Indian Attacks in Austin, Part 4 (Finale; the Fat Boy pinches a loaf)
September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
April 15, 1841
In the last Matagorda Gazette that we received, we were amused at reading a kind of sketch of the observations, adventures, etc., attending a visit made to our city some time since, by the “Fat Boy,” whom capricious destiny has placed at the editorial head of that cachetic sheet. We should judge from the wit and vivacity of his style, and the oleaginous vein of humor that runs through his remarks, and gives such zest to his inimitable descriptions, that the knight of the Soap Locks had borrowed a portion of the genius of Boz, to aid his delineations. He had evidently recovered his equanimity, which was so much disturbed whilst here, by the intrusion of our savage neighbors. In addition to the intellectual olla podrida which he is serving up to his neighbors, we can inform him that our town, though upon the border, will shortly contribute something to increase his notoriety, and entertain the public. A literary friend of ours, who was a quiet observer of the agitation and conflicting emotions that moved the “Fat Boy” during the alarm, is now preparing and will shortly have in press, a full account of his various adventures in our city. The work will be published in octave form, illustrated by a wood cut, representing the “Fat Boy” en passant, with his hands clasped upon those beautiful ringlets that adorn his caput, his lower extremities in rapid locomotion, and his face turned rearwards, with an expression of feature that might well have become Hamlet, when he suddenly encountered the ghost of the buried majesty of Denmark. To give stronger effect to the picture, the figure of a Comanche may be seen in the background en couchant. We can assure the obese gentleman, that when he sees this picture, so correctly drawn by the artist, he will laugh as heartily at the ludicrous position of his own image, as his readers do at the buffoonery of the original. We are told that the rapidity which he shortened space as he “larded the lean earth” in his efforts to obtain safety and succor, astonished beholders, and gave the lie to the established principles of gravitation.
We regret extremely that one part of his performance was of such a nature, that a sense of it can neither be conveyed to the eye by the engraver or writer, without offending the taste of the public.
April 29, 1841
We mentioned two weeks ago, that there was a work in course of publication, containing a true historical account of the adventures of the “FAT BOY” of Matagorda, whilst in this city sometime since. We regret that owing to some difficulty in procuring plates for the illustrations, the publication will be delayed longer than expected. We have, however, been favored with an extract from this interesting volume, which we give below, as a specimen of the powers of the author, and the character of the incidents. The book is entitled “The Fat Boy’s Pilgrimage.”
“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for my stage, princes my actors,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.”
“The city on that memorable evening was an almost indescribable scene of tumult and confusion. The deep gloom of night overspread the earth, and the thick darkness was only rendered more palpable and terrific by occasional vivid flashes of lightning, that for a moment revealed the consternation and excitement that prevailed. Some of the bravest spirits quailed before the threatened danger of massacre, and sought refuge in secret nooks and hiding places. The confused noise made by the voices and the tread of many men, in a state of alarm and commotion, — the shrieks of frightened women, and the startling wail of terrified children, together with the pawing and charging of horses, the braying of mules, barking of dogs, and unmitigated babbling of niggers, all mingled en masse, formed a scene that might have well appalled the stoutest heart, and caused a hero to tremble. Congress Avenue, usually so quiet, was the place of rendezvous on that eventful and disastrous night. Had the obscurity of night permitted, a curious and startling spectacle might there have met the view of a wondering beholder. Crowds of citizens were moving rapidly to and fro, — some calling for arms, some asking direction to the post of danger and assault; while many were seeking shelter from the expected carnage. Dismay and confusion for a time reigned paramount over this apparently doomed “City of the Hills,” and the general uproar, told in terms too plainly understood, that “chaos was come again!” A small but determined body of the “Travis Guards” were cautiously and warily moving up the Avenue towards capitol hill, followed by a number of citizens, many of them not at all equipped for a fight, but impelled by a spirit that rendered them indifferent to fate! Suddenly their progress was checked, and their attention arrested by a sound proceeding from the right of the Avenue, — it was a startling — thrilling — wonderful, and terrific noise — it was “horrid!” At first it sounded as the heavy tread of an armed host, or the thundering of a heard of buffaloe, but as it approached nearer, it appeared like the rush of a whirl wind. “Stop men, what’s that?” Cried the leader of our heroic defenders. On came the new and strange cause of alarm, moving almost with the swiftness of thought, and carrying terror and amazement in its progress. All at once, sounds somewhat resembling the human voice were heard, emanating from the phenomenon. “Where are you, Governor. Save me! Oh my God! The Indians! Where’s my boots? Give me my boots! Oh! my wife! my God! I’m gone! I’m gone!”
“If you ain’t gone, you are going pretty fast anyhow,” said our auctioneer, as the phantom passed him with the velocity of a sunbeam. “What was it?” asked fifty voices at once; and the crowd was instantly filled with speculation and conjecture. We had imagined previous to this time, that we had some tolerable correct notions in regard to motion, but we give it up, and acknowledge that our ideas on that subject, were, to say the least, indistinct and erroneous, if not absurd. It is now admitted by all that the flight of this wonderful creature is without parallel in the history of the world since the Hegira. On went the thing with a vim and fury unequaled, and with a speed most awful. “Great God! what is that?” exclaimed an old man, as it passed him. “It’s a storm,” said one; “No, it’s a mustang,” said another. “It’s a cabalado broke loose,” said Jones. “It’s a buffaloe,” said Smith. “It’s the Wandering Jew,” said the Colonel. “It’s a skunk,” cried the Major, “for I smelt him.” “It’s an epidemic,” observed Dr. Ipicac. “It’s a damned fool,” hallowed Snooks in a rage. “Shoot him, ” “throw a rock at him,” “pull him,” “kick him,” “give him hell,” echoed from fifty voices. “Kill him with a big stick,” shouted John Thomas Church, whose “high upreared and abutting front,” just then protruded through the amazed crowd. “Go it,” said Johnson; and go it he did too, with a perfect looseness. But it has been decreed that everything must have an end, and in obedience to that fiat, this unexampled run terminated at the lower end of the Avenue. The object that had caused such a universal panic, having fallen, overcome either by fright or fatigue. “It’s stopped down yonder, let’s go see what it is,” observed someone. “Let’s take a drink and then go,” said the Captain. And after that preliminary operation had been performed, down went the crowd.
“Lights having been procured, they all proceeded to the place of deposit, where was found prostrate on the earth, a large round body, presenting an indistinct appearance of a human being. Impelled by the spirit of humanity, the spectators were going forward involuntarily to bestow relief upon what seemed to be a suffering victim, but their approach was suddenly checked when within a few yards of the carcass by an odor that almost suffocated all who came within certain distance. “He smells like a dead man,” said one fellow. “He’s wounded,” said another. “Doctor, examine him and see what’s the matter.” “I can’t stand it,” replied the Doctor, holding his nose, “I think he’s shot in the bowels.” “Well, here’s the Governor; he can tell all about it,” observed somebody, and the crowd immediately opened to admit the venerable seer who is as well acquainted with zoology as with finance. As soon as the Governor’s eyes rested for a moment on the wonder of the night, he exclaimed in a tone of surprise. — “Why bless my soul, gentlemen, that’s my lost friend, the editor; it’s the Fat Boy of Matagorda!” The voice of the Governor acted like a charm on the Fat Boy, for he instantly drew up his legs, opened his eyes, and put his hands on his head, just as if he was feeling something.
“He soon recognized his old friend, and cried out in the most piteous tone, “My God, Governor, what shall I do? Where shall I go?” “Do go!” answered the Governor, “Why, my dear fellow, judging from the circumstances I think you had better conduct yourself to the river as soon as possible.”