Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter III >> Page 21

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Page 21

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE OYSTER WAR. 21
a dark stripe of riband along the deep. We were not yet out
of our latitude, and the points of shore, as we passed, could still
be identified and named. It is easy enough for Americans to pass
from the present to antiquity, and, per saltum, to make a hurried
transition to the future. The orator who does not begin at the
flood, or at least with the first voyage of Columbus, scarcely sat-
isfies the popular requisition on this head. Thus, coming out of
the mouth of the Hudson, it was matter of course that we should
meditate the career of old Hendrick, of that Ilk, the first to pen-
etrate the noble avenue of stream from which we had just
emerged. It was no disparagement to the ancient mariner, that
my friend dealt with him in a vein not dissimilar to that in which
Irving disposed of the great men of the Dutch dynasty, the Van
Twillers, the Stuyvesants, and other unpronounceable dignitaries.
He passed, by natural transitions, to modern periods.
Perhaps, the most exciting of recent events is the oyster
war between the Gothamites and Jerseyites. The history of
this amusing struggle for plunder is one that should be put on
record by a becoming muse. It is a fit subject for an epic. I
would recommend it to Bayard Taylor, or Dr. Holmes. The
first essential is to be found in the opposite characteristics of the
rival races. They are sufficiently distinct for contrast York
and Jersey´┐Żas much so as Greek and Trojan. A study of de-
tails would afford us the Achilles and Hector, the Ulysses, Ajax,
and Thersites. Nor should we want for a pious priest or two,
since, in modern times, piety is, by a large number, supposed to
be only a fit training for habits of peculation."
It furnishes a frequent mask, at all events."" Yes, and was not wanting in this contest. The number of
persons engaged was sufficient to enlist all varieties of character,
and it was a matter of vital interest to one of the parties at least.
The smaller republic was largely interested in the subject of
debate. The courage and enterprise of the Jerseyans had
plucked the rugged oyster from his native abodes, and subjected
him to the usual processes of civilization. They had planted him
in favorite places, and given due attention to his training. The
oyster was grateful, and took his education naturally. He grew
and fatted ; and the benevolent Jerseyans watched his growth
and improvement with daily care, looking fondly forward to the