Изображения страниц

tures of real life, tinted with nature's homely gray and russet; scenes in dreamland, bedizened with rainbow hues which faded before they were well laid on,—all these may vanish now, and leave me to mould a fresh existence out of sunshine. Brooding meditation may flap her dusky wings and take her owl-like flight, blinking amid the cheerfulness of noontide. Such companions befit the season of frosted window panes and crackling fires, when the blast howls through the black ash trees of our avenue and the drifting snow storm chokes up the woodpaths and fills the highway from stone wall to stone wall. In the spring and summertime all sombre thoughts should follow the winter northward with the sombre and thoughtful crows. The old paradisiacal economy of life is again in force; we live not to think or to labor, but for the simple end of being happy. Nothing for the present hour is worthy of man's infinite capacity save to imbibe the warm smile of heaven and sympathize with the reviving earth.

The present spring comes onward with fleeter footsteps, because winter lingered so unconsciously long that with her best diligence she can hardly retrieve half the allotted period of her reign. It is but a fortnight since I stood on the brink of our swollen river and beheld the accumulated ice of four frozen months go down tlie stream. Except in streaks here and there upon the hillsides, the whole visible universe was then covered with deep snow, the nethermost layer of which had been deposited by an early December storm. It was a sight to make the beholder torpid, in the impossibility of imagining how this vast white napkin was to be removed from the face of the corpse-lika world in less time than had been required to spread it there. But who can estimate the power of gentle influences, whether amid material desolation or the moral winter of man's heart? There have been no! tempestuous rains, even no sultry days, but a constant breath of southern winds, with now a day of kindly sunshine and now a no less kindly mist or a soft descent of showers, in which a smile and a blessing seemed to have been steeped. The j snow has vanished as if by magic; whatever heaps may be hidden in the woods and deep gorges of the hills, only two solitary specks remain in the landscape ; and those I shall almost regret to miss when to-morrow I look for them in vain. Never before, methinks, has spring pressed so closely on the footsteps of retreating i winter. Along the roadside the green blades of grass have sprouted on the very edge of the snow drifts. The pastures and mowing fields have not j yet assumed a general aspect of verdure, but neither have they the cheerless brown tint which they wear in later autumn when vegetation has entirely ceased; there is now a faint shadow of life, gradually brightening into the warm reality. Some tracts in a happy exposure, as, for instance,

yonder south-western slope of an orchard, in front of that old red farm house beyond the river,— such patches of land already wear a beautiful and tender green, to which no future luxuriance can add a charm. It looks unreal; a prophesy, a hope, a transitory effect of some peculiar light, which will vanish with the slightest motion of the eye. But beauty is never a delusion; not these verdant tracts, but the dark and barren landscape all around them, is a shadow and a dream. Each moment wins some portion of the earth from death to life; a sudden gleam of verdure brightens along the sunny slope of a bank which an instant ago was brown and bare. You look again, and behold ati apparition of green grass.

The trees in our orchard and elsewhere are as yet naked, but already appear full of life and vegetable blood. It seems as if by one magic touch they might instantaneously burst into full foliage, and that the wind which now sighs through their naked branches might make sudden music amid innumerable leaves. The mossgrown willow tree which for forty years past has overshadowed these western windows will be among the first to put on its green attire. There are some objections to the willow; it is not a dry | and cleanly tree, and impresses the beholder with an association of slimness. No trees, I think, areperfeotlyagreeable as companions, unless they have glossy leaves, dry bark, and a firm and hard texture of trunk and branches. But the willow is almost the earliest to gladden us with the ! promise and reality of beauty in its graceful and ; delicate foliage, and the last to scatter its yellow yet scarcely withered leaves upon the ground. All through the winter, too, its yellow twigs give it a sunny aspect, which is not without a cheering influence, even in the grayest and gloomiest day. Beneath a clouded sky it faithfully remembers tho sunshine. Our old house would lose a charm were the willow to be cut down, with its golden crown over the snow covered roof and its heap of summer verdure.

