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A Southern Diarist.

Who would not, if he could, read history in perpetual diaries, and so have done forever with philosophic historians and historic philosophers Who will not join with us in the regret that Noah kept no log? Who does not prefer Pepys to Clarendon or Hume? Who can assure us that Walter Scott's Journal will not be read long after his romances in prose and verse have been forgotten? Who would barter Byron's memoranda, smirched and hasty, for a dozen Childe Harolds, and a regiment of Laras, and who would not buy back from the ashes to which mistaken friendship consigned them, those Memoirs burned by Tommy Moore, which would have been cheaply saved to English literature by the destruction of all the [125] poetry? And who will not be enchanted to learn, that amidst the war of revolution, the din of disunion and the noise of nullification, an ingenious gentleman of Columbia, S. C., is keeping a “Journal” and printing it by bits in The Yorkville Enquirer, thus — to use his own noble language--“attempting to sketch the rapidly-changing features of the times as they vary under the influence of events whirling into notice so telegraphically.” Better writing than this we have never read, and if the gentleman goes on at this rate, we know well enough who will be the Xenophon of the war.

The business at Columbia, as we gather from this journal, is principally campanological. They have a new bell in that city, and they ring it continually. On Tuesday, 8th ult., they rang it for the secession of Florida. On Thursday, 10th ult., they rang it for the secession of Mississippi. On Friday, 11th ult., they rang it for the secession of Alabama. On Sunday, the 13th ult., they do not appear to have troubled the bell-rope at all. Upon the 9th ult., having heard of the flight of the Star of the West, the diarist exclaims: “This intelligence did not surprise us. We were already looking the reality of war in the face.” Were they? And did they relish the prospect? Smoking cities, blockaded ports, famished wives, starving children, insurgent negroes — did they like the picture? Like it? How can any one be so simple as to put the question? Like it! We tell you that they pine and pant to be persecuted; they prefer to be wounded; they will be much obliged to the [126] gentleman who may shoot them; wounds will be welcome; gore will be glorious; houselessness sweeter than hospitality. “A long and bloody war” looms before the rolling eye of the editor of The Yorkville (S. C.) Enquirer as the sun-rise of the millennium. An ounce of lead in his clavicle would, we fancy, materially mitigate his ardor.

It was upon Saturday, Jan. 12, while “hundreds were engaged in training with pistol and rifle,” the afternoon being, as we are told, “vocal with the music of preparation,” that the diarist made the following entry: “If it were conceivable that all our men could be killed, South Carolina need not despair; her women can defend her!” The imagination is thus carried back to the Amazonian regiments, to the petticoated squadrons of the King of Dahomey, to Boadicea and Joan of Are. It is rather a drawback to find that the Lady Lancers, the Amazonian Artillery, the Female Fusileers, the Sweet Sappers, the Modern Miners, the Pretty Pioneers, the Side-saddle Cavalry, will not be wanted until “all our men are killed.” Not being a woman, and still less a she-soldier, we cannot undertake to speak with absolute accuracy; but we should be a little dubious about the female fighting after the quietus of all the men. How will Mrs. Col. Cotton be able to lead the Heavy Mothers to the charge, when her dear departed no longer animates her by his martial smile? How will Arabella, of the Light Artillery, deport herself at the guns, when Augustus sleeps in a soldier's grave? Who believes that the Maid of Saragossa would have rammed [127] the great cannon with such astonishing virulence, if there had been no gallant gentlemen looking on?

To return to our Diary. On Monday, 14th ult., we find the following discouraging entry: “The war does not progress.” As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, and as the thirsty soul panteth after the whiskey barrel, so does this man of memoranda pant for blood. Monday the fourteenth was a “blue Monday” indeed. Nothing to ring the bells for; no excuse for extra libations; even the small-pox subsiding — how monotonous in Columbia must that day have been. Something of the solitary sensations of Robinson Crusoe must have come over our jotting gentleman, for his diary comes to a dead stop. He ceases suddenly to chronicle “the rapidly changing features of the times in Columbia,” and begins to abuse Mr. Buchanan as “a poor old man.” This we cannot but regard as a gratuitous insult. Poor, Mr. Buchanan is not. Old, he may be; but we are ready to wager dollars against dimes that the President is not half so old as he appears to be. The mistake is a natural one. Good guessers, familiar with his proclamations and messages, and computing his years from his drivel, would undoubtedly think him somewhat older than Old Parr; but we have good reason for believing that he is very little, if at all, past one hundred. At any rate, he is old enough to be spared the insults of those whom he has served well, if not wisely; whereas he seems to be rather worse off than Shylock was on the Rialto. Southern gentlemen must swear, we know, but why call poor old Mr. Buchanan [128] a liar and a dog? ‘T is inexpressibly shameful. If we were Mr. Buchanan, we would turn anchorite; we would retire to Some secluded cave, and there, over a moderate allowance of the choicest wheat whiskey, would we strictly meditate the thanklessness of mankind. What more, we beg leave to ask, in behalf of an injured old gentleman, and outraged O. P. F., would the Seceders have of the President? Has he not been theirs--corpus, unmentionables and all? Do they know a friend when they have one? For them a Fond Functionary has given up reputation, self-approval and a respectable place in history, a re-election, sound sleep and a good appetite. What more would they have? Do they want their servant, just sinking into the gaping grave, to close his chequered existence by committing a great number of enormous perjuries? Will they not be fond of him unless he will forswear himself. Will they keep no faith with this too confiding ally? He has loved them to doting. And what is his reward? Poor old man!

February 4, 1811.

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