Vol. XVIII. FEBRUARY, 1841. No. 2.
THE BLIND GIRL OF POMPEII.
Who that has read the “Last Days of Pompeii” can forget Nydia, the blind flower-girl? So sweet, and pure, and gentle, and devoted in her unrequited love, she steals insensibly upon the heart, and wins a place therein, which even the brilliant Ione fails to obtain! Poor, artless innocent, her life, alas! was one of disappointment from its birth.
We cannot better portray the character of this guileless being than by copying the exquisite description of Bulwer. The scene opens with a company of gay, young Pompeiians—among whom is Glaucus, the hero of the story—taking a morning stroll through the town. We let the story speak for itself.
“Thus conversing, their steps were arrested by a crowd gathered round an open space where three streets met; and just where the porticoes of a light and graceful temple threw their shade, there stood a young girl, with a flower-basket on her right arm, and a small three-stringed instrument of music in the left hand, to whose low and soft tones she was modulating a wild and half-barbaric air. At every pause in the music she gracefully waved her flower basket round, inviting the loiterers to buy; and many a sesterce was showered into the basket, either in compliment to the music, or in compassion to the songstress—for she was blind.
“ ‘It is my poor Thessalian,’ said Glaucus, stopping; ‘I have not seen her since my return to Pompeii. Hush! her voice is sweet; let us listen.’
THE BLIND FLOWER GIRL’S SONG.
Buy my Flowers—O buy—I pray,
The Blind Girl comes from afar:
If the Earth be as fair as I hear them say,
These Flowers her children are!
Do they her beauty keep?
They are fresh from her lap, I know;
For I caught them fast asleep
In her arms an hour ago,
With the air which is her breath—
Her soft and delicate breath—
Over them murmuring low!—
On their lips her sweet kiss lingers yet,
And their cheeks with her tender tears are wet,
For she weeps,—that gentle mother weeps
(As morn and night her watch she keeps,
With a yearning heart and a passionate care,)
To see the young things grow so fair;
She weeps—for love she weeps—
And the dews are the tears she weeps
From the well of a mother’s love!
Ye have a world of light,
Where love in the lov’d rejoices;
But the Blind Girl’s home is the House of Night,
And its Beings are empty voices.
As one in the Realm below,
I stand by the streams of wo;
I hear the vain shadows glide,
I feel their soft breath at my side,
And I thirst the lov’d forms to see,
And I stretch my fond arms around,
And I catch but a shapeless sound,
For the Living are Ghosts to me.
Come buy—come buy!—
Hark! how the sweet things sigh
(For they have a voice like ours,)
“The breath of the Blind Girl closes
The leaves of the saddening roses—
We are tender, we sons of Light,
We shrink from this child of Night;
From the grasp of the Blind Girl free us,
We yearn for the eyes that see us—
We are for Night too gay,
In our eyes we behold the day—
O buy—O buy the Flowers!”
“ ‘I must have yon bunch of violets, sweet Nydia,’ said Glaucus, pressing through the crowd, and dropping a handful of small coins into the basket; ‘your voice is more charming than ever.’
“The blind girl started forward as she heard the Athenian’s voice—then as suddenly paused, while the blood rushed violently over neck, cheek, and temples.
“ ‘So you are returned!’ said she in a low voice; and then repeated, half to herself, ‘Glaucus is returned!’
“ ‘Yes, child, I have not been at Pompeii above a few days. My garden wants your care as before, you will visit it, I trust, to-morrow. And mind, no garlands at my house shall be woven by any hands but those of the pretty Nydia.’
“Nydia smiled joyously, but did not answer; and Glaucus, placing the violets he had selected in his breast, turned gayly and carelessly from the crowd.
“ ‘So, she is a sort of client of yours, this child?’ said Clodius.
“ ‘Ay—does she not sing prettily? She interests me, the poor slave!—besides, she is from the land of the Gods’ hill—Olympus frowned upon her cradle—she is of Thessaly.’ ”
How exquisitely is the love of Nydia told in her joy at the return of Glaucus! Only a master-hand could have described it in that blush, and start, and the glad exclamation, “Glaucus is returned!”
The revellers meanwhile pass on their way, and it is not till the following morning that the flower-girl appears again upon the scene. But though she comes even while the Athenian is musing on his mistress Ione, there is a beauty around Nydia’s every movement which makes us hail her with delight. It is her appearance at this visit which the artist has transferred to the canvass. Lo! are not the limner and the author equally inimitable?
“Longer, perhaps, had been the enamored soliloquy of Glaucus, but at that moment a shadow darkened the threshold of the chamber, and a young female, still half a child in years, broke upon his solitude. She was dressed simply in a white tunic, which reached from the neck to the ankles; under her arm she bore a basket of flowers, and in the other hand she held a bronze water vase; her features were more formed than exactly became her years, yet they were soft and feminine in their outline, and without being beautiful in themselves they were almost made so by their beauty of expression; there was something ineffably gentle, and you would say patient, in her aspect—a look of resigned sorrow, of tranquil endurance, had banished the smile, but not the sweetness, from her lips; something timid and cautious in her step—something wandering in her eyes, led you to suspect the affliction which she had suffered from her birth—she was blind; but in the orbs themselves there was no visible defect, their melancholy and subdued light was clear, cloudless, and serene. ‘They tell me that Glaucus is here,’ said she; ‘may I come in?’
“ ‘Ah, my Nydia,’ said the Greek, ‘is that you? I knew you would not neglect my invitation.’
“ ‘Glaucus did but justice to himself,’ answered Nydia, with a blush, ‘for he has always been kind to the poor blind girl.’
“ ‘Who could be otherwise?’ said Glaucus, tenderly, and in the voice of a compassionate brother.
“Nydia sighed and paused before she resumed, without replying to his remark. ‘You have but lately returned? This is the sixth sun that hath shone upon me at Pompeii. And you are well? Ah, I need not ask—for who that sees the earth which they tell me is so beautiful can be ill?’
“ ‘I am well—and you, Nydia?—how you have grown! next year you will be thinking of what answer we shall make your lovers.’
“A second blush passed over the cheek of Nydia, but this time she frowned as she blushed. ‘I have brought you some flowers,’ said she, without replying to a remark she seemed to resent, and feeling about the room till she found the table that stood by Glaucus, she laid the basket upon it: ‘they are poor, but they are fresh gathered.’
“ ‘They might come from Flora herself,’ said he, kindly; ‘and I renew again my vow to the Graces that I will wear no other garlands while thy hands can weave me such as these.’
“ ‘And how find you the flowers in your viridarium? are they thriving?’
“ ‘Wonderfully so—the Lares themselves must have tended them.’
“ ‘Ah, now you give me pleasure; for I came, as often as I could steal the leisure, to water and tend them in your absence.’
“ ‘How shall I thank thee, fair Nydia?’ said the Greek. ‘Glaucus little dreamed that he left one memory so watchful over his favorites at Pompeii.’
“The hand of the child trembled, and her breast heaved beneath her tunic. She turned around in embarrassment. ‘The sun is hot for the poor flowers,’ said she, ‘to-day, and they will miss me, for I have been ill lately, and it is nine days since I visited them.’
“ ‘Ill, Nydia! yet your cheek has more color than it had last year.’
“ ‘I am often ailing,’ said the blind girl, touchingly, ‘and as I grow up I grieve more that I am blind. But now to the flowers!’ So saying, she made a slight reverence with her head, and passing into the viridarium, busied herself with watering the flowers.
“ ‘Poor Nydia,’ thought Glaucus, gazing on her, ‘thine is a hard doom. Thou seest not the earth—nor the sun—nor the ocean—nor the stars—above all, thou canst not behold Ione.’
Nydia, too, is a slave, and to a coarse inn-keeper, who would make a profit by her beauty and her singing. How her heart breaks daily at the brutal treatment of her master, and the still more cruel language of his patrons! But at length Glaucus purchases her, and she is comparatively happy. And through all her melancholy history how does her hopeless love shine out, beautifying and making more sweet than ever, her guileless character! It is a long and mournful tale. Glaucus at length succeeds in winning Ione; they escape fortunately from the destruction of Pompeii; but Nydia, uncomplaining, yet broken-hearted, disappears mysteriously from the deck of their vessel at night. Need we tell her probable fate?
THE REEFER OF ’76.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “CRUIZING IN THE LAST WAR.”
How often has the story of the heart been told! The history of the love of one bosom is that of the millions who have alternated between hope and fear since first the human heart began to throb. The gradual awakening of our affection; the first consciousness we have of our own feelings; the tumultuous emotions of doubt and certainty we experience, and the wild rapture of the moment, when, for the first time, we learn that our love is requited, have all been told by pens more graphic than mine, and in language as nervous as that of Fielding, or as moving as that of Richardson.
The daily companionship into which I was now thrown with Beatrice was, of all things, the most dangerous to my peace. From the first moment when I beheld her she had occupied a place in my thoughts; and the footing of acquaintanceship, not to say intimacy, on which we now lived, was little calculated to banish her from my mind. Oh! how I loved to linger by her side during the moonlight evenings of that balmy latitude, talking of a thousand things which, at other times, would have been void of interest, or gazing silently upon the peaceful scene around, with a hush upon our hearts it seemed almost sacrilege to break. And at such times how the merest trifle would afford us food for conversation, or how eloquent would be the quiet of that holy silence! Yes! the ripple of a wave, or the glimmer of the spray, or the twinkling of a star, or the voice of the night-wind sighing low, or the deep, mysterious language of the unquiet ocean, had, at such moments, a beauty in them, stirring every chord in our hearts, and filling us, as it were, with sympathy not only for each other, but for every thing in Nature. And when we would part for the night, I would pace for hours, my solitary watch, thinking of Beatrice, with all the rapt devotion of a first, pure love.