The lilac shrubs under my study windows are likewise almost in leaf: in two or three days more I may put forth my hand and pluck the topmost bough in its freshest green. These lilacs are very aged, and have lost the luxuriant foliage of their prime. The heart, or the judgment, or the moral sense, or the taste is dissatisfied with their present aspect. Old age is not venerable when it embodies itself in lilacs, rose bushes, or any other ornamental shrub; it seems as if such plants, as they grow only for beauty, ought to flourish always in immortal youth, orat least, to die before their sad decrepitude. Trees of beauty are trees of paradise, and therefore not subject to decay by their original nature, though they have lost that precious birthright by being transplanted to an earthly soil. There is a kind of ludicrous unfitness in the idea of a time-stricken and grandfatherly lilac bush. The analogy holds good in human life. Persons who can only be graceful and ornamental, who can give the world nothing but flowers, should die young, and never be seen with gray hair and wrinkles, any more than the flower shrubs with mossy bark and blighted foliage, like the lilacs under my window. Not that beauty is worthy of less than immortality; no, the beautiful should live forever; and thence,perhaps, the sense of impropriety when we see it triumphed over by time. Apple trees, on the other hand, grow old without reproach. Let them live as long as they may, and contort themselves into whatever perversity of shape they please, and deck their withered limbs with a spring-time gaudincss of pink blossoms; still they are respectable, even if they afford us only an apple or two in aseason. Those few apples, or, at all events, the remembrance of apples in by gone years, are the atonement which utilitarianism inexorably demands for the privilege of lengthening life. Human flower?, shrubs, if they grow old on earth, should, besides their lovely blossoms, bear some kind of fruit that will satisfy earthly appetites, else neither man nor the decorum of nature will deem it fit that the moss should gather on them.

One of the first things that strikes the attention when the white sheet of winter is withdrawn, is the neglect and disarray that lay hidden beneath it. Nature is not cleanly, according to our prejudices. The beauty of preceding years, now transformed to brown and blighted deformity, obstructs the brightening loveliness of the present hour. Our avenue is strewn with the whole crop of autumn's withered leaves. There are quantities of decayed branches which one tempest after another has flung down, black and rotten, and one or two with the ruin of a bird's nest clinging to them. In the garden are the dried bean vines, the brown stalks of the asparagus bed, and melancholy old cabbages which were frozen into the soil before their unthrifty cultivator could find time to gather them. How invariably, throughout all the forms of life, do we find these intermingled memorials of death 1

On the soil of thought or in the garden of the heart, as well as in the sensual world, lie withered leaves—the ideas and feelings that we have done with. There is no wind strong enough to sweep them away; infinite space will not garner them from our sight. What mean they? Why may we not be permitted to live and enjoy, as if this were the first life and our own the primal enjoyment, instead of treading on these dry bones and mouldering relics, from the aged accumulation of which springs all that now appears so young and new? Sweet must have been the Bpring time of Eden, when no earlier year had strewn its decay upon the virgin turf, and no former experience had ripened into summer and faded into autumn in the hearts of its inhabitants! That

was a world worth living in. O thou murmurer, it is out of the very wantonness of such a life that thou leignest these idle lamentations. There is no decay. Each human soul is the first created inhabitant of its own Eden. We dwell in an old moss covered mansion, and tread in the worn footprints of the past, yet all these outward circumstances are made less than visionary by the renewing power of the spirit. Should the spirit ever lose this power,—should the withered leaves, and the rotten branches, and the moss covered house, and the ghost of the gray past ever become its realities, and the verdure and the freshness merely its faint dream, then let it pray to be released from earth. It will need the air of heaven to revive its pristine energies.

What an unlocked for flight was this from our shadowy avenue of black ash and balm of Gilead trees into the infinite! Now we have our feet again upon the turf. Nowhere does the grass spring up so industriously as in this homely yard, along the base of the stone wall, and in the sheltered nooks of the buildings, and especially around the southern door step, a locality which seems particularly favorable to its growth, for it is already tall enough to bend over and wave on the wind. I observe that several weeds, and most frequently a plant that stains the fingers with its yellow juice, have survived and retained their freshness and sap throughout the winter. One knows not how they have deserved such an exception from the common lot of their race. They are now the patriarch's of the departed year, and may preach morality to the present generation of flowers and weeds.

Among the delights of spring, hdw is it possible to forget the birds? Even the crows were welcome, as the sable harbingers of a brighter and livelier race. They visited us before the snow was off, but seem mostly to have betaken themselves to remote depths of the woods, which they haunt all summer long. Many a time shall I disturb them there, and feel as if I had intruded among a company of silent worshippers, as they sit in Sabbath stillness among the tree tops. Their voices, when tbey speak, are in admirable accordance with the tranquil solitude of a summer afternoon ; and resounding so far above the head, their loud clamor increases the religious quiet of the scene instead of breaking it. A crow, however, has no real pretensions to religion, in spite of his gravity of mien and black attire; he is certainly a thief, and probably an infidel. The gulls are far more respectable, in a moral point of view. These denizens of seabeaten rocks and haunters of the lonely beach come up our inland river at this season, and soar high overhead, flapping their broad wings in the upper sunshine. They are among the most picturesque of birds, because they so float and rest upon the air as to become almost stationary parts of the landscape. The imagination has

to grow acquainted with them; they have not flitted away in a moment. You go up among the clouds, and greet these lofty-flighted gulls, and repose confidently with them upon the sustaining atmosphere. Ducks have their haunts along the solitary places of the river, and alight in flocks upon the broad bosom of the overflowed meadows. Their flight is too rapid and determined, for the eye to catch enjoyment from it. They have now gone farther northward, but will visit us again in autumn.

