Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

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

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Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 20 of 35)
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I may not sing too gladly. To thy will

Resigned, O Lord ! we cannot all forget

That there is much even Victory must regret.

And, therefore, not too long

From the great burthen of our country s wrong

Delay our just release !

And, if it may be, save

These sacred fields of peace

From stain of patriot or of hostile blood !

Oh, help us, Lord ! to roll the crimson flood

Back on its course, and, while our banners wing

Northward, strike with us ! till the Goth shall cling

To his own blasted altar stones, and crave

Mercy ; and we shall grant it, and dictate

The lenient future of his fate

There, where some rotting ships and crumbling quays

Shall one day mark the Port which ruled the Western seas.


Lily ! lady of the garden !

Let me press my lip to thine f
Love must tell its story,. Lily !.

Listen thou to mine.


Two I choose to know the secret
Thee, and yonder wordless flute ;

Dragons watch me, tender Lily,
And thou must be mute.

There s a maiden, and her name is

Hist ! was that a rose-leaf fell ?
See, the rose is listening, Lily,

And the rose may tell.

Lily-browed and lily-hearted,

She is very dear to me ;
Lovely ? yes, if being lovely

Is resembling thee.

Six to half a score of summers

Make the sweetest of the " teens "

Not too young to guess, dear Lily,
What a lover means.

Laughing girl and thoughtful woman,

I am puzzled how to woo
Shall I praise, or pique her, Lily ?

Tell me what to do.

" Silly lover, if thy Lily

Like her sister lilies be,
Thou must woo, if thou wouldst wear her,

With a simple plea.

" Love s the lover s only magic,

Truth the very subtlest art ;
Love that feigns, and lips that flatter,

Win no modest heart.


" Like the dewdrop in my bosom,

Be thy guileless language, youth ;
Falsehood buyeth falsehood only,

Truth must purchase truth.

"As thou talkest at the fireside,

With the little children by
As thou prayest in the darkness,

When thy God is nigh

" With a speech as chaste and gentle,

And such meanings as become
Ear of child, or ear of angel,

Speak, or be thou dumb.

" Woo her thus, and she shall give thee

Of her heart the sinless whole,
All the girl within her bosom,

And her woman s soul."


Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause ;

Though yet no marble column craves
The pilgrim here to pause.

In seeds of laurel in the earth

The blossom of your fame is blown,

And somewhere, waiting for its birth,
The shaft is in the stone !

Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years

Which keep in trust your storied tombs,

Behold ! your sisters bring their tears,
And these memorial blooms.


Small tributes ! but your shades will smile
More proudly on these wreaths to-day,

Than when some cannon-molded pile
Shall overlook this bay.

Stoop, angels, hither from the skies !

There is no holier spot of ground
Than where defeated valor lies,

By mourning beauty crowned !


[Francis Orray Ticknor was born in Fortville, Georgia, in 1822.
After studying medicine in New York and Philadelphia, he settled

first at Shell Creek, Lumpkin
County, Georgia, and later on
a farm called "Torch Hill"
near Columbus, Georgia, and
there for the rest of his life led
the life of a country physician.
His special passions were the
cultivating of fruits and flowers,
music, and the writing of
poetry. His poems secured for
him some local reputation, but
as he wrote verse only for the
pleasure of his friends, he made
no collection of them for pub
lication. Five years after his
death in 1874, an incomplete
edition was published, which
has been supplanted by a later
edition prepared by the poet s
granddaughter, Michelle Cun-
liffe Ticknor.]


From a sketch by his granddaughter,
Michelle Cunliffe Ticknor



Out of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital s walls as dire ;
Smitten of grape-shot and gangrene
Eighteenth battle and he sixteen
Specter ! such as you seldom see,
Little Giffen of Tennessee.

M Take him and welcome! " the surgeons said,
" Little the doctor can help the dead ! "
So we took him and brought him where
The balm was sweet in the summer air,
And we laid him down on a wholesome bed,
L T tter Lazarus, heel to head !

And we watched the war with abated breath,
Skeleton boy against skeleton Death !
Months of torture, how many such !
Weary weeks of the stick and crutch ;
And still a glint in the steel-blue eye
Told of a spirit that would n t die.

