Item of the Day: The Foresters, an American Tale (1834)
Full Title: The Foresters, an American Tale: Being a Sequal to the History of John Bull the Clothier in a Series of Letters to a Friend. Exeter: Ulman & Jefferds, 1834.
[Continued from Letter II. of Belknap’s The Foresters—Peregrine’s soliloquy]
“So much for traveling! Abused by Bull, cheated by Frog, what am I at last come to? Here I am alone, no creature but bears, and wolves, and such vermin around me! Nothing in the shape of an human being that I know of, nearer than Pipeweed’s* plantation, and with him I cannot agree; he is so devoted to old Dame Bull that he and I cannot live together any more than I could with the old woman. But, why should I despair? That is unmanly; there is at least a possibility of my living here, and if I am disappointed in my worldly prospects, it is but right, for I professed not to have any. My wish was to have my own way without disturbance or contradiction, and surely I can here enjoy my liberty. I have nobody here to curse me, or kick me, or cheat me. If I have only clams to eat, I can cook them my own way, and say as long a grace over them as I please. I can sit or stand, or kneel, or use any other posture at my devotions, without any cross old woman to growl at me, or any hectoring bully to cuff me for it. So that if I have lost in one way I have gained in another. I had better therefore reconcile myself to my situation, and make the best of a bad market. But company is good! apropos! I will write to some of my fellow-apprentices; I know they were as discontented as myself in old Bull’s family, though they did not care to speak their minds as plainly as I did. I’ll tell them how much happiness I enjoy here in my solitude. I’ll point out to them the charms of liberty, and coax them to follow me into the wilderness; and by and by, when we get all together, we shall make a brave hand of it.” Full of this resolution, he sat down on a wind-fallen tree, and pulling out his inkhorn and paper, wrote a letter to John Codline, Humphrey Ploughshare, and Roger Carrier, three of his fellow-apprentices, informing them of the extreme happiness he enjoyed in having liberty to eat his scanty meals in his own way, and to lay his swelled ankles and stiff knee in whatever posture was most easy to him; conjuring them by their former friendship, to come to join him in carrying on the good work so happily begun, &c. &c. As soon as he had finished the letter, (which had deeply engaged his attention) a huntsman happened to come along in quest of game. This was a lucky circumstance indeed, for Peregrine had not once thought of a conveyance for his letter; it proved also favourable to him in another view, for the huntsman, taking pity on his forlorn situation, spared him some powder and shot, and a few biscuit which he happened to have in his pocket so taking charge of the letter, he delivered it as it was directed. . . .
*Sir Walter Raleigh.