page 438 [Written for the “ Spirit of the Times.”]

An Original Tale of the Creek War.


“ For this, the foolish over-careful fathers
Have broke their sleep with thought, their brains with care,
Their bones with industry.”­­ Henry IV., Part II

“ As I do live by food, I met a fool.”— As You Like It.

In the summer of 1836, a period eminently disastrous to the frontier of Georgia and Alabama, the company of volunteers to which I was attached was stationed at the ruins of Roanoke, and from thence, “ all along shore.” In an encampment of some twelve hundred men from different parts of Georgia, all young bucks full of fun, and inclined to regard the whole affair as a frolic, gotten up for their especial amusement, there was, of necessity, much mischief continually on foot, and many were the wild jokes played off by the “ merry green-wood rangers.” One of these, by your permission, I will relate, as briefly as may be.

If he belonged any where, the hero of my tale—whose name makes a more conspicuous show at the head of this chapter than his wildest imaginings had ever dreamed of—belonged to the company from Newton County, where he had sold himself as a substitute for a gentleman, who preferred staying at home and minding his own business, to hunting Indians ; wisely considering that his own health would be a great loss to his country, whereas if such a man as Brissentine were to be shot, it would not matter a great deal, any way. To describe the individual who is to play so conspicuous a part in my farce, would be a most difficult task, for I find it an utter impossibility to follow any one of the “ statutes in such cases made and provided” by the romancers of the day. So much is he at variance with the commonality of mankind, that I have in vain searched through some forty of the paste-board volumes called novels, to see if I could pilfer a character which might be applied to my hero. Let not my good readers infer from what has been said, that there is any thing imaginary in my man, or in the deeds which he achieved, of which I am about to become the humble, though veracious chronicler. It is a true tale, and as I have the hero even now in my mind’s eye, perhaps I could not do better than to make a rough pen-and-ink sketch of him as he now stands.

Then, dear reader, let me portray to thee a hoosier, a whole hoosier, and nothing but a hoosier ; in statue, some six feet six, without his shoes,--articles with which his feet had never been acquainted ; of this great length, his legs, long, crooked, awkward, bony things, consumed just four feet ; his face—if the assertions of his “ companions in arms” may be taken—was to a line-, ten inches long ; add to this, two long, dangling arms, pushed out in proportion with his nether limbs, and you have the outline of one of the most ungainly men who ever shouldered a musket, or called himself a soldier. His hair was long and sandy ; his beard thin, and, like votes at an election, scattering ; his face resembled nothing on earth so much as the clay-bank from which he had fed largely in his youth ; or, perhaps, I might convey a better notion of it, were I to say that it looked precisely like my idea of an embodiment of the fever and ague, somewhat blackened by the smoke of the camp ; from the corners of his extensive mouth, ran two trickling rills of tobacco juice, and these, meeting on his chin, formed a beautiful rivulet of the amber-colored fluid. Nor in this hasty sketch must I forget to depict the garb in which my rara avis had chosen, or been forced to array himself. Upon his head he wore

“ No morion bright, and dancing plume,”

but an old ‘coon-skin, home-made cap ; cravat or coat, or waistcoat, had he none, all three were supplied by an old, sooty blanket, through which he had passed a twine string, and this tied lightly round his neck, formed an easy and genteel substitute for the graceful Spanish mantilla. His inexpressibles,--oh, how shall I express them? But poesy has lent its aid, and you may find them described in the beautiful song,

“ Little boy, little boy, who made your leather breeches ?”

Shoes, as I before hinted, he had none, and his long feet and huge ancles projected most inelegantly from beneath the aforesaid inexpressibles. He had been employed in the gold mines, and imagined himself a perfect proficient in all that belonged to the art of mining. Moreover, he was a first-rate judge of the precious metal, and could pronounce to the most minute fraction of a carat upon the value of any old brass, which might be brought to him as gold. His vanity was of that kind which makes a man to form a world of himself, around which all other men are but as moons revolving ; a vanity which places a man in more ridiculous situations than any other foible. Possessed of all these estimable bodily and mental qualities, it is hardly necessary to say that he became the butt at which the arrows, not only of his own company, but of the twelve hundred men stationed at the same place, were aimed. And now, gentlemen and ladies, as the man in the menagerie says, walk up and take a peep at Brissentine.