And did n t ! Nay, more ! in Death s despite
The crippled skeleton learned to write
" Dear Mother " ! at first, of course, and then
" Dear Captain " ! inquiring about the men !
Captain s answer : " Of eighty and five,
Giffen and I are left alive ! "

1 The selections from Ticknor are reprinted through the courtesy of the
holder of the copyright, The Neale Publishing Company.


Word of gloom from the war, one day :

Johnston pressed at the front they say,

Little Giffen was up and away !

A tear, his first, as he bade good-by,

Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye ;

" I 11 write, if spared 1 " there was news of the fight

But none of Giffen ! He did not write !

I sometimes fancy that were I king
Of the princely knights of Golden Ring,
With the song of the minstrel in mine ear
And the tender legend that trembles here,
I d give the best on his bended knee,
The whitest soul of my chivalry,
For Little Giffen of Tennessee.


The knightliest of the knightly race,

That since the days of old,

Have kept the lamp of chivalry

Alight in hearts of gold.

The kindliest of the kindly band

That, rarely hating ease,

Yet rode with Spotswood round the land,

With Raleigh around the seas.

Who climbed the blue embattled hills
Against embattled foes,
And planted there, in valleys fair,
The lily and the rose !


Whose fragrance lives in many lands,
Whose beauty stars the earth,
And lights the hearths of happy homes
With loveliness and worth !

We thought they slept ! the sons who kept

The names of noble sires,

And slumbered, while the darkness crept

Around their vigil fires !

But aye ! the " Golden Horse-shoe " Knights

Their Old Dominion keep,

Whose foes have found enchanted ground

But not a knight asleep.


The prints of feet are worn away,
No more the mourners come ;

The voice of wail is mute to-day
As his whose life is dumb.

The world is bright with other bloom ;

Shall the sweet summer shed
Its living radiance o er the tomb

That shrouds the doubly dead ?

Unknown ! Beneath our Father s face

The starlit hillocks lie ;
Another rosebud ! lest His grace

Forget us when we die.



There is dust on the doorway, there is mold on the wall
There s a chill at the hearthstone a hush through the hall ;
And the stately old mansion stands darkened and cold
By the leal, loving hearts that it sheltered of old.

No light at the lattice, no smile at the door ;
No cheer at its table, no dance on its floor ;
But " Glory departed," and silence alone ;
" Dust unto dust " upon pillar and stone !

No laughter of childhood, no shout on the lawn ;
No footstep to echo the feet that are gone :
Feet of the beautiful, forms of the brave
Failing in other lands, gone to the grave.

No carol at morning, no hymn rising clear,

Nor. song at the bridal, nor chant at the bier !

All the chords of its symphonies scattered and riven,

Its altar in ashes, its incense in Heaven.

T is an ache at the heart, thus lonely to stand
By the wreck of a home once the pride of the land ;
Its chambers unfilled as its children depart,
The melody stilled in its desolate heart.

Yet softly the sunlight still rests on the grass
And lightly and swiftly the cloud-shadows pass,
And still the wide meadow exults in the sheen
With its foam crest of snow, and its billows of green !


And the verdure shall creep to the moldering wall
And the sunshine shall sleep in the desolate hall
And the foot of the pilgrim shall find to the last
Some fragrance of home, at this shrine of the Past.


The Douglas in the days of old

The gentle minstrels sing,
Wore at his heart, incased in gold,

The heart of Bruce, his king.

Through Paynim lands to Palestine,

Befall what peril might,
To lay that heart on Christ, his shrine,

His knightly word he plight.

A weary way, by night and day,

Of vigil and of fight,
Where never rescue came by day

Nor ever rest by night.

And one by one the valiant spears,
They faltered from his side ;

And one by one his heavy tears
Fell for the Bruce who died.

All fierce and black, around his track,

He saw the combat close,
And counted but a single sword

Against uncounted foes.


He drew the casket from his breast,

He bared his solemn brow,
Oh, kingliest and knightliest,

Go first in battle, now !

Where leads my Lord of Bruce, the sword

Of Douglas shall not stay !
Forward and to the feet of Christ

I follow thee, to-day.

The casket flashed ! The battle clashed,

Thundered and rolled away.
And dead above the heart of Bruce

The heart of Douglas lay.

" Loyal 1 " Methinks the antique mold

Is lost ! or theirs alone,
Who sheltered Freedom s heart of gold,

Like Douglas with their own.