But this could not last. The dream was pleasant, yet it might not lead me to dishonor. Beatrice was under my protection, and was it right to avail myself of that advantage to win her heart, when I knew from the difference of our stations in life, that it was madness to think that she could ever be mine. What? the heiress of one of the richest Jamaica residents, the grand-daughter of a baron, and the near connexion of some of the wealthiest tory families of the south, to be wooed as an equal by one who not only had no fortune but his sword, but was the advocate, in the eyes of her advisers, of a rebellious cause! Nor did the service I had rendered her lessen the difficulty of my position.
These feelings, however, had rendered me more guarded, perhaps more cold, in the presence of Beatrice, for a day or two preceding our arrival in port. I felt my case hopeless: and I wished, by gradually avoiding the danger, to lessen the agony of the final separation. Besides, I knew nothing as yet of the sentiments of Beatrice toward myself. I was a novice in love; and the silent abstraction of her manner, together with the gradually increasing avoidance of my presence, filled me with uneasiness, despite the conviction of the hopelessness of my suit. But what was it to me, I would say, even if Beatrice loved me not? Was it not better that it should be so? Alas! reason and love are two very different things, and though I was better satisfied with myself when we made the lights of Charleston harbor, yet the almost total separation which had thus for nearly two days existed between Beatrice and myself, left my heart tormented with all a lover’s fears.
It was the last evening we would spend together, perhaps for years. The wind had died away, and we slowly floated upward with the tide, the shores of James Island hanging like a dark cloud on the larboard beam, and the lights of the distant city, glimmering along the horizon inboard; while no sound broke the stillness of the hour, except the occasional wash of a ripple, or the song of some negro fishermen floating across the water. As I stood by the starboard railing, gazing on this scenery, I could not help contrasting my present situation with what it had been but a few short weeks before, when I left the harbor of New York. So intensely was I wrapt in these thoughts, that I did not notice the appearance of Beatrice on deck, until the question of the helmsman, dissolving my reverie, caused me to look around me. For a moment I hesitated whether I should join her or not. My feelings at length, however, prevailed; and crossing the deck, I soon stood at her side. She did not appear to notice my presence, but with her elbow resting on the railing, and her head buried in her hand, was pensively looking down upon the tide.
“Miss Derwent!” said I, with a voice that I was conscious trembled, though I scarce knew why it did.
“Mr. Parker!” she ejaculated in a tone of surprise, her eyes sparkling, as starting suddenly around she blushed over neck and brow, and then as suddenly dropped her eyes to the deck, and began playing with her fan. For a moment we were both mutually embarrassed. A woman is, at such times, the first to speak.
“Shall we be able to land to-night?” said Beatrice.
“Not unless a breeze springs up—”
“Oh! then I hope we shall not have one,” ejaculated the guileless girl; but instantly becoming aware of the interpretation which might be put upon her remark, she blushed again, and cast her eyes anew upon the deck. A strange, joyous hope shot through my bosom; but I made a strong effort and checked my feelings. Another silence ensued, which every moment became more oppressive.
“You join, I presume, your cousin’s family on landing,” said I at length, “I will, as soon as we come to anchor, send a messenger ashore, apprising him of your presence on board.”
“How shall I ever thank you sufficiently,” said Beatrice, raising her dark eyes frankly to mine, “for your kindness? Never—never,” she continued more warmly, “shall I forget it.”
My soul thrilled to its deepest fibre at the words, and more than all, at the tone of the speaker; and it was with some difficulty that I could answer calmly,—
“The consciousness of having ever merited Miss Derwent’s thanks, is a sufficient reward for all I have done. That she will not wholly forget me is more than I could ask; but believe me, Beatrice,” said I, unable to restrain my feelings, and venturing, for the first time, to call her by that name, “though we shall soon part forever, never, never can I forget these few happy days.”
“Why—do you leave Charleston instantly?” said she, with emotion, “shall I not see you again after my landing?”
I know not how it is, but there are moments when our best resolutions vanish as though they had never been made; and now, as I looked upon the earnest countenance of Beatrice, and felt the full meaning of the words so innocently said, a wild hope once more shot across my bosom, and I said softly,—
“Why, Beatrice, would it be aught to you whether we ever met again?”
She lifted her eyes up to mine, and gazed for an instant almost reproachfully upon me, but she did not answer. There was something, however, in the look encouraging me to go on. I took her hand: she did not withdraw it: and, in a few hurried, but burning words, I poured forth my love.
“Say, Beatrice?” I said, “can you, do you love me?”
She raised her dark eyes in answer up to mine, with an expression I shall never forget, and murmured, half inaudibly,—
“You know—you know I do,” and then overcome by the consciousness of all she had done, she burst into tears.
Can words describe my feelings? Oh! if I had the eloquence of a Rosseau I could not portray the emotions of that moment. They were wild; they were almost uncontrollable. The tone, the words, everything convinced me that I was beloved; and all my well-formed resolutions were dissipated in a moment. Had we been alone I would have caught Beatrice to my bosom; but as it was, I could only press her hand in silence. I needed not to be assured, in more direct terms, of her affection. Henceforth she was to me my all. She was the star of my destiny!
The first dawn of morning beheld us abreast of the town, and at an early hour the equipage of Mr. Rochester, the relative of Beatrice, and whose guest she was now to be, was in waiting on the quay for my beautiful charge.
“You will come to-night, will you not?” said she, as I pressed her hand, on conducting her to the carriage.
I bowed affirmatively, the door was closed, and the sumptuous equipage, with its servants in livery, moved rapidly away.
It was now that I had parted with Beatrice, that the conviction of the almost utter hopelessness of my suit forced itself upon my mind. Mr. Rochester was the nearest male relative of Beatrice, being her maternal uncle. Her parents were both deceased, and the uncle, whose death I have related, together with the Carolinian nabob, were, by her father’s will, her guardians. Mr. Rochester was, therefore, her natural protector. Her fortune, though large, was fettered with a condition that she should not marry without her guardian’s consent, and I soon learned that a union had long been projected between her and the eldest son of her surviving guardian. How little hope I had before, the reader knows, but that little was now fearfully diminished. It is true Beatrice had owned that she loved me, but how could I ask her to sacrifice the comforts as well as the elegancies of life, to share her lot with a poor unfriended midshipman? I could not endure the thought. What! should I take advantage of the gratitude of a pure young being—a being, too, who had always been nourished in the lap of luxury—to subject her to privation, and perhaps to beggary? No, rather would I have lived wholly absent from her presence. I could almost have consented to lose her love, sooner than be the instrument of inflicting on her miseries so crushing. My only hope was in winning a name that would yet entitle me to ask her hand as an equal: my only fear was, lest the length of time I should be absent from her side, would gradually lose me her affection. Such is the jealous fear of a lover’s heart.
Meanwhile, however, the whole city resounded with the din of war. A despatch from the Secretary of Slate, to Gov. Eden, of Maryland, had been intercepted by Com. Barron, of the Virginia service, in the Chesapeake. From this missive, intelligence was gleaned that the capital of South Carolina was to be attacked; and on my arrival I found every exertion being made to place it in a posture of defence. I instantly volunteered, and the duties thus assumed, engrossing a large part of my time, left me little leisure, even for my suit. Still, however, I occasionally saw Beatrice, though the cold hauteur with which my visits were received by her uncle’s family, much diminished their frequency.
As the time rolled on, however, and the British fleet did not make its appearance, there were not wanting many who believed that the contemplated attack had been given up. But I was not of the number. So firm, indeed, was my conviction of the truth of the intelligence that I ran out to sea every day or two, in a smart-sailing pilot-boat, in order, if possible, to gain the first positive knowledge of the approach of our foes.
“A sail,” shouted our look-out one day, after we had been standing off and on for several hours, “a sail, broad on the weather-beam!”
Every eye was instantly turned toward the quarter indicated; spy-glasses were brought into requisition; and in a few minutes we made out distinctly nearly a dozen sail, on the larboard tack, looming up on the northern sea-board. We counted no less than six men-of-war, besides several transports. Every thing was instantly wet down to the trucks, and heading at once for Charleston harbor, we soon bore the alarming intelligence to the inhabitants of the town.
That night all was terror and bustle in the tumultuous capital. The peaceful citizens, unused to bloodshed, gazed upon the approaching conflict with mingled resolution and terror, now determining to die rather than to be conquered, and now trembling for the safety of their wives and little ones. Crowds swarmed the wharves, and even put out into the bay to catch a sight of the approaching squadron. At length it appeared off the bar, and we soon saw by their buoying out the channel, that an immediate attack was to take place by sea,—while expresses brought us hasty intelligence of the progress made by the royal troops in landing on Long Island. But want of water among our foes, and the indecision of their General, protracted the attack for more than three weeks, a delay which we eagerly improved.
At length, on the morning of the 28th of June, it became evident that our assailants were preparing to commence the attack. Eager to begin my career of fame, I sought a post under Col. Moultrie, satisfied that the fort on Sullivan’s Island would have to maintain the brunt of the conflict.
Never shall I forget the sight which presented itself to me on reaching our position. The fort we were expected to maintain, was a low building of palmetto logs, situated on a tongue of the island, and protected in the rear from the royalist troops, on Long Island, by a narrow channel, usually fordable, but now, owing to the late prevalence of easterly winds, providentially filled to a depth of some fathoms. In front of us lay the mouth of the harbor, commanded on the opposite shore, at the distance of about thirty-five hundred yards, by another fort in our possession, where Col. Gadsen, with a respectable body of troops was posted. To the right opened the bay, sweeping almost a quarter of the compass around the horizon, toward the north,—and on its extreme verge, to the north west, rose up Haddrell’s point, where General Lee, our commander-in-chief, had taken up a position. About half way around, and due west from us, lay the city, at the distance of nearly four miles, the view being partly intercepted by the low, marshy island, called Shute’s Folly, between us and the town.
