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Fisher's River
(North Carolina)
Scenes and Characters (1859)


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It is difficult to beat an experienced man at his own game;  it sometimes happens, however.  Methodist preachers --- and no harm is intended --- have ever been fond of excitement at their religious meetings.  The extremes at such meetings are allowed for the sake of the overbalance of good which is accomplished.  It will not do, they contend, to check extravagances in shouting and crying, for fear of doing harm to those properly exercised.

An "old stager" in camp-meetings once told me of an incident which clearly outdid him.  He had encountered many camp-meeting scenes which were "hard pills," but he stood up to them all with a good grace, except this one.

He and an old yoke-fellow, his story goes, held a camp-meeting in rather a rude section, where all the ideas of the people had come to them in a ludicrous and crude form.  They were Nature's children, and easily excited, and they had quite "a stir."  In their prayers for mercy, prompted by their convictions of sin, they used the common language and imagery of the country, and they used the same vernacular and imagery in their shouts of triumph.

The meeting waxed hotter and hotter from the beginning, and on Sunday night it "boiled clean over."  My friend, the narrator, stated that the "altar" was full of "mourners" and "new converts."  H concluded he would go into the "packed crowd," and see what they were doing.  He entered, and found one man sitting flat on the ground, in great distress, swinging his head back and forward, crying for mercy in the following earnest manner:

"Jeeminny!  O Jeeminny!  what shall I do?"  Rising from his seat, and going through the crowd for the woods, he continued:  "Jeeminny Crimony!  have massy on me, a poor missuble cuss of a sinner!"

My friend let him go scooting for the woods, and continued his travels a little farther, and found a distressed woman seated in the same manner, and putting up her petitions very pathetically thus:

"O-yes Moses!  O-yes Moses, Moses!  what shall I do?  O-yes Moses, Moses!  have massy on me, a poor devil ov a creetur!"

"No better fast," thought my friend, and he passed on beyond the "mourners" to see how it was going with the "young converts."  He did so, and heard them interrogate each other as to their hopes and prospects.  It ran as below:

"How do you feel, Sister A------? Are you traveling purty fast to Caanian?"

"Five hundred miles ahead ov any thing on this grit!  Gloree!  gloree!  Thar ain't nothin' on yeth to be compared unto it --- honey, shugar, sweetnin' ov ev'ry kind, ashcakes, cracklin' bread, corn dumplin's, biscuits, pot-pies, poun'-cakes --- pshaw!  I won't compare any thing yethly with it."

My friend by this time was fast becoming nervous, but concluded he would move onward a little farther, and encountered two other happy spirits, and heard their questions and answers, which, put in "prent," stand thus:

"How do you feel, Sister B-----?"

"Happee!  happee!  Yes, horse-fly, I'm happy, horse-fly, certain --- happy as a 'possum up a 'simmon-tree ur a 'coon in a holler.  Glory!  gloree!"

This was the last dose my friend could bear.  He went to his brother preacher, who had seen similar sights, and had heard the like sounds, and proposed to dismiss the meeting for the night, which was readily agreed to, and both acknowledged themselves outdone for once.



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