THE LAND OF ‘PRETTY SOON’
I know of a land where the streets are paved
With the things which we meant to achieve;
It is walled with the money we meant to have saved
And the pleasures for which we grieve.
The kind words unspoken, the promises broken,
And many a coveted boon,
Are stowed away there in that land somewhere—
The land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
There are uncut jewels of possible fame
Lying about in the dust,
And many a noble and lofty aim
Covered with mould and rust.
And oh this place, while it seems so near,
Is farther away than the moon;
Though our purpose is fair, yet we never get there—
To the ‘Land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
The road that leads to that mystic land
Is strewn with pitiful wrecks,
And the ships that have sailed for its shining strand
Bear skeletons on their decks.
It is farther at noon than it was at dawn,
And farther at night than at noon;
Oh let us beware of that land down there—
The land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
1899, ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
To ask why evil exists here below is to ask why a contingent being is not an absolute being, why man is not God.
From History of Jefferson County
A great deal of clothing was made of deerskin before the raising of cotton and flax. The first efforts to tan the hides were almost a failure. A new effort, however, was introduced, which was much better. This was, after removing the hair, the skins were thoroughly rubbed and dressed with brains. They were then stretched on stakes driven into the ground around a large hole, and the hole was filled with light and rotten wood, which was set on fire. The warmth caused the brains and oil to permeate the skins and the smoke gave them a beautiful color. Tanned in this way, they were said to be very soft and pliant, and were handsome.
An anecdote of Judge G. W. Wall, born in Chillicothe, Ohio, April 22, 1839, moved in infancy to Perry County, Illinois.
He was attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad, and while thus acting, a good story is told of him. He was called upon to attend a case at Effingham for the railroad, which had been sued by a citizen for the value of stock killed by defendants’ train. The venerable and every-ready O. B. Ficklin was prosecuting the company, together with some other attorney whose name is not now remembered. The evidence was heard, and counsel went to the jury. The plaintiff’s case was opened by Ficklin’s associate, who indulged in considerable bunkum and bombast about giant corporations, etc. After he closed, Wall replied for the defense, and during the course of his remarks compared the gentleman who had preceded him to Dickens’s famous character of “Sergeant Buzfuz”, and, as he thought, completely annihilated the gentleman, and left nothing to be done but for the jury to return a verdict for the defendant, and thus closed his case.
It was now time for Ficklin to make the closing argument for the plaintiff, and after speaking to the testimony and the law, he concluded in the following vein of pathetic and injured innocence:
“And now, gentlemen of the jury, it becomes my painful duty to reply to the malignant and uncalled for attack upon one of the best men this country ever produced; a man who has long since slept with his fathers, and upon whose character no man, until today, has dared to cast the shadow of suspicion. I allude, gentlemen of the jury, to the attack of my young friend Wall, upon the memory of that good and kind man, Sergeant Buzfuz. Gentlemen, it was not, perhaps, your privilege, as it was mine, to have known him personally. I remember him well, in the early and trying times of this country. He first assisted to cut out the roads through this county. He was the early pioneer, who was ever ready and willing, with honest heart, and active hand, to aid a friend or brother in distress. In fact, gentlemen of the jury, there are few men, living or dead, that this country owes more to than it does to my old friend Sergeant Buzfuz. It is true, gentlemen, that he was somewhat uncouth and blunt in his way, but his every action, I assure you, was prompted by a noble and honest motive. He was not blessed with the brilliant and accomplished education of my young friend. He, gentlemen of the jury, wore no starched shirt or fine neckties; he was humble and retired. In his leather leggings and hunting shirt he went about the country, not as a rich representative of a railroad monopoly, but as an humble citizen doing good to his fellow-man. His bones have long since moldered into dust; the sod grows green over his grave; his work is done, and he is gone from among us to return no more forever; and I was surprised to hear his just and amiable character attacked in the manner it has been on this occasion; and it is impossible for me, his last remaining friend, to permit it to go by unnoticed. And to you, sir [turning to Wall, who was by this time completely dumbfounded], I say no better man ever lived than he whom you have so unjustly abused. Youth, sir, should have more respect for the men who have made life pleasant for those who come after them, than to assail their character in the manner you have done”; and thus he continued until his close, with great earnestness, and the utmost apparent sincerity. At its close, the jury could hardly wait until they could write their verdict for the full amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff, and, it is said, so worked up were they that Wall had difficulty in escaping personal violence.