“We have but twenty-eight pounds of powder, Mr. Parker, a fact I should not like generally known,” said Col. Moultrie to me, “but as you have been in action before—more than I can say of a dozen of my men—I know you may be trusted with the information.”
“Never doubt the brave continentals here, colonel,” I replied, “they are only four hundred, but we shall teach yon braggarts a lesson, before to-day is over, which they shall not soon forget.”
“Bravo, my gallant young friend! With my twenty-six eighteen and twenty four pounders, plenty of powder, and a few hundred fire-eaters like yourself I would blow the whole fleet out of water. But after all,” said he with good-humored raillery, “though you’ll not glory in rescuing Miss Derwent to-day, you’ll fight not a whit the worse for knowing that she is in Charleston, eh! But, come, don’t blush—you must be my aid—I shall want you, depend upon it, before the day is over. If those red-coats here, behind us, attempt to take us in the rear, we shall have hot work,—for by my hopes of eternal salvation, I’ll drive them back, man and officer, in spite of Gen. Lee’s fears that I cannot. But ha! there comes the first bomb.”
Looking upward as he spoke, I beheld a large, dark body flying through the air; and in the next instant, amidst a cheer from our men, it splashed into the morass behind us, simmered, and went out.
“Well sent, old Thunderer,” ejaculated the imperturbable colonel, “but, faith, many another good bomb will you throw away on the swamps and palmetto logs you sneer at. Open upon them, my brave fellows, as they come around, and teach them what Carolinians can do. Remember, you fight to-day for your wives, your children, and your liberties. The Continental Congress forever against the minions of a tyrannical court.”
The battle was now begun. One by one the British men-of-war, coming gallantly into their respective stations, and dropping their anchors with masterly coolness, opened their batteries upon us, firing with a rapidity and precision that displayed their skill. The odds against which we had to contend were indeed formidable. Directly in front of us, with springs on their cables, and supported by two frigates, were anchored a couple of two-deckers; while the three other men-of-war were working up to starboard, and endeavoring to get a position between us and the town, so as to cut off our communications with Haddrell’s Point.
“Keep it up—run her out again,” shouted the captain of a gun beside me, who was firing deliberately, but with murderous precision, every shot of his piece telling on the hull of one of the British cruizers, “huzza for Carolina!”
“Here comes the broadside of Sir Peter’s two-decker,” shouted another one, “make way for the British iron among the palmetto logs. Ha! old yellow breeches how d’ye like that?” he continued as the shot from his piece, struck the quarter of the flag-ship, knocking the splinters high into the air, and cutting transversely through and through her crowded decks.
Meanwhile the three men-of-war attempting to cut off our communications, had got entangled among the shoals to our right, and now lay utterly helpless, engaged in attempting to get afloat, and unable to fire a gun. Directly two of them ran afoul, carrying away the bowsprit of the smaller one.
“Huzza!” shouted the old bruiser again, squinting a moment in that direction, “they’re smashing each other to pieces there without our help, and so here goes at smashing their messmates in front here—what the devil,” he continued, turning smartly around to cuff a powder boy, “what are you gaping up stream for, when you should be waiting on me?—take that you varmint, and see if you can do as neat a thing as this when you’re old enough to point a gun. By the Lord Harry I’ve cut away that fore-top-mast as clean as a whistle.”
Meantime the conflict waxed hotter and hotter, and through the long summer afternoon, except during an interval when we slackened it for want of powder, our brave fellows, with the coolness of veterans, and the enthusiasm of youth, kept up their fire. A patriotic ardor burned along our lines, which only became more resistless, as the wounded were carried past in the arms of their comrades. The contest was at its height when General Lee arrived from the mainland to offer to remove us if we wished to abandon our perilous position.
“Abandon our position, General!” said Colonel Moultrie, “will your excellency but visit the guns, and ask the men whether they will give up the fort? No, we will die or conquer here.”
The eye of the Commander-in-Chief flashed proudly at this reply, and stepping out upon the plain, he approached a party who were firing with terrible precision upon the British fleet. This fearless exposure of his person called forth a cheer from the men; but without giving him time to remain long in so dangerous a position, Colonel Moultrie exclaimed,
“My brave fellows, the general has come off to offer to remove you to the main if you are tired of your post. Shall it be?”
There was a universal negative, every man declaring he would sooner die at his gun. It was a noble sight. Their eyes flashing; their chests dilated; their brawny arms bared and covered with smoke, they stood there, determined, to a man, to save their native soil at every cost, from invasion. At this moment a group appeared, carrying a poor fellow, whom it could be seen at a glance was mortally wounded. His lips were blue; his countenance ghastly; and his dim eye rolled uneasily about. He breathed heavily. But as he approached us, the shouts of his fellow soldiers falling on his ear, aroused his dying faculties, and lifting himself heavily up, his eye, after wandering inquiringly about, caught the sight of his general.
“God bless you! my poor fellow,” said Lee, compassionately, “you are, I fear, seriously hurt.”
The dying man looked at him as if not comprehending his remark, and then fixing his eye upon his general, said faintly,
“Did not some one talk of abandoning the fort?”
“Yes,” answered Lee, “I offered to remove you or let you fight it out—but I see you brave fellows would rather die than retreat.”
“Die!” said the wounded man, raising himself half upright, with sudden strength, while his eye gleamed with a brighter lustre than even in health. “I thank my God that I am dying, if we can only beat the British back. Die! I have no family, and my life is well given for the freedom of my country. No, my men, never retreat,” he continued, turning to his fellow soldiers, and waving his arm around his head, “huzza for li—i—ber—ty—huz—za—a—a,” and as the word died away, quivering in his throat, he fell back, a twitch passed over his face, and he was dead.
Need I detail the rest of that bloody day? For nine hours, without intermission, the cannonade was continued with a rapidity on the part of our foes, and a murderous precision on that of ourselves, such as I have never since seen equalled. Night did not terminate the conflict. The long afternoon wore away; the sun went down; the twilight came and vanished; darkness reigned over the distant shores around us, yet the flash of the guns, and the roar of the explosions did not cease. As the evening grew more obscure the whole horizon became illuminated by the fire of our batteries, and the long, meteor-like tracks of the shells through the sky. The crash of spars; the shouts of the men; and the thunder of the cannonade formed meanwhile a discord as terrible as it was exciting; while the lights flashing along the bay, and twinkling from our encampment at Haddrell’s Point, made the scene even picturesque.
Long was the conflict, and desperately did our enemies struggle to maintain their posts. Even when the cable of the flag-ship had been cut away, and swinging around with her stern toward us, every shot from our battery was enabled to traverse the whole length of her decks, amid terrific slaughter, she did not display a sign of fear, but doggedly maintained her position, keeping up a straggling fire upon us, for some time, from such of her guns as could be brought to bear. At length, however, a new cable was rigged upon her, and swinging around broadside on, she resumed her fire. But it was in vain. Had they fought till doomsday they could not have overcome the indomitable courage of men warring for their lives and liberties; and finding that our fire only grew more deadly at every discharge, Sir Peter Parker at length made the signal to retire. One of the frigates farther in the bay had grounded, however, so firmly on the shoals that she could not be got off; and when she was abandoned and fired next morning, our brave fellows, despite the flames wreathing already around her, boarded her, and fired at the retreating squadron until it was out of range. They had not finally deserted her more than a quarter of an hour before she blew up with a stunning shock.
The rejoicing among the inhabitants after this signal victory were long and joyous. We were thanked; feted; and became lions at once. The tory families, among which was that of Mr. Rochester, maintained, however, a sullen silence. The suspicion which such conduct created made it scarcely advisable that I should become a constant visitor at his mansion, even if the cold civility of his family had not, as I have stated before, furnished other obstacles to my seeing Beatrice. Mr. Rochester, it is true, had thanked me for the services I had rendered his ward, but he had done so in a manner frigid and reserved to the last degree, closing his expression of gratitude with an offer of pecuniary recompense, which not only made the blood tingle in my veins, but detracted from the value of what little he had said.
A fortnight had now elapsed since I had seen Beatrice, and I was still delayed at Charleston, waiting for a passage to the north, and arranging the proceeds of our prize, when I received an invitation to a ball at the house of one of the leaders of ton, who affecting a neutrality in politics, issued cards indiscriminately to both parties. Feeling a presentiment that Beatrice would be there, and doubtless unaccompanied by her uncle or cousin, I determined to go, and seek an opportunity to bid her farewell, unobserved, before my departure.
The rooms were crowded to excess. All that taste could suggest, or wealth afford, had been called into requisition to increase the splendor of the fete. Rich chandeliers; sumptuous ottomans; flowers of every hue; and an array of loveliness such as I have rarely seen equalled, made the lofty apartments almost a fairy palace. But amid that throng of beauty there was but one form which attracted my eye. It was that of Beatrice. She was surrounded by a crowd of admirers, and I felt a pang of almost jealousy, when I saw her, as I thought, smiling as gaily as the most thoughtless beauty present. But as I drew nearer I noticed that, amid all her affected gaiety, a sadness would momentarily steal over her fine countenance, like a cloud flitting over a sunny summer landscape. As I edged toward her through the crowd, her eye caught mine, and in an instant lighted up with a joyousness that was no longer assumed. I felt repaid, amply repaid by that one glance, for all the doubts I had suffered during the past fortnight; but the formalities of etiquette prevented me from doing aught except to return an answering glance, and solicit the hand of Beatrice.