The momentous period in the life of Brissentine occurred soon after the burning, by the Indians, of Roanoke, a beautiful village which had sprung up as if by magic from the woods which border the Chattahoochie. All felt a great curiosity to view the ruins, and many were anxious to secure some memento of the spot ; among these was one who had become the fortunate owner of a brass candlestick, melted into an almost solid mass at the burning of a house. This he carried to Brissentine, whose sage opinion of its quality he was desirous to know,--not but that he already knew what he had found, but he was willing to add one more to the long list of hoaxes already played upon him.

“ Wa-al,” quoth my hero, when the brass was presented to him, “ it han’t got much pure gold in it : but I reckon I mout git somethin’ out on’t ;--ma-be, now, yer’d like to sell it ?”

“ Would you like to buy it ?” asked the mischievous wag. “ You know you’re a judge of these matters ; you might make a spec’ off it.”

“ I don’t ‘zackly know,” he drawled out, “ I should reckon it mout be worth nigh on to ten dollars, if yer’ll take that for ut.”

His friend, whose only object was to quiz him, promised to think the matter over, to consult his friends, and to give him an answer in the morning. That was a restless night for Brissentine. The philosopher, who after wasting a life in useless search for the transmuting stone, at last thinks he has discovered it, and only waits for morning light to put a final test to its virtues ; the mechanic, who has invented the perpetual motion, and only wants to set it “a-going,” to complete his great work, may form some slight idea of the restless state of Brissentine’s mind during that—to him—endless night. Bright dreams of sparkling “ yellow-boys,” the only genuine “ mint-drops,” were flitting through the vacuum where the brain should be, but, alas, was not ! He looked up into the sky, and every twinkling star that peeped laughingly into his face, appeared a golden coin. At last, it is said, he imagined himself to be the very identical maiden whom Jupiter wooed, appearing in a golden shower ; but there is strong presumptive evidence that he never entertained such an idea. No matter what his dreams might have been, we will leave him to enjoy them until

“ Bright, rosy morning,
Peeped over the hills,”

when he arose, and completing his toilet as does a dog, by shaking himself, impatiently waiting the morning roll-call, he started off in search of his customer. The bargain was struck, the seller agreed to credit him for a few days, secresy was enjoined on his friends, and, happy man ! he found himself the master of a lump of brass, worth, in his estimation, not one thrip less than ten thousand dollars !

The first thing in his mind, was to communicate his good fortune, and to find a purchaser, who would pay down a good round price. But to whom should he apply ? Certainly not to any of the common men, not even to his captain ; for in that case, fraud, or even violence, might be employed to wring his treasure from him. No ; none of less rank than a Colonel would do for him. So off he started for the tent of Colonel Beall, a brave man and a good officer, attached to the staff of General White. The gallant Colonel is as fond of a joke as the next man, when he is the joker, and his keen eye for the ridiculous soon found a fit object for mirth in the figure before him. Assuming his most courteous manner, he enquired after the health of my hero, was very solicitous in regard to the welfare of his wife, extremely anxious to know how all the young folks came on ; and wound up a speech of half an hour’s duration, not allowing Brissentine to slip in a word edgeways, by asking if he was “ indebted to any official business for the honor of this visit from his distinguished friend ?”

Poor Brissentine was at a loss to account for this politeness from a man, who never before had even spoken to him ; but he stood, with his big potatoe trap of

page 439

a mouth wide a-gape, until he collected enough of his scattered senses to imagine that the colonel had, some way or other, heard of his good fortune, and that all this deference was paid to his newly acquired wealth, and not to any merit in him—a thought, by the way, which would not have entered into the head of many a wiser man than my half witted hero. Determined however not to be behind the colonel in civility or in the use of “ tall talk,” he closed his mouth, then opened it for the purpose of giving vent to a speech, which he intended should be every bit as long, and equally as pompous as the one he had heard.

“ Ah—um—why, yes, kernel ; you see, I s’pose you’ve hearn something ‘bout it, you know. So, yer see, kernal, I thought I mout jist as well come ‘round, yer know, and git yer opinion on it, yer see, and then I maybe cud sell it to you yer know.”

