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Produced by Andrew Sly

The Clockmaker


The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville,

by Thomas Chandler Haliburton.


From the 1871 edition.

The name "Sam Slick" has passed into popular use as standing for a
somewhat conventional Yankee, in whom sharpness and verdancy are
combined in curious proportions; but the book which gave rise to
the name has long been out of print. It is now revived, under the
impression that the reading public will have an interest in seeing
a work which, more probably than any other one book, served to fix
the prevailing idea of the Yankee character. However true or false
the impression it created, the qualities which rendered it popular
a generation ago remain, in a shrewdness of observation, a fund of
anecdote and racy adventure, a quaintness of expression, and keen
mother wit. In no other work of literature is there preserved so
large a collection of idiomatic phrases, words, and similes, - whole
stories in themselves and pictures of society at the time, which grow
more interesting, the more historic they become.

The keen peddler comes sharply forward from a background of
Provincial shiftlessness and dullness, and it is a mark of the
geniality of the book that, although it seems to have had its origin
in a desire on the part of its author to goad the Provinces into
energy and alertness, the local questions and politics discussed give
a flavour to the narrative without limiting the reader's interest.
One does not need to be deeply concerned in Nova Scotia prosperity,
nor versed in the turnings of petty politics, to take a lively
pleasure in the sharp thrusts which the author, under shield of the
Clockmaker's wit, gives at stupidity and narrowness. The two sides
of the question involved are as little a matter of concern to the
general reader as the opposing factions of York and Lancaster.

No doubt the marked contrast between the neighbouring people of
Nova Scotia and New England was quickly discerned by so good an
observer as the author proved himself to be, while his national and
partisan judgments made his characterization of the Yankee to be a
double-edged sword, that cut with equal keenness the Colonist and the
Democrat. While he has no liking for the United States politically,
he is very glad to make their enterprise and industry put to shame
the slow wits of his countrymen; and the quiet satire of United
States institutions and character which he displays by letting Slick
run to the end of his rope is curiously mingled with the contempt
which he lets the same character express for Nova Scotians, and in
which it is plain he himself joins.

Thomas Chandler Haliburton was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1796,
was educated at King's College, and admitted to the bar in 1820. He
entered political life shortly after, and was elected member of the
House of Assembly. In 1829 he was appointed Chief Justice of the
Court of Common Pleas, and in 1840 was made Judge of the Supreme
Court. He resigned in 1842, and went to England to reside, where,
in 1859, he was elected member of Parliament for the Borough of
Launceston, and at the dissolution of Parliament in 1865 he declined
reelection on the score of infirm health. He died at Isleworth in
July of the same year. His party politics were of the old Tory
school, and he held rigidly by them, sharing the common experience of
colonial partisans, who, on returning to the mother country, are very
apt to set a higher value on their party principles than those who
have always remained at home.

The first appearance of his "Clockmaker" was in the form of a
series of letters to the "Nova Scotian" newspaper, in 1835. The
contributions were collected into the present volume in 1837, and
were eagerly read, both in America and in England, the wit of the
book making it equally enjoyable on both sides of the water, while
its pointed reflections raised a good deal of angry discussion also.
Perhaps the most vehement attack which his writings received from the
side of purely literary criticism was a review by C. C. Felton in the
"North American Review," in which the critic spoke in tones of great
disgust at the entire conception and execution of the character of
Sam Slick. Quite possibly some of Professor Felton's severity drew
its strength from a personal regard for Mr. Everett, who figures
rather poorly in Judge Haliburton's pages. There was so little,
however, of discriminating criticism at that time by American
writers, that it is not easy to determine just how the book was
measured by our countrymen. Probably it was hardly looked upon as
literature by the scholar, and the ordinary reader did not mar his
pleasure in the fun by looking at it too critically.

The vein was worked by the author with less success in "The Attache,
or Sam Slick in England," where the violent improbability of the
plan, involving an offensive contrast between the English and
American characters, leaves the really clever parts of the book
less attractive. In addition to these Judge Haliburton published
several volumes bearing upon colonial manners and history: "Bubbles
of Canada;" "The Old Judge, or Life in a Colony;" "Historical and
Statistical account of Nova Scotia;" "Rule and Misrule of the English
in America;" "Letters to Lord Durham." His more strictly humourous
writings include "Nature and Human Nature;" "Wise Saws;" "The Letter
Bag of the Great Western."