“Oh! why have you been absent so long?” said the dear girl, after the dance had been concluded, and we had sauntered together, as if involuntarily, into a conservatory behind the ball room, “every one is talking of your conduct at the fort—do you know I too am a rebel—and do you then sail for the north?”
“Yes, dearest,” I replied, “and I have sought you to-night to bid you adieu for months—it may be for years. God only knows, Beatrice,” and I pressed her hand against my heart, “when we shall meet again. Perhaps you may not even hear from me; the war will doubtless cut off the communications; and sweet one, say will you still love me, though others may be willing to say that I have forgotten you?”
“Oh! how can you ask me? But you—will—write—won’t you?” and she lifted those deep, dark, liquid eyes to mine, gazing confidingly upon me, until my soul swam in ecstacy. My best answer was a renewed pressure of that small, fair hand.
“And Beatrice,” said I, venturing upon a topic, to which I had never yet alluded, “if they seek to wed you to another will you—you still be mine only?”
“How can you ask so cruel a question?” was the answer, in a tone so low and sweet, yet half reproachful, that no ear but that of a lover could have heard it. “Oh! you know better—you know,” she added, with energy, “that they have already planned a marriage between me and my cousin; but never, never can I consent to wed where my heart goes not with my hand. And now you know all,” she said tearfully, “and though they may forbid me to think of you, yet I can never forget the past. No, believe me, Beatrice Derwent where once she has plighted her faith, will never afterward betray it,” and overcome by her emotions, the fair girl leaned upon my shoulder and wept long and freely.
But I will not protract the scene. Anew we exchanged our protestations of love, and after waiting until Beatrice had grown composed we returned to the ball room. Under the plea of illness I saw her soon depart, nor was I long in following. No one, however, had noticed our absence. Her haughty uncle, in his luxurious library, little suspected the scene that had that night occurred. But his conduct, I felt, had exonerated me from every obligation to him, and I determined to win his ward, if fortune favored me, in despite of his opposition. My honor was no longer concerned against me: I felt free to act as I chose.
The British fleet meanwhile, having been seen no more upon the coast, the communication with the north, by sea, became easy again. New York, however, was in the possession of the enemy, and a squadron was daily expected at the mouth of Delaware Bay. To neither of these ports, consequently, could I obtain a passage. Nor indeed did I wish it. There was no possibility that the Fire-Fly would enter, either, to re-victual, and as I was anxious to join her, it was useless to waste time in a port where she could not enter. Newport held out the only chance to me for rejoining my vessel. It was but a day’s travel from thence to Boston, and at one or the other of these places I felt confident the Fire-Fly would appear before winter.
The very day, however, after seeing Beatrice, I obtained a passage in a brig, which had been bound to another port, but whose destination the owners had changed to Newport, almost on the eve of sailing. I instantly made arrangements for embarking in her, having already disposed of our prize, and invested the money in a manner which I knew would allow it to be distributed among the crew of the Fire-Fly at the earliest opportunity. My parting with Col. Moultrie was like parting from a father. He gave me his blessing; I carried my kit on board; and before forty-eight hours I was once more at sea.
THE DREAM OF THE DELAWARE.
“Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy.”
On Alligewi’s mountain height
An Indian hunter lay reclining,
Gazing upon the sunset light
In all its loveliest grace declining.
Onward the chase he had since dawn
Pursued, with swift-winged step, o’er lawn,
And pine-clad steep, and winding dell,
And deep ravine, and covert nook
Wherein the red-deer loves to dwell,
And silent cove, and brawling brook;
Yet not till twilight’s mists descending,
Had dimmed the wooded vales below,
Did he, his homeward pathway wending,
Droop ’neath his spoil, with footsteps slow.
Then, as he breathless paused, and faint,
The shout of joy that pealed on high
As broke that landscape on his eye,
Imaginings alone can paint.
Down on the granite brow, his prey,
In all its antlered glory lay.
His plumage flowed above the spoil—
His quiver, and the slackened bow,
Companions of his ceaseless toil,
Lay careless at its side below.
Oh! who might gaze, and not grow brighter,
More pure, more holy, and serene;
Who might not feel existence lighter
Beneath the power of such a scene?
Marking the blush of light ascending
From where the sun had set afar,
Tinting each fleecy cloud, and blending
With the pale azure; while each star
Came smiling forth ’mid roseate hue,
And deepened into brighter lustre
As Night, with shadowy fingers threw
Her dusky mantle round each cluster.
Purple, and floods of gold, were streaming
Around the sunset’s crimson way,
And all the impassioned west was gleaming
With the rich flush of dying day.
Far, far below the wandering sight,
Seen through the gath’ring gloom of night,
A mighty river rushing on,
Seemed dwindled to a fairy’s zone.
No bark upon its wave was seen,
Or if ’twas there, it glided by
As viewless forms, that once have been,
Will flit, half-seen, before the eye.
Long gazed the hunter on that sight,
’Till twilight darkened into night,
Dim and more dim the landscape grew,
And duskier was the empyrean blue;
Glittered a thousand stars on high,
And wailed the night-wind sadly by;
And slowly fading, one by one,
Cliff, cloud, ravine, and mountain pass
Grew darker still, and yet more dun,
’Till deep’ning to a shadowy mass,
They seemed to mingle, earth and sky,
In one wild, weird-like canopy.
Yet lo! that hunter starts, and one
Whom it were heaven to gaze upon,
A beauteous girl,—as ’twere a fawn,
So playful, wild, and gentle too,—
Came bounding o’er the shadowy lawn,
With step as light, and love as true.
It was Echucha! she, his bride,
Dearer than all of earth beside,—
For she had left her sire’s far home,
The woodland depths with him to roam
Who was that sire’s embittered foe!
And there, in loveliness alone,
With him her opening beauty shone.
But even while he gazed, that form,
As fades the lightning in the storm,
Passed quickly from his sight.
He looked again, no one was there,
No voice was on the stilly air,
No step upon the greensward fair,
But all around was night.
She past, but thro’ that hunter’s mind,
What wild’ring memories are rushing,
As harps, beneath a summer wind,
With wild, mysterious lays are gushing.
Fast came rememb’rance of that eve,
Whose first wild throb of earthly bliss
Was but to gaze, and to receive
The boon of hope so vast as this—
To clasp that being as his own,
To win her from her native bowers;
And form a spirit-land, alone
With her amid perennial flowers.
And as he thought, that dark, deep eye,
Seemed hovering as ’twas wont to bless,
When the soft hand would on him lie,
And sooth his soul to happiness.
Like the far-off stream, in its murmurings low,
Like the first warm breath of spring,
Like the Wickolis in its plaintive flow,
Or the ring-dove’s fluttering wing,
Came swelling along the balmy air,
As if a spirit itself was there,
So sweet, so soft, so rich a strain,
It might not bless the ear again,
Now breathed afar, now swelling near,
It gushed on the enraptured ear;—
And hark! was it her well-known tone?
No—naught is heard but the voice alone.
“Warrior of the Lenape race,
Thou of the oak that cannot bend,
Of noble brow and stately grace,
And agile step, of the Tamenend,
Arise—come thou with me!
Echucha waits in silent glade,
Her eyes the eagle’s gaze assume,
As daylight’s golden glories fade,
To catch afar her hunter’s plume,—
But naught, naught can she see.
Her hair is decked with ocean shell,
The vermeil bright is on her brow,
The peag zone enclasps her well,
Her heart is sad beneath it now,
She weeps, and weeps for thee.
With early dawn thou hiedst away,
In reckless sports the hours to while,
Oh! sweet as flowers, in moonlit ray,
Shall be thy look, thy voice, thy smile,
When again she looks on thee!
Oh! come, come then with me.”
Scarce ceased the strain, when silence deep,
As broods o’er an unbroken sleep,
Seemed hovering round; then slowly came
A glow athwart the darkling night,
Bursting at length to mid-day flame,
And bathing hill and vale in light.
While suddenly a form flits by
With step as fleet, as through the sky
The morning songster skims along
Preceded by his matchless song.
So glided she; yet not unseen
Her graceful gait, her brow serene,
Her finely modelled limbs so round,
Her raven tresses all unbound,
That flashing out, and hidden now,
Waved darkly on each snowy shoulder,—
As springing from the mountain’s brow,
Eager and wild that one to know,
The hunter hurried to behold her.
On, on the beauteous phantom glides
Beneath the sombre, giant pines
That stud the steep and rugged sides
Of pendant cliffs, and deep ravines;
Down many a wild descent and dell
O’ergrown with twisted lichens rude;
Yet where she passed a halo fell
To guide the footsteps that pursued,—
Like that fell wonder of the sky
That flashes o’er the starry space,
And leaves its glitt’ring wake on high,
For man portentous truths to trace.
And onward, onward still that light
Was all which beamed upon the sight.
Of figure he could naught descry,
Invisible it seemed to fly;
Alluring on with magic art
That half disclosing, hid in part.
Bright, beautiful, resistless Fate!
Oh! what is like thy magic will,
Which men in blind obedience wait,
Yet deem themselves unfettered still!
By thee impelled that hunter sped
Through shadowy wood, o’er flowery bed;
When angels else, beneath his eye,
Had passed unseen, unnoticed by.
The Indian brave! that stoic wild,
Philosophy’s untutored child,
A being, such as wisdom’s torch
Enkindled ’neath the attic porch,
Where the Phoenician stern and eld,
His wise man to the world revealing,
Divined not western wildness held
Untutored ones less swayed by feeling;
Whose firm endurance fire nor stake
Nor torture’s fiercest pangs might shake.
Yes! matter, mind, the eternal whole,
In apprehension revelling free,
Evolved that fearlessness of soul
Which Greece saw but in theory.
Still on that beauteous phantom fled,
And still behind the hunter sped.
