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While she, distinct in raiment white, stands silently the
while, And sheds through torn and bleeding hair the same un
changing smile. From “Return of the Guards and other Poems,” by permission of Messrs Macmillan & Co.
THE CONVERSION OF COLONEL QUAGG.
BY GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA.
A DREADFUL man, a skeery man, a man to waken snakes and rile monkeys was Colonel Quagg. Goliah Washington Quagg was his name; and two and a half miles from Punkington did he locate, on the main road to Rapparoarer city. He was six foot three without his stockings, which would have made him, in jack-boots, screeching tall to look at. He had a bushy beard and whiskers, and the tegument that covered his bones was hard and horny as a crab shell. The hair of his head was like a primeval forest, for it looked as though it had never been lopped, combed, weeded, or trimmed. His eyes were fearful to look upon when they flashed, and they flashed almost always. He ate so much that people said he was hollow all through-legs, arms, and all—and packed his food from the feet upwards. Some people compared him to a locomotive, for he was always smoking, drinking, roaring, and coming into collision with other folks. He compared himself to a Mississippi steamboat with the safety valves tied down with rope yarn. “Rosin me up, and stand on my boilers," he used to cry. “Give me goss, and let me rip. Strangers, pay your bills and liquor up once more before you die, for I must lick every
you bust." "He was always licking coons.
He licked a backwoodsman, four “ Bowery Bhoys” from New York, one after the other; an Irish hod-carrier (with one hand), and an English prize-fighter. They set a giant out of a menagerie at him once, and the giant closed with him, and was heard, soon afterwards, to crack like a nut. The giant said (after he was cracked) that it was a darned,
tarnation, everlasting shame it was; for he had gone in to whip a man, not a grisly bear.
Colonel Quagg was a blacksmith. Not by any means the sort of blacksmith that Professor Longfellow has described, but a roaring, rampagious, coaly, knotty, sooty vulcan of a man. To hear him shout out hoarsely to ’Zeek, his long, lank, bellows-blower; to see him whirl his tremendous hammer above his head as though it had been a feather, and bring it down upon the iron on his anvil with such a monstrous clang that the sparks flew about, and the flames leaped up the chimney and tripped up the heels of the smoke, as if they were frightened out of their wits. This was a sight-grand if you like—but fearful. Colonel Quagg had neither wife nor relation, chick nor child. He lived behind the smithy in a grim cabin, where, for aught anybody knew, he slept on the bones of his enemies, or kept bears and wolves, or burned brimstone and Bengal lights in his stove. Where he was raised was not certain. What he did on Sundays (for he never went to church) was not known. There were but two things about him on which argument could be, with tolerable certainty held—that be liked rum_raw_which he drank in vast quantities without ever winking, or being intoxicated; and that he hated the Grace-Walking Brethren.
What these or any other brethren had ever done to incur his dislike was not stated; but it was clear and certain that he hated them fiercely and implacably. He declaimed against them in drinking bars ; he called them opprobrious names in the street; and, which was particularly disagreeable to the brethren themselves, he made a point of giving every minister who passed his smithy—on horse or on foot, on business or pleasure—a sound and particularly humiliating beating.
Colonel Quagg's method was this. 'Zeek, the long, lanky assistant would, as he blew the bellows, keep a sharp look out through a little round hole in the smithy wall. When on the crest of the little bill there appeared the devoted figure of a Grace-Walking clergyman, 'Zeek would call out, “One o' 'em Colonel !” whereupon the
blacksmith would lay down his hammer and say grimly, “ 'Zeek, ‘ile.'
