Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

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What pity some monitor, equally wise and equally successful
with old Trapbois daughter, had not been at the elbow of even-
Virginia ! " T wad frae monie a blunder freed him an
foolish notion."

If he made a bad bargain, how could he expect to get rid of
it ? He knew nothing of the elaborate machinery of ingenious
chicane such as feigning bankruptcy, fraudulent convey
ances, making over to his wife, running property and had
never heard of such tricks of trade as sending out coffins to the
.graveyard, with negroes inside, carried off by sudden spells of


imaginary disease, to be "resurrected" in due time grinning on
the banks of the Brazos.

The new philosophy too had commended itself to his
speculative temper. He readily caught at the idea of a new
spirit of the age having set in, which rejected the saws of Poor
Richard as being as much out of date as his almanacs. He
was already, by the great rise of property, compared to his con
dition under the old-time prices, rich ; and what were a few
thousands of debt, which two or three crops would pay off,
compared to the value of his estate ? (He never thought that
the value of property might come down, while the debt was a
fixed fact.) He lived freely, for it was a liberal time, and liberal
fashions were in vogue, and it was not for a Virginian to be
d^ others^ in hospitality andliberalityi He required credit

d security, and, of course,- had to sta^d security in return.
When the crash came, and no "accommodations" could be had,
except in a few instances, and in those on the most ruinous
terms, he fell an easy victim. They broke by neighborhoods.
They usually indorsed for each other, and when one fell like
the child s play of putting bricks on end at equal distances, and
dropping the first in line against the second, which fell against
the third, and so on to the last all fell ; each got broke as
security, and yet few or none were able to pay their own
debts! . . .

There was one consolation if the Virginian involved him
self like a fool, he suffered himself to be sold mil- like a gpntle-
man. When his card house of visionary projects came tumbling
about his ears, the next question was, the one Webster plagia
rized, " Where am I to go ? " Those who had fathers, uncles,
aunts, or other dernier resorts in Virginia limped back, with
feathers molted and crestfallen, to the old stamping ground,
carrying the returned Californian s fortune of ten thousand
dollars six bits in money, and the balance in experience.


Those who were in the condition of the prodigal (barring the
father, the calf the fatted one I mean and the fiddle) had
to turn their accomplishments to account ; and many of them,
having lost all by eating and drinking, sought the retributive
justice from meat and drink, which might at least support
them in poverty. Accordingly they kept tavern and made a
barter of hospitality, a business the only disagreeable part of
which was receiving the money, and the only one I know for
which a man can eat and drink himself into qualification. And
while I confess I never knew a Virginian, out of the state, to
keep a bad tavern, I never knew one to draw a solvent breath
from the time he opened house until death or the sheriff
closed it.

Others again got to be not exactly overseers but some
nameless thing, the duties of which were nearly analogous, for
some more fortunate Virginian, who had escaped the wreck
and who had got his former boon companion to live with him
on board, or other wages, in some such relation that the friend
was not often found at table at the dinings given to the neigh
bors, and had got to be called Mr. Flournoy instead of Bob, and
slept in an outhouse in the yard, and only read the Enquirer of
nights and Sundays.

Some of the younger scions that had been transplanted early
and stripped of their foliage at a tender age, had been turned
into birches for the corrective discipline of youth. Yes ; many
who had received academical or collegiate educations, disre
garding the allurements of the highway, turning from the gala-
day exercise of ditching, scorning the effeminate relaxation of
splitting rails, heroically led the Forlorn Hope of the battle of
life, the corps of pedagogues of country schools academics,
I beg pardon for not saying ; for, under the Virginia economy,
every crossroad log cabin, where boys were flogged from
B-a-k-e-r to Constantinople, grew into the dignity of a sort


of runt college ; and the teacher vainly endeavored to hide the
meanness of the calling beneath the sonorous sobriquet of
Professor. . . .