By this time the colonel was as much mystified as his visiter had been ; for the life of him, he could not tell what “it” meant ; but he interrupted him with—

“ Why, yes, as you sagaciously observe, or remark, sir, I have heard something concerning or relative to it ; but, as you are aware, I could not venture on a matter of such extreme delicacy, in giving or delivering an opinion on a subject of such momentous magnitude, as is this now under consideration, without being first permitted to apply my optical organs of sight to a more minute inspection of the object now under deliberation. For, as Lucius Junius Brutus,--the celebrated Cherokee novelist, author of Tristram Shandy, Addison’s Cato, Locke on the Understanding, Gulliver’s Travels, Pilgrim’s Progress, Quentin Durward, The Devil on two Sticks, Shakspeare, and several other mental operations of great and deserved celebrity,--says in his extinct essay on Abolitionism in the Moon, ‘ we should never judge of that which we have not visually seen ; neither should we ever advance an opinion relative to a proposition concerning which we are ignorant.’ You will then perceive, sir, that my position is extremely delicate and embarrassing ; but I shall endeavor to extricate myself from between the cornuted projections of the dilemma, by applying the words of Bulwer, the gray goose of England, to this case, and by saying as he does in his Dutch tragedy, ‘ She Stoops to Conquer,’ ‘ I should very much like to see it.’ ”

Brissentine, all this time, stood amazed, gazing—to use a classic expression—“like a stuck pig,” first at the colonel, then at the colonel’s dog—by far the most sensible animal of the trio—as if the dog could help him to comprehend that which every moment became more and more inexplicable. He caught at the last sentence, for that he could understand, and with an air of great mystery, enjoining the strictest secresy, he produced the brass. Then, with an air which no pen can give expression to, he expatiated upon its weight, solidity, and purity, and exercised all his persuasive powers to prevail on the colonel to become a purchaser.

But the colonel saw that too much mirth was on foot, to keep the secret from his comrades, and in a few moments many officers and privates were assembled on the green in front of his tent, to witness and to hear all that was going on. Many were the shouts of laughter elicited by the affected bombast of the colonel, and the awkward eagerness of his victim ; eager to realize the money on the “ pure gold,” yet endeavoring to appear unconcerned, so as to force the high possible price. Colonel Beall was by no means sparing of his grand-iloquent phrases and tempting offers ; and Brissentine was soon worked up to a state of high excitement, such as may be seen in the gambler when he hazards his all on one great stake, and is expecting that fortune will amply reward him for his eagerness in the pursuit. A negro boy was offered—a splendid horse, two of them—several valuable lots of land, (in the Moon,) but as each bid rose still higher, so did the cupidity of Brissentine increase. At length the colonel and his friends became tired of laughing, for they had wasted the best portion of a summer morning. After making an offer that he feared might be accepted, and render the fellow rather troublesome, he whispered to young Mac Lane, a Lieutenant in the drafted militia from Muscogee, to get him away.

“ Look you, stranger,” said Mac, “ I don’t know any thing about you ; but you look like a good, clever, kind of a good for nothing sort of a fellow, and I hate to see you imposed on.” And he added, in a still lower voice, as he pulled Brissentine from the tent, “ Now these fellows are only trying to bamboozle you ; all they want is to fool you out of your gold, and get it for nothing. Do you come along with me to my camp, on the hill there, just the other side of the pond, and I’ll introduce you to my captain—a fine fellow, and a man of property—he’ll buy your gold, and give you the true worth of it.” Brissentine listened eagerly, for he had wit enough to think if he could get two parties contending, he might be the gainer. So, with a crook in his back, and a scrape of the foot, intended for a bow, he said :­­

“ Wa-al, kernel, I’ll go further, an’ see if I can’t do no better ; and if no body don’t offer no higher, I’ll come ‘round agin an’ clinch the bargain.”

“ A good morning to you, Major Glissumtine,” said the colonel, with a low bow, as the man of candlesticks walked off, arm in arm with his newly found friend ; “ be sure you call on me before you make a final disposal of the illustrious mass of heaven-descended gold, of which you are so blessed as to be the possessor.”

At the camp on the hill they found a motley group, such as may often be seen at such places, and which might not be unworthy of a passing notice ; but my feeble pen is all inadequate to such a task, and with a glance at one particular scene, we will pass on. Under a rush bark tent—which served to screen them from the burning mid-day sun, and when the wind was in one direction, the rain—sat two men, engaged in playing the very interesting and genteel game of “old sledge.” With hands as dirty as the cards they held, they would throw down their “ documents” on the barrel head which served them for a table, accompanying each play with a profusion of technical terms, and a general assortment of oaths, unfit to mention in “ polite company.” One of this amiable couple, who had acquired the soubriquet of “ Colonel Pluck,” was a queer mixture of wit and nonsense, the latter most frequently predominating ; but as he had acquired the reputation of being witty, he easily made all his vagaries pass for the sterling coin. His costume was a fair sample of the inner man, being equally compounded of the civil, military, and Indian. He wore an old weather beaten, “ ram-beaver” hat ; to which, as marking his rank, he had attached a plume, made of old shreds of rope-yarn. Fastened round him by bits of string—the buttons having disappeared—he wore an old uniform coat, which long time ago had done good service on the back of some malicious ossifer. Around his waist he had an Indian girdle, in the left side of which was thrust an enormous butcher-knife, and in the right a tobacco pipe, made of a corn cob ; Indian leggins, and a pair of coarse russet brogues completed the attire of this eccentric individual. A fellow was he to whom nothing came amiss, let it be honesty or rascality, indeed, as himself confessed, he had a “ kind o’ hankering after rascality, ‘specially if there was a spice o’ deviltry mixed up with it.” His companion was an extraordinary man in his way, but differing very little from his comrades—all of them wild and reckless. And here I must pay a passing compliment to Coleman, for the manner in which he disciplined a parcel of fellows, whom no one else on earth would undertake to do any thing with.