Nor turned she ’till where many a rock
Lay rent as by an earthquake’s shock,
And through the midst a stream its way
Held on ’mid showers of falling spray,
Marking by one long line of foam
Its passage from its mountain home.
But now, amid the light mist glancing
Like elf or water-nymph, the maid
With ravishment of form entrancing
The spell-bound gazer, stood displayed.
So looked that Grecian maiden’s face,
So every grace and movement shone,
When ’neath the sculptor’s wild embrace,
Life, love, and rapture flushed from stone.
She paused, as if her path to trace
Through the thick mist that boiled on high,
Then turning full her unseen face,
There, there, the same, that lustrous eye,
So fawn-like in its glance and hue
As when he first had met its ray,
Echucha’s self, revealed to view—
She smiled, and shadowy sank away.
Again ’twas dawn: that hunter’s gaze
Was wand’ring o’er a wide expanse
Of inland lake, half hid in haze
That waved beneath the morning’s glance.
The circling wood, so still and deep
Its sombre hush, seemed yet asleep;
Save when at intervals from tree
A lone bird woke its minstrelsy,
Or flitting off from spray to spray
’Mid glittering dew pursued its way.
When lo! upon the list’ning ear
The rustling of a distant tread,
That pausing oft drew ever near
A causeless apprehension spread.
And from a nook, a snow-white Hind
Came bounding—beauteous of its kind!—
Seeking the silver pebbled strand
Within the tide her feet to lave,
E’re noonday’s sun should wave his wand
Of fire across the burnished wave.
Never hath mortal eye e’er seen
Such fair proportion blent with grace;
A creature with so sweet a mien
Might only find its flitting place
In that bright land far, far away
Where Indian hunters, legends say,
Pursue the all-enduring chase.
The beautifully tapered head,
The slender ear, the eye so bright,
The curving neck, the agile tread,
The strength, the eloquence, the flight
Of limbs tenuitively small,
Seemed imaged forth, a thing of light
Springing at Nature’s magic call.
The sparkling surge broke at her feet,
Rippling upon the pebbly brink,
As gracefully its waters sweet
She curved her glossy neck to drink.
Yet scarce she tasted, ere she gazed
Wildly around like one amazed,
With head erect, and eye of fear,
And trembling, quick-extended ear.
Still as the serpent’s hushed advance,
The hunter, with unmoving glance,
Wound on to where a beech-tree lay
Half buried in the snowy sand:
He crouches ’neath its sapless spray
To nerve his never-failing hand.
A whiz—a start—her rolling eye
Hath caught the danger lurking nigh.
She flies, but only for a space;
Then turns with sad reproachful face;
Then rallying forth her wonted strength,
She backward threw her matchless head,
Flung on the wind her tap’ring length,
And onward swift and swifter sped,—
O’er sward, and plain, and snowy strand,
By mossy rocks, through forests grand,
Which there for centuries had stood
Rustling in their wild solitude.
On, on, in that unwearied chase
With tireless speed imbued,
Went sweeping with an eldrich pace
Pursuing and pursued!
’Till, as the sinking orb of day,
Glowed brighter with each dying ray,
The fleetness of that form was lost,
Dark drops of blood her pathway crost,
And faint and fainter drooped that head,—
She falters—sinks—one effort more—
’Tis vain—her noontide strength has fled—
She falls upon the shore.
One eager bound—the Hunter’s knife
Sank deep to end her struggling life;
Yet, e’en as flashed the murd’rous blade,
There came a shrill and plaintive cry:
The Hind was not—a beauteous maid
Lay gasping with upbraiding eye.
The glossy head and neck were gone,
The snowy furs that clasped her round;
And in their place the peag zone,
And raven hair that all unbound
Upon her heaving bosom lies
And mingles with the rushing gore,
The sandaled foot, the fawn-like eyes;
All, all are there—he needs no more—
“Echucha—ha!” The dream hath passed;
Cold clammy drops were thick and fast
Upon the awakened warrior’s brow,
And the wild eye that flashed around
To penetrate the dark profound,
Seemed fired with Frenzy’s glow.
Yet all was still, while far above,
Nestling in calm and holy love,
The watchful stars intensely bright
Gleamed meekly through the moonless night.
The Hunter gazed,—and from his brow
Passed slowly off that fevered glow,
For what the troubled soul can bless
Like such a scene of loveliness?
He raised his quiver from his side,
And downward with his antlered prey,
To meet his lone Ojibway bride,
He gaily took his joyous way.
A. F. H.
Zeno imagined his wise man, not only free from all sense of pleasure, but void of all passions, and emotions capable of being happy in the midst of torture.
The stoics were philosophers, rather in words than in deeds.
MY GRANDMOTHER’S TANKARD.
BY JESSE E. DOW.
My grandmother was one of the old school. She was a fine, portly built old lady, with a smart laced cap. She hated snuff and spectacles, and never lost her scissors, because she always kept them fastened to her side by a silver chain. As for scandal she never indulged in its use, believing, as she said, that truth was stranger than fiction and twice as cutting.
My grandmother had a penchant for old times and old things, she delighted to dwell upon the history of the past, and once a year on the day of thanksgiving and prayer, she appeared in all the glories of a departed age. Her head bore an enormous cushion—her waist was doubly fortified with a stomacher of whale-bone and brocade. Her skirt spread out its ample folds of brocade and embroidery below, flanked by two enormous pockets. Her well-turned ankles were covered with blue worsted stockings, with scarlet clocks, and her underpinning was completed by a pair of high quartered russet shoes mounted upon a couple of extravagant red heels. When the hour for service drew near, she added a high bonnet of antique form, made of black satin, and a long red cloak of narrow dimensions. Thus clothed, as she ascended the long slope that led to the old Presbyterian meeting house, she appeared like a British grenadier with his arms shot off, going to the pay office for his pension.
Her memory improved by age, for she doubtless recollected some things which never happened, and her powers of description were equal to those of Sir Walter Scott’s old crone, whose wild legends awoke the master’s mind to a sense of its own high powers.
My grandmother came through the revolution a buxom dame, and her legends of cow boys and tories, of white washed chimnies and tar and featherings, of battles by sea, and of “skrimmages,” as she termed them, by land, would have filled a volume as large as Fox’s book of the Martyrs, and made in the language of the day a far more readable work.
I was her pet—her auditor: I knew when to smile, and when to look grave—when to approach her, and when to retire from her presence; her pocket was my paradise, and her old cup-board my seventh heaven.
Many a red streaked apple and twisted doughnut have I munched from the former,—and many a Pisgah glimpse have I had of the bright pewter and brighter silver that garnished the latter. Among the old lady’s silver was a venerable massive tankard that had come down from the early settlers of Quinapiack, and she prized it far above many weightier and more useful vessels. This relic always attracted my notice—a coat of arms was pictured upon one side of it, and underneath it the family name in old English letters, stood out like letters upon an iron sign. It was of London manufacture, and must have been in use long before the Pilgrims sailed for Plymouth. It had, doubtless, been drained by cavaliers and roundheads in the sea girt isle,
“Ere the May flower lay
In the stormy bay,
And rocked by a barren shore.”
The history of this venerable relic was my grandmother’s hobby, and as she is no longer with us to relate the story herself, I will hand it down in print, that posterity, if so disposed, may know something also of
MY GRANDMOTHER’S TANKARD.
In the year 1636, a company of fighting men from the Massachusetts colony, pursued a party of Pequots to the borders of a swamp in the present county of Fairfield, in Connecticut, and destroyed them by fire.
The soldiers on their return to the colony spoke in rapture of a goodly land through which they passed in the south country, bordering upon a river and bay, called by the Indians Quinapiack, and by the Dutch the Vale of the Red Rocks.
In the year 1637, the New Haven company, beaten out by the toils and privations of a long and boisterous voyage across the Atlantic, landed at the mouth of the Charles River, and continued for a season inactive in the pleasant tabernacles of the early pilgrims. Hearing of the fair and goodly land beyond the Connectiquet, or Long River, and disliking the sterile shores of Massachusetts bay, the newly arrived company sent spies into the land to view the second Canaan, and bring them a true report.
In 1638, having received a favorable account from the pioneers, the company embarked, and sailed for that fair land, and at the close of the tenth day the Red Rocks appeared frowning grimly against the western horizon, and the Quinapiack spread out its silver bosom to receive them. The vessel that brought the colony, landed them on the eastern shore of a little creek now filled up and called the meadows, about twenty rods from the corner of College and George streets, in New Haven, and directly opposite to the famous old oak, under whose broad branches Mr. Davenport preached his first sermon to the settlers, “Upon the Temptations of the Wilderness.” Time, that rude old gentleman, has wrought many changes in the harbor of Quinapiack since the days of the pilgrims; and a regiment of purple cabbages are now growing where the adventurers’ bark rested her wave-worn keel.
In 1638, having laid out a city of nine squares, the company met in Newman’s barn, and formed their constitution. At this meeting it was ordered that the laws of Moses should govern the colony until the elders had time to make better ones.
Theophilus Eaton, Esq. was chosen the first governor: and the whole power of the people was vested in the governor, Mr. Davenport, the minister, his deacon, and the seven pillars of the church of Quinapiack. Here was church and state with a vengeance, and the pilgrims who sought freedom to worship God found freedom to worship him as they pleased, provided they worshipped him as Mr. Davenport directed.
The seven pillars of the church were wealthy laymen, and were its principal support; among the number I find the names of those staunch old colonists, Matthew Gilbert and John Panderson.
