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For this he still lives on, careless of all
The wreaths that glory on his path lets fall;
For this alone exists—like lightning fire,
To speed one bolt of vengeance—then expire. —Moore.
The man who permits Revenge to reign triumphant in his bosom, is in as miserable, and in a more dangerous situation than one who has the hydrophobia. He frequently becomes a murderer—thus two or more lives are sacrificed, instead of one—disease destroys the latter; the murderous hand and the gallows destroy the others. Hydrophobia warns, and enables us to guard against danger; revenge strikes in the dark, without notice. The former paralyzes the mental powers by its paroxysms, and is excusable—the latter produces rage as violent, aided by increased mental vigor to plan and execute, aggravating criminality. The one is sometimes cured by medicine—the latter, only by sacrifice. The one is communicated; the other, an inherent passion, indulged without excuse. The one has its moments of repose at intervals; the other preys upon the mind like a Promethean vulture. The course of Revenge is right onward; it follows the object of its vengeance with the perseverance of a lion, and is held in check only by self love, based upon the first law of nature, self preservation. The dread of punishment for overt acts of violence, is the most powerful shield, to guard us from the attacks of Revenge. Self love, not the most amiable passion of our nature, creates fear, which, like the safety valve of a steam engine, regulates the steam generated by Revenge. Were it not for this wise provision of our Creator, we should have an increased and increasing number of explosions in society, retaliation would increase resentment, acts of violence would be multiplied, anarchy would mount its discordant throne, peace and order would cease. A conflagration would be produced in the moral world, which, like a fire in the natural, would increase the wind, and this would give a tenfold impetus to the fire. Revenge rests only in the bosom of fools. Hence the benefits arising from laws punishing wrongs and crimes, if faithfully administered, and not paralyzed by an injudicious exercise of the pardoning power.
Like all other bad passions, the fruits of Revenge are bitter—its projectile force recoils on its projector; like the scorpion enclosed within a circle of fire, it stings itself to death. Like other vile passions, it can and should be subdued—no man should permit the sun to go down upon his wrath. By kindness and forgiveness we may obtain a far more glorious and triumphant victory over our enemies, and enjoy the unspeakable happiness of obeying the precept, and imitating the example of our immaculate Redeemer, who closed his earthly career, praying his Father in Heaven to forgive his murderers, for they knew not what they did.
Revenge produces a maniac insanity, and converts its victims into demons, exposing them to danger, and rendering them dangerous in community. It is a burning fire, searing all the noblest powers of the soul.
A SCRAP OP AMERICAN HISTORY.
Many of the bold and daring feats of the "times that tried men's souls," have escaped the historian's pen, and are only known to the relatives and acquaintances of those who were the acting heroes of many thrilling adventures and daring deeds. As they fall by the ruthless hand of death, the corroding tooth of time robs their history of its richest features, and but a faint tribute is paid to their merits by after generations.
The animated countenance, the strong emotion, the trembling voice, the bending frame, the furrowed cheek, the heaving bosom, the silent tear, of an old soldier; impart an interest to his story that no pen can portray, no eloquence imitate. His adventures, his toils, his sufferings, his hair-breadth escapes, his struggles for victory and liberty; are all indelibly imprinted on his mind, and are ever fresh in his recollection. His patriotic feelings expire only with life; his soul is enraptured with the same enthusiasm, that impelled the heroes of '76 to break the chains of slavery, and drive from our country the last vestige of kingly power. His memory is on the wing, and runs back, with lightning quickness, and grasps the scenes of the Revolution, as if they had occurred but yesterday. His relation of "battles fought and victories won," is enlivened by the fascinating charms of a pure original, producing an impression upon his listeners, more chaste and enchanting, than can be imparted by the ablest pen, or most finished eulogist.
Among the veterans of the American Revolution were two noble and brave spirits, whose thrilling stories were deeply impressed on my mind when a boy. Unconnected with the army, called to protect the new settlements in a confined interior, their names were not entered upon the public roll, and have not appeared upon the historic page. Their services and fame were known, and highly appreciated by those around them, and their memories are still held in high veneration in my native neighborhood, where their bones lie, beneath the clods of the valley.
Their names were Harper and Murphy, the latter an Irishman. They were among the pioneers who settled at the head of the Delaware river, which rises from a fountain of pure water, called by the Indians, lake Utstayantho. Around this lake is a small valley, then the central rendezvous of the savage tribes, whose walks extended from the Mohawk in the north, far down the Delaware, Lackawaxen, Lackawana, and the Susquehanna, in the south. It was an isolated spot, surrounded by mountains and hills; covered with lofty pines, and a variety of evergreens. Its scenery was romantic and beautiful; formed by nature for a retreat, such as the rude children of the forest suppose the Great Spirit delights to dwell in.
For years, perhaps for centuries, the lords of the forest built their council fires in the amphitheatre of Utstayantho. There they manufactured their stone pots, their flint arrow points, and their bows. There they smoked the pipe of peace, performed the terrific war dance, and tortured their unfortunate prisoners. There they saluted the white man as brother, and murdered him as a foe. There, many of their boldest warriors fell, beneath the avenging hand of the enraged inhabitants. There, I first drew my vital breath, there I grew to manhood, there I have ploughed up the bones of those who were slightly buried; and there I have often listened to the tale that follows.
At the commencement of the American Revolution, the Indian tribes in that section of country, were influenced by two tories, Brandt and McDonald, to enlist in favor of the British. Their tomahawks and scalping knives were soon bathed in the blood of mothers and babes, as well as in that of husbands and fathers. In the spring of '77, they murdered several families, and took a number of prisoners. Among the latter, were Harper and Murphy. As these were the leading men of the settlement, it was decided to take them down the Delaware about sixty miles, to an Indian station, then called Aquago, now Deposit. They were put in charge of eleven warriors, who started with their victims, pinioned and bound. The second night, fatigued with their march, they all laid down before a fire, and the savages were soon soundly asleep. A supply of rum during the day, and a hearty drink as they stretched themselves out to sleep, rendered their stupor more complete than it otherwise would have been. This opportunity could not pass unimproved by such men as Harper and Murphy. Although closely wedged between the Indians, they rose so cautiously as not to awake them. They soon relieved each other from the bark thongs with which their arms were bound, and hesitated, for a moment, whether to flee, or attempt to despatch the cruel foes. They quickly decided upon the latter; removed the arms to some distance, and, with tomahawk in hand, commenced the fearful work. Each