It was to “ Colonel Pluck,” as Captain Coleman, that our hero was introduced, the object of his visit explained, the brass exhibited, and its merits descanted upon. After a little “ heming and haing,” a good deal of strutting, and a heap of smoke from the corn-cob tobacco-pipe just alluded to, Pluck plucked up courage sufficient to offer five hundred dollars.

In the meanwhile Mac had gone about among the men, and in a short time the entire company was apprised of the sport. Here, as at the other camp, a crowd was soon assembled. Pluck and Brissentine were bargaining, when one of “ the boys” touched the latter on the elbow, and drew him to one side.

“ Look here,” said he, “ I don’t want to interfere with yourn and the Cap’n’s trade, but if you and he don’t strike a bargain, I’d like to get a chance.”

Brissentine had hardly set his mouth for a reply, when another addressed him in nearly the same words. Another, another followed ; and the whole crowd were anxious to have a chance ; and among them Brissentine’s banker was on the high road to ruin ; otherwise, he was in a good way to come to a bad end.

“ Well, by ---- !” and here Pluck whipped out a most military oath, which my friends will pardon me for omitting. “ I won’t see the powers in me invested trampled on in this kind of a how ! No, I won’t be abused (‘That’s right Cap’n !’) in no sich a way ! If I’m a-going to be commander of this army any longer—I say, all of you—don’t you hear ?—let General Wizzulime alone—fall into ranks—I say—oh, yes ! Fall into ranks there !” The men obeyed him, after a fashion of their own. Regarding them with a smile of grim satisfaction, he continued :--" Now then, my sons, seeing as how you’ve all got into a straight, crooked, knock-kneed, rectangular, worm-fenc’d line—if you all of you want to buy this man’s gold—why, there’s one thing sartain—by Goles, you can’t all buy it !” Here a loud laugh interrupted him. “ Silence in ranks, ye rantakerous villains ! Silence in ranks, I say ! Hear me for my cause, and be silent that ye may be able to hear a d—d sight better. Now, my sons, what I want to say is this, an’ I believe you’re all patriotic enough to mind me. Let Cap’n Grissentiner git up on this stump and put up his gole at oxshun, and the man that’s got pluck to poney up the biggest pile wins it ; and them that ain’t, get’s bluffed off and no mistake, and has to treat the crowd into the bargain.”

“ Huzzah ! Whorrah ! ! Whooper-Eugh-hoo-oo-eepi ! ! !” His motion was carried by acclimation, and Brissentine was instanter mounted on the stump.

“ Oh yes ! oh yes ! and a ho yes ! Gemmen, all you as wants to buy a fust-rate lot o’ gole, jist crack up to the bull-ring, and give a bid ! Come, feller sogers, walk up an’ gi’ us a bid !”

There was no need to invite them to walk up, or to bid ; the crowd gathered round from all quarters.

“ Fifty dollars !” shouted one. “ Fifty dollars ! oh, psha ! I mought jist as well­­” “ One hundred !” “ Oh hun--" began the auctioneer. “ Two !” “ Three !” “ Four hundred !” “ Five hundred bid her, Captain Quissentine ! yer hear ?” “ Five hundred ! going at Five hundred !” The bidding, like the fun “ waxed fast and furious.” The sums offered were shouted as if from Stentor’s lungs ; and the auctioneer almost yelled his echoes. The amount was soon run up to nine thousand dollars, and Brissentine was becoming more and more glorious. Alas, he knew not into what perils his treasure was about to lead him. The gentleman whom we saw playing old sledge with Colonel Pluck, took a short walk among the camp-kettles, and his well greased hands were covered with soot. He approached behind Brissentine, mounted his stump, and with a familiar and encouraging air, tapped him on the shoulders.

