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IT HAPPENED. A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A WESTERN HUNTER AND AN ATHEIST.
The following very curious paper we copy from an American periodical, in which it is described as a fair specimen of the conversation of the people in the western portion of the United States. Our readers will value it for the simple but sound argument it contains.-Editor.]
Hunter. I say, stranger, what's that 'ere thing you've got in your hand, that looks so speckled like?
Reasoner. This? It's the Free Inquirer.
Hunter. The what? I tell you what, mister, you need'nt think to throw your flings out that way at a fellow. I asked you a civil question, and you need'nt to name a body the free inquirer for it. We are used to making free in our country.
Reasoner. You are mistaken in my meaning. It was this paper I called the Free Inquirer, not you.
Hunter. Hey! that thing? What d'ye call it? a paper and free inquirer, too! Now, if that ain't funny, I don't know.
Reasoner. I see you do not understand me, and I must explain. This thin white sheet is called paper-feel it. These black marks are letters printed on it, and we read the words that they make, when they are put together.
Hunter. Read! 0 I mind now; mammy used to tell us, that in the settlements, people went to school and learnt to read; and she said how daddy and her could'nt read; that was the reason they did'nt take any books with 'em when they moved out on to the range. But I never heard about newspapers, and free inquirers.
Reasoner. This is a book, (showing one.) See, it is made of paper like this; and then it is folded up and bound between pasteboards, and covered with leather, so as to keep it safe.
Hunter. Well now, stranger, since I find you did'nt mean to make fun of a body, I hope you won't take any pride in what I said ; and I'd like to know more about that paper, as you call it. What is it for?
Reasoner. It's a newspaper, published in New York, to expose the superstitious notions about religion,
Hunter. How does it do that?
Reasoner. Why it comes right out, and says, that all religions are nonsense, and religious people are all fools or hypocrites.
Hunter. I don't understand that somehow. There was John Davis, that used to be a roarer to fight, and get drunk, and swear, and play cards; and he went away off to camp-meeting, and got religion ; and ever since then he's the civilest, best behaved, soberest, honestest fellow all about; I reckon, if you were to hear him talk, you'd think so.
Reasoner. Pshaw! it's all delusion-all a pack of nonsense, I tell you.
Hunter. Well, now, I'd like you to tell me what made him leave off his old capers all of a sudden.
Reasoner. The fellow got frightened by their screaming and shouting.
Hunter. I don't think so. He's not so easy frightened, though he won't fight now; but I seed him one day in a fix, that I reckon you would'nt like to be in. Every body else seemed scared but him, and he was’nt more afraid than you are now.
Reasoner. Ah yes; I know they have courage enough about common things ; but they are afraid of the devil, and hell, and all that.
Hunter. Why, stranger ! see here now, ain't you afraid of the devil ?
Reasoner. I! nonsense, there is no devil.
Hunter. Halloo, stranger, you'd better not call John Davis a fool; I tell you he ain't no fool, and he'd lick you in a minute—that is, if he'd fight. But he's a clever fellow, any how, and I won't hear him abused behind his back.
Reasoner. I did'nt mean to abuse him ; you must not mind such expressions ; I only want to convince you of the folly of religion.
Hunter. Well, then, you may go on. I begin to feel curious to know how you found out it was all a pack o'lies.
Reasoner. If you read the Free Inquirer, you'd see.
Reasoner. Why, Mr. Owen, and Miss Wright, and Mr. Jennings, carry on the paper, and they go on to prove that there is no God; and so religion can't be true, because it pretends to be minding the word of God.
Hunter. No God! no hell! no devil! Hurra! May be if I won't have a frolic. Why, then, a body can get drunk, swear, and fight, and if he should kill a fellow, it would be no great matter. But stop. How do they know? I don't like to be cheated.
Reasoner. Why, they say it's just a superstitious notion the people have. Nobody ever saw God; and people can't be expected to believe contrary to the evidence of their senses.
