Though, among all the rejoicings, the Bar had the best of it. For once its members had not been like the blades of a pair of scissors; had not even seemed to cut each other, while only cutting that which came between. For once its members were a band of brothers, concentrated into one sharp, keen dagger, with which they had stabbed Freedom to the heart. That triumphant Bar stroked its bearded chin, and parted its silky mustache; hem’d its wisest hem; haw’d its most impressive haw.
“If Gen. Lowrie had ah, but ah, taken legal advice ah, in the first instance ah, all would have been well ah!”
They were the generals who had won this famous victory, and wore their laurels with a jaunty air, while a learned and distinguished divine from the center of the State, in a sermon, congratulated the Lord on having succeeded in “restoring peace to this community, lately torn by dissensions,”—and all was quiet on the Mississippi.
On its bank sat poor little I, looking out on its solemn march to the sea, thinking of Minnesota; sending a wail upon its bosom to meet and mingle with that borne by the Missouri from Kansas; thinking of a sad-faced slave, who landed with her babe in her arms here, just in front of my unfinished loft, performed the labor of a slave in this free Northern land, and embarked from this same landing to go to a Tennessee auction block, nobody saying to the master, “Why do ye this?” Against the power which thus trampled constitutional guarantees, congressional enactments and State rights in the dust, I seemed to stand alone, with my hands tied—stood in a body weighing just one hundred pounds, and kept in it by the most assiduous care. I was learning to set type, and as I picked the bits of lead from the labeled boxes, there ran the old tune of St. Thomas, carrying through my brain these words:
“Yea, though I
walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill.”
Why did the heathen rage and kings vex themselves? God, even our God, should dash them together like potsherds. What an uneven fight it was—God and I against that little clique—against a world!
I rented the office to the boys, who at once gave me notice that I was no longer wanted in it. They issued a half-sheet Visiter, with “the Devil” as editor and proprietor. His salutatory informed his readers, that he was in full possession and was going to have a good time; had taught the Visiter to lie, and was going to tunnel the Mississippi. Those were bright boys, and they had a jolly week. Mr. Shepley’s card appeared, as per agreement, and thus far the terms of release for the printing company complied with, and the contract with the Dictator filled. But what next? Had I actually given up the publication? Of course I had. Its finances were desperate, and what else could I do? What motive could I have for attempting to go on with it? Oh, what a famous victory. The next publication day passed and no Visiter. There was a dress parade of triumphant troops, and that most famous victory was bearing fruit.