STEPHEN H. BRANCH’S ALLIGATOR. 7
STEPHEN H. BRANCH’S FAREWELL TO HIS COUNTRY. 10
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, OF 1855. 12
[Illustration: STEPHEN H. BRANCH’S ALLIGATOR. Volume I.—No. 1.] SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 1858. [Price 2 Cents.]
[From the New York Herald, of 1849.]
CHAGRES, NEW GRANADA, Jan. 2, 1849.
_James Gordon Bennett_: We left New York amid the huzzas of friends, who bade us a most affectionate adieu. The passengers are from every section of the Union. There are men of talent and high integrity among us. The emigrants in the Crescent City have never been excelled, always excepting the Pilgrim Fathers. On leaving the Pier, I noticed but two females, who waved their handkerchiefs most gracefully, and imparted their sweetest smiles. The stewardess is the only female on board, who is a legion, and has contributed much to make us happy. Extraordinary harmony has prevailed. All are armed to the teeth, which warns us to respect each other. I have not heard an unfriendly word since I left New York, nor seen a wry face, save off Cape Hatteras and while crossing the Gulf Stream in the trough of the sea, with the wind blowing very hard. Christmas was the sickest and saddest day of my life. Tho Crescent was a perfect hospital. All were sick, including some of the boat’s officers, and extending even to the crew. On the first day out, the knives and forks rattled like hail, but on Christmas, hardly a man made his appearance at table. Such sighs and groans, and anathemas of gold—such longing for friends, and home and safety, and such contortions as on that unhappy Christmas, I have never seen. A countryman staggered up and down the cabin, solemnly vociferating that he had vomited a fragment of his liver, and that he must soon die, and bade us all a most doleful farewell, and besought us to kindly remember him to his wife and children. But the surgeon came and analysed his apparently ejected liver, which proved to be a huge junk of beef which he swallowed the day previous, without mastication. The same verdant genius asked the Captain, during the awful gale, what he would charge to turn round and take him back to New York. The Captain screamed, and swallowed a large cud of tobacco, and seized a handspike and threatened to dash the countryman’s brains upon the deck if he didn’t go below. Amid the horrors of the hurricane, the gentle and courageous stewardess gave us gruel, for which we rewarded her with a purse of gold. The tempest was terrible. The ocean mountains smote the frantic clouds, and the snowy spray of the ocean vales resembled lakes of glittering silver. The Crescent’s stern was mutilated, the bulwarks stove, the wheel-house injured, and a man washed into the precarious sea, who was miraculously rescued by four daring men, whom I trust the Humane Society will reward for their extraordinary courage and humanity. His preservation caused much joy on board, and those who saved him have been lions since. When 700 miles from Chagres, the thermometer was 95 in the shade on deck, and in the sun or cabin the heat was almost intolerable. The intense heat made us stare, and wonder what was in store for us when we first mounted the fiery steed of the equator. Some of the passengers were very languid, and gasped for breath like Peytona when leading Fashion a span on the fourth heat. Chagres is the Five Points in miniature, consisting of the very dregs of filth, squalid penury and human degradation. I have been reading Blunt’s Coast Pilot, and found on page 476 the following consolatory narrative of Chagres and its fatal harbor, from the pen of Captain G. Sidney Smith, of Her Majesty’s sloop Bastard: “Chagres is more sickly than the same latitude on the coast of Africa. The bar of Chagres harbor has two and a-half fathoms on it at low water. The entrance is rather difficult, and at all times requires a fair wind, but when in you are perfectly safe. (O, me! O, Jonah!) I would not recommend its being entered if the measure could possibly be avoided, or suffer the boats to be there at night. It is, perhaps, the most unhealthy place known. The Bastard’s cutter was, by stress of weather, obliged to stay at night in the harbor. The consequent loss was a Lieutenant and seven men. Only one of the number attacked recovered. This happened between the 27th and 30th of November, 1827.” We approached Chagres this morning, amid torrents of rain. The land for 20 miles was high and undulating, with occasional bluffs towering high above the general elevation, and rocks some distance from the shore. The American Consul arrived to-day, at Chagres, and in crossing the Isthmus sunk into the mud nearly up to his hat, mule and all. There are about 50 huts at Chagres, with a population of about 300. An alligator snapped at our boat, near Moro Castle, while approaching the shore, and we learn that the banks of the river are literally covered with hideous reptiles. The Castle is very dilapidated, and about 200 years old, and has within its dismal walls some 80 brass pieces, with no soldiers, and a family of natives. A large sample of all the abominable reptiles with which these fatal latitudes abound, lurk within and around it. Board at Chagres is $5 per day, in a common hut. We are about to draw lots for the first opportunity of ascending the river. I shall endeavor to be faithful in my narratives, during my entire pilgrimage. Adieu.
STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
LATOON, twelve miles from Chagres, 6, P. M., in the doorway of a hut.
_James Gordon Bennett_: Four of us left Chagres, at 12, M., to-day, in a canoe about 25 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 18 inches deep. Our average weight is 160 pounds. We have three boatmen averaging 140 pounds each. Our baggage weighs about 800 pounds—total, 1,860 pounds. In high water, as now, in consequence of heavy rains, the oarsmen paddle against a current of six miles. Our canoe has a thatch covering composed of bamboo leaves and canvass. You cannot sit upright with a hat on, in the canoe, but must lie or rest on your elbow. The thatch roof is about two feet six inches from the bottom of the canoe, and about eight feet long, under which four of us sit and lie in a most uncomfortable position, with the air very close, and ants, and white, green and red spiders, and gallinippers, crawling all over us, with alligators snapping at us occasionally (when we look over the sides of the canoe), with now and then a hideous water snake leaping into the canoe, when nearly on its beam ends. The rain has poured in torrents since we left, and after “_tea_,” (good heavens! what tea!) at the house, or hut, or hog-pen, of one of our boatmen, at Latoon, embark for the night on our journey towards Gorgona, Cruces and Panama. The equator children are yelling and squalling in the contiguous huts; the pigs are squealing; the hens and ducks cackling, and the reptiles on the banks of the river are breathing the most frightful sounds. Before me is Jamaica rum, cocoa nuts, oranges, lemons, sugar-cane and other poisonous substances, which my companions have eaten, and one of them has already had the gripes. Latoon has some 20 huts. From Chagres to this place I saw three or four residences on rising ground, one of which, contrasted with the dismal scenery of the Chagres, looked rather pretty, which I espied while emerging from the most sepulchral views I ever beheld. Nearly all the fruits of the earth grow in wild luxuriance on the banks of the Chagres, and the atmosphere is the sweetest I ever inhaled—fragrant even unto poison. Birds of all hues and of all climes assemble here, and fill the air with the most delightful music. And yet, with all this to cheer the traveler of these burning zones, the rain, sun, currents, shadows and malaria, and anacondas large as trees, and the ceaseless chattering of monkeys, and growls of panthers, and snaps of alligators, render the Chagres the most infernal river in the world. This is called the dry season, and, so far, it has rained or poured about twelve times a day. The lightning is so vivid and incessant as to produce the most brilliant, yet frightful illumination of the scenery and atmosphere, and the thunder sounds like the crash of ten thousand worlds. But I must close, as I now embark on my solemn journey for the night.—Adieu,
STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
In my canoe, on the Chagres, Jan 4, 1849.