The smaller birds—the little songsters of the woods, and those that haunt man's dwellings, and claim human friendship, by building their nests under the sheltering eaves or among the orchard trees—these require a touch more delicate, and a gentler heart than mine, to do them justice. Their outburst of melody is like a brook let loose from wintry chains. We need not deem it a too high and solemn word to call it a hymn of praise to the Creator, since Nature, who pictares the reviving year in so many sights of beauty, has expressed the sentiment of renewed life in no other sound save the notes of these blessed birds. Their music, however, just now, seems to be incidental, and not the result of a set purpose. They are discussing the economy

We hear them singing and

merit, of immortal souls,
their melodious prayers at morning's blush;
eventide. A little while ago, in the deep of
night, there came a lively trill of a bird's note
from a neighboring tree—a real song, such as
greets the purple dawn or mingles with the yel-
low sunshine. What could the little bird mean
by pouring it forth at midnight? Probably the
music gushed out in the midst of a dream, in
which he fancied himself in paradise with his
mate, but suddenly awoke on a cold, leafless
bough, with a New England mist penetrating
through his feathers. That was a sad exchange
of imagination for reality.

Insects are among the earliest birth of spring. Multitudes of I know not what species appeared loug ago on the surface of the snow. Clouds of them, almost too minute for sight, hover in a beam of sunshine, and vanish, as if annihilated, when they pass into the shade. A mosquito has already been heard to sound the small horror of his bugle horn. Wasps infest the sunny windows of the house. A bee entered one of the chambers with a prophecy of flowers. Rare butterflies came before the snow was off, flaunting in the chill breeze, and forlorn and all astray, in spite of the magnificence of their dark, velvet

of life and love, and the site and architecture of] cloaks with golden borders, their summer residences, and have no time to j The fields and wood-paths have as yet few sit on a twig and pour forth solemn hymns, or charms to entice the wanderer. In a walk, the overtures, operas, symphonies, and waltzes. | other day, I found no violets, nor anemones, nor Anxious questions are asked; grave subjects anything in the likeness of a flower. It was are settled in quick and animated debate; and 1 worth while, however, to ascend our opposite only by occasional incident, as from pure ecsta- hill, for the sake of gaining a general idea of the sy, does a rich warble roll its tiny waves of advance of spring, which I had hitherto been golden sound through the atmosphere. Their studying in its minute developments. The river little bodies are as busy as their voices; they lay around me, in a semicircle, overflowing all are in a constant flutter and restlessness. Even the meadows which give it its Indian name, and when two or three retreat to a tree top to bold offering a noble breadth to sparkle in the suncouncil, they wag their tails and heads all the beams. Along the hither shore a row of trees time, with the irrepressible activity of their na-1 stood up to their knees in water, and afar off, on ture, which perhaps renders their brief span of. the surface of the stream, tufts of bushes thrust

life in reality as long as the patriarchal age of sluggish man. The blackbirds, three species of which consort together, are the noisiest of all our feathered citizens. Great companies of them— more than the famous " four and twenty" whom Mother Goose has immortalized—congregate in contiguous tree tops, and vociferate with all the clamor and confusion of a turbulent political meeting. Politics, certainly, must be the occasion of such tumultuous debates; but still, unlike all other politicians, they instil melody into their individual utterances, and produce harmony as a general effect. Of all bird-voices, none are more sweet and cheerful to my ear than those of swal

up their heads, as it were, to breathe. The most striking objects were great solitary trees here and there, with a mile wide waste of water all around them. The curtailment of the trunk, by its immersion in the river, quite destroys the fair proportions of the tree, and thus makes us sensible of a regularity and propriety in the usual forms of Nature. The flood of the present season—though it never amounts to a freshet on our quiet stream—has encroached farther upon the land than any previous one for at least a score of years. It has overflowed stone fences, and even rendered a portion of the highway navigable for boats. The waters, however, are