Governor Eaton was an eminent merchant in London, and when he arrived at Quinapiack, his ledger was transformed into a book of records for the colony. It is now to be seen with his accounts in one end of it, and the records in the other. The principal settlers of New Haven were rich London merchants. They brought with them great wealth, and calculated in the new world to engage in commerce, free from the trammels that clogged them in England. They could not be contented with the old colony location. They now found a beautiful harbor—a fine country—and a broad river: but no trade. Where all were sellers there could be no buyers. They had stores but no customers: ships but no Wapping: and they soon began to sigh for merry England, and the wharves of crowded marts. In three years after landing at New Haven, a large number of these settlers determined to return to their native land.
Accordingly a vessel was purchased in Rhode Island, a crazy old tub of a thing that bade fair to sail as fast broadside on as any way, whose sails were rotten with age, and whose timbers were pierced by the worms of years. Having brought the vessel round to New Haven, the colonists, under the direction of the old ship master Lamberton, repaired and fitted her for sea.
The day before Captain Lamberton intended to sail, Eugene Foster, the son of a wealthy merchant in London, and Grace Gilman, the daughter of one of the wealthy worthies of Quinapiack, wandered out of the settlement and ascended the East Rock.
Grace Gilman was the niece of my great, great grandmother. Possessing a brilliant mind, a lovely countenance, and a form of perfect symmetry, she occupied no small share of every single gentleman’s mind asleep or awake, in the colony. Her dark hair hung in ringlets about a neck of alabaster, and sheltered with smaller curls a cheek where the lily and the rose held sweet communion together.
Foster had followed the object of his love to her western home, and having gained Elder Gilman’s consent to his union with the flower of Quinapiack, he was now ready to return in the vessel to his native land, for the purpose of preparing for a speedy settlement in the colony.
Eugene Foster was a noble, spirited youth, of high literary attainments. Besides his frequent excursions with the scouts, had made him an experienced woodman and hunter. His countenance was pleasant; his eye possessed the fire of genius; and his form was tall and commanding.
It was a glorious morning in autumn. The whole space around the settlement was one vast forest, and the frost had tipped the leaves of the trees with russet crimson and gold. The bare sumac lifted its red core on high, and the crab apple hung its bright fruit over every crag. The maple shook its blood-colored leaves around, and the chesnut and walnut came pattering down from their lofty heights, like hail from a summer cloud. The heath hens sate drumming the morning away upon the mouldering trunks, whose tops had waved above the giants of the forest in former ages. The grey squirrel sprang from limb to limb. The flying squirrel sailed from tree to tree in his downward flight; and the growling wild cat glided swiftly down the vistas of the wood with her shrieking prey.
The blue jay piped all hands from the deep woods—and the hawk, as he sailed over the partridge’s brood, shrieked the wild death cry of the air. A haze rested upon the distant heights, and a cloud of mellow light rolled over the little settlement, and faded into silver upon the broad sound that stretched out before it.
It was nearly noon when the lovers—whose conversation on such an occasion I must leave the reader to imagine—turned from the enchanting prospect, which at this day exceeds any thing in America—to return to the settlement. Two Indians, of the Narragansett tribe, now bounded from the thicket, and before Foster could bring his musketoon to its rest—for he always went armed—they levelled him to the earth. A green withe was speedily twined around his arms, and he was apparently as powerless as a child. Grace sprang to a little path that led to the parapet of the bluff and screamed for help; that scream was her salvation, for the Indian who was binding Foster’s hands, left the withe loose, and sprang toward her. In a moment the rude hand of the red-man rested heavily upon her shoulder, and his grim look sent the blood tingling from her cheeks. Another withe was speedily passed around her arms, and then the two Narragansetts seated themselves to make a hurdle to bear the pale faced maiden away. As they were busily engaged Grace heard a whisper behind her. She turned her head half round—Foster, by great exertions, had got loose from his withe, and was crawling slowly toward his musketoon.
The Narragansetts, suspecting nothing, were sitting behind a little clump of sassafras, and nothing but their brawny chests could be seen through a small bend in the trunks of the trees that composed the thicket.
Stealthily crept the experienced Foster to the tree where his musketoon rested. Not a crackling twig, nor rustling leaf, gave the slightest evidence of his movements. The Indians spoke in their own wild gutterals of the beauty of the pale-faced squaw, and chuckled with delight at the speedy prospect of roasting the young long knife by Philip’s council fire.
The musketoon was just as he had left it: not a grain of powder had left the pan,—the match burned brightly at the butt, and every thing seemed to be as effective as possible. Foster seized it and motioned to Grace to stoop her head, so as to give him a chance to bring the red men in a range through the opening in the thicket.
Grace bent her head to the ground, while her heart beat with fearful anticipation. The young pilgrim aimed his deadly weapon, as a fine opportunity presented itself. The two savages were sitting cross-legged, side by side, and their brawny breasts were seen, one bending slightly before the other. Foster aimed so as to give each a fair proportion of slugs—for he had a charge for a panther in his barrel—and fired. A loud report rang down the aisles of the forest, and rattled in echoes over the settlement, while the two Indians bounded up with a fearful yell, and fell dead upon the half-made hurdle. Foster sprang to the side of Grace, and casting loose the withe that confined her swollen arms, bore her over the bodies of the Narragansetts, whose horrid scowls never were forgotten by the affrighted maid.
A war-whoop now rang in the usual pathway to the settlement, and Foster saw that he must take a shorter cut or die. Grace had fainted, and every thing depended upon his manliness and strength. He therefore approached the brink of the precipice. A wild grape vine, that had grown there since the morning of time, for aught he knew, extended far up the perpendicular rock, from a crag below. He bound the fair girl to his breast with his neckcloth and shot-belt, and grasping the stem of the vine, descended. As he slipped down, the vine began to yield, and just as his foot touched the narrow crag, the whole vine, with a mass of loose earth and stones, gave way with a tremendous crash, and hung, from the crevice where he stood, like a feather quivering beneath his feet. Foster was for a moment dizzy, but he cast his eyes upward, and beheld the eyes of an Indian glaring upon him from the top of the rock. He was nerved in a moment: and seeing a ledge a foot and a half broad, beyond a fissure, about eight feet over, and very deep, he determined to spring for it. Grace Gilman, however, was a dead weight to the young man, and he feared the result. The ledge seemed to run at an angle of forty-five degrees along the front of the rock, to a side hill, formed by fallen rocks and earth. A wild vine hung down over the fissure, covered with tempting fruit. He reached out his hand and grasped the main stem as it waved in the breeze,—it was strong, and its roots seemed firmly imbedded in a crevice above him. Commending himself to that Creator whose tireless eye takes in at a glance his creatures, he made his leap! The damp wind from the fissure rushed by his ears; the vine cracked and rustled above him; rich clusters of luscious fruit came tumbling upon his head; and the birds of night came shrieking out from their dark shelters in the fissure as he swung past. Foster, however, did not waver, his foot struck the ledge and he leaned forward; the vine flew back like a pendulum as he let it go, and he slid down the smooth ridge of the ledge in safety. In a short time he brought up against a heap of earth that had fallen from the mountain top, and springing up, bounded like the chamois hunter from crag to crag, until he stood upon the broad bottom, without a bruise or a scratch upon himself or his fair charge. In twenty minutes the young pilgrim entered the settlement by the forest way, with the almost lifeless form of his beloved buckled to his breast, while savage yells of disappointment came down from the summit of the East Rock, and caused the young mothers of Quinapiack to press their startled babes closer to their trembling hearts.
None had dared to follow the adventurous pilgrim’s course down the mountain’s perpendicular side: and the ledges that jut out like faint shadows from the bluff, are called Foster’s Stepping Stone by those who know the incident to this day.
The report of the musketoon was heard in the settlement. The soldiers of the colony stood to their arms, and when Foster had made his report, several strong parties went out upon a scout; but it was of no use; drops of blood only were discovered sprinkled upon the sassafras-leaves, and a heavy trail leading toward the Long River. The fighting men of Quinapiack, after a weary march, gave up the pursuit of the Narragansetts, and returned leisurely to the settlement. Night now settled like a raven upon the land—the drums beat to prayers—one by one the lights went out in the cottages of the pilgrims; and as the watch-fire sent forth its ruddy blaze from the common—now the college green—the colony slumbered in sweet forgetfulness, or wandered in visions amid the scenes of their childhood by the broad Shannon or the silver Ayr.
Who can tell the strange thoughts that agitated the sleepers’ souls? The old men, had they no pleasures of memory? The young men and the maidens, had they no dreams of joy—no bright pictures of trysting trees and lovely glens where the white lady moved in her noiseless path, or the fairies danced on the moonlight sward? Had the politician no dream of departed power? No sigh for his rapid fall? Had the soldier no dream of glory—no sound of stirring bugles melting upon his ear? Had the minister of God no dream of greatness—when before the kings and princes of the world he stood? and like Nathan of old said in Christ-like majesty to the offending monarch—
“Thou art the man.”
It was sunrise at Quinapiack, and the seven pillars were no longer seven sleepers. Eugene Foster stood beside Grace Gilman, while the old elder wrestled valiantly in prayer. When the morning service was ended, and a substantial breakfast had been stowed away with no infant’s hand, Foster imprinted a kiss upon the cheek of the bashful puritan.
“Farewell, Grace,” said he, “we are ready to sail. In a few months more the smoke shall curl from my cottage chimney, and the good people of the colony shall wait at the council board for good man Foster.”
“Eugene,” said Grace, with eyes suffused with tears, “your time will pass pleasantly in England; but, oh! how long will the period of your absence seem in this lone outpost of civilization. Do not, then, tarry in the land of your fathers beyond the time necessary for accomplishing your business. There are many Graces in England, but there are but few Fosters here.”
“Grace,” said Foster blushing, “there is no Grace in England like the Grace of Quinapiack, and he who would leave the blooming rose of the wilderness, for the sick lily of the hot-house, deserves not to enjoy the fresh blessings of Providence. The wind that blows back to the western continent shall fill my sails, and I will claim my bride.”