Our supper, last night, consisted of rice and a stew of bad meat, with a sprinkling of all the fruits I have yet seen in Grenada. I smelt, but did not eat a particle. My comrades ate freely, and they look blue this morning. The natives poison rats with goat milk and pine apple combined, or with bananas and brandy. Either of these combinations will kill a man in about one hour, so I guess I shall keep a bright guard on what goes into my belly, which is rather loose and gripy to-day. To continue long wet is a matter of death in these latitudes, and if the bowels begin to degenerate, you must say your orisons immediately. A native died one hour before our arrival, during the fifth shake of fever and ague. On reaching the canoe, last evening, to embark, we bailed it out, chopping up and casting overboard some dozen water-snakes, that had got into the canoe while at tea. Last night was the hardest I ever passed. It rained very hard. The monkeys chattered in droves of thousands. Our boatmen sang the most doleful songs all night. Bull frogs rent the air with their discordant sounds; the snakes hissed, and the alligators brought their jaws together so fiercely, as to make even the forest tremble. Amid this frightful scene, with the thermometer at 97°, pent up in the veriest cubby hole you ever saw, where we could not move or turn over without endangering our lives by upsetting the canoe—it was altogether a night of extreme suffering to us all. We stopped at about two this morning, at a hut on the borders of the river, where being very sleepy, we took lodging for two hours, for which, with three cups of coffee, we gave $1 50, and departed at about five o’clock. Our bed was a piece of cloth spread on a bamboo floor, with a pillow about one foot long and six inches wide. It was the funniest pillow I ever saw, and we had hard work to keep our heads upon it. When the natives supposed we were asleep, I heard some of the rascals whispering about our assassination, and I awoke my comrade from a profound snore with a severe pinch and scratch with my long nails, when the glistening of our weapons, and a whisper between ourselves, and a slight movement towards arising amid the total darkness, scattered the cowardly assassins back to their hammocks, when we arose, and descended the ladder stairs, and paid our bill, and went to our canoe. The males and females nearly all smoke, and men, women, and children are nearly in a state of nature. Their apparel costs them very little, and the green earth affords them, without cultivation, every species of vegetable and animal production.
STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
GORGONA, Jan 5, 1849. [5½ A. M.]
_James Gordon Bennett_: I thank God that I have arrived at this infernal place, because it is the least odious of all the mud holes between this and Chagres. Ours was the first canoe into Gorgona. Money made our men work for their lives. We are about to take breakfast on the shore, and then pass on to Cruces, and will, doubtless be the first canoe in, and then we will try our luck over the mountains to Panama. We have had a truly awful time. The current ran against us in some places at the rate of eight miles, and we came near upsetting several times. The thermometer is 99 this morning. I must close and run to the canoe. I will write you when I get to Panama, but doubt if you will get my letters, as every thing is uncertain. I have not eaten for twenty-two hours, and have been lying wet in my canoe nearly ever since I left Chagres. My health is good, but irregularity, fatigue, and loss of sleep, affect me adversely, but I shall strive to vanquish all impediments. I have acquired more practical knowledge of animate and inanimate nature, since I left you, than I have attained in all my travels, but I have paid dearly for my information. Poor Columbus, Vespucius, Robinson Crusoe, and Daniel Boon are constantly before my vision, with whom I can truly sympathise, being like them, a pioneer in the exploration of the Western Hemisphere, and its adjacent isles. I could drop a tear to-day, my feelings are so extremely pensive, and yet I wont, but, if necessary, I’ll yet brave tigers in their dens. So, good bye.
STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
PANAMA, NEW GRENADA, Sunday, Jan. 17, 1849.
_James Gordon Bennett_: This being a very interesting locality of the globe, at this time, I will strive to transmit daguerreotype views of what transpires. I stopped at Cruces one night, where several died, whose graves were dug by the natives (just below the earth’s surface,) with little sticks and earthern bowls, which is the custom of the country. In one case, the grave was not dug long enough, and the neck was broken by turning the head over on the breast. I found several American officers at Cruces, under the command of General Persifer F. Smith, who had proceeded to Panama. Finding no mules in Cruces, I wandered alone in the swamps in pursuit of one, amid rain, lightning and thunder that shook the deep foundations of the earth, and made the alligators show their hideous jaws. Through a flash of lightning, I discovered a muletteer in the dark and deep perspective, with whom, by signs and grim contortions, I contracted for a mule. The tempest twilight passed, and the mild equator stars emerged from their mysterious depths, and guided myself and muletteer from the dismal swamp. I learn from a passenger who has just entered my apartment at the Americano, that three emigrants were buried last night in the mountains. Two more are supposed to be dying at the French hotel. God only knows where all this will end. An aged passenger entered the gate of the city about three hours since, whose locks were as white as the untrodden snow, crying, with uplifted arms: “My children! my children! O God! restore my beloved children.” He looked and enacted the character of Lear more perfectly than I had ever seen it. The snow that fell on Grandfather Whitehead and poor old Lear, were only wanting to make it the most harrowing scene I ever witnessed. But unfortunately, it has not snowed on the equator, since the advent of creation. The old man’s children arrived about an hour since, and I had the pleasure of bathing the father of the flock with brandy, which revived and exhilarated him, and made him dance before me quite a reel. The old fellow really danced wonderfully; I think I never saw a man of his years step round so lively, alter I washed his exterior, and especially his interior, with sparkling brandy. The old man has just told me that a person went from his canoe into a thicket on the Chagres, and shot a monkey, when all his tribe began to chatter wildly, and drop from the trees upon him, and stole his hat, and scratched, and hit him severely, and finally, about 400 monkeys chased him into the Chagres, where he had to swim for his life until he was rescued by his comrades. Although my brandy has made the old man extremely loquacious and facetious, yet I believe his monkey story is as reliable as my snake and alligator narratives.