Hunter. No, to be sure. But then John Davis says, how that God made the world. If there ain't no God, who did make the world ?
Reasoner. Make the world indeed, how do you suppose he'd go about to make the world ?
Hunter. I don't know nothing about it. I asked you to tell me how the world come, if God did'nt make it.
Reasoner. Come! It did'nt come—it always was.
Reasoner. Why, Reason teaches us so. If there war’nt something always, how could any thing ever happen to be ?
Hunter. That's what I don't know. And I'll tell you another thing I don't know. If this world always was, without any maker, did it make itself ?
• Reasoner. Make itself! Ha, ha, that's a good one! Why don't
you know that the earth is dead matter? It could'nt make itself,' nor any thing else.
Hunter. Well, so I should judge ; and if it could'nt make any thing, because it ain't alive, I wonder how it could change so much. The water runs, trees grow, leaves fall and put out again, fire burns ' up a heap of truck ; creatures, and birds, and fishes, and mankind too, live and die, and nobody makes 'em. I can't understand that. They did'nt always be, I know.
Reasoner. That's only the fortuitous concurrence of circumstances.
Hunter. It's a queer sort of fixen, any how. I wonder if such things as this here rifle ever just happen so, without being made. Where did you say that 'ere free inquirer came from? . .
Reasoner. From New York.
Reasoner. Mr. Owen, Miss Wright, and Mr. Jennings, write the pieces in it, and then get the printers to print them.
Hunter. What is printing? How is it done ?
Reasoner. They have the letters cut on little pieces of lead, (made hard somehow,) these they call types; and they pick them up, letter by letter, and put them in order so as to make words, and so on till they get all these letters set up to make one side ; then they put them on a flat stone in the printing press, and black the types, and lay the paper on, and press them, and it looks like this side. Then they put up the same types in a different order to make different words, and print the other side. - Hunter. : What do you call a letter ? Let me see. .
Reasoner. These are large letters at the top. Those small things are all letters.
Hunter. And do they pick 'em up one by one, and fix 'em so as to make the whole paper ?
Hunter. Now, mister, I want to ask you a few questions. Did you ever see New York ?
Reasoner. No; I am a western man.
Hunter. Did you ever see that woman and them men, you talk about?
Reasoner. Who? Miss Wright, and Mr. Owen, and Mr. Jennings ? No.
Hunter. Do you see the folks make that paper and print it?
Reasoner. How do I know it don't lie ? I know it don't. Do you think I am a fool ? . : Hunter. If you ain't, you can tell what I ask you. It is a plain question. . How do you know there is such a place as New York ?
Reasoner. Why, the fellow's crazy. How do I know there are
such people as Miss Wright, and Mr. Owen, and Mr. Jennings, when I've heard so much about them, and see their writings every week. Can't I believe my eyes ?
Hunter. Yes, but that's the thing I want to know. How can you prove that they did write them things ? To come right out, how can you prove that that paper was printed ?
Reasoner. Why, I know it was ; it could'nt make itself.
Reasoner. A newspaper grow! What nonsense! I read about printing, and this is what they make by printing.
Hunter. As far as I can see, you don't know but what it grow’d. But could'nt it happen so?.
Reasoner. Happen? No. What an absurd idea! It was made.
Hunter. I don't see but it might happen without being made, as easy as all this world, any how.
MEMORY AND HOPE..
BY J. K. PAULDING. Hope is the leading string of youth, memory is the staff of old age ; yet for a long time they were at variance, and scarcely ever associated together. Memory was almost always grave, nay, sad and melancholy. She delighted in silence and repose, amid rocks and waterfalls ; and whenever she raised her eyes from the ground, it was only to look back over her shoulder. Hope was a smiling, dancing, rosy boy, with sparkling eyes, whom it was impossible to look upon without being inspired by his gay and sprightly buoyancy. Wherever he went, he diffused around him gladness and joy : the eyes of the young sparkled brighter than ever at his approach ; old age, as it cast its dim glance at the blue vault of heaven, seemed inspired with new vigour; the flowers looked more gay, the grass more green, the birds sung more cheerily, and all nature seemed to sympathize in his gladness. Memory was of mortal birth, but Hope partook of immortality.
