Denton Jaques Snider.

Lincoln in the Black Hawk war, an epos of the Northwest online

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In answer to White Cloud's request:

" Mulatto I, with hybrid's hate

For his despised debauched estate !

But from my old condition

Has sprung a new ambition :

My vengeance soon I hope to sate ;

Methinks I see the coming date

On which I shall wipe out the white,

And give my other self its right,

Which always was put basely down

Until I came to Prophetstown :

Here from man civilized I changed

And with you savages I ranged ;

I would begin the world anew,

All wrong it has been going hitherto.

In every drop of blood I feel the fight

Between the black man and the white,

An inner civil war is mine, .

I hear it waged in wrath malign

Of fierce contending arms,

With all the wounds and pains and harms,

Even to death's alarms.

These battles inner I shall make outer,

And there shall wage them all the stouter;

The thunderous onset of my soul

Will yet be echoed in the cannon's roll.


Our red men here with Black Hawk's braves,

I shall conduct to free the slaves ;

The black and red shall then unite

To rid us of the intruder white

Whose land shall be our own estate,

And we shall dwell inseparate.

The union of the races is my plan,

The highest union, that of man ;

The racial tint in every human face

It is my deepest purpose to erase,

If not by nature, then by institution,

Of this world's war such is the last solution.

In my best moments I can feel

That union as the eternal commonweal,

And then my every double drop of blood

Becomes prophetic in me of that final good.

But now my own twin racial halves

Are hurtling still against themselves,

Through every vein is running strife

Between the double elements of life ;

I oft can hear my knuckles rattle,

My very bones quake in the shock of battle,

From the two races in me smiting,

That war — I can already see it fighting,

Mine is the white-black's vengeful hate

Which holds me pinioned to my fate,

So that I can but seldom rise to be

The higher one above my fierce duality ;

I hear my mother's blood in me to rate

My father 's for its deep damnation,


And load him with the curse of all creation,

In which the world did once begin

Its paradise of sin.

Once more I tell my deeper scheme

E 'en though it turn out but a dream,

For I am one at last, though two I seem :

Two races I would make one nation,

Which, separate, must die

Without a trace in history —

That is the newest federation,

Which yet will circle the whole earth,

With its uplifting girth


And God-attended,

Eemoving this curst stain of racial birth

Which now discolors every human life,

Ingraining it with mortal strife.' '

So pictured Swartface his self -fight,
And whizzed his fist defiant of the night,
Upon his knee he pounded
So that the hut resounded,
And all his fellows felt a little fright
Lest unawares he took them all for white.
Two Satans in his soul appeared,
They coiled and clinched with heads upreared,
The white in him would damn the black,
Who never failed to send the curses back ;
Thus each the other hissed and imprecated,
Though every blood corpuscle kept them
mated ;


The one rose up the Southern gentleman,

The other crouched his slaved African ;

Caucasian brain in kinky pate

Begetting furious racial hate,

Imprisoned was in wall of fate —

The thick-built negro skull

Which keeps its captive null

And never will be broken

Until a great new word be spoken.

Yet Swartface had a deeper strand

Which may to-morrow voice to him command,

A something good far down

Which he cannot quite drown.

The speech delighted the red Pope,

It seemed to build the fortress of his hope

And pinnacle topmost his tall ambition,

Whereof he dreamed the quick fruition.

But to the Bedskins all that thought

Of twinned alliance Swartface taught,

Prophet was the preacher,

Mulatto was the teacher

Of what his own two-natured soul

Could read within as from a scroll,

And whisper to the Prophet when alone

Who then would tongue the prophecy as if

his own.
Swartf ace's words pleased too, Black Hawk,
Whose hatred loved that sort of talk,
Who with the Prophet had agreed


To wreak the bloody deed.

Though these two were of separate station,

Each plied his own red-skinned vocation,

One was the warrior, the seer the other,

Ruling the double-headed savage state,

And both together sought to imitate

Warman Tecumseh and his prophet brother.

But if the future be forecast

By what has happened in the past

Then it will turn out that these two

Will also meet their Tippecanoe.


A man was present at that speech

Whose heart it wholly failed to reach,

Turn it around as he might please :

Of stain Caucasian, he was ill at ease,

He heard his race assailed that night

And all that was his deepest own ;

He felt himself in Hell alone,

Although a priest anointed,

The one full-blooded white,

Bedamned to sulphurous racial spite,

In this red world un jointed.