I had a friend on whom this catastrophe descended. Tom
Edmundson was buck of the first head gay, witty, dashing,
vain, proud, handsome, and volatile, and, withal, a dandy and
lady s man to the last intent in particular. He had graduated at
the University, and had just settled with his guardian, and
received his patrimony of ten thousand dollars in money. Being
a young gentleman of enterprise, he sought the alluring fields
of Southwestern adventure, and found them in this state.
Before he well knew the condition of his exchequer, he had
made a permanent investment of one half of his fortune in
cigars, champagne, trinkets, buggies, horses, and current ex
penses, including some small losses at poker, which game he
patronized merely for amusement; and found that it diverted
him a good deal, but diverted his cash much more. He invested
the balance, on private information kindly given him, in
"Choctaw Floats," a most lucrative investment it would have
turned out but for the facts : i . That the Indians never had
any title ; 2 . The white man who kindly interposed to act as
guardian for the Indians did not have the Indian title ; 3. The
land, left subject to entry if the "Floats" had been good, was
not worth entering. " These imperfections off its head," I
know of no fancy stock I would prefer to a " Choctaw Float."
" Brief, brave, and glorious " was " Tom s young career."
When Thomas found, as he did shortly, that he had bought
five thousand dollars worth of moonshine and had no title to it,
he honestly informed his landlord of the state of his "fiscality,"
and that worthy kindly consented to take a new buggy, at half
price, in payment of the old balance. The horse, a nick-tailed
trotter, Tom had raffled off, but omitting to require cash, the
process of collection resulted in his getting the price of one


chance the winner of the horse magnanimously paying his
subscription. The rest either had gambling offsets, else were
not prepared just at any one particular given moment to pay
up, though always ready generally and in a general way.

Unlike his namesake, Tom and his landlady were not for
a sufficient reason very gracious ; and so, the only common
bond, Tom s money, being gone, Tom received "notice to quit"
in regular form.

In the hurly-burly of the times I lost sight of Tom for a
considerable period. One day, as I was traveling over the hills
in Greene, by a crossroad leading me near a country mill, I
stopped to get water at a spring at the bottom of the hill.
Clambering up the hill, after remounting, the summit of it
brought me to a view, on the other side, through the bushes, of
a log country schoolhouse, the door being wide open, and who
did I see but Tom Edmundson, dressed as fine as ever, sitting
back in an armchair, one thumb in his waistcoat armhole, the
other hand brandishing a long switch, or rather pole. As I ap
proached a little nearer I heard him speak out : * Sir Thomas
Jefferson, of Virginia, was the author of the Declaration of
Independence mind that. I thought everybody knew that
even the Georgians." Just then he saw me coming through the
bushes and entering the path that led by the door. Suddenly
he broke from the chair of state, and the door was slammed to,
and I heard some one of the boys, as I passed the door, say,
"Tell him he can t come in the master s sick." This was
the last I ever saw of Tom. I understand he afterwards moved
to Louisiana, where he married a rich French widow, having
first, however, to fight a duel with one of her sons, whose oppo
sition could n t be appeased until some such expiatory sacrifice
to the manes of his worthy father was attempted ; which fail
ing, he made rather a lame apology for his zealous indiscre
tion, the poor fellow could make no other, for Tom had


unfortunately fixed him for visiting his mother on crutches the
balance of his life.

One thing I will say for the Virginians I never knew one
of them, under any pressure, to extemporize a profession. The




Reproduction of one of the original illustrations of " Flush Times in
Alabama and Mississippi "

sentiment of reverence for the mysteries of medicine and law
was too large for deliberate quackery ; as to the pulpit, a man
might as well do his starving without the hypocrisy. But others
were not so nice. I have known them to rush, when the wolf


was after them, from the countinghouse or the plantation into
a doctor s shop or a law office, as if those places were the
sanctuaries from the avenger ; some pretended to be doctors
that did not know a liver from a gizzard, administering medicine
by the guess, without knowing enough of pharmacy to tell
whether the stuff exhibited in the big-bellied blue, red, and green
bottles at the show windows of the apothecary s shop was
given by the drop or the half pint

Divers left, but what became of them, I never knew any
more than they know what becomes of the sora after frost.
Many were the instances of suffering ; of pitiable misfortune,
involving and crushing whole families ; of pride abased ; of
honorable sensibilities wounded ; of the provision for old age
destroyed ; of hopes of manhood overcast ; of independence
dissipated and the poor victim, without help, or hope, or sym
pathy, forced to petty shifts for a bare subsistence, and a
ground-scuffle for what in happier days he threw away. But
there were too many examples of this sort for the expenditure
of a useless compassion ; just as the surgeon after a battle
grows case-hardened from an excess of objects of pity.