(To be continued.)
Stephen H. Branch’s Alligator.
NEW YORK, SATURDAY APRIL 24 1858.
Like Adam and Eve at the hymeneal altar, contemplating the interminable generations of sinners; like Noah surveying the horrors of the deluge; like Julius Cæsar projecting the passage of the Rubicon; like the Christians braving the persecutions of the Jews; like William Tell, with his bow and quiver, hurling defiance at Gesler in the mountain gorges of Switzerland; like the great Columbus going into a midnight storm in untraversed latitudes; like the supernatural Washington going into battle, on whose consummation the liberty of the human race impends; like Napoleon at Helena reviewing his wondrous reign; like Andre and poor Orsini going to the scaffold, amid the tears of their countrymen; and like the cheerful moon, in her ramble with romantic lovers through summer skies and groves of perfume, we calmly survey the horizon in our virgin advent of to-day, although we discern a snowy cloud that resembles the terrific monsoon. But as the impetuous sun darts through infinitude, we shall soon dash among the adversaries of integrity and patriotism, and be as merciless as Jackson to the robbers of the toiling masses, or to the cruel Indians, or to British tyrants.
We have exhibited some old wares to-day, because a tried article, like a winter friend, wears well. We did not deem it necessary to italicise article and wears. And to be more specific in the Roman language, Alligators, Autobiography, William Tell, and Worms, can never expire, but be as eternal as the garments of nature.
Senator David C. Broderick challenged us to fight a duel in 1848, and Congressman John B. Haskins brought the challenge. The law might cage us if we acknowledged our acceptance of the challenge, but we will permit Broderick or Haskins to declare if we stained the mantles of Green and Perry of Rhode Island, whose gorgeous canopy we first beheld.
We shall soon give sketches of President Buchanan, Mayor Tiemann, Comptroller Flagg, members of the Common Council, the Supervisors, Ten Governors, Commissioners of Record, Education, and Emigration, and of our New York editorial brethren, including their Secretaries. James Watson Webb being the eldest, we may start with him. We shall also sketch the lives of the newspaper venders, and give those the most immortal characters who sell the most of our Alligators.
TO THE METROPOLITAN POLICE.—A large reward will be paid to the policemen who will prove by affidavits, or the poll lists, that Chief Matsell, the Corporation Counsel, Register, County Clerk, or Corporation Attorney, have voted for municipal, state, or national officers, since the promulgation of our Brandon Report, on the aliens of both hemispheres. As the County Clerk and Corporation Attorney are formidable candidates for Comptroller, it is important to know if they have been naturalized. We will bet they have not.
Correspondents will address Stephen H. Branch through the Post Office, whose editorial room will be in a house, whose floor is the green earth, and whose ceiling is the glittering dome of Heaven, until his patronage will enable him to hire commodious apartments in the central business portion of the city.
Our warm and graceful salutations to the editors of New York, who clung to us in adversity, whom we will love forever.
A PUFF OF MERIT WITHOUT CHARGE.—William W. Britt engraved our Alligator, whose widespread jaws speak for themselves in tones of thunder.
Advertisements are ONE DOLLAR a line. The overshadowing Bonner cannot have a page, lest he shoot the Alligator with our wadding.
We shall have no pictures for premature children, save the omnipotent Alligator, who can devour a lion, or swallow, an eagle without contortion.
The withered grass of Kansas not admitted in the jaws of the _Alligator_, lest it lacerate his bowels with black vomit.
Beware of alluring serpents in virtue’s paths, and save your money, and buy nourishment for your wives and children.
We shall commence, next week, the publication of Alfred Carson’s thunderbolts at the Common Council of 1850.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by STEPHEN H. BRANCH, In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
Life of Stephen H. Branch.
