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SOMETHING ABOUT MULES.
I HAVE determined to say a word for mules. This much-abused hybrid has great claims upon us, poor soldiers, who have been be-knapsacked into stoopshouldered misery. Oft do I look with feelings of mingled gratitude and admiration at the wiry little fellows, (Government always gets the small ones) as they lean forward, before the plethoric wagons, filled with camp equipage, rations, and knapsacks. Now a mule is not handsome, we all know, and yet there is a meditative expression of countenance about the animal that is decidedly attractive. There is, too, very often, a trusting look about the fellow, as he sets his goodly ears forward, and looks you straight in the face, that is quite overpowering. His voice, though not by any means sweet, has something about it which, being interpreted, means, that he does not mean to be obtrusive; but only to have a good time of it by himself generally.
To the close and attentive listener, it is nevertheless expressive, indicating most clearly its possessor's marked characteristics ; so much so, that we have named the different animals in our mule-train of the Thirteenth Ohio. We have the Belligerent Mule, the Defiant Mule, the Melancholy Mule, the Pathetic Mule, the Comic Mule, and so on to the end of the picket-rope chapter, with only here and there the exception of a voiceless fellow, who from some early disappointment, appears to have sealed his lips, and switched off into a philosophy which, let us hope, is as comforting as it is taciturn.
There is a positive element in his character, which is worthy of admiration. If he makes up his mind that he cannot pull a given load, he not only shows by his behavior that he cannot, but he adds his will to it, and settles himself back on his breeching with the most becoming resolution.
There is a most wonderful peculiarity in this despised quadruped, which by some strange sequence or other provokes profanity. From the days of Balaam and Horace - to say nothing of the nuns in Sterne -- down to the latest foraging expedition of the pious teamsters of our Kentucky regiments, it has been the invariable belief, that mule-driving can only prove successful by a plentiful sprinkling of otherwise wicked expletives in the vocabulary of the muleteer. And why should this be so ? Barring a sometimes annoying handling of the heels, the mule is docile in behavior. His objections to being mounted, expressed by an active and vigorous elevation of his fore and hinder parts in quick alternation, may be deemed naughty, but the humane mind will attach no criminality thereto.
Having alluded to the questionable points in his character, let me now revert to his many virtues; and first, he is frugal, his very make-up shows it. To his close-knit and wiry little frame there is no appendage of any superfluity of mane or tail. 'He just has plenty ;' while his great length of ears is given to him on well-established principles of acoustics. These too serve him gradually in varying the expression of his countenance, and indicating his varied emotions. Filled with hostile intentions, these are thrown backward, and down closely upon the neck; and his gradual return to good-humor, and even to love, is indicated by the straightening up of these indices of his feeling.
There is no extra fat about him; bone and muscle and brain are his principal constituent parts, and all these are useful. And if frugality is stamped upon his organism, it still more distinctly marks his habits. He will browse upon hazel-brush, and go willingly to his work, while the luxurious horse would succumb, and be worthless ; even a sea-grass rope, which will serve to tie a horse, and keep him in position until he starves to death, the self-preserving mule will quietly eat down, and then forage till he has eaten his fill of wagon-covers, or whatever coarse food happens within his meandering quest.
Were I admitted to apostrophise him, I would now say:
Go thou, strong, resolute, and economical animal ; ugly and much-abused, I have striven to vindicate thee; disturb no longer the silent hours of the night with your cries of injured innocence !
w. S. s.
THE SHIPS UPON THE SEA:
BY E. D. KNIGHTS,
Two ships were sailing on a summer sea
A stately frigate and a fair corvette
Wooing fair winds with all their canvas set.
Each signal made, displaying at the main
LOVE's ensign - blue, bestud with blushing hearts,
Steering by Hymen's wind and currents charts.
God speed them safe across life's fickle wave —
Now gently rippled by the fav’ring breeze.
Till peace sweet soothes the tempest-troubled seas.
His hand direct them o'er death's dangerous bar,
Unto that port where they shall find repose;
But all is joy — and ever softly blows
The perfume-laden breath of balmy gales
That waft rich music down the golden tide,
That by the flowery banks do constant glide.
LITER A R Y NOTICES.
UNDER-CURRENTS OF WALL-STREET. A Romance of Business. By RICHARD B. KIMBALL.
New-York: G. P. PUTNAM. 1862.
'Quid debemus super hoc ipsi respondere ?' What shall KNICK say of this romance which has for so many months added such strength to our pages and called forth such commendation as few men living would not be proud to earn ? Modesty becometh us, for verily it is like the praise of one's own child; yet we cannot be still when in our joy we see Wall-Street,' as we were wont to call it in the sanctum, encargoed into a book and trimly sailing along the tide of literature, brilliant and full of fair promise.
The comments of the press, and the opinions of many literary men of the highest standing, authorize us to declare that there is no romance as yet written, founded upon the strange events of business, which is to be compared with this of KIMBALL's. Others have been vivid - this is vivid and real. Others have been ingenious — this is ingenious and true. Some have been life-like in fine- this is the very life itself — thinking, speaking and breathing from the trials and troubles of the hour; one of those literal and earnest pictures of the time and age which will be referred to a century hence, as men refer to state charters for historical facts.