lows, in the dim sun-streaked interior of a lofty ' now gradually subsiding; islands become annexbarn; they address the heart with even a closer ! ed to the main land; and other islands emerge, sympathy than robin redbreast. But, indeed, i like new creations, from the watery waste. The all these winged people, that dwell in the vicini- j scene supplies an admirable image of the reoedty of homesteads, seem to partake of human 1 ing of the Nile, except that there is no deposit nature, and possess the germ, if not tho develop-1 of black slime j or of Noah's flood, only that

there is a freshness and novelty in these recovered portions of the continent, which give an impression of a world just made, rather than of one so polluted that a deluge had been requisite to purify it. These upspringiog islands are the greenest spots in the landscape; the first gleam of sunlight suffices to cover them with verdure.

Thank Providence for Spring! The earth— and man himself, by sympathy with his birthplace—would be far other than we find them, if life toiled wearily onward, without this periodical infusion of the primal spirit. Will the world ever be so decayed, that spring may not renew its greenness? Can man be so dismally age-stricken, that no faintest sunshine of his youth may visit him once a year? It is impossible. The moss on our time-worn mansion brightens into beauty; the good old pastor who once dwelt here renewed his prime, regained his boyhood, in the genial breezes of his ninetieth spring. Alas for the worn and heavy soul, if, whether in youth or age, it have outlived its privilege of spring-time sprightliness I From such a soul the world must hope for no reformation of its evil, no sympathy with the lofty faith and gallant struggles of those who contend in its behalf. Summer works in the present, and thinks not of the future; autumn is a rich conservative; winter has utterly lost its faith, and clings tremulously to the remembrance of what has been; but spring, with its outgushing life, is the true type of the movement.


What, though an abundance around you is spread,
Your fields stored with plenty, your garners with bread,
Your store-house secured from chill poverty's frost,
Yet,"gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

See, Nature has loaded with blossoms her trees,
So richly, her treasures are filling the breeze;
But she spreads her green lap to the fast-falling host,
And " gathers the fragments, that nothing be lost."

And when the rich fruit has been yielded for man,
And bright glowing summer has lived her short span,
- When the autumn-seared leaves are by chilly winds

She will" gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

Now listen, my children: the lesson for you,
In all things it teaches be careful and true;

0 let no fair hopes be by negligence crossed,

But '• gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

And when the kind words of instruction you hear,
From parent, from friend, or from teacher, give ear,
And let not your thoughts in wild fancies be tossed,
But " gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

For God gives us nothing to trifle away,
But trusts us with blessings and time, day by day;
Be careful of all,—of each hour make the most,
And" gather the fragments, that nothiug be lost."
Say not, " Here is plenty, and I need not fear j

1 am sure not to want, so why should I care 1"
Remember, the fruits are succeeded by frost:
Then "gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

But confine not your thoughts to self-interest alone:
Let kind care for others come in with your own;
Go look at the poor, by sad sufferings crossed,
For them" gather fragments, that nothing be lost,"

Remember, when Jesus the multitude fed
On a few little fishes and five loaves of bread,
Although he could cause them to feed such a host,
He said, " gather the fragments, that nothing be lost."

I cannot mourn that time has fled,

Though in its flight some joys have perished; I cannot mourn that hopes are dead,

That my young heart too dearly cherished.

For time has brought me as it passed
More valued joys than those it banished,

And hope has o'er the future cast

Still brighter hues as others vanished.

Nor can I mourn that days are gone
With many a heartfelt sorrow laded;

Nor will I grieve o'er pleasures flown
That early glowed and quickly faded.

For time with kind and gentle sway

Still softens every passing sorrow; And though it steals one joy to-day,

It adds another on the morrow.




At the request of several benevolent citizens I have assumed to address you on the subject which the caption indicates. It is notorious that vast sums of money have been expended, both by the Church and State, with but little benefit to the Indians. The former taught them religious theories, but at the same time they were fed with tobacco and whiskey, and their lands divided among those who should have been to them examples of truth and justice. Hence, as might have been expected, the Methodist Conference in Oregon report as follows:

"They (the Indians) are almost, if not quite, as degraded and as destitute of everything embraced in morality, civilization and religion, as they were when the first missionary to this land found them in their nakedness, their ignorance and their pollution."