Mortals who write their lives are shy Of crimes that wound and make them sigh; But I’ll disclose my evil deeds, Although my heart in sorrow bleeds.
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, July 11, 1813, and am the second son of Stephen and Lucretia Branch. My mother was my father’s second wife. My father had four wives, the last of whom survives.
Historians are liars, and gild distinguished villains, whose political, religious, and military views harmonize with their own. Autobiographers are liars, and boast of virtues they never possessed, and conceal vices they always cultivated. I shall divulge the whole story of my funny and mournful career. I shall meander life’s comic and dismal stream, from the earliest recollections of childhood to the present hour, and moisten my manuscript with tears of mirth and sadness, as my capers and errors emerge from the mysterious realms of memory. As I advance, the retrospect of my freaks and follies may appal, but it shall not deter me from its proclamation to the present and coming generations. I desire to record my frivolities and foibles, that youth and age may avoid them as alligators, (with hideous jaws distended,) in hot pursuit of their affrighted victims up the embankments of the Chagres, and into the tallest trees.
I did not inherit my peccadilloes, as I cannot discover a notorious sinner among my ancestors for nearly two centuries. My father was one of the purest men I ever knew, and his deeds are inscribed on the archives of Rhode Island, in letters that can never be effaced. Although the minds of my parents had a beautiful symmetry, yet I can trace my eccentricity to their parents, who were as strange as Diogenes in his tub, or Zantippe in the streets of Athens torturing poor Socrates.
Mrs. Grey was my first school-marm, and Mr. Hill my first school-master, followed by Miss Latham, Mr. Shaw, Pettis, Osborne, Record, Hammond, Gregg and Ainsworth, all of whom I terribly tormented. Although my mother died before I was seven years old, yet I remember the trouble I gave her, and how I cried when the messenger came to the school-house, and told me of her sudden death, and how my father and aunt Lucy wept on my arrival home. My father’s third wife was my first step-mother, and although she was very kind, yet there was a melancholy vacuum in my home, and at eight years old, I sought diversion at the circus and theatre, and resolved to be a circus-rider, and ground and lofty tumbler. But a fall from my horse while standing on one leg, and serious bruises while striving to turn summersets, disgusted me with the circus, and I determined to be an actor, and carried the wardrobes of the actors to and from the theatre, for which I was admitted free. But my father heard of it, and told me not to visit the theatre again. But I went, and he gently whipped me. On the next night, brother Albert accompanied me to the theatre, and while I was wildly screaming at the Dromios, father entered the pit and seized me, amid the convulsions of the audience and actors. On arriving home, he took us down cellar, and began to rope Albert, who instantly bellowed: “O, my salt rheum! O, spare my salt rheum!” Father then grabbed me, and I cried: “O, my boils! O, spare my boils!” when he roped me in a fresh spot, and did not cease until he gave me my own chastisement and Albert’s too, and I never let Ally go with me to the theatre again, as my own licking was about as much as I could endure. But I derided father’s castigation, and the following night, I retired at nine o’clock to my bed-room, in the second story, and tied a rope to the bed-post, and, at the peril of my life, descended the house fronting the yard, and went to the theatre, and about midnight ascended the house, and hauled in the rope, and went to bed. In about a week, John Horsewell got locked out, and I invited him to ascend the rope and sleep with me, to which he readily assented. In the morning, I did not rise at my usual hour, and father came to ascertain the cause, when he heard John Horsewell snoring like thunder under my bed. He looked, and discovered John, and grabbed him by the hair, and spanked him most awfully, and while spanking poor John, I jumped from the bed, and seized my clothes, and ran down stairs, and did not stop until I got into the barn, where I dressed myself, and went to school without my breakfast. After school, I prowled around the house until father left for his place of business, and then went into the house and ate my dinner. I