[Richard Malcolm Johnston was born in Hancock County, Georgia,
in 1822. After graduating from Mercer University, he entered upon
the practice of law, but in 1857 became professor of English litera
ture at the University of Georgia. After the war he established a
boarding school for boys at Sparta, Georgia, and afterward near
Baltimore, Maryland. It was in Baltimore that he died, in 1898.
His racy character studies, entitled " Dukesborough Tales," which
had appeared in the Southern Magazine, were first collected into
book form in 1871, but did not attratt general attention until pub
lished again nine years later. This initial volume was followed by
several volumes of fiction, novels and collections of tales, as
well as of literary and social papers.]


It was the custom of the pupils in the Goosepond, as in
most of the other country schools of those times, to study
aloud. ^Whether the teachers thought that the mind could not
act unless the tongue was going, or that the tongue going was
the only evidence that the mind was acting, it never did appear.
Such had been the custom, and Mr. Meadows did not aspire
to be an innovator. It was his rule, however, that there should
be perfect silence on his arrival, in order to give him an op
portunity of saying or doing anything he might wish. This



morning there did not seem to be anything heavy on his
mind which required to be lifted off. He, however, looked at
Brinkly Glisson with an expression of some disappointment.
He had beaten him the morning before for not having gotten
there in time, though the boy s excuse was that he had gone
a mile out of his way on an errand for his mother. He looked
at him as if he had expected to have had some business with
him, which now unexpectedly had to be postponed. He then
looked around over the school, and said : " Go to studyin ."

He had been in the habit of speaking but to command, and
of commanding but to be obeyed. Instantaneously was heard,
then and there, that unintelligible tumult, the almost invariable
incident ofthe countrvschools of that generation. There were
spellers and readers, geographers, and arithmeticians, all en
gaged in their several pursuits, in the most inexplicable con
fusion. Sometimes the spellers would have the heels of the
others, and sometimes the readers. The geographers were
always third, and the arithmeticians always behind. It was
very plain to be seen that .these last never would catch the
others. The faster they added or subtracted, the oftener they
had to rub out and commence anew. It was always but a
short time before they found this to be the case, and so they
generally concluded to adopt the maxim of the philosopher,
of being slow in making haste. The geographers were a little
faster and a little louder. But the spellers and readers had it,
I tell you. Each speller and each reader went through the
whole gamut of sounds, from low up to high, and from high
down to low again; sometimes by regular ascension and de-
scension, one note at a time, sounding what musicians call the
diatonic intervals ; at other times, going up and coming down
upon the perfect fifths only. It was refreshing to see the pas
sionate eagerness which these urchins manifested for the acqui
sition of knowledge ! To have heard them for the first time,


one might possibly have been reminded of the Apostles preach
ing at Pentecost, when were spoken the languages of the
Parthians and Medes, Elamites and the dwellers in Meso
potamia, and in Judea and Cappadocia; in Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia; in Egypt and in the parts of Syria
about Gyrene ; and Strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes,
Cretes and Arabians. Sometimes these jarring tongues sub
sided a little, when half a dozen or so would stop to blow ;
but in the next moment the chorus would swell again in a
new and livelier accrescendo. When this process had gone on
for half an hour, Mr. Meadows lifted his voice and shouted,
" Silence ! " and all was still.

Now were to commence the recitations, during which still
ness like that of death was required. For as great a help to
study as this jargon was, Mr. Meadows found that it did not
contribute any aid to the doing of his work.

He now performed an interesting feat. He put his hand
behind the lapel of his coat collar, and then, after withdrawing
it, and holding it up, his thumb and forefinger joined together,
he said : " There is too much fuss here. I m going to drop
this pin, and I shall whip every single one of you little boys
that don t hear it when it falls. Thar ! "

" I heerd it, Mr. Meadows ! I heerd it, Mr. Meadows ! "
exclaimed, simultaneously, five or six little fellows.

" Come up here, you little rascals. You are a liar ! " said he
to each one. " I never drapped it ; I never had nary one to
drap. It just shows what liars you are. Set down and wait
awhile ; I 11 show you how to tell me lies."