“ Hurrah !” he cried. “ Go it ! Cry still louder ! bellow worser than the wild bulls of Goshen ! you’ll soon get the true worth of your gole ! Two hundred more ! Whoop-ee !” And at each exclamation he drew his hands across the face of his unconscious victim. The noise from below grew still louder ; the shouts and peals of laughter longer and still more uproarious, for Brissentine’s face had lost all its clayey hue, and was as black as e’re a negro’s in the State.

A strange figure he presented. His sickly blue eyes were starting almost from his head ; his cap had fallen off, and “ like quills upon the fretful porcupine, each particular hair stood on end ;” his arms were tossed wildly to and fro ; the evening breeze lifted his blanket coat, and played with it, as though it were “ a banner gay on some proud castle’s wall”—but it wasn’t ; and the whole of his uncouth form stood out in bold relief against the western sky. Add to this, the admiring crowd below, and you have a scene, dear reader, which not a Salvator Rosa, but a Cruikshank might delight to depict.

But Brissentine’s happiness was not destined to be of great duration. Even while he caught eagerly at the offered fifteen thousand, an unexpected vision met his eye, an awful sound greeted his ear. Forcing his way through the crowd, there came a man, hatless and coatless, with long uncombed hair, whiskers and mustachios—sure am I, that never modern dandy, soap-locks and all, looked half as ferocious ; brandishing a huge Bowie-knife, he pushed through the throng, exclaiming :--

“ My gold ! my gold ! The villain, he has stolen my gold ! Let me come at him ! I’ll have my money or his life !

Oh, what a change then “ came o’er the spirit of his dream” ! He saw destruction glancing from the eyes of his foe, and a thousand deaths played round the edges of his fearful blade ! What could he do ? Death or the loss of his treasure—that he still firmly grasped—seemed inevitable ! he hardly knew which was most dreadful. Meanwhile his enemy grew still more vehement, jumping from the ground, gnashing his teeth, brandishing his weapon, and mingling his threats of vengeance with execrations of the most fearful kind.

“ He stole it from the ruins of my house ! I have followed him ! I have found him at last—oh, you outrageous, no ‘count, worthless, hoss-stealing, Ingen-dealing, good-fo’-nothing—you, you, you ! I’ve found you at last. I’ll be the death o’ you ! stand out o’ my way ! I’ll have my money or his life !”

Poor Brissentine, who had been speechless, at length found tongue to cry—“ Oh, Mr. Lefftenant ! you got me into this scrape, and do, oh, do get me out of it—oh !”—and he wept like a child ; while the salt tears, trickling down his ebony cheeks, mingled most beautifully with the composition from the camp-kettles.

The young officer to whom he addressed himself, though as full of mischief as a man can well be, has a kindly heart, began to think the joke had gone far enough. Wishing to save the fellow from further fright and to drive him out of the camp at the same time, told the men to let him speak privately with Brissentine, and he would prevail upon him to give up the gold if it had been dishonestly acquired, and if not, both parties should have a fair trial before the supreme judge of the Mousoulene court. The men having, with affected reluctance, agreed to this proposition, Mac led him a few paces from the crowd, and cautiously whispered :­­

“ My good fellow, you’ve got us both into a scrape. Do you think you can fight that big chap with the Bowie-knife ?”

“ No—no—no—I can’t fight,” groaned my hero, watching anxiously the movements of his apparently enraged accuser.

“ Well, then, you cowardly scoundrel, do you think you can run ?”

“ Yes, yes !” he screamed, rather than spoke.

“ Then let that keep you on your journey,” said Mac, applying his right foot to the gold dreamer’s “ seat of honor.”

The high trained racer at the startling tap of the drum ; the mountain antelope, when she hears the cry of her pursuer ; the red lightning’s vivid flash, as it darts from cloud to cloud ; a little negro, when a big dog is after him—are none of them “so slow ”—but none of them, in point of speed, could hold a candle to Brissentine. The crowd allowed him to get a start of some twenty yards, when with a shout that sent an echo far into the “ dim aisles of the ancient wood,” they started in pursuit. And fierce and hot was the chase, down the hill, over fallen trees, and deep trenched gullies, “ away, away, away “ went Brissentine, close at his heels a noisy crew. “ Stop, thief ! stop, thief !” they cry.