[St. George Tucker was born in Bermuda in 1752. He came
early to Virginia and was educated at William and Mary College,
after which he was called to the bar. Tucker served in the Virginia
legislature, but won his chief distinction as professor of law in Wil
liam and Mary College. In addition to composing fugitive poems,
of which the one here given is the best known, he wrote several
political and legal works of note. He died in 1828.]


Days of my youth,

Ye have glided away ;
Hairs of my youth,

Ye are frosted and gray ;
Eyes of my youth,

Your keen sight is no more ;
Cheeks of my youth,

Ye are furrowed all o er ;
Strength of my youth,

All your vigor is gone ;
Thoughts of my youth,

Your gay visions are flown.

Days of my youth,

I wish not your recall ;
Hairs of my youth,

I m content ye should fall ;
1 88


Eyes of my youth,

You much evil have seen ;
Cheeks of my youth,

Bathed in tears have you been ;
Thoughts of my youth,

You have led me astray ;
Strength of my youth,

Why lament your decay ?

Days of my age,

Ye will shortly be past ;
Pains of my age,

Yet awhile ye can last ;
Joys of my age,

In true wisdom delight ;
Eyes of my age,

Be religion your light ;
Thoughts of my age,

Dread ye not the cold sod ;
Hopes of my age,

Be ye fixed on your God.



[Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in
1 780. After being educated at St. John s College, Annapolis, he
began the practice of law in Washington, where he died in 1843.
After his death a volume of his poems was published, but as it
consists largely of occasional pieces not originally intended for
publication, it has added little to his fame, and " The Star-Spangled
Banner " remains his best-known production.]



O say, can you see, by the dawn s early light,

What so proudly we haiPd at the twilight s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming ?


And the rocket s red glare, the bomb bursting in air.
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ;
O ! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O er the land of the free, and the home of the brave ?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that, which the breeze, o er the towering steep

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses ?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning s first beam
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream ;
T is the star-spangled banner ; O ! long may it wave
O er the land of the free, and the home of the brave !

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more ?

Their blood has wash d out their foul footsteps pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave ;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

O ! thus be it ever ! when freemen shall stand

Between their lov d homes and the war s desolation !
Blest with vict ry and peace, may the heav n-rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation,
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto /// God is our trust,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.



[Richard Henry Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1 789, and
died in New Orleans in 1847. When he was a boy his family came
to America and settled in Baltimore. Upon the death of his father he*
removed to Georgia, where he studied law and entered politics, even
tually becoming for several terms a member of Congress. During
a stay in Europe from 1835 to 1840 he did considerable study in
Dante and Tasso, and helped to discover Giotto s portrait of the
first-named poet. On his return he settled in New Orleans, where
he became professor of law in the University of Louisiana. Mean
while he had made a reputation for himself as a poet by poems
contributed to newspapers and magazines, which he did not collect
during his life into book form.]


My life is like the summer rose,

That opens to the morning sky,
But, ere the shades of evening close,

Is scattered on the ground to die !
Yet on the rose s humble bed
The sweetest dews of night are shed,
As if she wept the waste to see
But none shall weep a tear for me !

My life is like the autumn leaf

That trembles in the moon s pale ray :
Its hold is frail its date is brief,

Restless and soon to pass away !
Yet, ere that leaf shall fall and fade,
The parent tree will mourn its shade,
The winds bewail the leafless tree
But none shall breathe a sigh for me !