The little liars slunk to their seats, and the recitations com
menced. Memory was the only faculty of mind that got devel
opment at this school. Whoever could say exactly what the
book said was adjudged to know his lesson. About half of the
pupils on this morning were successful. The other half were


found to be delinquent Among these was Asa Boatright.
That calculating young gentleman knew his words and felt
safe. The class had spelled around three or four times when
lo ! the contingency which Allen Thigpen had suggested did
come to pass. Betsy Wiggins missed her word; Heneritter
Bangs (in the language of Allen) hern; and Mandy Grizzle
hern ; and thus responsibilities were suddenly cast upon Asa
which he was wholly unprepared to meet and which, from
the look of mighty reproach that he gave each of these young
ladies as she handed over her word, he evidently thought it
the height of injustice that he should have been called upon to
meet. Mr. Meadows, closing his book, tossed it to Asa, who,
catching it as it was falling at his feet, turned and, his eyes
swimming with tears, went back to his seat. As he passed
Allen Thigpen, the latter whispered : " What did I tell you ?
You heerd the pin drap, too ! "

Now Allen was in no plight to have given this taunt to Asa.
He had not given five minutes study to his arithmetic during
the whole morning. But Mr. Meadows made a rule (this one
for himself, though all the pupils knew it better than any rule
he had) never to allow Allen to miss a lesson ; and as he had
kindly taken this responsibility upon himself, Allen was wont to
give himself no trouble about the matter.

Brinkly Glisson was the last to recite. Brinkly was no great
hand at pronunciation. He had been reading but a short time
when Mr. Meadows advanced him into geography, with the
purpose, as Brinkly afterward came to believe, of getting the
half-dollar extra tuition. This morning he thought he knew his
lesson ; and he did, as he understood it. When called to recite,
he went up with a countenance expressive of mild happiness,
handed the book to Mr. Meadows, and, putting his hands in
his pockets, awaited the questions. And now it was an inter
esting sight to see Mr. Meadows smile as Brinkly talked of


is-lands and promonitaries, thismuses and hemispheries. The
lad misunderstood that smile, and his heart was glad for the
unexpected reception of a little complacency from the master.
But he was not long in error.

" Is-lands, eh ? Thismuses, eh ? Take this book and see if
you can find any is-lands and promonitaries, and then bring
them to me. I want to see them things, I do. Find em, if
you please."

Brinkly took the book, and it would have melted the heart
of any other man to see the deep despair of his heart as he
looked on it and was spelling over to himself the words as
he came to them.

" Mr. Meadows," he said in pleading tones, " I thought it
was is-land. Here it is, I-s-is-1-a-n-d-land, Is-land " ; and he
looked into his face beseechingly.

" Is-land, eh ? Is-land! Now, thismuses and promonitaries
and hemispheries

" Mr. Meadows, I did not know how to pronounce them
words. I asked you how to pronounce em and you would n t
tell me ; and I asked Allen, and he told me the way I said

" I believe that to be a lie." Brinkly s face reddened, and his
breathing was fast and hard. He looked at the master as but
once or twice before during the term, but made no answer.

At that moment Allen leaned carelessly on his desk, his
elbows resting on it, and chin on his hands, and said dryly,
" Yess, I did tell him so."

The man reddened a little. After a moment s pause, how
ever, he said : " How often have I got to tell you not to ask
anybody but me how to pronounce words ? That 11 do, sir ; sit
down, sir."



[George William Bagby was born in Buckingham County, Vir
ginia, in 1828. After graduating from the medical school of the
University of Pennsylvania he made his residence in Richmond.
He became a journalist and wrote some very witty letters under the
pen name of " Mozis Addums." He also made a reputation as a
humorous lecturer. So sympathetically did he treat the humorous
aspects of Virginia life that he won for himself the title of " the
Virginia Elia." He died in 1883.]


" Jud, they say you heard Rubinstein play when you were in
New York."

" I did, in the cool."

" Well, tell us about it."

" What ? me ? I might s well tell you about the creation of
the world."

" Come, now ; no mock modesty. Go ahead."

" Well, sir, he had the blaemedest, biggest, cattycornedest
pianner you ever laid eyes on ; somethin like a distractid
billiard table on three legs. The lid was heisted, and mighty
well it was. If it had n t been, he d tore the intire insides clean
out, and scattered em to the four winds of heaven."

