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had so hearty a way of slapping you on your shoulder with his big paws, that nobody could stay mad at him for very long together.
As I started to say, Jay had a high and noble way of stringing words together — - a knack which I never could get. See that opening of his “History of Delaware County,” which he wrote back in '55, before he came to New York to make money. It's worth reading over and over, if for nothing more than its moral teachings:
“History, with the more and more extensive meaning acquired by the advancement of civilization, by the diffusion of education, and by the elevation of the standard of human liberty, has expanded into a grand and beautiful science. It treats of man in all his social relations, whether civil, religious, or literary, in which he has intercourse with his fellows. The study of history, to a free government like the one in which we live, is an indispensable requisite to the improvement and elevation of the human race. It leads us back through the ages that have succeeded each other in time past; it exhibits the conditions of the human race at each respective period, and by following down its pages from the vast empires and mighty cities now ingulfed in oblivion but which the faithful historian presents in a living light before us, we are enabled profitably to compare and form a more correct appreciation of our own relative position.
“It is certain that the more enlightened and free a people become the more the government devolves upon themselves; and hence the necessity of a care
ould ful study of history, which, by showing the height iad : to which man as an intellectual being is capable
of elevating himself in the scale of usefulness and moral worth, teaches that the virtues of a good man are held in sacred emulation by his countrymen for ages succeeding, long after the scythe of time has
gathered the earthly remains of the actor to the 55 silent grave.
Such thoughts, or rather such reflecIt's tions as these, inspire within the human bosom an
ardent desire to attain that which is good and shun that which is evil, an honest and laudable ambition to become both great and good; or, as another has
beautifully written: 'Great only as we are good.'” on,
You'll have to foot it many a mile to find writing to equal that. Fine, noble words seemed to come to
Jay natural-like. If I could write in that fashion y, I'd be stuck up. But Jay wasn't; in fact, he didn't
use to like it when I would remind him of this opening chapter of his “History of Delaware County.”
“Twaddle!” he'd say; “it's nothing but a lot of gush, written when I was a youth out there back of the Catskill Mountains.” Jay always was modest. He didn't like to be pushed to the front. Jimmy was the boy - I mean Jim Fisk - to occupy the front pew. He never minded it a bit; in fact, would rather sit there than anywhere else in meeting
- that is, so to speak; because Jimmy didn't go to meeting really Well, as I started to say, I never was much on the
I , I
writer-business. So I don't want any one to sup
I pose that I'm trying here to write history, like what Jay wrote. I haven't got big enough words for that. In these diary papers, I just set it down in the first words that come to me. And I'm not scared to put the whole story in, either. “What's the use of digging up dead dogs ?” some of the boys might say. But I'm not scared. I have been busy all my days, and now that I'm so old that they won't let me speckilate in stocks as I used to, I've got to keep busy. So I'm going to write out some things. Goodness knows, nobody need be scared at it. Do the best I can, these papers won't stay in order; they're a mixed-up mess of stuff. The pages in the forepart of a chapter get lost somewhere in the desk before I get to the finish. So that, if I can't make head nor tail to the thing three months after I've written it, who else can? Then, too, people have always said, “Nobody on earth can read Uncle Dan Drew's quail tracks.” So, what is there to be scared of? Besides, even if the people should get
story, what's the harm ? The boys who would be mad at me for ripping up old scores, as they'd call it, are too thin-skinned. They are sensitive to the speech of people. But I'm not sensitive. I don't care a hill of beans for the speech of people. Never did. If people want to know about some of the things that have happened in my life-time, they are welcome. I shan't make any bones of letting them know the whole story.
AY wrote his history about Delaware County
in York State. My story --- the first part- will
have to be about Putnam County, on the other side of the Hudson. For I was born there in 1797. It was in Carmel, on a farm above the Lake, on the “Pond Hill Road," alongside of Whangtown Brook. Follow up that brook until you come to a hill on the left as steep as a meetinghouse roof. Climb to the top. And there, just at the fork of the road where it turns to go to Farmer's Mills, is where the house stood. There were locust trees in the front yard, and a well of cool water alongside the house, in the back yard. My father's
was Gilbert Drew. He was of English extraction. My mother was a Catherine Muckelworth, of Scotch blood, as you could guess by the name. She was a master-hand in sickness, and kept in the house a store of roots and herbs. There was boneset and pennyroyal, smartweed, catnip, skunk cabbage, sarsaparilla, wild turnip, and such like. In those days it was a good thing to have a parent that knew something about medicine. Because the saddle-bag doctor was hard to locate
just when you wanted him. He wasn't always very knowing either. “Old Bleed’em, Puke'em, and Purge'em,” was what we used to call him “Old Blisters” was another name.
I didn't get much schooling somehow never took to it. In fact there wasn't much book-learning to take to in those days. Carmel then wasn't built up around where the village now stands. What there was of the village nestled around Old Gilead Meeting-house, at the other end of the Lake from us. Old Gilead was near Mt. Pisgah, and a good two miles from
It was a different kind of a place from Brimstone Hollow, a mile or two beyond. Old Gilead used to be known only as “Gregory's Parish,” until he preached — Parson Nathan Gregory, I mean — that wonderful sermon of his from the text, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” whereby the entire meeting was so set on fire with godliness that they named the church “Gilead Meeting-house” from that day. Carmel was settled by people from Barnstable County, on Cape Cod, and had lots of religion even in its earliest days.
Well, as I started to say, in my day the preacher used to have both parishes, Gilead and another, called Red Mills, a few miles away. He would take turns, living for a spell at one place and then for a spell at the other. During his stays at Gilead he kept a school in his house. So that I got a little