He was of fierce Black Hawk the friend,

Whose mind he artfully could bend,

The savage yielded to the subtle skill

Which gave direction to the ruder will.

Like White Cloud too he had his priestly hope,


With whom in craft he had to cope.

This white- skinned priest now tests another

iVlthough his texture be more fine and thin;
The exquisite diplomatist
The subtle, dainty-worded casuist
Who to the savage West had come
With all the discipline of Borne,
Now bumping, thumping, clubbing brain-pans

Will have to stand this rough red deviPs

For of that finer sacerdotal fence
Our White Cloud had but little sense.

Thus still another race was at this feast

Of human colors, pure and mingled,

Held in a Winnebago tenement

Eemote from any European settlement :

The fourth man was he, now outsingled,

All bade him speak — this Spanish priest —

A Jesuit missionary,

His bearing high and military,

Of human beings the most wary.

Of feelings he was chary,

A learned man at Salamanca trained,

With Eoman culture well ingrained,

The Indian tongues he could all speak

From the Great Lakes down to Pike's Peak,

As well as the old Latin and the Greek ;


And thence to Mexico he had a trail
Which topped the mount and thrid the vale ;
Out Mexico it led to Spain,
Surging across the mighty main;
From the new world back to the old again
He forged a strong but unseen chain ;
A continent he would concatenate
With his own Order, Church, and State ;
A hemisphere he would put under
One little terrene speck though far asunder,
It interweave in priestly leading-strings,
Keeping its folk forever underlings,
While at recusants he could pitch some thun-
And for the faithful work a wonder.
From upper inland seas
Of cold Canadian land
Till where the southern balmy breeze
Forever summers on the Eio Grande
He like Arachne, spun his net
And kept it always trimly set,
Which you would brush into, go where you

Francesco Molinar was this man named,
For his devotion highly famed
And for his piety religious
As well as for his lore prodigious.
And yet he also had his hate,
He could not brook the American state
So different in disposition



From the Spanish inquisition.

The worship on the rude frontier

Would cause in him a holy sneer,

He sniffed too at the backwoods teacher

With learned Jesuit compared,

School master Mentor Graham,

How would Francesco flay him !

And Peter Cartright, the circuit preacher,

As heretic would not be spared

On the last Judgment Day,

But given a Hell-lit auto-da-fe,

With faggots by the Devil himself prepared.

But a still deeper hatred in him lurked,

And every fibre of his being worked,

Aye, made him sometimes lose his balanced

Abhorred was the entire Teutonic brood
From that first Gothic multitude
Who smote to death antique high Eome,
Then stole its ruins for their home;
But specially this brazen Anglo-Saxon branch
Forth sweeping westward like an avalanche,
Whose flow no Eome-born state could stanch,
Now threats to drive out Latin blood
From where it had for centuries stood,
From high-up Canada's Great Lakes,
Where once it set its boundary stakes,
Then followed down the Mississippi 's vale,
Of which it told the first romantic tale.
It seized all countries round the Gulf,


Land-hungrier than the old Eoman wolf
Which gorged the Mediterranean world;
And then itself, to downfall hurled,
Was speared to death by the same Teuton

throng ;
This act the Spaniard termed Time's great-
est wrong.
So he had too, his ethnic hate
Active, though ages old, and still insatiate.
But just this war was in his eyes
A cause the more to anathematize —
The freck, elbowing Anglo-Saxon,
Who, having bought the great North- West,
Would put the Latin to the test —
Whose President was Andrew Jackson,
A will at times most wilful,
And yet with cunning skillful.
Thus Molinar has found his place
In this unceasing strife of race.
Which courses through all history
Down into you and me.
In him as representative
His Church, his State, his Stock did live,
Nor could he ever forget his Order
Whose head had sent him to this far-off bor-
Where had begun the final strife
Between his world and its new foe,
Of whom he sought the overthrow,
Ready to offer up his life.


Yet Molinar gave his laborious days

To what he deemed the truth of God 's ways,

Capable of the greatest sacrifice

He did himself not seek to rise.

To sick and dying he would give his all,

He sternly followed duty's call

And made himself its meanest thrall.

Now in that pitch-dark Indian tenement,

In which as lightless

All must be sightless,

Every tint of skin was getting eloquent.

