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J. H. (John Hovey) Robinson.

The life and adventures of Wm. Harvard Stinchfield, or, The wanderings of a traveling merchant. An owre true tale, of the gaming table and bowl online

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i<_\5:







TAITKEE FED]

i^®^0 (25) (33:) (o)/®DgO.
I *^ TRAVELING MERCHANT, ^

' i V_y^^' AJ" OTJITRE TETJE TALB" OFTH^rx;;_^ j

Garniag Table and "BowX




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THE



LIFE AND ADVENTURES



OP



WM. HARYARD STINCHFIELD,



OR THB



WANDERINGS OF ATRAYELINQ MERCHANT.



*JM OWBB 5rRUB TALE,** OF THB QAMHTO TABLE A2n> BOWL.



BY J. H. ROBINSON.



" When yon dnll then unlucky deedi rriata»
Speak of me M I am, nothing extMuati^
Nor eet4own WKhfthi amljce.'*



FOR THE AUTHOR:

PRINTED BY THURSTON & CO.,

PORTLAND-, MAINE*

1851.






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r



HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARf
FROM THE HEIRS OF
6E0R6E C. DORSET



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1S51» by

A. W. POLLARD,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Maine.



Gift of
The Heirs of
aeors:e C. DempHy •

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i/bu SttNORff KtD if elt^Bfively kho^n ilk th« BtAte of Maiod, and is now
living 8t FamUngton Falls with tlie object of his youtliAil heart, of which n
ftiU account is herein giren, with many other scenes of his past life« whicli
Will be interesting, and also a warning, to the readeri

Farmington FaUi, Oct 19dL



I



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INTRODUCTORY.



It was nature's holiday — ^midsummer — and the flowers and
treeS) and every green thing, was in bloom. The birds sported
from leaf to flower, and from flower to leaf, and joined joyously
in the great pean which every living object was offering to t};§k
cme God. The beautiful ri^er whose eccentric bends I was
unwinding, sparkled gladly, and smiled through its tiny waves
upon the cress plant and water lily which graced its banks, and
the cress plant and the water lily nodded ai»l smiled back again.
There seemed a mutual understanding between them, and no
cause for envy or difierance. There were trees growing there
of venerable aspect and goddly fdiage, aiKithey stretched their
branches over the sigihing river to protect it from the sun's
noonday beams, while the woodbine clung to their trunks and
covered them with their thick spreading leaves. Everywhere
about that 'sandy river,' besdde which I was journeying, "were
traces of human industry — ^fertile fiums, and waving fields of
com and grain. Hie scythe <rf the husbandman was busy
among the grass-spires, and the scent of the new made hay came
pleasai^y to my nostrils. The waning love of existence which
saddened my heart, lay with lighter pressure upcm me, for I
had caught a portion of the spirit which gladdened aU around,
and I was forgetful of the monotimy wid ackliness of city Kfe.

The pulses thrilled once more with a healthy energy — ^the
brain threw off half its weary weight o£ care, and as the soft
summer-breeze ^ned my temples, I breathed freer, and was a
happier and better man. It is good to commune alone with
Nature in her summer mood, and become a part of the great
whcde whose sum makes up the Universe— comprises all. It is
pleasant to contemplate the €rod-traces apparent in every cre«



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VI INTRODUCTORY.

ated thing, and it is glorious \xyfed our affinity with aD, and the

Knks which bind us to the great Future — ^the ages which cease

not In this mood, the lines of Pope came home,

*'An are but parts of one stupenduoos whole
Whose body nature is, and God the soul.''

But I wander from my subject. To return : — ^It was a hot
July day, and I suffered my steed to go forward at a leisure
rambling pace, and abandoned myself to the soft dreamy influ-
ence of the scenery. I compared the romantic stream beade
me to the current of "Ehoie, bearing, onward innumerable atoms
of Life to mingle with the great ocean beyond the Present, to
scorn the ravages of tame — ^to make a portion of the OtaseUas,
Fwas an atom of that stream, and its onward motion had iJready
borne me far toward the Future. « That atom of life will Booa
sweep out of the Time-current, and lose itsdf amid the surges
of Eternity's sea.