took an early tea and went to bed; but father soon came home, and into my bed-room and severely spanked me, and struck me several times with the very rope with which I had descended and ascended the house, muttering something about one Haman of old, while he roped me. I then exchanged a top for a fishing-line, and told my brother William, that if he would tie one end of the line to his little toe, and throw the other out of the window, so that I could pull it and arouse him from his midnight slumber, to softly unlock the door and let me in after the theatrical performance, that I would let him tie the fishing-line to my little toe on alternate nights while he went to the theatre. This plot was successful for about two weeks, when some boys on their return from night-school, came into our yard to get some water from our well. After one of the boys had enjoyed a delicious draught of water from our bucket, his keen eyes rested on the plummet at the end of the fishing-line, which he seized, and began to pull without success, when he jerked it so hard, as to snap the line, with cries of fire and murder in the second story. Himself and little comrades seized their scholastic lanterns, and scampered for their lives. One of them was caught by a faithful watchman and brought into our yard, when my father escorted them up stairs, where brother William was weltering in blood that flowed from his toe and nose, and from bruises he received while running and tumbling over chairs and tables, and other bed-room utensils, when the boy gave his last terrible jerk of the fish-line. The boy and watchman now departed, and father put salve on William’s toe, and checked the copious effusion of blood from his nose, and bathed his wounds with water and apple-jack, and put him to bed with a solitary but tremendous spank, with a promise of more when his dislocated toe was set and healed. Father then took his ambush position in the yard, and awaited my arrival from the theatre. I softly opened and closed the gate, and while feeling for the plummit, he suddenly grabbed me, and nearly scared me into the eternal world. He then led me into the barn, and illuminated the stable lantern, and took off my pants, and spanked me with the curry-comb until the blood spurted in his face, and the horse snorted and kicked him so hard that he had to arouse and send brother Albert for a surgeon to dress the fearful wound. I always blessed the humane and intelligent old horse for kicking father, and thus saving my blood and bones, and I so intensely loved the noble animal, that I stole father’s oats, and fed him until he got so fat that I dared not give him more lest his belly would explode, and the oats fall out, and my theft be discovered. After my last trouncing, I became disgusted with the theatre, and resolved to go no more to witness such nonsense. Soon afterwards, I told John Horsewell that for a dozen marbles, I would give him some of my father’s corn, that would parch as white as snow, and as round as hail,
And would pop as high As the pretty sky.
John assented, and we went up stairs to the attic, where father kept his corn. John brought his father’s rainy hat, so that he could get much corn, and while I was filling it, I heard footsteps on the lower stairs that closely resembled father’s. John’s hat was about half full, and when I put it on his head, it sunk so far as to require both his hands to keep it above his eyes. We met father on the garret stairs, when John boldly looked up into his face, (with corn pouring down over both ears,) and gravely exclaimed: “Mr. Branch, I aint got no corn.” Father uplifted the hat, and down went about two quarts of horse corn on poor John’s head. I crawled between father’s legs, and was at the bottom of two pairs of stairs in about two strides, and away I flew to the woods, about two miles distant, and did not return for two days, fearing that father would murder me for stealing corn so soon after my rope and fishing-line, and theatrical operations. When I next saw John, he complained of a sore back and legs, and declared that father grabbed and wrenched a handful of his posterior pants clean off, and tore hair enough from his skull to render it slightly bald. I trembled at this intelligence, but I got cold and hungry, and went home to take my licking, but my step-mother was ill, and she ardently plead my cause, and father forgave me.
(_To be continued._)
Stephen H. Branch’s Farewell to his Country.
[From the New York Daily Times, of 1856.]
