Nay, the very beggars and impostors—to whom, in general, severe weather on such occasions is a godsend, as it presents them to their fellow-creatures in a more pitiable aspect—were glad to disperse. In truth, the effect of the storm upon them was perfectly miraculous. Many a poor creature, blind from birth or infancy, was gifted with, or restored to excellent sight; the maimed were suddenly cured—the deaf made to hear—the dumb to speak—and the study baccagh, or cripple, bounded away, at the rate of six miles an hour, cursing the whole thing as a bad spec—a dead failure.
Solemn assignations of long promise, rustic courtships, and earnest match-makings, were all knocked up, unless in case of those who availed themselves of the early part of the day. Time and place, in fact, were completely forgotten by the parties, each being anxious only to secure the nearest and most commodious shelter. Nay, though ashamed to write it, we are bound to confess that some of our countrymen were ungallant enough, on meeting with their sweethearts, fairly to give them the slip, or only to recognize them with a kind of dreary and equivocal salutation, that might be termed a cross between a wink and a shiver. Others, however, gallantly and magnanimously set the tempest at defiance, or blessed their stars for sending them an opportunity of sitting so close to their fair inamoratas, in order that their loving pressure might, in some degree, aided by a glass of warm punch, compensate the sweet creatures for the unexpected drenching they had got.
It has been well observed, that there is no class of life in which instances of great virtue and fortitude may not be found; and the Justness of the apothegm was fully corroborated here. Cold, bitter and tempestuous and terrible as was the day, amidst rain, wind, sleet, and hail, there might be seen, in a thoroughfare about the centre of the town, a cripple, apparently paralytic from the middle down, seated upon the naked street, his legs stretched out before him, hirpling onward; by alternately twisting his miserable body from right to left; while, as if the softer sex were not to be surpassed in feats of hardihood or heroism, a tattered creature, in the shape of woman, without cap, shoe, or stocking, accompanied by two naked and shivering children, whose artificial lamentations were now lost in those of nature, proceeded up the street, in the very teeth of the beating tempest, attempting to sing some dismal ditty, with a voice which resembled the imagined shriekings of a ghoul, more than the accents of a human being. These two were the only individuals who, in the true spirit of hardened imposture, braved all the fury of the elements in carrying out their principles—so true is it, that a rogue will often advance farther in the pursuit of a knavish object, than an honest man will in the attainment of a just one. To them may be added the poor fool of the town, Joe Lockhart, who, from his childhood, was known to be indifferent to all changes of weather, and who now, elated by the festive spirit of a fair day, moved about from place to place, without hat or shoe—neither of which he ever wore—just with as much indifference as if it had been a day in the month of June.