Boundless as ilHnntable space, is the UniTerse of the life in
the Beyond, and the greatness of its sum is destined to increase
irhile human beings exist The last atom shall be added when
the last morts^ shall yield up bis breath. Then shall that Ocean
be complete, whose mighty lullows, though they lash the foot oi
the Eternal throne, are obedient to the mandate of the Imper-
ishable Mind.

I saw — by my spirit's ymoni — thfe vast deep upon whicli th^re
should be never a wredc, upon which no rude tempest should
lower, which tlie hurricane should never devastate, and from
which tiiere ^ould ascend never, the fearful cry of castraway
hopes. How much Icmger I should ihave indulged in these
somewhat mett^l^ci^ ntatters, and added speculati(m fo spec*
ulatbn, hypothesis to hypotl^sis, I know not, had not the thread
of my reflections been suddenly and unceremoneously broken
by a stentcman voice npon my r^ht

" Halloa, captain — a word with you."

I reined up, and saw approaching, a man who stood six feet
in his shoes. He was of a good figure,- with- a face far from ugly,
although it was bronzed by the fervid suns of that season.

" Give us a ride, sir ; I live just above here, and as it is near
the hour of nocm, you shall be quite welcome to share the best





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INTRODDCTORY. VU

my board can offer, though it may be coarse, mayhaps, and
rude."

I thanked the stranger for his hospitable overtures, assuring
him that it was not necessary at that time to avail myself ef his
kind offer, although he was welcome to a seat in my carriage.

**' I have peddled sixteen years," said my new acquaintance,
** I have been &I1 over the United States — ^I have suffered more
than any living man."

I turned and looked at my strange friend to assure myself
that he was a sane man. His eye, though restless and piercing*
gave no indications of insanity, and I detected nothing about
him to confirm my suspicions. He continued with a voluble-
ness rarely surpassed.

" How is trade, young man 7^

Beally, sir, I am nnable to inform you ; I am not in trade.

" I took you for a merchant from the city, looking up bad
customers. But, as I was 8a3ring, I have peddled sixteen years
in the States and in the Provinces, in the heat and cdd. I havd
been rich as a Jew, and poor as an Indian. I have met with
more adventures in my waterings than any person in ezia-
tence."

^ I have not a doubt of it," I sead laconiccaly . Stall he went on.

<* I see how it is, young ma» Yon think me a very angular
individual — a sort (^ a wild^nan Ofr nondescript, and periiaps a
Ettlc unsettled in the upper woiks"— pointing to his head—
"but you are not quite right, sir; ifs my way — ^natural as is
breathing. Mixing with the great world for so many years
has made me familiar with i^-4oo fiumliar, perhaps, for that
matter — and confirmed the habits which singles me out from all
other men and makes me a wonder."

I took another survey of my new acquaintance, and felt sure
that I had ^len in with an original character. I grew inter-
ested. We were now opposite what he assured me was his
residence. He insisted upon my stopping. Excuses and evasions
were useless. I was forced to yield to his request 1 was anx-
ious to study his character still farther.

My horse was quickly freed from the carriage and cared for.



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VUl INTBODUCTORY.

wlule the man ot adrentiires amused me vnth Lis conyersation
as well as his original manner. I found him a man of good
sense, and natoral abilities of no mean order. Joined to an
sUiletic frame and an iron constitution, was a heart not deficient
in boldness, &nd a restless energy which no circumstances could
controL Fhysicallj, he was a fine specimen of a man ; and he
must be a bold or presumptuous person who would provoke him
to a trial of strength in a hand to hand encounter. His expres-
sion was open and manly, althougb there was much in his eye
which would escape the casual observer.

** Allow me to ask your business^ sir," he said, when we had
seated ourselves in the parlor, a room handsomely furnished.