First Molinar had to dissent

From the Mulatto's argument;

All heard the tell-tale face,

Unseen it spoke the race.

The Hybrid must dislike him as a White,

Each felt the other's spite,

And failed not to requite.

For Molinar upheld his kind,

And culture too he highly prized,

Would keep the world still civilized

If only moulded to his mind.

But that red Prophet's lofty hope,

Sounded to him like that of antipope,

In word and also thought;

To deal with him he hardly ought,

As twin of the incarnate evil,

As Mother Church's very Devil.

The heathen doctor he could not abide,


And still his horror he must deftly hide;

Yet each was priest to his own kind,

Each had a trait of priestly mind,

And thought the other far behind

In knowledge of the deity,

What God Himself would do and be;

In fine, each deemed his side quite free

Of sacerdotal jealousy,

But held the other thus afflicted

And bad results thereof predicted.

The Hawk called on the priest once and

To say to their far-reaching scheme amen,
And to invoke the white man's God
His folk to chastise with the sinner's rod;
A gentle clerkly tone he took
Whose dulcet flow him ne'er forsook:

"Vengeance is not the way divine,
Let charity be always thine,
Forbearance is the holier dower,
And love imparts the greater power.
Whoso avenges, commits sin,
And Heaven's bliss can never win,
But even here below his own
Comes back to him in many a groan;
The Sacred Scripture oft hath said,
With what ye pay, ye shall be paid;
If it be Hate, your portion Hate shall be
If it be Love, reward will just agree.



Duty to Holy Church is first,

To scorn its sealed priest is worst ;

Confess to him thy hidden heart

If thou wouldst choose the better part.

One Spirit Great rules over red and white —

That is the truth which rays all light.

Him would I bring to you, for He

Loves every race impartially;

Red, black, and white are all his children

He will you save if you but hear,
And free you of the future's fear.

' 'Good is this Spirit of whom I've told;
But hark ! there is a Spirit bad and bold,
Who sometimes gets his grip on men,
Clutching them down into his den,
Where burns a pitchy fire infernal
Which causes tears and pangs eternal.
Americans are of the Devil's brood,
Not children of the Spirit good,
Foes of his Church and State and Stock,
Their further progress we must block,
Or else by Satan's imps be jammed,
Or e'en with them to Hell be damned.
With you Black Hawk I shall unite
To vent on them the Lord's own spite,
And drive them backward whence they came
Over the Alleghenies, in God's name.
Yet of these facial shades no perfect play


Can be without another tinted ray;
Three colors make our racial prism
Which I shall bless with holy chrism;
To red and black I'll add my mite —
Another stain — it is the white,
All three I shall here consecrate
As corner-stone of newest House of State,
In which will dwell the social ultimate.
My race will unify your double nation,
My third your two will mediate,
And weld your new confederation,
Bounding it out to fend off fate.
The sign of God Himself we see
Stamped on this racial trinity,
Which I shall bless in holy rite,
And- fill it with the Lord's own might.
I now proclaim it Heaven's plan:
All races join against the American,
Who stands athwart the unity of man."

So spake Francesco Molinar,

Who had some hate still left for war

Against the foe hereditary,

And who had journeyed from afar

Through space, down time,

With fortitude sublime,

To meet him on the Western prairie

For final tug extraordinary

Between the Latin and Teutonic mettle

The future course of History to settle.


He is the Soldier of his Order

Against heresiarchs of the young border

Just drawn between the old and new

Which now the Mississippi brings to view:

As once upon the rambling Rhine

His ancestor defended Caesar's line

Against the same onpressing brood

Which could not be withstood.

Apostle too he was political,

And weened he might perpetuate

Out here the Latin State ;

He could be very critical

Of this new-fledged democracy

Compared to good old Spain's autocracy;

A President instead of King

For him had a demoniac ring;

His well-galled tongue spared not attacks on

The people 's hero. Andrew Jackson,

The type of westering Anglo-Saxon.

Still the humanitarian

Would see in both the one white skin —

The Latin and the Teuton were blood-kin,

For both of them were Aryan.

And if far back in time we reach,

We hear them talking each to each.

Just in the self-same syllables of speech.

Swartface made ready to attack
This argument of priestly Spain,


But by the Prophet was held back,

Whose speech ran in the following vein:

"We three must pull as one at least,

And join this crusade with the priest,

Who has his end as we have ours,

United we must wield our powers ;

Divided we are lost

And might as well give up the ghost."

