais:

"'Hark! do you hear the voice of natur amid the trees? Isn't it sweet?'

"Well, it's so absurd you can't help laughin' and saying, 'No;' but then I hear the voice of natur closer still, and it says, 'Ain't she a sweet critter?'

"Well, a cultivated field, which is a work of art, dressed with artificial manures, and tilled with artificial tools, perhaps by steam, is called the smiling face of nature. Here nature is strong and there exhausted, now animated and then asleep. At the poles, the features of nature are all frozen, and as stiff as a poker, and in the West Indies burnt up to a cinder. What a pack of stuff it is! It is just a pretty word like pharmacopia and Pierian spring, and so forth. I hate poets, stock, lock, and barrel; the whole seed, breed, and generation of them. If you see a she one, look at her stockings; they are all wrinkled about her ancles, and her shoes are down to heel, and her hair is as tangled as the mane of a two-year old colt. And if you see a he one, you see a mooney sort of man, either very sad, or so wild-looking you think he is half-mad; he eats and sleeps on earth, and that's all. The rest of the time he is sky-high, trying to find inspiration and sublimity, like Byron, in gin and water. I like folks that have common-sense."

Well, to get back to my story. Said Jessie to me: "Mr Slick, what is natur?"

"Well," sais I, "Miss, it's not very easy to explain it so as to make it intelligible; but I will try. This world, and all that is in it, is the work of God. When he made it, he gave it laws or properties that govern it, and so to every living or inanimate thing; and these properties or laws are called their nature. Nature therefore is sometimes used for God himself, and sometimes for the world and its contents, and the secret laws of action imposed upon them when created. There is one nature to men (for though they don't all look alike, the laws of their being are the same), and another to horses, dogs, fish, and so on. Each class has its own nature. For instance, it is natural for fish to inhabit water, birds the air, and so on. In general, it therefore means the universal law that governs everything. Do you understand it?" says I.

"Not just now," she said, "but I will when I have time to think of it. Do you say there is one nature to all men?"

"Yes, the same nature to Indian as to white men--all the same."

"Which is the best nature?"

"It is the same."

"Indian and white, are they both equal?"


"Do you think so?"

"Every mite and morsel, every bit and grain. Everybody don't think so? That's natural; every race thinks it is better than another, and every man thinks he is superior to others; and so does every woman. They think their children the best and handsomest. A bear thinks her nasty, dirty, shapeless, tailless cubs the most beautiful things in all creation."

She laughed at that, but as suddenly relapsed into a fixed gloom. "If red and white men are both equal, and have the same nature," she said, "what becomes of those who are neither red nor white, who have no country, no nation, no tribe, scorned by each, and the tents and the houses of both closed against them. Are they equal? what does nature say?"

"There is no difference," I said; "in the eye of God they are all alike."

"God may think and treat them so," she replied, rising with much emotion, "but man does not."

I thought it was as well to change the conversation, and leave her to ponder over the idea of the races which seemed so new to her. "So," sais I, "I wonder the doctor hasn't arrived; it's past four. There he is, Jessie; see, he is on the beach; he has returned by water. Come, put on your bonnet and let you and I go and meet him."

"Who, me!" she said, her face expressing both surprise and pleasure.

"To be sure," said I. "You are not afraid of me, Miss, I hope."

"I warn't sure I heard you right," she said, and away she went for her bonnet.

Poor thing! it was evident her position was a very painful one to her, and that her natural pride was deeply injured. Poor dear old Minister! if you was now alive and could read this Journal, I know what you would say as well as possible. "Sam," you would say, "this is a fulfilment of Scripture. The sins of the fathers are visited on the children, the effects of which are visible in the second and third generation."

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