«< I am a scribbler, sir— an author."

** Then you are the very man I wish to see. I want you ta
write my lifeT

" If its detaOs are sufficiently interestii^ I have no objec-
tions," I replied. Suffice it to say, that I listened to a rehearsal
of the principal events that had marked hislife, and have found-
ed the tale that follows upon the same. Few persons can tell
suck a history, and very fisw have seen so many of life's changea
as he. May he learn from the past, lessons of wisdom to guide
his footsteps through the mazy windings of the future. May
the events of his life prove a salutary warning to the young and
inexperienced, about commencing the world, and induce them
to shun the "garnvng tatie and the houi.**

May it be productive of good to s^ and evil to »on&— -amuso
all, while it displeases none« I have embellished it in many
places^ and given it in some sort l^e coloring of a romance, but
I bope without tlie sacrifice of any of the principal truths cox^
nected therewith.

By perusing the followii^ p^^s^ you will see in their true
light, the evils of intemperance and gaming. They present no
o'er wrou^t picture of either.

Beader, if you are the slave of Alcohol, rest fully assured
that its demon scourge will lash you on to utter ruin, if you break
not from its degrading thraldom*

If you have a passion £ar gaming, forget not but bear it ever



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INTRODUCfTORY. IX

in mind, Hoi it Inres to destruction, be^aiy, despair and
the alms-house. But remember tkiSj also, and let it be as
a soothing medicament to your soul.

You can, by one mardy^ noble effort, throw off the in&mous
shackles of hoik, and towering aboye them in jour moral
strength, feel yourself once more a man.

The human will, when linked to a good cause, can accom-
plish wonders. Wnx and pebsevebancb — engraye the
words upon your soul— can oyercome all obstacles, and are the
two grand elements of all human greatness. J. H. R.



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CHAPTER I.



In which the Hero is introdticed.



"AU the world's a stage,
And all the men and wom«[i merely players ;
They hare their exits, and th^ entrances ;
And one man in his time plays many parts."

Two persons, far advanced in years, were seated near a
rude hearth-stone. The one, was a man upon whose
temples the hand of Time had heen busy in planting
white hairs — the other a female, whose face, .though ben-
evolent in its expression, wore sundry wrinkles, traced by
the same agency. The first, though past life's meridian,
was still vigorous, and the latter, though she had counted
two-thirds of the allotted time of mortal probation, bid
fair to plod on through many winters. But those whose
heads are already bowed, and whose knees totter, the
winters fall heavily — very heavily. They work many
changes, and deal sadly with the intellect. The eyes of
he female were fixed upon the floor, and the man gazed
thoughtfully out of the window into the fields, which
spring time was visiting with her soft verdure and breath
of balm. Mayhaps he thought of his ovrn Spring-time
then. The sun was rising, and its first morning beams
fell cheerfully upon the old man's face like an omen of



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12 LIFE AND ADVENTURES

good, but a cloud came daridy between and destroyed
the propitious augery.

He watched the cloud as it toyed with the ray, and
thought of what all do when they contemplate the same.
Near the two persons described, were several younger
ones, who, frooi the striking family resemblance, would at
once be recognized as their offspring. The bustle, con-
fusion, and moving of feet which had prevailed for the
last hour in that farmhouse, had subsided, and the group
seemed silently awaiting something unpleasant.

The most prominent figure of the group, was a tall
young man, who stood near the door, holding a bundle,
which he was nervously twirlii^ in bis hand. Though
of uncommon statute for a youth of his age his figure
was symmetrical, and well knit together, displaying thews
and sinews of great power. His features were regular,
with a nose of the Anglo Saxon mould, and a mouth de-
noting firmness and resolution. Hi» forehead was where
it ought to be, and its phrenological developments were of
a high order, The hair had not intruded itself so far
upon it as to mar its fair proportions, and the thick brows
beneath, added to its heaviness and beauty, sandy hair,
i^nd cheeks, tense with blood, spoke the quick, sanguine
temperment.