My life is like the prints, which feet
Have left on Tampa s desert strand ;

Soon as the rising tide shall beat,
All trace will vanish from the sand ;

Yet, as if grieving to efface

All vestige of the human race,

On that lone shore loud moans the sea

But none, alas ! shall mourn for me !


Winged mimic of the woods ! thou motley fool !

Who shall thy gay buffoonery describe ?
Thine ever-ready notes of ridicule

Pursue thy fellows still with jest and gibe.

Wit, sophist, songster, Yorick of thy tribe,
Thou sportive satirist of Nature s school,

To thee the palm of scoffing we ascribe,
Arch-mocker and mad Abbot of Misrule !

For such thou art by day but all night long
Thou pourest a soft, sweet, pensive, solemn strain,

As if thou didst in this thy moonlight song
Like to the melancholy Jacques complain,

Musing on falsehood, folly, vice, and wrong,
And sighing for thy motley coat again.


[Edward Coate Pinkney was born in London in 1802, while his
father was United States Commissioner to Great Britain. On his re
turn to America, he was put to school in Baltimore, and later entered
the navy as midshipman. He resigned from the navy to engage in
the practice of law, but his health failed and he died in Baltimore


in 1828, at the age of twenty-six. His small volume of poetry pub
lished in 1825 contained a few pieces which not only won him con
siderable praise in his lifetime but are sure of immortality among
American lyrics.]


We break the glass, whose sacred wine

To some beloved health we drain,
Lest future pledges, less divine,

Should e er the hallowed toy profane ;
v And thus I broke a heart, that poured

Its tide of feeling out for thee,
In drafts, by after-times deplored,

Yet dear to memory.

. . * But still the old impassioned ways

And habits of myfcnind remain,
And % still unhap*py_ light displays

Thine image chambered in my brain, *
And still it looks as wnen the hotar^ - ^+

Went by like flights of singing bird?
Or that soft chain of spoken flowers,

And airy gems, thy words.


Look out upon the stars, my love,

And shame them with thine eyes,
On which, than on the lights above,

There hang more destinies.
Night s beauty is the harmony

Of blending shades and light ;
Then, Lady, up, look out, and be

A sister to the night !


Sleep not ! thine image wakes for aye,

Within my watching breast :
Sleep not ! from her soft sleep should fly,

Who robs all hearts of rest.
Nay, Lady, from thy slumbers break,

And make this darkness gay,
With looks, whose brightness well might make

Of darker nights a day.


I fill this cup to one made up

Of loveliness alone,
A woman, of her gentle sex

The seeming paragon ;
To whom the better elements

And kindly stars have given
A form so fair, that, like the air,

T is less of earth than heaven.

Her every tone is music s own,

Like those of morning birds,
And something more than melody

Dwells ever in her words ;
The coinage of her heart are they,

And from her lips each flows
As one may see the burthened bee

Forth issue from the rose.

Affections are as thoughts to her,
The measures of her hours ;

Her feelings have the fragrancy,
The freshness, of young flowers ;


And lovely passions, changing oft,

So fill her, she appears
The image of themselves by turns,

The idol of past years !

Of her bright face one glance will trace

A picture on the brain,
And of her voice in echoing hearts

A sound must long remain ;
But memory such as mine of her

So very much endears,
When death is nigh, my latest sigh

Will not be life s, but hers.

I fill this cup to one made up

Of loveliness alone,
A woman, of her gentle sex

The seeming paragon
Her health ! and would on earth there stood

Some more of such a frame,
That life might be all poetry,

And weariness a name.


[Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was born in Georgia in i 798 and
died in 1859 at Richmond, Texas. After several years of farming
and business life, Lamar became, in 1828, editor of the Columbus
Independent. Jn 1835 he emigrated to Texas, and for the remainder
of his days lived a picturesque life in that state. He served in
the Texan war for independence, and in the Mexican War. Later
in life he received diplomatic appointments to Argentina, Costa Rica,
and Nicaragua. His volume of poems entitled " Verse Memorials "
was published in 1857.]



