Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

Judge," holding up the bird again, "do you think a smooth-bore would pick game off their roost, and not ruffle a feather?" The old man gave another of his remarkable laughs, which partook so largely of exultation, mirth, and irony, and shaking his head, he turned, with his rifle at a trail, and moved into the forest with short and quick steps, that were between a walk and a trot. At each movement that he made his body lowered several inches, his knees yielding with an inclination inward; but as the sleigh turned at a bend in the road, the youth cast his eyes in quest of his old companion, and he saw that he was already nearly concealed by the trunks of the trees, while his dogs were following quietly in his footsteps, occasionally scenting the deer track, that they seemed to know instinctively was now of no further use to them. Another jerk was given to the sleigh, and Leatherstocking was hidden from view.

[blocks in formation]

An ancestor of Marmaduke Temple had, about one hundred and twenty years before the commencement of our tale, come to the colony of Pennsylvania, a friend and co-religionist of its great patron. Old Marmaduke, for this formidable prenomen was a kind of appellative to the race, brought with him, to that asylum of the persecuted, an abundance of the good things of this life. He became the master of many thousands of acres of uninhabited territory, and the supporter of many a score of detendants. He lived greatly respected for his piety, and not a little distinguished as a sectary: was intrusted by his associates with many important political stations; and died just in time to escape the knowledge of his own poverty. It was his lot to share the fortune of most of those who brought wealth with them into the new settlements of the middle colonies.

The consequence of an emigrant into these provinces was generally to be ascertained by the number of his white servants or dependants, and the nature of the public situations that he held. Tak ing this rule as a guide, the ancestor of our Judge must have been a man of no little note.

It is, however, a subject of curious inquiry at the present day, to look into the brief records of that early period, and observe how regular, and with few exceptions how inevitable, were the gradations, on the one hand, of the masters to poverty, and on the other, of their servants to wealth. Accustomed to ease, and unequal to the struggles incident to an infant society, the affluent emigrant was barely enabled to maintain his own rank, by the weight of his personal superiority and acquirements; but the moment that his head was laid in the grave, his indolent, and comparatively uneducated offspring, were compelled to yield precedency to the more active energies of a class, whose exertions had been stimulated by necessity. This is a very common course of things, even in the present state of the Union; but it was peculiarly the fortunes of the two extremes of society, in the peaceful and unenterprising colonies of Pennsylvania and New-Jersey.

The posterity of Marmaduke did not escape the common lot of those, who depended rather on their hereditary possessions than on their own powers; and in the third generation, they had descended to a point, below which, in this happy country, it is barely possible for honesty, intellect, and sobriety, to fall. The same pride of family that had, by its self-satisfied indolence, conduced to aid their fall, now became a principle to stimulate them to endeavour to rise again. The feeling, from being morbid was changed to a healthful and active desire to emulate the character, the condition, and peradventure, the wealth, of their ancestors also. It was the father of our new acquaintance, the Judge, who first began to re-ascend the scale of Society and in this undertaking he was not a little. assisted by a marriage that he formed, which aideđ

greatly in furnishing the means of educating his only son, in a rather better manner than the low state of the common schools in Pennsylvania could promise; or than had been the practice in the family, for the two or three preceding generations.


At the school where the reviving prosperity of his father was enabled to maintain him, young Marmaduke formed an intimacy with a youth, whose years were about equal to his own. was a fortunate connexion for our judge, and paved the way to most of his future elevation in ife, when the early inclination for each other in the boys was matured into friendship.

There was not only great wealth, but high court interest, among the connexions of Edward Effingham. They were one of the very few families, then resident in the colonies, who thought it a degradation to its members to descend to the pursuits of commerce: and who never emerged from the privacy of their domestic life, unless to preside in the councils of the colony, or to bear arms in her defence. The latter had, from youth to approaching age, been the only employment of Edward's father. Military rank, under the crown of Great Britain, was, sixty years ago, attained with much longer probation, and by much more toilsome services, than at the present time. Years were passed without murmuring, in the subordinate grades of the service; and those soldiers who were stationed in the colonies, felt, when they obtained the command of a company, that they were entitled to receive the greatest deference from the peaceful occupants of the soil. Any one of our readers, who in a visit to the falls, has occasion to cross the Niagara, by spending a day at Newark, may easily observe, not only the self-importance, but the real estima tion enjoyed by the humblest representative of the

crown, even in that polar region of royal sunshine. Such, and at no very distant period, was the respect paid to the military in these States, where now, happily, no symbol of war is ever seen, unless at the free and fearless voice of their people. When, therefore, the father of Marmaduke's friend, after forty years' service, retired with the rank of Major, maintaining in his domestic establishment a comparative splendour, it is not be doubted but that he became a man of the first consideration in his native colony-which was that of NewYork. He had served with fidelity and courage, and having been, according to the custom of the provinces, intrusted with commands much superior to those to which he was entitled by rank, with reputation also. When Major Effingham yielded to the claims of age, he retired with dignity, refusing his half-pay or any other compensation for services, that he felt he could no longer perform.

The ministry proffered to his acceptance various civil offices, which yielded not only honour but profit; but he declined them all, with the chivalrous. independence and loyalty that had marked his character through life. The veteran soon caused this act of patriotic disinterestedness to be followed by another of private munificence, that, however little it accorded with prudence, was in perfect conformity with the simple integrity of his own views.

The friend of Marmaduke was his only child; and to this son, on his marriage with a lady to whom the father was particularly partial, the Major gave a complete conveyance of his whole estate, consisting of moneys in the funds, a town and country residence, sundry valuable farms in the old parts of the colony, and large tracts of wild land in the new-in this manner throwing

« PředchozíPokračovat »