Although I have traveled all over the globe, and have no desire to rove again, yet I am constrained to forever leave my beloved country. You may not mourn over my departure, but I leave you with painful emotions and apprehensions. I would linger, and toil, and die among you, but your fanaticism drives me to foreign skies. The noble deeds of my father and his sires are inscribed on the civil and military archives of Rhode Island, whose virtues I would imitate and consecrate to the glory of my whole country; but your reckless tendency towards disunion, with all its horrors, forces me to abjure my native land, and the hallowed tomb erected by my lamented father for the eternal repose of his immediate posterity. Go on, then, ye fanatics and devils of all sections, to your hearts’ content, in your apostacy to the living and departed patriots of your distracted and divided country. Stop not until your wives and children run wild through streets and fields of blood, and this whole land is a pile of bleeding and burning ruins. Go on ye incarnate fiends in your bloody enterprise, until the mounds of your fathers are divested of their fragrant verdure, and are trampled by foreign marauders, who wildly gloat over your impending suicide. An irresistible horde of demagogues and vampires, and fanatics and lunatics, are at the throats of the American patriots, and threaten them with strangulation and utter annihilation. Go on, then, ye demons of hell, and tear to fragments the glorious Constitution that was created by Washington, Greene, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Warren, Franklin, Adams, Lafayette and Kosciusko, and nobly defended by Jackson, Perry, Taylor, Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Harrison, Grogan, Decatur, (and the living Scott), whose sighs and tears, and expiring energies, were consecrated to its eternal duration. Go on, then, ye slimy vultures, in your ruthless desecration of their graves, until despotic soldiers line our streets and frontiers, and stab the patriots who breathe the enchanting word of liberty. Go on, I say, in your inhuman sacrilege, but I will fly to Switzerland, in whose deep mountain glades I will strive to efface that I was born and reared among the gang of consummate fools and knaves who now level their rifles at the race of noble birds that have graced the American skies for nearly a hundred years. Go on, then, ye dastard traitors, in your bloody demolition, but I will go and live and die in the land of WILLIAM TELL, whose fair posterity evince a purer fidelity to their remotest ancestors, than those pernicious monsters whose infernal madness will soon surrender the bones of WASHINGTON and JACKSON to the despots of Europe, whose shafts they foiled, until they went down, with tottering footsteps, into their immortal graves. Farewell, then, ye crazy parricides—farewell, ye BURRS and ARNOLDS—and when you have consigned your deluded countrymen to all the horrors of anarchy and eternal despotism, think of the humble admonitions of one who, rather than behold the downfall of his beautiful and glorious country, sought peace, and succor, and a mausoleum in the mountains of Switzerland, once traversed by WILLIAM TELL and his gallant archers, who created a love of liberty that has survived the flight of centuries, and which can never be subdued by foes without, nor fools within, her borders. In my voluntary exile, I will implore God to visit you with His displeasure, through the withering curses of your children, and their posterity to the remotest age, for destroying the liberties of their country, which you should bequeathe to them as they came to you from your illustrious fathers, whose sacred and silent ashes you dare not visit and contemplate at this fearful crisis, amid the pure and tranquil solitudes of the patriotic dead lest the memory of their heroic deeds and sacrifice should remind you of your hellish treason, and paralyze your hearts, and smite your worthless bodies to the dust, and consign your pallid livers to undying torture. Although these admonitions are inscribed in tones of burning scorn, yet they emanate from a bosom that glows with love for my bewildered countrymen. And my last request is, that every patriotic father will gather his little flock around him at evening shades, and read this parting admonition in a clear and feeling voice, and then kneel before the God of nations, and implore Him to preserve their liberties, with a blessing on the humble author of this production, in his unhappy seclusion in a distant land. I would write more, but gushing tears blind my vision, and swell my heart with dying emotions.
Affectionately, STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
New York, May 30, 1856.
[From the New York Times, of 1855.]
Stephen H. Branch on Worms,—The Vermicular Theory of Greatness.—Subdued Sea-Serpents—Alligators Outdone—Look out for a Rise in the price of Vermifuges.
To the Editor of the New York Daily Times:
Some men donate or construct public and private institutions for the public applause while living, while others write the sunny side of their lives from motives of fame and accumulation. I shall leave both sides of my career for the historian after I have departed for the spirit land.
Since my return from Europe, with the Brandon Register, with little Georgy Matsell recorded therein, (as having been baptised and received into the Church in 1811, which corresponds with his own oath before the Police Committee, that he was born in 1811—stick a pin here,)—I have been violently assailed by journals in the Matsell interest, published on the Five Points, who attack me for sins committed while I had a superabundance of mischievous worms in youth and early manhood, and while I was scattering wild oats rather profusely over my father’s field.
No man lives who would not gladly efface every oat he sowed during the fervors and exhilerations of boyhood and early manhood. But the deliberate perjury of full-grown manhood can only be effaced through long years of retired and tearful contrition. By unceasing supplication, the wilderness may ultimately hide from scorn the cool and premeditated perjurer; but no man exists who would not blot from the living and eternal records whole rows of wild oat hillocks; and no infant who has not premature teeth, to bite and snarl at their nurses, and to scream and raise Beelzebub all night—and no boy who does not have a profusion of worms, and a nature literally suffused with sharp vinegar and aqua-fortis, with two or three little devils in his stomach—no infant or boy without these hateful qualities ever make much stir in the world. And if, in the morning of life, we do not reflect Vesuvius in our eyes, and belch lava and brimstone from our mouths, we seldom effect much in the great scuffle of life, and go down to our graves with Miss Nancy inscribed at the head and tail of our grassy mounds.