One day they chanced to meet, and Memory reproached Hope with being a deceiver; she charged him with deluding mankind with visionary, impracticable schemes, and exciting expectations that only led to disappointment and regret; with being the ignis fatuus of youth, and the scourge of old age. But Hope cast back upon her the charge of deceit, and maintained that the pictures of the past were as much exaggerated by Memory as were the anticipations of Hope. He declared that she looked at objects at a great distance in the past, he in the future, and that this distance magnified every thing. “Let us make the circuit of the world,” said he," and try the experiment." Memory consented, reluctantly, and they went their way together. ;
The first person they met was a schoolboy lounging lazily along, and. stopping every moment to gaze around, as if unwilling to proceed on his way ; by and by he sat down and burst into tears.
“ Whither so fast, my good lad ?” asked Hope cheeringly. “ I'm going to school," replied the lad, “ to study, when I'd a thou
sand times rather be at play: and sit on a bench with a book in my hand, while I long to be sporting, in the fields. But never mind, I shall be a man soon, and then I shall be free as the air.” Saying this, he skipped away merrily, in the hope of soon being a man.
“ It is thus you play upon the inexperience of youth,” said Memory, reproachfully.
Passing onward, they met a beautiful girl, pacing slow and melancholy behind a party of gay young men and maidens, who walked arm in arm with each other, and were flirting and exchanging all those harmless courtesies, which nature prompts on such occasions. They were all gaily dressed in silks and ribands : but the little girl had on a simple frock, a homely apron, and clumsy thick-soled shoes.
“Why don't you join yonder group," asked Hope," and partake in the gaiety, my pretty little girl ?"
“Alas,” replied she, “they take no notice of me. They call me a child. But I shall soon be a woman, and then I shall be so happy !" Inspired by this hope, she quickened her pace, and soon was seen dancing merrily with the rest.
In this manner they wended their way, from nation to nation, and clime to clime, until they had made the circuit of the universe. Wherever they came, they found the human race, which at this time was all young-it being not many years since the first creation of mankindrepining at the present, and looking forward to a riper age for happiness. All anticipated some future good, and Memory had scarce any thing to do but to cast looks of reproach at her young companion. “Let us return home," said she, “ to that delightful spot where I first drew my breath. I long to repose among its beautiful bowers, to listen to the brooks that murmured a thousand times sweeter, and to the echoes that were softer than any I have since heard. Ah! there is nothing on earth so enchanting as the scenes of my earliest youth.”
Hope indulged himself in a sly, significant smile, and they proceeded on their way home. As they journeyed but slowly, many years elapsed ere they reached the spot whence they had departed. It so happened one day that they met an old man, bending under the weight of years, and walking with trembling steps, leaning on his staff. Memory at once recognised him as the youth they had seen going to school, in their first outset in the tour of the world. As they came nearer, the old man reclined on his staff, and looking at Hope, who being immortal, was still a blithe young boy, sighed as if his heart was breaking.
" What aileth thee, old man ?" asked the youth.
• What aileth!” he replied, in a feeble, faltering voice,_"what should ail me, but old age ? I have outlived my health and strength ; I have survived all that was near and dear; I have seen all I loved, or that loved me; and now I stand like an old tree withering alone in the world, without roots, without branches, and without verdure. I have only just enough sensation to know that I am miserable, and the recollection of the happiness of my youthful days, when careless and full of blissful anticipations, I was a laughing, merry boy, only add to the miseries I now endure."
“ Behold !" cried Hope, “the deception practised by thyself! Dost