He was encased throughout— both nether and upper
limbs — in home-wrought garments, and though the fabric
was not fine, and the cut was not fashionable, it was neat
and comfortable. His hazle eye wandered with a quick
restless motion, from one to the other untill it rested upon
the aged female — his mother — then it grew moist, and he
turned tastily away to conceal his face. She, from whom
his gaze had wandered, rocked violently in her chair, and
iriiaded her time-worn features with a trembling hand.
That tali youth, who stood there upon the tbreshbold^



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OF WILLIAM HARVARD STINCHFIELD. 1^

was about leaving her, perhaps forever ;. for who couM»
reveal to that bursting heart what chances, and changes^^
the dark future stretching away before them might bring.
There was no Seer there to tell them that — to lift the veil
and speak to them of " coming events." Had there been
he might have been the herald of nothi^ welcome, and
broiught a more crushing misery upon that tearful mother.
How many difficulties and discouragements might that
beloved boy incounter in the great '*battle of life !" How
much of pain and sickness, of care and sorrow he might
suffer, and how many temptations might lay in wait to
entangle his inexperienced feet ! Alas, she knew not,
albeit she thought thereof with a parent's sdicitudo, and
invoked blessings upon his head.

The old man turned from the cloud, and the 8un*beam
to the youth, and in a tremulous voice said :

** So Harvard, you are resolved to go ?"

<< Yes, father, I think it best to follow my fortune abroad.
I will seek a Inroader field of action ; 1 will see the world,
and men and manners. With these strong limbs I
will \vin an honest livelihood. 1 wish not for the hard-
earned paternal heritage — divide it among my brethren,
and fear not for me ; I am young and sanguine and go
forth upon my worklly struggle, with a stout heart and
firm step."

** Be it so/' said the father, after a pause, in which the
heart-struggle was strong in his bosom, ** be it so.! I will
urge you no more ; but 1 had pleased myself with a dif-
ferent hope. I had nursed a vision in my brain which
fades to-day forever, ami leaves only in the bright spot it
filled, a dark and nothingless blank. It was a pleasing
day-dream, but brief, brief has been the period of its du- -
ration. It passed quickly before my vision as yon
cloud across the sun's disc. Harvard," continued the



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14 LIFB AND ADVENTURES

old man striving to master his emotions, '* you were the
child of my hopes — the staff of my old age — a staff I
had flattered myself to support me down the vale of
years."

. "Let not my departure grieve you father, you have
other children \#io can better fiil the place you had intend-
ed for me. They will cheerfully perform the duty, and
comfort and sustain your footsteps when enfeebled by old
age. Meanwhile I will battle with the world, and vvhen
the fickle goddess of fortune shall have smiled upon my
efforts, 1 will return once more to the pafernal roof-— till
then, farewell."

" May God bless you Harvard, and prosper you as he
did Joseph in the house of Pharaoh. But beware, my
son, of the allurements of the world, and the blandish-
ments of sin. You know but little, Harvard, of the stage
upon which you are now becoming an actor* You deem
not now while the youth-hopes, and youth-dreams are
strong upon you, of the temptations you are about to
meet — of the hidden rocks, the shoals and quicksands,
which dot the great sea you are launching your frail bark
•upon. You see the stirring theatre of life only in per-
spective, and how beautiful is that perspective — a nearer
. view will dispel the illusion. Harvard, there is in store
for all who sojourn upon earth, disappointments, cares, dis-
pair, tears and a tomb. For moments of pleasure, you will
find hours of unhappiness. Link not then, your hopes of
happiness too closely to the uorld, for such hopes are
doomed to perish, but centre them on the Author of all —
the great first cause, whose name is God. Beware of the
GAMING TABLE and the BOWL ; they lure to destruction.—
Shun both as the pestilence — they have ruined many—
benefitted none. Remember my warning, Harvard, it may
strengthen you in the hour of temptatioc — save you in



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OF WILLIAM HARVARD STINCHFIELD. 15

the moment of peril. And now my boy farewell, and the
blessings of an old man go witli you."