Man, like a horse, must have mettle, and plenty of it, with an immense bottom, or he cannot expect to contend with the fiery steeds of the turf and the forum. And, above all, a man must have a crop or two of worms at 40. All men have more worms in their bellies than they are aware of, (or their physicians, either,) and some have quarts.
But they must not keep the old crop too long. Worms must come and go with the seasons, or they will produce incarcerated wind, which often produces apoplexy and paralysis. Nervous dyspepsia also arises from an old crop of worms and a pent-up atmosphere. 1 got rid of eleven worms, ten inches long, about two years since, and I have been losing my energy and courage ever since. I caught the rascals thus: While in a bath-room one day, I saw something very mysterious. I applied a lighted cigar to its head or tail, (for it was sharp at both ends,) and I observed a slight movement. I touched it at the other end, and it moved in an opposite direction. I then struck a match, which I applied to its middle, when, lo! it was a worm, and alive and kicking. It died in about two minutes by Shrewsbury clock. I began immediately to take worm seed, and the following day I discovered five worms, one of which was tied in a perfect knot. The last worm I discovered was very small, which satisfied me that it was the last of his race. I think I always had whole generations of worms up to this last little scamp, and I kept him to transmit to my posterity. For, when coming home from school one day, I pulled on a worm until I could pull no longer, and got another boy to pull him entirely out. And when I beheld the monster on the ground, I ran home for my life, and before I got home, a thunder storm arose and terrified me almost to death.
Worms, doubtless, are the source of impulse. And impulsive persons have more or less worms, and never less than a pint. And very impulsive persons have not less than a quart. Matsell is nearly as fat as Daniel Lambert, and has about two gallons of colossal worms. And these miserable worms conquer us when living and dead. They have been my masters all my days. They have produced the dark spots in my history, over which I have dropped many a tear, and over which I shall weep until I get down into my extremely narrow and tranquil and undying abode.
Worms produce the evil in the history of all men, and yet they are prolific of infinite good. When they violently dart from extremity to extremity, and come up and look over the tongue, and dart back to the sweet bowels’ depths, and squirm most horribly for their regular food, a man swells with unconquerable fear, and can face the cannon’s mouth, and the devil himself, and people call him a courageous patriot,—when worms achieved every battle that was ever won. Napoleon had a most ungodly quantity of worms, and in their constant pecking at his liver, they finally produced a cancer of which he died. Worms did not start Patrick Henry’s eloquence until he was forty years old. Jackson, too, had worms, that made his eye flash like a rifle and his voice drown the cannon. Jackson’s worms, in early life, elicited a passion for horse-racing and cock-fighting, and caused such expressions as “by the Eternal.” But as soon as the worms left him he lost his nerve, and joined the Presbyterians. The worms of Julius Cæsar, at the verge of the Rubicon, were asleep over a hearty meal, but during his protracted contemplation of its passage, they suddenly awoke, and over he went with gigantic strides, and established Brandon, in the eastern counties of England, where little Georgy Matsell was born. Worms incarcerated Lafayette and Louis Napoleon, and worms made Eve tempt Adam, and Cain kill Abel, and are the source of the rise and fall of empires, and of all the good and evil that exist. And Shakspeare’s worms got hungry one day, and he went out on a poaching excursion, and thereby lost his honor, and had to fly from the dear scenes of his youth. But a fresh crop of worms, and their subsequent generations, directed a pen that will entwine his memory around and within the body, flesh, blood, bones and marrow of the solitary being who beholds the orbs of night and day forever close their brilliant eyes on a numerous, funny, and mysterious race of worms that have so long defaced, and polluted and crawled through earth, sea and air, leaving their nauseous slime behind.
Respectfully, STEPHEN H. BRANCH.
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—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.
—A Table of Contents was not in the original work; one has been produced and added by Transcriber.