Slick's Letter
I. The Trotting Horse
II. The Clockmaker
III. The Silent Girls
IV. Conversations at the River Philip
V. Justice Pettifog
VI. Anecdotes
VII. Go Ahead
VIII. The Preacher that Wandered from His Text
XI. Yankee Eating and Horse Feeding
X. The Road to a Woman's Heart - The Broken Heart
XI. Cumberland Oysters Produce Melancholy Forebodings
XII. The American Eagle
XIII. The Clockmaker's Opinion of Halifax
XIV. Sayings and Doings in Cumberland
XV. The Dancing Master Abroad
XVI. Mr. Slick's Opinion of the British
XVII. A Yankee Handle for a Halifax Blade
XVIII. The Grahamite and the Irish Pilot
XIX. The Clockmaker Quilts a Bluenose
XX. Sister Sall's Courtship
XXI. Setting up for Governor
XXII. A Cure for Conceit
XXIII. The Blowin' Time
XXIV. Father John O'Shaughnessy
XXV. Taming a Shrew
XXVI. The Minister's Horn Mug
XXVII. The White Nigger
XXVIII. Fire in the Dairy
XXIX. A Body Without a Head
XXX. A Tale of Bunker's Hill
XXXI. Gulling a Bluenose
XXXII. Too many Irons in the Fire
XXXIII. Windsor and the Far West


[After these sketches had gone through the press, and were ready for
the binder, we sent Mr. Slick a copy; and shortly afterwards received
from him the following letter, which characteristic communication we
give entire - EDITOR.]


Sir - I received your letter, and note its contents; I ain't over half
pleased, I tell you; I think I have been used scandalous, that's a
fact. It warn't the part of a gentleman for to go and pump me arter
that fashion and then go right off and blart it out in print. It was
a nasty dirty mean action, and I don't thank you nor the Squire a
bit for it. It will be more nor a thousand dollars out of my pocket.
There's an eend to the clock trade now, and a pretty kettle of fish
I've made of it, havn't I? I shall never hear the last on it, and
what am I to say when I go back to the States? I'll take my oath
I never said one half the stuff he has set down there; and as for
that long lochrum about Mr. Everett, and the Hon. Alden Gobble, and
Minister, there ain't a word of truth in it from beginnin' to eend.
If ever I come near hand to him agin, I'll larn him - but never mind,
I say nothin'. Now there's one thing I don't cleverly understand. If
this here book is my "Sayin's and Doin's," how comes it your'n or the
Squire's either? If my thoughts and notions are my own, how can they
be any other folks's? According to my idee you have no more right to
take them, than you have to take my clocks without payin' for 'em. A
man that would be guilty of such an action is no gentleman, that's
flat, and if you don't like it, you may lump it - for I don't vally
him, nor you neither, nor are a Bluenose that ever stepped in shoe
leather the matter of a pin's head. I don't know as ever I felt so
ugly afore since I was raised; why didn't he put his name to it, as
well as mine? When an article hain't the maker's name and factory on
it, it shows it's a cheat, and he's ashamed to own it. If I'm to have
the name I'll have the game, or I'll know the cause why, that's a
fact. Now folks say you are a considerable of a candid man, and right
up and down in your dealins, and do things above board, handsum - at
least so I've hearn tell. That's what I like; I love to deal with
such folks. Now spose you make me an offer? You'll find me not very
difficult to trade with, and I don't know but I might put off more
than half of the books myself, tu. I'll tell you how I'd work it.
I'd say, "Here's a book they've namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the
Clockmaker, but it ain't mine, and I can't altogether jist say
rightly whose it is. Some say it's the General's, and some say it's
the Bishop's, and some say it's Howe himself; but I ain't availed who
it is. It's a wise child that knows its own father. It wipes up the
Bluenoses considerable hard, and don't let off the Yankees so very
easy neither, but it's generally allowed to be about the prettiest
book ever writ in this country; and although it ain't altogether
jist gospel what's in it, there's some pretty home truths in it,
that's a fact. Whoever wrote it must be a funny feller, too, that's
sartin; for there are some queer stories in it that no soul could
help larfin' at, that's a fact. It's about the wittiest book I ever
seed. It's nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I've kept for
my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I'll let you have it
for 5s. because you'll not get another chance to have one." Always
ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Bluenose
hears that, he thinks he's got a bargain, and bites directly. I never
see one on 'em yet that didn't fall right into the trap.

Yes, make me an offer, and you and I will trade, I think. But fair
play's a jewel, and I must say I feel riled and kinder sore. I hain't
been used handsum atween you two, and it don't seem to me that I had
ought to be made a fool on in that book, arter that fashion, for
folks to laugh at, and then be sheered out of the spec. If I am,
somebody had better look out for squalls, I tell you. I'm as easy
as an old glove, but a glove ain't an old shoe to be trod on, and
I think a certain person will find that out afore he is six months
older, or else I'm mistakened, that's all. Hopin' to hear from you
soon, I remain yours to command,


Pugnose's Inn, River Philip, Dec. 25, 1836.

P.S. I see in the last page it is writ, that the Squire is to take
another journey round the Shore, and back to Halifax with me next
Spring. Well, I did agree with him, to drive him round the coast, but
don't you mind - we'll understand each other, I guess, afore we start.
I consait he'll rise considerable airly in the mornin', afore he
catches me asleep agin. I'll be wide awake for him next hitch, that's
a fact. I'd a gin a thousand dollars if he had only used Campbell's
name instead of mine; for he was a most an almighty villain, and
cheated a proper raft of folks, and then shipped himself off to
Botany Bay, for fear folks would transport him there; you couldn't
rub out Slick, and put in Campbell, could you? that's a good feller;
if you would I'd make it worth your while, you may depend.


No. I

The Trotting Horse.

I was always well mounted; I am fond of a horse, and always piqued
myself on having the fastest trotter in the Province. I have made no
great progress in the world; I feel doubly, therefore, the pleasure
of not being surpassed on the road. I never feel so well or so
cheerful as on horseback, for there is something exhilirating in
quick motion; and, old as I am, I feel a pleasure in making any
person whom I meet on the way put his horse to the full gallop, to
keep pace with my trotter. Poor Ethiope! you recollect him, how he
was wont to lay back his ears on his arched neck, and push away from
all competition. He is done, poor fellow! the spavin spoiled his
speed, and he now roams at large upon "my farm at Truro." Mohawk
never failed me till this summer.

I pride myself - you may laugh at such childish weakness in a man
of my age - but still, I pride myself in taking the concert out of
coxcombs I meet on the road, and on the ease with which I can leave
a fool behind, whose nonsense disturbs my solitary musings.

On my last journey to Fort Lawrence, as the beautiful view of
Colchester had just opened upon me, and as I was contemplating its
richness and exquisite scenery, a tall, thin man, with hollow cheeks
and bright, twinkling black eyes, on a good bay horse, somewhat out
of condition, overtook me; and drawing up, said, "I guess you started
early this morning, sir?"

"I did, sir," I replied.

"You did not come from Halifax, I presume, sir, did you?" in a
dialect too rich to be mistaken as genuine Yankee. "And which way
may you be travelling?" asked my inquisitive companion.

"To Fort Lawrence."

"Ah!" said he, "so am I; it is in my circuit."

The word CIRCUIT sounded so professional, I looked again at him, to
ascertain whether I had ever seen him before, or whether I had met
with one of those nameless, but innumerable limbs of the law, who
now flourish in every district of the Province. There was a keenness
about his eye, and an acuteness of expression, much in favour of the
law; but the dress, and general bearing of the man, made against the
supposition. His was not the coat of a man who can afford to wear
an old coat, nor was it one of "Tempest and Moore's," that distinguish
country lawyers from country boobies. His clothes were well made,
and of good materials, but looked as if their owner had shrunk a
little since they were made for him; they hung somewhat loose on
him. A large brooch, and some superfluous seals and gold keys, which
ornamented his outward man, looked "New England" like. A visit to
the States, had perhaps, I thought, turned this Colchester beau
into a Yankee fop. Of what consequence was it to me who he was? In
either case I had nothing to do with him, and I desired neither his
acquaintance nor his company. Still I could not but ask myself, Who
can this man be?

"I am not aware," said I, "that there is a court sitting at this time
at Cumberland."

"Nor am I," said my friend. What, then, could he have to do with the
circuit? It occurred to me he must be a Methodist preacher. I looked
again, but his appearance again puzzled me. His attire might do - the
colour might be suitable - the broad brim not out of place; but there
was a want of that staidness of look, that seriousness of
countenance, that expression, in short, so characteristic of the

I could not account for my idle curiosity - a curiosity which, in him,
I had the moment before viewed both with suspicion and disgust; but
so it was - I felt a desire to know who he could be who was neither
lawyer nor preacher, and yet talked of his circuit with the gravity
of both. How ridiculous, I thought to myself is this; I will leave
him. Turning towards him, I said, I feared I should be late for
breakfast, and must therefore bid him good morning. Mohawk felt
the pressure of my knees, and away we went at a slapping pace. I
congratulated myself on conquering my own curiosity, and on avoiding
that of my travelling companion. This, I said to myself, this is
the value of a good horse; I patted his neck; I felt proud of him.
Presently I heard the steps of the unknown's horse - the clatter
increased. Ah, my friend, thought I, it won't do; you should be well
mounted if you desire my company; I pushed Mohawk faster, faster,
faster - to his best. He outdid himself; he had never trotted so
handsomely, so easily, so well.

"I guess that is a pretty considerable smart horse," said the
stranger, as he came beside me, and apparently reined in, to prevent
his horse passing me; "there is not, I reckon, so spry a one on my

Circuit or no circuit, one thing was settled in my mind; he was a
Yankee, and a very impertinent Yankee too. I felt humbled, my pride
was hurt, and Mohawk was beaten. To continue this trotting contest
was humiliating; I yielded, therefore, before the victory was
palpable, and pulled up.

"Yes," continued he, "a horse of pretty considerable good action,
and a pretty fair trotter, too, I guess." Pride must have a fall - I
confess mine was prostrate in the dust. These words cut me to
the heart. What! is it come to this, poor Mohawk, that you, the
admiration of all but the envious, the great Mohawk, the oracle
horse, the standard by which all other horses are measured - trots
next to Mohawk, only yields to Mohawk, looks like Mohawk - that you
are, after all, only a counterfeit, and pronounced by a straggling
Yankee to be merely "a pretty fair trotter!"

"If he was trained, I guess he might be made to do a little more.
Excuse me, but if you divide your weight between the knee and the
stirrup, rather most on the knee, and rise forward on the saddle, so
as to leave a little daylight between you and it, I hope I may never
ride this circuit again, if you don't get a mile more an hour out
of him."

What! not enough, I mentally groaned, to have my horse beaten, but
I must be told that I don't know how to ride him; and that, too, by
a Yankee! Aye, there's the rub - a Yankee what? Perhaps a half-bred
puppy, half Yankee, half Bluenose. As there is no escape, I'll try
to make out my riding master. "Your circuit?" said I, my looks
expressing all the surprise they were capable of - "your circuit,
pray what may that be?"

"Oh," said he, "the eastern circuit - I am on the eastern circuit,

"I have heard," said I, feeling that I now had a lawyer to deal with,
"that there is a great deal of business on this circuit. Pray, are
there many cases of importance?"

"There is a pretty fair business to be done, at least there has been,
but the cases are of no great value - we do not make much out of them,
we get them up very easy, but they don't bring much profit." What a
beast, thought I, is this! and what a curse to a country, to have
such an unfeeling pettifogging rascal practising in it - a horse
jockey, too - what a finished character! I'll try him on that branch
of his business.

"That is a superior animal you are mounted on," said I; "I seldom
meet one that can travel with mine."

"Yes," said he coolly, "a considerable fair traveller, and most
particular good bottom." I hesitated; this man who talks with such
unblushing effrontery of getting up cases, and making profit out of
them, cannot be offended at the question - yes, I will put it to him.

"Do you feel an inclination to part with him?"

"I never part with a horse sir, that suits me," said he. "I am fond
of a horse: I don't like to ride in the dust after every one I meet,
and I allow no man to pass me but when I choose." Is it possible, I
thought, that he can know me - that he has heard of my foible, and is
quizzing me, or have I this feeling in common with him?

"But," continued I, "you might supply yourself again."

"Not on this circuit, I guess," said he, "nor yet in Campbell's

"Campbell's circuit - pray, sir, what is that?"

"That," said he, "is the western - and Lampton rides the shore
circuit; and as for the people on the shore, they know so little
of horses that, Lampton tells me, a man from Aylesford once sold a
hornless ox there, whose tail he had cut and nicked for a horse of
the goliah breed."

"I should think," said I, "that Mr. Lampton must have no lack of
cases among such enlightened clients."

"Clients, sir!" said my friend, "Mr. Lampton is not a lawyer."

"I beg pardon, I thought you said he rode the circuit."

"We call it a circuit," said the stranger, who seemed by no means
flattered by the mistake; "we divide the Province, as in the
Almanac, into circuits, in each of which we separately carry on
our business of manufacturing and selling clocks. There are few, I
guess," said the Clockmaker, "who go upon TICK as much as we do, who
have so little use for lawyers; if attornies could wind a man up
again, after he has been fairly run down, I guess they'd be a pretty
harmless sort of folks."

This explanation restored my good humour, and as I could not quit my
companion, and he did not feel disposed to leave me, I made up my
mind to travel with him to Fort Lawrence, the limit of his circuit.

No. II

The Clockmaker.

I had heard of Yankee clock peddlers, tin peddlers, and bible
peddlers, especially of him who sold Polyglot Bibles (all in english)
to the amount of sixteen thousand pounds. The house of every
substantial farmer had three substantial ornaments: a wooden clock, a
tin reflector, and a Polyglot Bible. How is it that an American can
sell his wares, at whatever price he pleases, where a Bluenose would
fail to make a sale at all? I will enquire of the Clockmaker the
secret of his success.

"What a pity it is, Mr. Slick" - for such was his name - "what a pity
it is," said I, "that you, who are so successful in teaching these
people the value of clocks, could not also teach them the value of

"I guess," said he, "they have got that ring to grow on their horns
yet, which every four-year-old has in our country. We reckon hours
and minutes to be dollars and cents. They do nothing in these parts
but eat, drink, smoke, sleep, ride about, lounge at taverns, make
speeches at temperance meetings, and talk about 'House of Assembly.'
If a man don't hoe his corn, and he don't get a crop, he says it is
all owing to the Bank; and if he runs into debt and is sued, why he
says the lawyers are a curse to the country. They are a most idle set
of folks, I tell you."

"But how is it," said I, "that you manage to sell such an immense
number of clocks (which certainly cannot be called necessary
articles), among a people with whom there seems to be so great
a scarcity of money?" Mr. Slick paused, as if considering the
propriety of answering the question, and looking me in the face,
said in a confidential tone -

"Why, I don't care if I do tell you, for the market is glutted, and I
shall quit this circuit. It is done by a knowledge of SOFT SAWDER and
HUMAN NATUR'. But here is Deacon Flint's," said he; "I have but one
clock left, and I guess I will sell it to him."

At the gate of a most comfortable looking farm house stood Deacon
Flint, a respectable old man, who had understood the value of time
better than most of his neighbours, if one might judge from the
appearance of everything about him. After the usual salutation, an
invitation to "alight" was accepted by Mr. Slick, who said he wished
to take leave of Mrs. Flint before he left Colchester.

We had hardly entered the house, before the Clockmaker pointed to the
view from the window, and, addressing himself to me, said, "if I was
to tell them in Connecticut, there was such a farm as this away down
east here in Nova Scotia, they wouldn't believe me - why there ain't
such a location in all New England. The deacon has a hundred acres of
dyke - "

"Seventy, said the deacon, only seventy."

"Well, seventy; but then there is your fine deep bottom, why I could
run a ramrod into it - "

"Interval, we call it," said the Deacon, who, though evidently
pleased at this eulogium, seemed to wish the experiment of the ramrod
to be tried in the right place.

"Well, interval, if you please (though Professor Eleazer Cumstick,
in his work on Ohio, calls them bottoms), is just as good as dyke.
Then there is that water privilege, worth three or four thousand
dollars, twice as good as what Governor Cass paid fifteen thousand
dollars for. I wonder, Deacon, you don't put up a carding mill on
it; the same works would carry a turning lathe, a shingle machine,
a circular saw, grind bark, and - "

"Too old," said the Deacon, "too old for all those speculations - "

"Old," repeated the clockmaker, "not you; why you are worth half
a dozen of the young men we see, nowadays; you are young enough to
have - " Here he said something in a lower tone of voice, which I did
not distinctly hear; but whatever it was, the Deacon was pleased, he

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