The extraordinary merit of the 'Under-Currents of Wall-Street' may, in fact, be summed up in its startling, extraordinary and terrible truthfulness. Men have written false autobiographies ; did any man ever write such a semblance of reality as this ? “Sir,' said HORACE GREELEY, in speaking lately in our presence of a series of well-written Southern sketches, 'I do not care whether the man who wrote them invented them or not, they are true, because they are true to life.' So we may say of this book, it is vividly true to life, and sets forth what every one will recognize as the most exquisitely though simply sketched scenes from a life with which scores of thousands are familiar, but of which few have read. And such being its characteristics, it is needless to say that it is absorbingly and wonderfully interesting.
We are glad that a new era is dawning in novel writing - the truthful. People are tired of romance, they want real life. The writers of every country have borrowed from the past and the foreign and the ideal, even to satiety, and until the public crave something nearer home. Until a nation becomes its own ideal, it is never truly great. But it is hard to copy from life, very hard to make the common-place striking. Mr. KIMBALL in this book has done it, and done it with a simple vigor that is miraculous. The secret of it all is a thorough knowledge of his subject and the art of depicting it in the fewest possible words. No wonder that so many have believed that he himself has been a broker. Doubtless his facilities as a lawyer of twenty years' practice in Wall-street have aided him in collecting material. But the truly descriptive genius can always collect material; the trouble is, that so few can limit themselves to it. The temptation to be conventionally dramatic, defeats its own end, and that which should run in a clear, cool stream rises in glittering mist and is dissipated in nothing. It is enough to say, that in this book we have the clear stream. Apart from its merely ästhetic merit, it has, however, another as teaching in most practical form the great moral lesson of life. It is a book which every man of business will profit by, for it teaches the lessons of thrift and industry, while it shows the evil of all extremes. It shows that good and evil often wear each other's faces; and that in the most prosaic misery there may be happiness in reserve. The trials of the 'hero,' and his subsequent prosperity, are all natural sequences and all instructive. Good leads to good and evil to evil. We promise to all who have not as yet read it, that a perusal of its pages will convince them that in Mr. KIMBALL this country possesses the first novelist of mercantile life of this or any other country.
THE FLOWER OF THE PRAIRIE. By GUSTAVE AIMARD. Philadelphia : T. B. PETERSON.
Price, 50 cents. 1862.
A very clever 'Indian novel,' full of prob and improb-ability, (there are many French writers who have this latter kind of talent,) is 'The Flower of the Prairie,' by GustAVE AIMARD, a French gentleman, who, according to BENTLY, has been himself a savage of the most untamable description. Now, no longer sauvage, he makes novels in Paris. His qualifications for 'abregoynal' writing, as our Western friends say, may be judged from the following bit of his biography: 'He has been in turn squatter, hunter, trapper, and miner, and has seen the mode of life of all adventurers who traverse the Indian deserts in
every direction. Twice he was led to the stake of torture by the Apaches, and only saved by a miracle ; he wandered alone for upward of a month on the great Del Norte Desert; he was a slave in one of the sacred cities of the Sun, and is probably the only European who returned from those gloomy caverns, where the sacred fire of Montezuma is still kept burning, carefully tended by Vestals, as in ancient Rome; he was a prisoner for a lengthened period with the cruel and treacherous Patagonians; in a word, there is not a portion of uncivilized America, North or South, which he has not traversed, with his rifle in hand, in defiance of the wild beasts and the still wilder and more dangerous inhabitants.'
There, that will do. BENTLY believes it and John Bull knows all about America, ye kno? The reader who refuses to buy “The Flower of the Prairie' after that, must be indeed inaccessible,
Who shall know in these days what an hour may bring forth ? We speak of silence, and lo! the roar of war breaks in thunder-tones over the land ; we speak of joy, and sorrow comes gliding in like a flash ; we speak of sorrow and defeat, and behold there are pæans of victory in every city, and the red light gleams in salvos of cannon fired for triumph.
But above joy and sorrow, and the endless vibration of advance or retreat — the infinite systole and diastole of destiny-rises the conviction that the Right shall triumph, and that step by step Freedom in every new form, and renewed and freshly beautified in every old one, shall shed her golden light all over the land; and when Freedom is once established, then all will live in bona pace, and the only wars will be those of mind. Meanwhile, it would be productive of good, if those who doubt and quibble weakly with themselves, and 'do n't know' and can't tell' how all will turn out, where a tremendous and progressive truth is involved on the one side and a tottering, shattered lie on the other, would look at our war as it stands, and consider how wonderfully judgment and retribution have resulted from evil acts. Look at South-Carolina. She was the leader in evil, the spirit of all malignity to every thing Northern, simply because it was Northern ; the stirrer-up of tumult and bloodshed. Lo! the
enemy is in her choice places; her great harbor is destroyed; she has suffered beyond all anticipation. The day is coming when every taunt at honest industry shall be paid for with a groan of remorse. Look at Virginia. Had she retained her ancient pride, and not draggled ignominiously at the tail of the Cotton-federacy, she might have prevented nine-tenths of the horrors of this war; but she would not; the loathsome vanity of Southern' pride plunged her into Secession, and she has become the battle-field, and has tasted misery well nigh to the full. No State, any more than any individual ever, indulged long in a vice or a policy founded on habitual oppression, or a depreciation of others, that was not sooner or later punished.
As we write, the Union cause has had many brilliant victories to rejoice over. We may have more, or we may have reverses. But one thing is certain, in a great crisis in the great shaking-up — the larger grains will come to light. The just cause will triumph, and the unjust on either side be punished The very cause of the war thus far, in its individual instances, should be enough to prove to the believer in a PROVIDENCE that the arrogant and wicked shall be humbled and the just exalted. Provincial vanity, the loathsome and venomous contempt of the mock-chivalry for every thing not pertaining to it