He heard the awful words, and turned to see how far his pursuers were in the rear. A fatal turn was that for him ; his toe struck against a root, he tripped, staggered, and fell, closely embracing his mother earth. A fatal fall was that for him, for it gave the Monroe horsemen, who had heard the cry, and knew not but that the fugitive was a thief, time to gain a small strip of land, the only passage between two large ponds, lying directly in his way. He was cut off entirely—surrounded ! For a moment he paused to gain breath, to examine his toe, sorely wounded in his fall, and to look round on a prospect for him none of the brightest. One glance served to show the state of affairs ; they were desperate ; but there was no time for indecision. He stood upon the side hill ; below him lay two large ponds, the only passage was filled with armed men ; at the extremities of the ponds were encampments ; far on the other side he could see his own tent, where he would be safe ; his pursuers were close upon him !--­­

“ Oh, how he longed for spear or sword,
That he might turn upon the horde,
And perish—if it must be so—
At bay, destroying many a foe !”

No he didn’t ; all he wanted was to get away from them, and that as soon as possible. His mind was made up ; down the hill he dashed, his blanket fluttering in the wind. he reached the pond ; one second’s pause, and summoning all his energies, he plunged in. The water was nearly—up to his waist ! Splash, he waded through ; his pursuers arrived at the water’s edge—none dared to follow him ; their execrations, borne by the breeze, fell fitfully on his ear. He made a mis-step, stumbled, and fell ; nothing but his blanket remained above the surface, that still fluttered triumphantly, as it had done in happier days. Hark ! was that

“ The expiring cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony ?”

No ; ‘twas but the splashing and spluttering of Brissentine, as he indignantly wiped the stagnant water from his eyes, and blew it from his nose. He gained the opposite bank—he was safe !

Slowly and sadly he walked up to his own camp, and gained the tent of Col. Beall. Feeling somewhat fatigued, he sate down on an empty flour-barrel—it caved in with him !

What a plight for a hero—and my hero at that !

“ Well,” said Col. Beall, without cracking a smile, “ did you succeed in selling your gold ?”

“ Why, not zackley, Kernel,” replied the unfortunate man, as he picked himself out of the ruins of the demolished barrel ; “[1] you see, the boys over yonder gave me a kind o’ insult, and I wouldn’t have nothing to do with ‘em no more.”

“ I should think so, from the looks of your face ; you’ve been blacked.”

He passed his hands over his face, then gazed ruefully on them—

“ But word spake he never.”

The marks of the patent blacking, so recently applied, were, alas, but too visible.

“ And I think you deserve it, for going about trying to sell old brass for gold.”

“ B-b-b-b-r-a-s-s !” The air in the tent grew thick and heavy ; he felt a choking sensation ; his heart seemed to shiver and shrink ; all things were whirling around him ; he rushed into the open air—his golden dreams had vanished—for ever !

He skulked into his rude tent, and strove to hide his misery—in the straw which formed his bed. He endeavored to remove the marks of his disgrace with soap and water. All would not do ; he was absent at evening roll call ; the trick which had been played him would soon be universally known, and the camp would be too hot to hold him. And so it was.

In the dead silence of the night, when the camp-fires were smouldering away, and the solitary sentinel walked his lonely round, there was heard a voice from one extremity of the camp, crying—

“ Who—got—blacked ?”

And a deep sepulchral voice, with a prolonged note, like the groanings of an evil spirit, the howlings of a moon-baying dog, or the cry of a sleepy watchman, replied from the other end—

“ Bris—sen—tine !”

Thence until the peep of dawn might be heard the watch-words—“ Who got blacked ?” And the reply was always “ Brissentine !” [2]

Next morning my hero was entered on the sick list, that last refuge for cowards, idlers, and just such men as Brissentine, and sent to the hospital in Columbus.

And now, dear reader, my candle burneth low in the socket ; the last cloud from my cigar hath passed away, and those embodied devils, the moschitoes, are taking advantage of the same ; I have labored hard for your amusement (?), and am very tired. I will light my “ precious Havanna,” and look upon the lady moon, who comes peeping through the vines around my window, as though she were indeed that modest maiden poets would have us believe she is. Allow me to wish you a very good night—may you have golden dreams, and live to realize them, is the fervent prayer of


Irwinton, (Ala.), Aug. 17, 1840.

Source: New York Spirit of the Times 10.37 (14 November 1840): 438-39. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text omits quotation mark.
[2] Footnote in original: This was a common method of driving troublesome or unpopular fellows away from the camp—no man in the world could stand it.

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