" Played well, did he ? "

" You bet he did ; but don t interrup me. When he first set
down he peared to keer mighty little bout playin , and wished
he had n come. He tweedle-leedled a little on the trible, and
twoodle-oodle-oodled some on the base just foolin and boxin
the thing s jaws for bein in his way. And I says to a man
settin next to me, s I, What sort of fool playin is that ?
And he says, Heish ! But presently his hands commenced
chasin one nother up and down the keys, like a passel of rats


scamperin through a garret very swift. Parts of it was sweet,
though, and reminded me of a sugar squirrel turnin the wheel
of a candy cage. * Now, I says to my neighbor, he s showin
off. He thinks he s a-doin of it ; but he ain t got no idee, no
plan of nuthin . If he d play me up a tune of some kind or
other, I d

" But my neighbor says, Heish ! very impatient.

" I was just about to git up and go home, bein tired of that
foolishness, when I heard a little bird wakin up away off in the
woods, and callin sleepy-like to his mate, and I looked up and
I see that Ruben was beginnin to take interest in his business,
and I set down agin. It was the peep of day. The light come
faint from the east, the breeze blowed gentle and fresh, some
more birds waked up in the orchard, then some more in the
trees near the house, and all begun singin together. People
begun to stir, and the gal opened the shutters. Just then the
first beam of the sun fell upon the blossoms ; a leetle more
and it techt the roses on the bushes, and the next thing it was
broad day ; the sun fairly blazed ; the birds sang like they d
split their little throats ; all the leaves was moving and flashin
diamonds of dew, and the whole wide world was bright and
happy as a king. Seemed to me like there was a good break
fast in every house in the land, and not a sick child or woman
anywhere. It was a fine mornin .

" And I says to my neighbor, That s music, that is.

" But he glared at me like he d like to cut my throat.

" Presently the wind turned ; it begun to thicken up, and a
kind of gray mist come over things ; I got low-spirited d rectlv.
Then a silver rain begun to fall ; I could see the drops touch
the ground ; some flashed up like long pearl earrings ; and the
rest rolled away like round rubies. It was pretty, but melan
choly. Then the pearls gathered themselves into long strands
and necklaces, and then they melted into thin silver streams


running between golden gravels, and then the streams joined
each other at the bottom of the hill, and made a brook that
flowed silent except that you could kinder see the music
specially when the bushes on the banks moved as the music
went along down the valley. I could smell the flowers in the
meadows. But the sun did n t shine, nor the birds sing ; it was
a foggy day, but not cold. Then the sun went down, it got
dark, the wind moaned and wept like a lost child for its dead
mother, and I could a-got up then and there and preached a
better sermon than any I ever listened to. There was n t a thing
in the world left to live for, not a blame thing, and yet I did n t
want the music to stop one bit. It was happier to be miserable
than to be happy without being miserable. I could n t under
stand it. ... Then, all of a sudden, old Ruben changed his
tune. He ripped and he rar d, he tipped and he tar d, he pranced
and he charged like the grand entry at a circus. Feared to me
like all the gas in the house was turned on at once, things got
so bright, and I hilt up my head, ready to look any man in the
face, and not afeared of nothin . It was a circus, and a brass
band, and a big ball, all goin on at the same time. He lit into
them keys like a thousand of brick, he gave em no rest, day
nor night ; he set every living joint in me agoin , and not bein
able to stand it no longer, I jumpt spang onto my seat, and
jest hollered: Go it, my Rube!

" Every blamed man, woman, and child in the house riz on
me, and shouted, Put him out ! Put him out !

" With that some several p licemen run up, and I had to
simmer down. But I would a-fit any fool that laid hands on
me, for I was bound to hear Ruby out or die.

" He had changed his tune agin. He hopt-light ladies and
tiptoed fine from eend to eend of the keyboard. He played
soft, and low, and solemn. I heard the church bells over the
hills. The candles in heaven was lit, one by one. I saw the


stars rise. The great organ of eternity began to play from
the world s end to the world s end, and all the angels went
to prayers. Then the music changed to water, full of feeling
that could n t be thought, and began to drop drip, drop, drip,
drop clear and sweet, like tears of joy fallin into a lake
of glory.

" He stopt a minute or two, to fetch breath. Then he
got mad. He run his fingers through his hair, he shoved

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 20 of 35)