The old puritan now gave the young man his blessing. Foster drew from his cloak fold this silver tankard,—marked, as you now see it,—[so said my grandmother, as she held the antique vessel up to the light,] and presented it to Grace as an earnest of his love. The elder, after seeing that it was pure silver, exclaimed against the gew-gaws, and the drinking measures of a carnal world, and left the room. Two hearty kisses were now heard, even by the domestics in the Gilman family. The elder entered the breakfast room in haste; Eugene bounded out of the door—Grace glided like a fairy up stairs, and the old tankard rested upon the table.
After placing on board of the return ship the massive plate, and other valuables of the discontented merchants, those whose hearts failed them, embarked amid the tears and prayers of Davenport and his faithful associates. The sails were spread to the breeze—the old ship bowed her head to the foam, and dashed out of the harbor in gallant style. Grace watched the vessel as she departed, and when the evening came, she wept in her silent chamber, for her heart was sad.
It was a sad day for the remaining colonists when the ship dipped her topsails in the southern waves. A feeling of loneliness, such as the traveller feels when lost in a boundless wood, seized upon them, and the staunchest wept for their native land, and the air was damp with tears. The next morning the settlement became more cheerful, for what can raise the drooping soul like the still glories of a New England autumn morning? The ship would, in all probability, return in a few months with necessary stores for the colonists, and then, should the company grow weary of the new country, they could return to their native land with their wives, and recount to kind friends the perils of an ocean voyage, and of a solitary home in a savage land.
Six long and melancholy months rolled away, and no tidings of the pilgrims’ ship had reached the ears of the anxious settlers of Quinapiack. A vessel had arrived at Plymouth after a short passage, but nothing had been heard of Lamberton’s bark when she sailed. A terrible mystery hung over the ill-filled and crazy ship. Autumn now came in its beauty, and still no tidings came to cheer the sinking soul, and gladden the heavy heart. Grace Gilman now began to pine, like the fair flower, whose root the worm of destruction has struck, and whose brightness slowly fades away. At length the good people of Quinapiack could stand this state of suspense no longer, and the Rev. Mr. Davenport, and his little flock, besought the Lord with sighs and tears, and heartfelt prayers to shew them the fate of their friends by a visible sign from heaven.
Four successive Sabbaths the worthy minister strove for a revelation of the mystery, and on the afternoon of the last day, when silence brooded over the settlement; when even the barn-fowl grew silent upon his roost, and the well-trained dog lay watching by the old family clock, for sunset, and the hour of play, the cry came up from the water side,—“A sail! a sail!”—and the drums beat with a double note, and the gravest leaped for joy. The cry operated like an electric shock upon the whole mass of the people. The old and the young, the sick and the well, went out upon the shore to view the approaching stranger, and the seaman stood by the landing place ready to make her fast. Grace Gilman was in the centre of the throng, and the worthy minister, Davenport, waited silently by her side.
There is no moment so full of interest to us as that when a vessel from our native land approaches us upon a distant shore. How many anxious hearts are waiting to rise or fall, as good or bad tidings salute their ears. How many watch the faces that throng the deck, and turn from countenance to countenance with eager look, until their eyes rest upon some familiar face, and their anxiety is satisfied.
There are cold hearts also in such a crowd,—worldly men, who come to gather news. What care they for affection’s warm greeting, or the throb of sympathy? What know they of a sister’s love; aye! or of that deeper love which only exists in the breast of woman! which carried her to Pilate’s hall, to Calvary’s scene of blood, and to Joseph’s tomb? The price of cotton, of tobacco, bread-stuffs, rise of fancy stocks, election of a favorite candidate, or the death of a rich relative, are sweeter than angel whispers to their ears, and a rise of two pence on corn is enough to fill a whole exchange with raptures.
There were but few such worldlings on the landing place of Quinapiack on the Sabbath eve when the gallant vessel of the pilgrims approached the shore. Silence reigned upon the landing, and a dreadful stillness hung over the approaching ship. Gallantly she entered the harbor, and the boldest on shore trembled for her temerity in carrying such a press of canvass. Not a sail had she handed—not a man was aloft. Her course varied not—neither did the water ripple before her bows. All was now anxiety. A hail went forth from the land,—a moment of breathless curiosity passed, but no answer came. Another hail was treated with the same neglect. At length Mr. Davenport hailed the stranger. As the words slowly burst from the brazen trumpet, a bright ray of sunlight gleamed full upon the vessel. Her top-masts now faded into air—then the sails and rigging down to her courses—her ensign next rolled away upon the breeze, and when the East Rock sent back the last echo of the trumpet, the pilgrims’ ship had vanished away. A similar ship, though of much smaller dimensions, now appeared upon a heavy cloud that hung over Long Island, and faded away with the brightness of the day.
“It is the promised sign,” said Mr. Davenport.
“Our friends are lost at sea,” cried the multitude.
“Eugene is drowned!” screamed Grace Gilman, and the crowd dispersed to weep alone.
As the throng moved away from the water side, a maniac girl who had been gathering wild flowers upon the East Rock, came running in from the forest way, chaunting the following words to a plaintive air:—
She leaves the port with swelling sails,
And gaudy streamer flaunting free,
She woos the gentle western gales,
And takes her pathway o’er the sea.
The vales go down where roses bloom—
The hill tops follow green and fair;
The lofty beacon sinks in gloom,
And purpled mountains hang in air.
Along she speeds with snowy wings,
Around her breaks the foaming deep;
The tempest thro’ her rigging sings,
And weary eyes their vigils keep.
Loud thunders rattle on the ear;
Saint Elmo’s fire her yard-arms grace,
The boldest bosom sinks in fear,
While death stands watching face to face.
Months roll, and anxious friends await
Some tidings of the home-bound bark,
But ah! above her hapless fate
Mysterious shadows slumber dark.
No tidings come from Albion’s shore
To wild New England’s rocky lee;
Hope sickens, dies, and all is o’er,
The pilgrim’s bark is lost at sea.
But see around yon woody isle
A gallant vessel sweeps in pride,
Her presence bids the mourners smile,
And hope reviving marks the tide.
But ah! her topsails fade away,
Her gaudy streamer floats no more,
A shadow flits across the bay,
The pilgrim’s dying hope is o’er.
Upon a couch, in a little parlor in Quinapiack, surrounded by a number of the worthy settlers of both sexes, rested, at the close of that Sabbath day, Grace Gilman. Her cup of sorrow was full, and she prayed for the approach of the angel of death. Beside her stood the silver tankard, and her dim eye endeavored in vain to read the inscription. “Aunt Tabitha,” said the sufferer to my great great grandmother, “read the inscription for me.” The good aunt bent over the vessel, and read aloud:—
“Sir JOHN FOSTER, OF LONDON,
MASTER OF THE ROLLS.”
And underneath, in small capitals, she read:—
“Eugene Foster, to Grace Gilman, as an earnest of his love.
“An empty cup to hold our tears,
A flowing bowl to drown our fears,
In life or death, this cup shall be
A poor remembrancer of me.”
“Brother,” said Mr. Davenport, as he slowly entered the room, “why weepest thou? Daughter of the church, why sittest thou in sadness? Children of God, why shed these useless tears? Arise, and let us bless the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endureth forever.”
The broken-hearted girl folded her hands. The aged father bent over her pillow. The friends leaned upon their staves, and the minister poured forth his soul in unstudied prayer.
A sweet strain of thrilling music now broke upon the ear,—a sound of gentle voices echoed in the hall,—a rustling of wings was heard overhead,—a faint whisper of “Eugene! Eugene! I—come—” died away on the sufferer’s pillow: and when the prayer was ended, the little company found themselves alone, watchers with the dead.
Grace Gilman had breathed her last, and the betrothed of the pilgrim joined her lover in heaven.
The poor girl was buried agreeably to her wishes, upon the mountain side. The tankard became the property of her aunt Tabitha, and finally came to a rest in my grandmother’s cupboard. And now when the Sabbath evening commences, the rustic swain, as he passes the foot of the mountain, fancies that he sees a white figure beckoning to him from the cliff, and hears, amid the sighing of the woods, a low, but fearfully distinct whisper, saying—“Eugene! Eugene! I come!” And oft since, through the dim twilight of a summer’s Sabbath evening, has been seen the spirit-ship of the long-lost Pilgrims, ploughing her unruffled course through the calm waters of Quinapiack, and, when hailed, instantly disappearing.
Washington, January, 1841.
THE RESCUED KNIGHT.
A TALE OF THE CRUSADES.
It was starlight on Galilee. The placid lake lay at the feet, slumbering as calmly as an infant, with the wooded shores, and the tall cliffs around, reflected darkly in its surface. Scarcely a breath disturbed the quiet air. Occasionally a ripple would break on the shore with a low, measured harmony, and anon a tiny wave would glisten in the starlight, as a slight breeze ruffled the surface of the lake. The song of the fisherman was hushed; the voice of the vine-dresser had ceased on the shore; the cry of the eagle had died away amongst his far-off hills, and the silence of midnight, deep, hushed, and awe-inspiring, hung over Galilee.
A thousand years before, and what scenes had that sea beheld! There, had lived Peter and his brethren; there, had our Saviour taught; upon those shores had his miracles been wrought; and on the broad bosom of Gennesserat he had walked a God. What holy memories were linked in with that little sea! How calm and changeless seemed its quiet depths! A thousand years had passed since then, and the apostles and their children had mouldered into dust, yet the stars still looked down on that placid lake unchanged, shining the same as they had done for fifty centuries before.
On the shore of the lake, embowered in the thick woods, stood a large old, rambling fortified building, bearing traces of the Roman architecture, upon which had been engrafted a Saracenic style. It enclosed a garden, upon one side of which was a range of low buildings, dark, massy, frowning, and partly in ruins, but which bore every evidence of being still almost impregnable.