He paused and grasped the extended hand of the young
man and pressed it with a lingering fondness in his hard-
ened palm. It is well such moments cannot last, they
wring the young heart, but with the old^ thty play strangly.
He turned — that youth — to his mother. She arose from
her seat, and throwing her aged arms about his neck —
strained him — her own flesh and blood — to her bosom. —
The richest dearest emotions of the heart swelled up
— ^love, human love, which would fain cling forever to its
earthly idol. The young man's heart seemed bursting
from its loving walls — he tore himself from that long,
long embrace, while the word farewell died away in an
inaudible murmur upon his lips. Shaking, in silence the
other hands that were outstretched, he hurried across the
paternal threshhold— his home no more.

He struck into a well known path, leading to the main
* road, and at a short distance screened from view by an
abrupt turn, paused to look yet again upon the old farm-
bouse. He saw an aged woman in the door, who wiped
t^rs from her face and stmined her dimed eyes anxiously
in the direction he had taken. Laaning against an elm
beneath whose branches he had sported often, he gave rein
to his hitherto pent up feelings.

He weighed the chances of his return, and the proba-
bilities of his meeting again, her, to whom he owed his
existence. He reflected upon the mutability of all human
affairs, and the casualities to which all are exposed, and
which perchance might prevent his return. He felt, and
rightly, that that day was a new era in his existence, and
was destined to have an important bearing upon his future
career.

The sun shone pleasantly down upon the youth now



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I& LIFE AND ADVENTURES

commencing his earthly wanderings, as if it would fain
dry up his tears and gladen the dark spot in his bosom ;
but a dense cloud came between, and his heart was heavier
than before.

Thus flit by turns, the sunshine and the cloud, athwart
life*s tortuous path.



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OF WILLIAM HARVARD STINCHFIELD. 17



CHAPTER II.



In which my hero lecomes acquainted vnth the world.



It is the hour when from the boughs,
The nightingale's high notes are heard ;

It is the hour when loyers tows
Seem sweet in every wispered word.

Bybon.

It was a mild May evening:. The flowers that were
busting from the chill embraces of winter were already
drinking the night-dews. The trees were putting forth
their leaves, and there were traces everywhere of the liv-
ing season.

Thus the hour and those the circumstances while a
youth of fifteen was plodding on towards Portland. He
carried a small bundle in his hand, and though of ath-
letic frame gave signs of weariness as he walked.

He climed hiUs which seemed to lengthen as he went-^
he trudged across valleys that mocked his efforts, he toiled
through woods that appeared interminable — he passed
meadows and farm houses, the husbandman and the well
mounted traveller.

Every place was new to him, and all faces he looked
upon strange. It was the third day of his journey, and he
was tired and dispirited, it was his first hardship, and he
resolved to bear i! manfully. He seated himself by the
roadside at a short distance from a neat looking cottage,
to rest his weary Arame. From a person whom he had



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18 LIFK AND ADVENTURES

met, he learned th'&t it nvas several miles to an Inn, and
feeling himself too much fatigued to go farther, resolved to
throw himself upon the hospitality of the cottagers be-
yond ; but he knew there was no eye there to "mark his
coming and look brighter when he came/' and that knowl-
edge was far from pleasing.

He reflected upon the comforts which surrounded the
home he was leaving, then of his present friendless, and
lonely condition, and as he dwelt thereon, a feeling^ of
despondency came stealing upon him, which required all
his resolution to shake off. From the past and the present,
he turned to the future, and to him it was full of hope and
joy. He drew a thousand pictures of happiness, and
tasted a thousand pleasures. He twined for himself a glori-
ous fame-wreath ; and it had no thorns to lacerate his brow.
A bright panorama was before hira, and as he gazed


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Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hovey) RobinsonThe life and adventures of Wm. Harvard Stinchfield, or, The wanderings of a traveling merchant. An owre true tale, of the gaming table and bowl → online text (page 1 of 6)