Uneasy Black Hawk here broke in:

"I must return now to my kin

And rouse them with all speed,

Though Keokuk will try to check my deed

With the rattle of his talking mill,

But Jesuit has equal skill.

Thou Molinar, must go with me,

Important work I have for thee.

My dreamful White Cloud, now good-bye,

I see the day of vengeance nigh ;

And stormy hero, strong Swartface

Get ready to wake up thy race,

Then with the toiling African

We'll start confederated man."

The Prophet's face shone like a star

Flashing a word to Molinar:

"Go with Black Hawk, I cannot go,

One priest is enough, and I have much to do ;

I'll keep aflame our lofty scope

And weld all races in one hope ;

Now to the trial of it. ' '

So blazed ambitious the red Prophet,


In tonguey bodeful flare

Which seemed the Lord to dare

To Molinar, who tittered a teehee scoff,

Whispering to Black Hawk: " Let's be off."


When they had gone, the speech outcropped

Of Swartface overfull, who had been stopped

By the sly Prophet politic,

Lest unity might get a crick.

"That cunning priest," quoth he, "I should

have told,
All that his people seek is gold ;
I read in story of the Spanish,
They are as greedy and as clannish
As the English whom they hate,
And brand as avaricious and ingrate,
But always underrate.
They stole the Africans for slaves,
And worked the Reds to rapid graves,
His fight is but a selfish fight
Of white against another white,
In which he will make us his tool
That he may win his nation's rule —
He will not find me such a fool,
Though his soft speech be Latin
With surface smooth as satin.
I care not for his Nation, Church or Stock
To which comes ever back his talk;


I reach down to the race,

And on it all my world I base;

In him our master still is white

And we are slaves without a right,

I scarce can bear him in my sight.

That priest still grades the human creature,

Tracing the turn and tint of feature ;

I tell thee my sole creed

Which I shall make my deed:

As I hate the facial

So I love the racial.

And list me thou, the newest pope,

No longer in the narrows grope,

Be not the shallow-pated priest of faces,

But universal mediator of the races.' f

So spake that semi- African

And glorying glimpsed the greatness of his

But when he had himself thus heard
He could not stop, he was so stirred
By the momentum mighty of his word :
* ' That Priest holds Black Hawk under thumb
But back to us he is not like to come.
For he will try to win sage Keokuk,
But with that chief will have no luck,
At such mishap the self- same day
He well may start the other way;
Bent on his trail to Mexico
I seem to see him go,


And thence perhaps again
He will be landed in old Spain,
And so he will complete life's round
Eeturning to his early stamping-ground,
Where he will find his Church and State and

Just at their central hold of power,
Still living on their ancient dower,
And cooped up in their medieval tower,
Far from the Mississippi border.
He stands, if he go with us, in the way ;
He 's past, whatever he may do or say,
Of this great futuring North West
Where is to be the New World's best,
He never can get hold,
His world is all too old,
Besides, it is unfree,
Transplanted here it cannot be,
I doubt if him again we '11 ever see,
Let him but glimpse futurity."

The Prophet here sprang to his feet

And forward leaped as if to greet

His lofty-coming destiny;

To Swartf ace he proclaimed at once :

"You need not take me for a dunce;

Francesco thinks he ? s using me

To build up his supremacy,

But I am working at my own,

Although I throw him now and then a bone.


With his fine ways I must be charmed,

Still, Swartface dear, be not alarmed;

Me but a savage dull he deems,

A redskin prophet given up to dreams,

Whom he with ease can overmatch,

But I shall bring him to the scratch;

Priest against priest — both are divine,

A trick I'll show him in his own line.

A coppery juggler to the white,

I'll turn him inside out to his own sight.

But let me now repeat to thee

What thou hast oft inspired in me :

I would not be a priest of sect or stock,

Latin or Teuton, whatever be the grade —

Black, white or red, of every shade,

All men all-tinted make my flock,

In that my thought is one with yours,

We shall take in all out-of-doors. ' '

Here Swartface stops the flow of dreams

With which the brain of White Cloud teems :

"Let us the plan now execute

On which we often have agreed,

Of thought we have not plucked the fruit

Until we do the deed.

