COPYRIGHT (c) 2004 Michael Stephenson
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THE FIRST NIGHT IN THE FOREST - 1831
We had now stowed away in our little log house, most our luggage, boxes, packing cases etc. taken our supper, spread our beds on the floor, and made up a cheerful fire. Though I looked in vain for our shining stove, the polished fire irons, the fashionable hearth rug etc: still there was something so novel and lively in our wood fire, that it half dissipated our gloom.
Though excessively fatigued, I felt unable to sleep. Sixteen years have elapsed since that night; but it is still alive in my remembrance. My dear little ones (now doubly dear in a foreign land,) were soundly sleeping around us; my wife, like myself, musing on our extraordinary change, and dwelling in fond remembrance on our native land, and on those we should never meet again! We often exchanged sigh for sigh, but said nothing. Our log house, but partly completed, afforded me a view of the heavenly bodies, as they made their transit past the chinks, through which the coming storm found a free passage. Though in the heart of the wilderness, and a considerable distance from any human dwelling, I still congratulated myself that I was not like Robinson Crusoe, debarred from the sight of human footsteps; I had settled near a road. It was now near midnight, I went to the door to look out, I saw no more of the gay gas lights, or lamps of London; but the fireflies were flitting past me in quick succession. I heard not the watchman’s drowsy warning, the screams of the harlot, or the rattling of coaches. These were exchanged for the roar of bullfrogs, the screeching of the owl, and the yells of wild beasts! The charming music of the English theatres now gave place to the murmur of the waving forest or the melancholy note of the Whip O’ will! The untried toils of the American forest were before us; but the dangers of a long and boisterous voyage were over. I felt much consolation in the thought, that no churlish landlord, or insolent tax gatherer could again annoy us! Surely, thought I, the love of independence must emanate from heaven! Or how could man endure such dangers, told, and hardships to obtain it? Many who have fled from the proud cities, or flowery fields of Europe, must feelingly have said,
“Thy spirit Independence let me share,
Lord of the Lion heart and Eagle eyes;
Thy steps I follow, with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that how is along the sky!”
JOHN M. FLINDALL.
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