O lend to me, sweet nightingale,

Your music by the fountains,
And lend to me your cadences,

O river of the mountains !
That I may sing my gay brunette,
A diamond spark in coral set,
Gem for a prince s coronet

The daughter of Mendoza.

How brilliant is the morning star !

The evening star, how tender !
The light of both is in her eye,

Their softness and their splendor.
But for the lash that shades their light
They were too dazzling for the sight ;
And when she shuts them, all is night - 1

The daughter of Mendoza.

O ! ever bright and beauteous one,

Bewildering and beguiling,
The lute is in thy silver}- tones,

The rainbow in thy smiling.
And thine is, too, o er hill and dell,
The bounding of the young gazelle,
The arrow s flight and ocean s swell

Sweet daughter of Mendoza ! * -

What though, perchance, we meet no more?

What though too soon we sever ?
Thy form will float like emerald light,

Before my vision ever.


For who can see and then forget
The glories of my gay brunette ?
Thou art too bright a star to set
Sweet daughter of Mendoza !


[Albert Pike was a New Englander, born in Boston in 1809, who
settled in the Southwest. The larger part of the time he lived in
Arkansas, where he was editor, lawyer, and soldier. After the Civil
War, in which he served on the Southern side, he moved to Wash
ington, where he practiced law. There he died in 1891.]


Thou glorious mocker of the world ! I hear
Thy many voices ringing through the glooms

Of these green solitudes ; and all the clear,

Bright joyance of their song enthralls the ear,
And floods the heart. Over the sphered tombs

Of vanished nations rolls thy music-tide :
No light from History s starlit page illumes

The memory of these nations ; they have died :

None care for them but thou ; and thou mayst sing
O er me, perhaps, as now thy clear notes ring

Over their bones by whom thou once wast deified.

Glad scorner of all cities ! Thou dost leave
The world s mad turmoil and incessant din,

Where none in others honesty believe,

Where the old sigh, the young turn gray and grieve,
Where misery gnaws the maiden s heart within.

Thou fleest far into the dark green woods,

Where, with thy flood of music, thou canst win


Their heart to harmony, and where intrudes

No discord on thy melodies. Oh, where,

Among the sweet musicians of the air.
Is one so dear as thou to these old solitudes ?

Ha ! what a burst was that ! The ^Eolian strain
Goes floating through the tangled passages

Of the still woods ; and now it comes again,

A multitudinous melody, like a rain
Of glassy music under echoing trees,

Close by a ringing lake. It wraps the soul
With a bright harmony of happiness,

Even as a gem is wrapped when round it roll
Thin waves of crimson flame, till we become,
With the excess of perfect pleasure, dumb,

And pant like a swift runner clinging to the goal.

I cannot love the man who doth not love,
As men love light, the song of happy birds ;

For the first visions that my boy-heart wove,

To fill its sleep with, were that I did rove

Through the fresh woods, what time the snowy herds

Of morning clouds shrunk from the advancing sun,
Into the depths of Heaven s blue heart, as words

From the poet s lips float gently, one by one,
And vanish in the human heart ; and then
I reveled in such songs, and sorrowed, when,

With noon-heat overwrought, the music-gush was done.

I would, sweet bird, that I might live with thee,
Amid the eloquent grandeur of these shades,
Alone with Nature ! but it may not be :
I have to struggle with the stormy sea


Of human life until existence fades
Into death s darkness. Thou wilt sing and soar

Through the thick woods and shadow-checkered glades,
While pain and sorrow cast no dimness o er

The brilliance of thy heart ; but I must wear,

As now, my garments of regret and care,
As penitents of old their galling sackcloth wore.

Yet, why complain ? What though fond hopes deferred
Have overshadowed Life s green paths with gloom ?

Content s soft music is not all unheard :

There is a voice sweeter than thine, sweet bird,
To welcome me, within my humble home ;

There is an eye, with love s devotion bright,
The darkness of existence to illume.

Then why complain ? When Death shall cast his blight
Over the spirit, my cold bones shall rest
Beneath these trees ; and from thy swelling breast,

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 15 of 35)