The Winnebagoes, Potawatomies,

And other tribes through you will rise,

For all the Reds and e'en some Whites deem

To be the voice of the Great Spirit true;


You have been baiting long this trap,
Let it be sprung before mishap.
Besides, you have hatched out a scheme
By which Fort Armstrong may be caught,
Its head in cunning overraught;
Let this no longer be a dream
To play with as if fancy's fitful gleam.
Such work I would not of you ask,
Unless I gave myself a bolder task,
Which I shall have to play in mask:
I hasten to the volunteers
Whose northward march our river nears,
Among them I shall move disguised,
Not in mulatto skin despised,
But as a sunburnt farmer white
Bringing his truck to soldiers there,
And spying out how great their might,
What doings they intend to dare —
Eaves-dropping all about the coming fight,
The rumors snaking through an army's air,
Like a vast vat of eels a-wriggling,
I'll hearken best just when I'm higgling.
Perchance a hunter too I'll play,
Trailing the game along the way,
To sate the hunger of their camp,
Till in my brain I bear its stamp."

White Cloud still in prophetic swing,
Slapped on his knee and spake: "That is the


Let each of us make such an offering ;
The Prophet I shall be and you the King,
Of my large hope you see the traces,
I am to be the priest of all the races,
And then unite in one vast fellowship'' —
Broke Swartface in: "Enough of that,
Let us now do it, pat —
The sun is up, come, let us skip."

Canto ttyrti.


New Salem had already heard —

A farmer brought the welcome word —

That Lincoln, tall New Salemite,

Had gained at Eichland his first fight,

And had at once his march begun ;

He would reach home ere day be done,

Perchance at nooning of the sun.

The entire town turned out to see

The Captain and his company,

The feather in his cap to measure,

And weigh in worth this new-trove treasure,

As well as give the lad some pleasure.

The cry soon rose : They come, they come !

And at their head the big bass-drum

Reverberated rumbling noise

To the delight of all the boys,



Who bare-footed in a minnow drove

Were shoaled about the music they did love,

And patted tempo to the strain,

Wanting to hear it all again.

The tip-top fifer, too, was there,

Who trod the time with soldier air,

Big Blowhard with his graying hair,

High-headed fifer, old Tom Cunes,

Who blew a battle in his tunes ;

Striding along in steady stalk,

He always made his whistle talk;

And though he had to blow uphill,

He led his charging sounds at will ;

Though steep the path he had to climb,

He took the fortress every time.

Now at his very best he blew,

His hat he nodded off his head,

His broad-brimmed hat of straw just new,

It fell down where he had to tread,

He kicked it out aside the road

And onward still uphill he strode,

The peopled top-knot of New Salem

In hurrahing chorus there did hail him.

His silver shock of hair bounced round his

Which to his step bobbed up and down ;
While out his fife the martial notes did roll
And to the music marched the town,
Whose festal head was decked with rosy



Old Tom had fifed for General Harrison,
For Croghan in Sandusky garrison,
Against the Eeds and British too ;
He fifing fought at Tippecanoe,
And blew to beat Tecumseh's brother,
The prophet twin of the one mother.
There he this same Black Hawk had seen,
At whom he shrilled his whistle keen,
Which louder buzzed than whizzing musket

And pierced the cannon's roar with battle call,
Shooting the smoke of powder through and

With furious blast of Yankee-doodle-doo.
Nor was in battle Tom a cipher,
All famed him as the fighting fifer,
For when his fife was shattered by a bullet,
He took a trigger and of t did pull it;
The splinters of his pipe he threw away,
But kept the mouthpiece to this day ;
Now through that leaden hole he blows
While to and fro his noddle goes.
The hollow nib he presses with his lips,
And up and down he plays his finger tips
Over the vents of his sideling fife,
Into whose notes he puffs his very life
Steeling the heart with passion grim,
Or thrilling it with a lofty hymn ;
So at the head of Lincoln's jocund band,
He fifes up "Hail Columbia, Happy Land."


Two sets of men were by him hated,

The British and the Beds he mated

In his long memory of wrath,

For what they wrought of wrongful scath

Unto his folk of the frontier ;

The fifer too was pioneer,

But now it was Black Hawk alone,

Whom he in Canada had known

At the Thames ' battle where Tecumseh died ;

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Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderLincoln in the Black Hawk war, an epos of the Northwest → online text (page 3 of 16)