The “ile” or oil being brought, the Colonel would therewith anoint a tremendous leather strap, in size and appearance between the trace for a cart-horse and the lathe for a steam-engine. Then would be sally forth, tug the luckless preacher by one leg off his borse—if he happened to be riding—or grapple him by the collar of the coat if he were a-foot, and thrash him with the strap -not till he bowled for mercy, for the victim always did that at the first stroke of the terrible leather-but till his own brawny arm could no longer hold the mighty weapon. All this was accompanied by a flood of abuse on the part of the Colonel; the minister, bis congregation, sect, person, and presumed character, were all animadverted upon; and, after having been treated with brutality, he was dismissed with scorn, with a sardovic recommendation to send as many more of his brethren that way as he could to be served in the same way
There was no evading the Colonel and his awful strap. There was no going round another way. There was no mollifying, persuading, or infusing soft pity into the Colonel's breast. “I licks ye,” he was wont to reply when interceded with, " because I kin, and because I like, and because ye'se critters as licks is good for Skins ye have on, and skins I'll have off; hard or soft, wet or dry, spring or fall. Walk in grace if ye like till pumpkins is peaches, $ but licked ye must be till yer toe nails drop off, and yer noses bleed blue ink," and licked they were accordingly
The Punkington circuit began to lack ministers. Clergymen were not forthcoming- The pulpits were deserted. The congregations began to cry out. No wonder. Devotion, meekness
, self-abnegation, are all . admirable qualities in their way, but human nature, after all, is not cast iron. There was a meeting held at Punkington to decide upon what ministers should go the ensuing Spring Circuit; just as, in Europe, the judges meet to arrange among themselves who shall go a-hanging, and where. The
question of Colonel Quagg was debated in solemn conclave; for, though
all the other places in the Circuit found ready volunteers, not one clergyman could be found to offer to administer to the spiritual necessities of the Rapparoarer brethren. Brother M'Tear had a bad cold; brother Brownjohn would rather not; brother Knash had a powerful call down Weepingwail way ; brother Slocum gave a more decided reason than any one of his brother ministers. He said he would be eternally licked if he'd go, because he'd be sure to be considerably licked if he went.
A brother who, up to that time, had said little or nothing-a long, thin, loose-limbered brother, with a face very like a quince three-quarter withered—a brother, to say the truth, of whose abilities a what mean opinion was entertained, for he was given to stammering, blushing, hemming, hawing, scraping with his feet, and seemed co possess no peculiar accomplishment save the questionable one of shutting
eye when he expectorated—this brother, by name Zephaniah Sockdosloger here addressed himself modestly to speech —“Thorns," he said, “isn't good eating, stinging nettles isn't pleasant handling, without gloves, nor is thistles comfortable worn next to the skin. Corns is painful. Man's skin was not made to bi flayed off him like unto the hide of a wild cat. But vocation is vocation, and dooty dooty-some. I, Zephaniah Sockdolloger, will go on the Rapparoarer location, and if Brother Brownjohn will loan me his hoss, I will confront the man—even Goliah Quagg.” After which the devoted brother shut one eye and expectorated
The meeting turned their quids, and expectorated too; but without shutting their eyes. They adopted the long brother's disinterested proposition nem. con.
But Brother Bobberlink whispered to Brother Slocum that he had allers thought Zephaniah Sockdolloger considerable of a fool, and that now he knowed it—that was a fact.
The fire roared, the sparks flew up the chimney, and the bellows blew fiercely one April evening, and Colonel
Quagg and his anvil were in fierce dispute about a redhot horse shoe, when suddenly 'Zeek, the bellows blower, ceased a moment in his occupation, and remarked—“One o''em, Colonel, top o' the hill
. On a hoss—legs as long as a coulter.” “Twankeydillo! twankeydillo !” sung out Colonel Quagg, in great exultation." Ile, 'Zeek, and
• plenty of it, for Jack Strap, the critter, is getting tarnation rusty."
The fatal strap being “iled” rather more liberally than usual, the Colonel grasped it in his mighty hand, and passed out of the smithy door.
He saw coming towards him down the hill a longlegged, yellow-faced man in black, with a white neckcloth and a broad-brimmed bat. He bestrode a solemnlooking white horse with a long tail. He had but one spur (the rider), but it was a very long and rusty spur. In his hand he carried a little dog's-eared book, and, as be rode, he sung quite softly a little hymn that ran something like unto the following:
“We are marching through the gracious ground,
And never, never part again,” etc. Colonel Quagg waited till the verse of the hymn was quite finished, and the horse had got to within a couple of yards of his door, when he called out in a terrible voice
“ Hold hard !”
“ Brother,” said the man on the horse, “Good evening, and peace.”
“ For the matter of that,” responded Colonel Quagg, “rot! Hold hard, and get out of that hoss.”
“Brother," the other interrogated.
“Git out, I tell you," cried the blacksmith. “Legs and feet. Git out, you long-tailed blackbird. Git out, for I'm riz, and snakes will wake! I want to talk to you.”
The long man slid rather than got off his horse. It was, indeed, Brother Zephaniah Sockdolloger, for his