As for the civil officers employed as agents among them, there can be no doubt but many of them are clever, upright citizens, and probably not one but wbat would fill honourably many spheres in life; but the following, which I quote from a California paper of Nov. 15, 1856, is a lamentable illustration of something which should not be:

"The poor Indians of this region are in a suffering condition, and humanity demands that something should be done to save them from starvation and extinction. We have an Indian agent,here employed by the United States Government to look after these remnants. Why is it that no attention is paid by J. F. Henly, Esq., the Government Indian Agent? Wo beg leave to call his attention to the sufferings of poor Digger Indians in this country. Many of their own children are as sprightly and susceptible of mental culture as our own. All that is wantingis the fostering arm of the Government."

The natural inference from the foregoing is, that if the Methodist Conference report is true (which we shall notdispute)," morality," "civilization," " religion" have not been presented to them in a form worthy their acceptance. Drunkenness, debauchery, destitution and prospective annhilation could not in the nature of things be to them a " Gospel of glad tidings of great joy," and yet this has been the general accompaniment of " the preached Gospel." And in regard to their legal protectors, there is good reason to believe that the above quotation is only a fair specimen of the majority; and indeed how can it be otherwise, when agents are appointed destitute of the requisite qualities, pecuniary and party considerations being the chief passports to office? The writer of this has been credibly informed of the appointment of a school-teacher who in his heart despised the Indians, and openly avowed they "ought to be killed"; and of a physican, ■with a handsome salary, who but a short time previous to his appointment occupied many columns of the Oregon press with arguments for their destruction, and in a public speech declared he would not leave southern Oregon but with the "last scalp of the red skins." Some of the Agents, whom the writer could name, are distinguished for lechery and injustice; and yet it must be from the reports and statements of these men that Government chastises and makes war. There is much talk about " destiny, destiny," until it has become a stereotyped sentiment; but does not the above uncover the secret of this mysterious thing called "destiny" as applied to the fading tribes? Should it not rather be called apathy, and unjustifiable neglect? It is true there have been many earnest efforts and sacrifices made by noble-minded men, but all have been either misapplied or counteracted by overwhelming antagonistic influences. And, judging from the fatal and expensive past, there is no hope for the future but in an entire change, and appropriate means to meet the case. We should not expect the sick to recover under the treatment of a phyeician who desired their death (my informant stated that the Indians on the New Reserve were dying by dozens, and that many of them believed they were poisoned), neither should we expect Indians to progress in literature under the tuition of one who had no earnest desire to impart instruction; much less should we expect kindly feelings between the races, when the Agents, who should sustain the office of mediators and peace-makers, engender difficulties by their selfishness, and then excite and mislead the public by one-sided reports. But what is


Nothing less than a great national association,

independent of both the churchss and the Government, and yet uniting the elements of both, so far as pecuniary means and moral power are concerned.

Let intelligent minds communicate through the press upon the subject, until the suggestion (if feasible) is elaborated in detail. For the present, I respectfully submit a few reasons for such an organization:

First: Because, no matter how wise the plans or ample the means appropriated by Government, it always has and always will be inadequate to the full protection of the Indians or safety of our own people, until the magnanimity of the nationis awakened to a practical consciousness that we are in fact, as we are in name, the Guardians and Protectors of the weaker races on this continent.

Second: Because oppression and cruelty are incompatible with true civilization, and tend to self-destruction.

Third: Because it especially becomes us, as a great and numerous people, to be a blessing, and not a blight, to any of the nations of the earth.

Fourth: Because we have ample means and generous natures, and there is at the present moment, all over the land, a deep yearning sympathy in their behalf, which should be localized and expressed.

Fifth: Because the highest glory and prosperity of a nation can only be attained by the security and progressive development of all under its control.

Sixth: Because we owe it to the Indian race, and as a pecuniary consideration it will be vastly cheaper to save than to destroy. A dozen Quakers, with love and truth, would conquer and maintain a peace more effectually thali a dozen generals with as many armies.

Seventh: Because we owe it to our children's children to the last generation; or otherwise, when they think of the relics of the past, and of the generations who raise! the Pyramids and scattered monuments of antiquity, they will feel ashamed of their fathers to think of not a living specimen of the race of a Tecumseb, a Black Hawk, a Osceola, or a Logan.

Eighth and Lastly: We owe it to universal humanity, and especially to ourselves, that a branch of the human family committed to our care shall not become extinct through our neglect.

The importance of this subject calls for the attention of Legislatures, of editors, of clergymen, and of every citizen—all are responsible. Will the Press please copy and oblige their fellowcitizen. John Beeson.

Depend upon it, the most fatal idleness is that of the heart; and the man who feels wearv of life, may be sure that he does not love'his fellow creatures as he ought.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »