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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 online

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She clasped her husband's body in her arms, and there was no getting her
away. I felt sad enough myself, but there was scanty time for grieving;
for a party of Spaniards, headed by one of the Acadians, was close up to
the mound on the side which I was defending. I shot the Acadian; but
another, the sixth, and last but one, took his place. "Rachel!" cried I,
"the rifle, for God's sake, the rifle! a single bullet may save all our
lives."

But no Rachel came, and the Acadian and Spaniards, who, from the
cessation of our fire, guessed that we were either unloaded, or had
expended our ammunition, now sprang forward, and by climbing, and
scrambling, and getting on one another's shoulders, managed to scale the
side of the mound, almost perpendicular as you see it is. And in a
minute the Acadian and half a dozen Spaniards, with axes, were chopping
away at the palisades, and severing the wattles which bound them
together. To give the devil his due, if there had been only three like
that Acadian, it would have been all up with us. He handled his axe like
a real backwoodsman; but the Spaniards wanted either the skill or the
strength of arm, and they made little impression. There were only
Righteous and myself to oppose them; for, on the other side, a dozen
more soldiers, with the seventh of those cursed Acadians, were attacking
the stockade.

Righteous shot down one of the Spaniards; but just as he had done so the
Acadian tore up a palisade by the roots, (how he did it I know not to
this hour, there must have been a stump remaining on it,) held it with
the wattles and branches hanging round it like a shield before him,
guarding off a blow I aimed at him, then hurled it against me with such
force that I staggered backwards, and he sprang past me. I thought it
was all over with us. It is true that Righteous, with the butt of his
rifle, split the skull of the first Spaniard who entered, and drove his
hunting-knife into the next; but the Acadian alone was man enough to
give us abundant occupation, now he had got in our rear. Just then there
was a crack of a rifle, the Acadian gave a leap into the air and fell
dead, and at the same moment my son Godsend, a boy of ten years old,
sprang forward, Asa's rifle in his hand still smoking from muzzle and
touchhole. The glorious boy had loaded the piece when he saw that Rachel
did not do it, and in the very nick of time had shot the Acadian through
the heart. This brought me to myself again, and with axe in one hand and
knife in the other, I rushed in among the Spaniards, hacking and hewing
right and left. It was a real butchery, which lasted a good quarter of
an hour; but then the Spaniards got sick of it, and would have done so
sooner had they known that their leader was shot. At last they jumped
off the mound and ran away, such of them as could. Righteous and I put
the palisade in its place again, securing it as well as we could, and
then, telling my boy to keep watch, ran over to the other side, where a
desperate fight was going on.

"Three of our party, assisted by the women, were defending the stockade
against a score of Spaniards, who kept poking their bayonets between the
palisades, till all our people were wounded and bleeding. But Rachel had
now recovered from her first grief at her husband's death, or rather it
had turned to a feeling of revenge, and there she was, like a raging
tigress, seizing the bayonets as they were thrust through the stockade,
and wrenching them off the muskets, and sometimes pulling the muskets
themselves out of the soldiers' hands. But all this struggling had
loosened the palisades, and there were one or two openings in them
through which the thin-bodied Spaniards, pushed on by their comrades,
were able to pass. Just as we came up, two of these copper-coloured
Dons had squeezed themselves through, without their muskets, but with
their short sabres in their hands. They are active dangerous fellows
those Spaniards in a hand-to-hand tussle. One of them sprang at me, and
if it had not been for my hunting-knife, I was done for, for I had no
room to swing my axe; but as he came on I hit him a blow with my fist,
which knocked him down, and then ran my knife into him, and jumping over
his body snatched a musket out of Rachel's hand, and began laying about
me with the but-end of it. I was sorry not to have my rifle, which was
handier than those heavy Spanish muskets. The women were now in the
way - we hadn't room for so many - so I called out to them to get into the
blockhouse and load the rifles. There was still another Acadian alive,
and I knew that the fight wouldn't end till he was done for. But while
we were fighting, Godsend and the women loaded the rifles, and brought
them out, and firing through the stockade, killed three or four, and, as
luck would have it, the Acadian was amongst them. So when the Spaniards,
who are just like hounds, and only come on if led and encouraged, saw
that their leader had fallen, they sprang off the mound, with a 'Carajo!
Malditos!' and ran away as if a shell had burst amongst them."

The old squatter paused and drew a deep breath. He had forgotten his
usual drawl and deliberation, and had become animated and eager while
describing the stirring incidents in which he had borne so active a
part. When he had taken breath, he continued.

"I couldn't say how long the fight lasted; it seemed short, we were so
busy, and yet long, deadly long. It is no joke to have to defend one's
life, and the lives of those one loves best, against fourscore
bloodthirsty Spaniards, and that with only half a dozen rifles for arms,
and a few palisades for shelter. When it was over we were so dog-tired
that we fell down where we were, like overdriven oxen, and without
minding the blood which lay like water on the ground. Seven Spaniards
and two Acadians were lying dead within the stockade. We ourselves were
all wounded and hacked about, some with knife-stabs and sabre-cuts,
others with musket-shots; ugly wounds enough, some of them, but none
mortal. If the Spaniards had returned to the attack they would have made
short work of us; for as soon as we left off fighting and our blood
cooled, we became stiff and helpless. But now came the women with rags
and bandages, and washed our wounds and bound them up, and we dragged
ourselves into the blockhouse, and lay down upon our mattresses of dry
leaves. And Godsend loaded the rifles and a dozen Spanish muskets that
were lying about, to be in readiness for another attack, and the women
kept watch while we slept. But the Spaniards had had enough, and we saw
no more of them. Only the next morning, when Jonas went down the ladder
to reconnoitre, he found thirty dead and several others dying, and a few
wounded, who begged hard for a drink of water, for that their comrades
had deserted them. We got them up into the blockhouse, and had their
wounds dressed, and after a time they were cured and left us."

"And were you never after attacked again?" said I. "I wonder at your
courage in remaining here after becoming aware of the dangers you were
exposed to."

"We reckoned we had more right than ever to the land after all the blood
it had cost us, and then the news of the fight had got carried into the
settlements, and up as far as Salt River; and some of our friends and
kinsfolk came down to join us, and there were soon enough of us not to
care for twice as many Spaniards as we had beaten off before."

While he was speaking the old squatter descended the ladder, and led us
out of the forest and over the ridge of a low hill, on the side of which
stood a dozen loghouses, which cast their black shadows on the moonlit
slope. We found a rough but kind welcome - few words, but plenty of good
cheer - and we made acquaintance with the heroes and heroines of the
blockhouse siege, and with their sons and daughters, buxom strapping
damsels and fine manly lads, Yankees though they were. I have often
enjoyed a softer bed, but never a sounder sleep than that night.

The next day our horses were brought round from the swamp, and we took
our departure; but as hardships, however painful to endure, are pleasant
to look back upon, so have I often thought with pleasure of our
adventures in the prairies, and recurred with the strongest interest to
old Nathan's thrilling narrative of the Bloody Blockhouse.




COMMERCIAL POLICY - EUROPE


The land absolutely groans under over-material-production of every sort
and degree, as on all hands is now acknowledged. The foundations of
Manchester tremble under the ponderous piles of Cobden's calicoes, in
Cobden's warerooms, ever, like the liver of Prometheus, undiminished,
though daily devoured by the vulture of consumption. The sight of the
Pelion upon Ossa, accumulated masses of pig upon bar iron, immovable as
the cloud-capped Waen and Dowlais of Merthyr Tydvil themselves, should
almost generate burning fever, intense enough, among the unfortunate
though too sanguine producers, to smelt all the ironstone in the bowels
of South Wales, without the aid of furnace or hot blast. Broad cloths,
though encumbering cloth halls, are ceasing all over the earth - so say,
at least, the Leeds anti-corn-law sages. Loads of linens, as Marshall
proclaims, are sinking his mammoth mills; not to lengthen the lamentable
list with the sorrows of silks, of cutlery, crockery, and all other
commodities, the created or impelled of the mighty steam power that by
turns prospers and prostrates us. As the crowning point, the monster
grievance of all, comes the cramming over-production of food,
farinaceous and animal, under which the overfed stomach of the country
is afflicted with nightmare, as we learn on the unimpeachable authority
of that wisest and most infallible of all one-idea'd nostrummongers, the
immortal Cobden himself.[I]

Vast and overwhelming, however, as the ills which follow in the train of
over producing power, in the world material and manufacturing, they sink
into utter insignificance - for magnitude, they are as Highgate Hill to
sky-enveloped Chimborazo of eternal snow - in comparison with that
crowding crush, that prodigious overflow, of charlatanic genius, in the
world physical and spiritual, which blocks up every highway and byway,
swarms in every circle, roars in every market-place, or thunders in each
senate of the realm. There is not one ill which flesh is heir to, which
this race original cannot kill or cure. Whilst bleeding the patient to
death, Sangrado like, and sacking the fees, they will greet him right
courteously with _Viva V. milanos_ - live a thousand years, and not one
less of the allotted number. Whilst drenching the body politic with
Reform purge, or, with slashing tomahawk, inflicting Repeal gashes, they
bid the prostrate and panting state subject rejoice over the wondrous
dispatch with which its parts can be dismembered, the arithmetical
accuracy with which its financial plethora can be depleted. Eccentric in
its motions and universal in its aspirations, for the genius of this age
no conception is too mean, no subject too intricate, no enterprise too
rash, no object too sacred. It will condescend with equal readiness upon
torturing a pauper, fleecing the farmer, robbing a church, or
undertaking "the command of the Channel fleet at a moment's notice."
With Mr Secretary Chadwick, schooled in police courts, it will
metamorphose workhouse asylums for the destitute into parish prisons,
with "locks, bolts, and bars," for the safe keeping of unfortunate
outcasts found guilty of the felony of pauperism. With Dr Kay
Shuttleworth and the privy council, when the masses want bread, it will
invite to the "whistle belly" feast of roaring in _andante_, or
dissolving in _piano_, in full choral concert mobs at Exeter Hall; it
will induct into the new gipsy jargon scheme of education at Norwood,
where the scholar is introduced to the process of analysation before he
has learned to read and almost to articulate; or the miserables
initiated into the elements of the linear, the curve, and the
perspective in drawing, whose eyeballs are glaring in quest of the
perspective of a loaf. Oh! genius profound, and forecasting of privy
council philanthropy and utilitarian wisdom; more exquisite of
refinement than Nero, who only fiddled when Rome was blazing and
wretches roasting, thou, with the wizen wand of Cockney Hullah charmed
with Wilhem's incantations, canst teach piping voices how to stay
craving stomachs; how Kay upon Jacotot may analytically demonstrate that
fast and feasting are both but synonymes of one common termination, the
difference squared by time alone, and meaning ten or threescore and ten
as the case may be. Misery is but a mockery of language after all; for
have I not heard it rampant with lungs, and hoarse with disciplined
harmony in Exeter Hall, as Hullah cut capers with his tiny truncheon,
with Royalty itself, heroic field-marshals, and grave ministers of
state, in seeming ecstasy at the sleight of hand? Just as I have heard
and seen in the _barracones_ of Bozal negroes for sale, when, at the
crack of the black negro-driver's whip, and not unfrequent application
of the lash, the flagging gang of exhausted slavery has ever and again
set up that chant of revelry, run mad, and danced that dance of
desperation, which was to persuade the atrocious dealers in human flesh
how sound of wind and limb they were, and the bystanders how happy.

Think not that charlatanic genius rests content with triumphs even so
transcendent as these. It disports itself also in "self-supporting"
colonization; it runs riot in the ruin of "penny-postage;" it would be
gloriously self-suicidal in abolition of corn-laws and free trade. Nay,
as -

"Great genius to great madness is allied."

the genius of these days looks even to St Luke's, like Oxford, as a
berth in _dernier ressort_, where a sinecurist may enjoy bed and board
at the cost of the state, and as a fair _honorario_ for the trouble of
concocting a new scheme for raising the wind, or getting a living. The
time may come, and sooth to say, seems drawing near, when Gibbon
Wakefield, seated on the woolsack, shall be charged specially with the
guardianship of all the fair wards in Chancery. Wo to infant heiress
kidnappers, when a chancellor, more experienced than Rhadamanthus, more
sanguineous than Draco, shall have the care of the innocent fold, and
come to deal with abduction! In womanly lore, his practice and
experience are undoubted; for has he not had the active superintendence,
and the arduous task, of transportation of all the womankind, virgin,
and matronly as well, exported to New Zealand on account, with other
goods and chattels, of that moral corporation, the New Zealand trading
and emigration company, which so liberally salaries him with L.600 per
annum for the use of his "principle?" Again, who so fitted as the
renowned Rowland Hill, the very prig pragmatic of pretension, for the
post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, or First Lord of the Treasury if
you will? A man who could contrive a scheme for annihilating some two
millions of post-office revenue at one stroke, must be qualified beyond
all other pretenders for dealing with a bankrupt treasury; for upon the
homoeopathic principle, the physic which kills is that alone which
should cure. The scientific discovery, indeed, is not of the modern date
exactly which is assumed; for the poet of ancient Greece, his "eyes in a
fine frenzy rolling," must have had homoeopathy in view when he sang -

"So Telephus, renown'd of yore, can tell
How cured the fatal spear by which he fell."

The disinterestedness of Rowland (not he of Roncesvalles, nor even of
the honest Macassar oil) need not be doubted, because he claims a large
reward for a penny-post scheme, ruinous as it is, utterly unavailable
and impracticable, even if as excellent as notoriously prejudicial, but
for the really ingenious discovery of the pre-paying stamp system, by a
party preferring no title to remuneration, and through which alone,
unfortunately, the pretentious project could be practically placed in
operation.

Dismissing minor worthies, such as Benjamin Hawes, junior, of the
Commission of Fine Arts, selected probably and appropriately from the
consideration that home-produced _savonnerie_ may lead to clean ideas of
taste, and who, in his own interest, would be a capital Commissioner of
Excise; and Bowring, so well qualified to be chairman of a general board
of Commissioner Tourists, from his multifarious practice - come we at
last to Cobden, of corn and colonial fame, fiercely struggling with
gaunt O'Connell himself for stentorian supremacy -

"Linguæ centum sunt, oraque centum,
Ferrea vox."

Cobden and the colonies! The conjunction is euphoniously alliterative at
least, if not a consistent consequence; yet who more fit to perform at
the funeral as the undertaker who alone has got the hearse and mules all
ready for the job? Cobden, who has denounced - more still, has passed
sentence upon - the colonies, should be the executioner. All hail,
therefore, to the Right Hon. Alderman Richard Cobden, M.P., Secretary of
State for the Colonial Department - worthy compeer of the Cabinet, where
sit Lord Chancellor Gibbon Wakefield, and First Lord of the Treasury
Rowland Hill! Rare will be the labours of the trio; the
"self-supporting" supported on either hand by a destroying angel.

In the prospective cabinet of _Charlatanerie_, composed _inter aliis_,
moreover, in addition to the Haweses, the Bowrings, the Brights, the R.
R. R. (why does not the man write the names out in full, as Raving,
Roaring, Rory) O'Moores, there is, however, already a "split;" the
members are each and all at sixes and sevens, for as each has his own
sovereign conceit, so each would rule sovereign over the rest, and bear
no rival near the throne. All would be kings, but not in turn. That
powerful and sarcastic writer, Paul Louis Courier, depicts the same
regiphobia as raging among the Parisian _Charlatanerie_ of his day; and
with an anxious care for his own reputation and respectability, thus
purges himself from contact or connexion with it: - "_Ce qui me distingue
de mes contemporains et fait de moi un homme rare dans le siècle où nous
vivons, c'est que je ne veux pas être roi, et que j'évite soigneusement
tout ce qui pourrait me mener là._" Chadwick and Cobden are agreed upon
pauperizing the whole kingdom; but the former insists upon keeping the
paupers in bastiles, whilst the latter requires them in cotton
manufactories; both are agreed upon the propriety of reducing the
labouring classes to diet less of quantity and coarser of quality, by
which the rates of wages are, and are to be, ground down: but Chadwick
naturally insists, that to new poor-laws the post of honour should be
assigned in the work of desolation; whilst Cobden, though acknowledging
their efficient co-operation as a means to an end, and their priority as
first in the field, fiercely contends for the greater aristocratical
pretensions and more thoroughgoing operation of corn-law abolition. The
Wakefield "self-supporting" colonial specific comes into collision,
moreover, with Cobden's "perish all colonies." Kay Shuttleworth vaunts
the superiority above all of his analytical schemes for training little
children at Norwood to construe, for after age, -

"The days that we went gipsying a long time ago;"

whilst Hullah simpers forth, in softest accents of Cockaigne, the
superlative claim of choral shows in Exeter Hall -

"That roar again, it had a dying fall.
Oh! it came o'er my ear like the rude north,
That bursts upon a bank of violets."

Bowring and Hume did, certes, pull together once in the matter of Greek
scrip; but, _Arcades ambo_ no longer, the worthy doctor turned
anti-slavery monger, whilst Joseph, more honest in the main, cares not
two straws whether his sugar be slave-grown or free, excepting as to the
greater cheapness of the one or the other. So also with Hawes, never yet
pardoned by the financiering economist of "cheese parings and candle
ends" for the splendid Thames tunnel job, and £200,000 of the public
money at one fell swoop. These people range under the generic head
_Charlatanerie_, as of the distinct species classified as _farceurs_
according to the French nomenclature. For other species, and diversities
of species, of a lower scale, but of capacity to ascend into the higher
order with time and opportunity, the daily papers may be usefully
consulted under the headings devoted to the "pill" specific
line - _pildoras para en contrar perros_, as the Spanish _saynete_ has
it.

Happily the country need never despair of salvation, even should the
cabinet prospective of _farceurs_ fall to pieces, for there yet remain
two species of a genus taking higher rank in the social system; species
that really have a root, a name, and pretensions hereditary or
legitimately acquired. These each affect philosophy, and represent it
too; they of the caste hereditary in _grande tenue,_ they of the new men
with much pompous parade of words, and all the Delphic mystics of the
schools. They are none of your journeymen - your everyday spouters - in
the Commons or common places. They exhibit only on state occasions,
after solemn midnight preparation made; their intended movements are
duly heralded beforehand; their approach announced with a flourish of
trumpets. They carry on a vast wordy traffic in "great principles;" they
condescend upon nothing less than the overthrow or manufacture of
"constitutions" - in talk. The big swagger about "great principles"
eventuates, however, in denouncing by speech from the throne repeal as
high treason, and O'Connell the repealer as a traitor to the state; and
next, with cap in hand, and most mendicant meanness, supplicating the
said traitor - denounced - repealing O'Connell, to deign acceptance of one
of the highest offices in the realm. Their practice in the
"constitution" line consists in annihilating rotten borough A because it
is Tory; in conserving rotten borough B because it is Whig. The grand
characteristic of each species is - _vox et preterea nihil._ Need I
further proclaim them and their titles? In the order of Parisian
organization they stand as _faiseurs_ and _phraseurs._ You can make no
mistake about the personality ranged under each banner; they are as
perfectly distinguishable each from the other, though even knit in close
and indissoluble alliance, as Grand Crosses of the Bath from Knights of
the Garter. At the head of the _faiseurs_ you have Lord John Russell,
Lord Viscount Palmerston, and Lord Viscount Howick. You have only to see
them rise in the House of Commons - Lord John, to wit -

"Pride in his port, defiance in his eye" -

to be led into the belief that

- "Now is the day
Big with the fate of Cato and of Rome."

The physical swell of conscious consequence - the eye-distended "wide
awake" insinuation of the inconceivable, unutterable things - the grand
sentiments about to be outpoured - hold you in silent wonderment and
expectation. You conceive nothing less, than either that the world is
about to come to an end, or the _millennium_ declared to be the "order
of the day." You imagine that the orator will lose self and party
in his country. Nothing of all this follows, however. You
have some common-places, perhaps common truisms, some undefined,
mean-all-or-nothing, declamation about "constitution" and "principles,"
by way of exordium; for the rest, Rome is sunk as if it existed not,
down to the peroration it is all about Cato himself, and his little Whig
party about him.

- "Parturiunt montes,
Nascitur ridiculus mus."

Chief of the _phraseurs_ stand Mr Babington Macaulay and Mr Lalor Shiel,
the peculiarity of whose craft - a profitable craft of late
years - consists in furbishing up old ideas into new and euphonious forms
of speech. Of the one it may be said, that

- "He could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope."

The other more finished leader of the class mystifies you with
metaphysics, half conned and unmastered by himself - more anxious still
to make his points than to please his party; and, of the two, would
rather sink his country than his climax. He is a rhetorician, a dealer
in set phraseology, an ingenious gatherer and polisher of "other men's
stuff." Of the _faiseurs,_ may be repeated what Marshal Marmont, in his
_Voyage en Hongrie, en Transylvanie,_ &c., says of the _faiseurs_ of
Paris - "_Subjugués par le gout et cette manie d'uniformité absolue, qui
est la maladie de l'époque, et qui resulte de principes abstraits, dont


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Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 18 of 23)