Within this range of buildings, in a dark and noisome cell, reclined, upon a scanty bed of straw, a Christian knight. His face was pale and attenuated, but it had lost, amid all his sufferings, none of his high resolve. It was now the seventh day since he had lain in that loathsome dungeon, and the morrow’s sun was to see him die a martyr, for not abjuring his religion.
“Yes!” he muttered to himself, “the agony will soon be over: it is but an hour at the most, and shall a Christian knight fear fire or torture? No: come when it may, death should ever be welcome to a de Guiscan; and how much more welcome when it brings the glories of martyrdom. But yet it is a fearful trial. I could fall in battle, for there a thousand eyes behold us, but to die alone, unheard of, with only foes around, and where none shall ever hear of my fate.—Oh! that indeed is bitter. Yet I fear not even it. Thank God!” he said, fervently kissing a cross he drew from his bosom, “there is a strength given to us in the hour of need, which bears us up against every danger.”
The speaker suddenly started, ceased, and looked around. The bolt of his door was being withdrawn from the outside. Could it be that his jailor was about to visit him at this hour? Slowly the massy door swung on its hinges, and a burst of light, streaming into the cell, for a moment dazzled the eyes of the captive; but when he grew accustomed gradually to the glare, he started, with even greater surprise, to behold, not his jailor, but a maiden, richly attired in the Oriental dress. For an instant the young knight looked amazed, as if he beheld a being of another world.
“Christian!” said the apparition, using the mongrel tongue, then adopted by both Saracens and Franks in their communications, but speaking in a low, sweet voice, which, melting from the maiden’s tongue, made every word seem musical, “do you die to-morrow?”
“If God wills it,” said the young knight firmly, “but what mean you?—why are you here?”
“I am here to save you,” said the maiden, fixing her eye upon his, “that is,” and she paused and blushed in embarrassment, “if you will comply with my conditions.”
The young knight, who had eagerly started forward at the first part of her sentence, now recoiled, and with a firm voice, though one gentler than he would have used to aught less fair, exclaimed,—
“And have you too been sent to tempt me? But go to those from whom you came, and tell them that Brian de Guiscan, will meet the stake rejoicing, sooner than purchase life by abjuring his God—”
“You wrong—you wrong me,” hastily interposed the maiden, “I come not to ask you to desert your God, but to tell you that I also would be a Christian. Listen,—for my story must be short—my nurse was a Christian captive, and from her I learned to love your Saviour. I have long sought to learn more of your religion, and I am come now,” and again she blushed in embarrassment, “to free you, sir knight, if you will conduct me to your own land. I am the daughter of the Emir; I have stolen his signet, and thus obtained the keys to your cell—”
“It is enough, fair princess, my more than deliverer,” said the knight eagerly, “gladly will I sell my life in your defence.”
“Hist!” said the maiden in a whisper, placing her finger on her lips, “if we speak above a murmur we shall, perhaps be overhead—follow me,” and turning around, she passed swiftly through the door, and extinguishing her light, looked around to see if she was followed, and flitted into a dark alley of overhanging trees.
Who can describe the emotions of de Guiscan’s bosom, as he traversed the garden after his guide? His release had been so sudden that it seemed like a dream, and he placed his hand upon his brow as if to assure himself of the reality of the passing scene. Nor were the sensations, which he experienced, less mixed than tumultuous. But over every other feeling, one was predominant—the determination to perish rather than to be re-taken, or, least of all, to suffer a hair of his fair rescuer’s head to be injured.
Their noiseless, but rapid flight toward the lower end of the garden, and thence through a postern gate into the fields beyond, was soon completed,—and it was only when, arriving at a clump of palms, beneath which three steeds, and a male attendant, could be seen, as if awaiting them, that the maid broke silence.
“Mount, Christian,” she said in her sweet voice, now trembling with excitement; and then turning toward her father’s towers, she looked mournfully at them a moment, and de Guiscan saw, by the starlight, that she wept.
In a few minutes, however, they were mounted; and so complete had been the maiden’s preparations, that de Guiscan’s own horse, lance, and buckler, had been provided for him. But on whom would suspicion be less likely to rest than on the Emir’s daughter?
They galloped long and swiftly through that night, and just as morning began to break across the hills of Syria, they turned aside into a thick grove, and, dismounting, sought rest. The attendant tied the foaming steeds a short distance apart, and, for the first time, the princess and de Guiscan were alone since his escape.
“Fair princess,” said the young knight, “how shall I ever show my gratitude to you? By what name may I call my deliverer?”
“Zelma!” said the maiden modestly, dropping her eyes before those of the knight, and speaking with a certain tremulousness of tone that was more eloquent than words.
“Zelma!” said de Guiscan astonished, “and do I indeed behold the far-famed daughter of the Emir, Abel-dek, she for whom the Saracenic chivalry have broken so many lances? Thou art indeed beautiful, far more beautiful than I had dreamed. The blessed saints may be praised, that thou wishest to be a Christian.”
“Such is my wish,” said the maiden meekly, as if desiring to change the conversation from her late act, “and I pray that, as soon as may be, we may reach some Christian outpost, where you will place me in charge of one of those holy women, of whom I have heard my nurse so often speak; and after that, the only favor I ask of you, sir knight, is, that, should you ever meet my father, Abel-dek, in battle, you will avoid him, for his daughter’s sake.”
“It is granted, sweet Zelma,” said de Guiscan enthusiastically. But the attendant now returning, their conversation was closed for the present.
Why was it that de Guiscan, instead of retiring to rest, when, having formed a rude couch for Zelma, he persuaded her to take a short repose, kept guard for hours, busy with his own thoughts, but without uttering a word? Was it solely gratitude to the fair Saracen which forbid him to trust her safety even for a moment to her attendant, or had another and deeper feeling, arising partly from gratitude, and partly from a tenderer source, taken possession of his soul? Certain it is, that though the young knight had gazed on the bright eyes of his own Gascony, and seen even the fair-haired maidens of England, yet never had he experienced toward any of them, such feelings as that which he now experienced toward Zelma. Hour after hour passed away, and still he stood watching over her slumbers.
It was late in the afternoon when the little party again set forth on their flight. De Guiscan, when the road permitted it, was ever at the bridle reins of Zelma, and though his keen eye often swept anxiously around the landscape, their conversation soon grew deeply interesting, if we may judge by the stolen glances and heightened color of Zelma, and the eager attention with which the young knight listened to the few words which dropped from her lips. How had their demeanor changed since the night before! Then the princess was all energy, now she was the startled girl again. Then de Guiscan followed powerless as she led, now he it was upon whom the little party leaned for guidance.
“Pursuit, the saints be praised, must long since have ceased,” said de Guiscan, “for yonder is the last hill hiding us from the Christian camp. When we gain that we shall be able to see, though still distant, the tents of my race.”
The eyes of the maiden sparkled, and giving the reins to their steeds, they soon gained the ascent. The scene that burst upon them was so grand and imposing that, involuntarily, for a moment, they drew in and paused.
Before them stretched out an extensive plain, bounded on three sides by chains of hills, while on the fourth, and western border, glistened far away the waters of the Mediterranean. Rich fields of waving green; sparkling rivers, now lost and now emerging to sight; rolling uplands, crowned with cedar forests; and, dimly seen in the distance, a long line of glittering light, reflected from the armor of the Crusaders, and telling where lay the Christian camp, opened out before the eyes of the fugitives.
“The camp—the camp,” said de Guiscan joyously, pointing to the far-off line of tents.
The maiden turned her eyes to behold the glittering sight, gazed at it a moment in silence, and then casting a look backward, in the direction of her father’s house, she heaved a deep sigh, and said calmly:
“Had we not better proceed?”
“By my halidome, yes!” said de Guiscan with sudden energy, “see yon troop of Saracens pricking up the mountain side in our rear—here—in a line with that cedar—”
“I see them,” said Zelma, breathlessly, “they are part of the Emir’s guard—they are in pursuit.”
“On—on,” was the only answer of the young knight, as he struck the Arabian on which the maiden rode, and plunged his spurs deep into his horse’s flanks.
They had not been in motion long before they beheld their pursuers, approaching, better mounted than themselves, sweeping over the brow of the hill above, in a close, dense column.
“Swifter—swifter, dear lady,” said the knight, looking back.
“Oh! we are beset,” suddenly said Zelma, in a voice trembling with agitation, “see—a troop of our pursuers are winding up the path below.”
The knight’s eyes following the guidance of the maiden’s trembling finger, beheld, a mile beneath him, a large company of infidel horse, closing up the egress of the fugitives. He paused an instant, almost bewildered. But not a second was to be lost.
“Where does this horse path lead?” he said, turning to the attendant, and pointing to a narrow way, winding amongst precipitous rocks, toward the left.
“It joins the greater road, some distance below.”
“Then, in God’s name let us enter it, trusting to heaven for escape. If it comes to the worst I can defend it against all comers, provided there is any part of it too narrow for two to attack me abreast.”
“There are many such spots!”
“Then the saints be praised. In, in, dear lady—in all.”
Their pace was now equally rapid until they reached a narrow gorge, overhung by high and inaccessible rocks, and opening behind into a wide highway, bordering upon a plain below.
“Here will I take my position, and await their attack,” said de Guiscan. “How far is the nearest Christian outpost?”
“A league beneath.”
“Hie, then, away to it, and tell them de Guiscan escaped from a Saracen prison, awaits succor in this pass. We cannot all go, else we may be overtaken. Besides, you may be intercepted below. If you live to reach the crusaders, I will make you rich for life. By sundown I may expect succor if you succeed. Till then I can hold this post.”
The man made an Oriental obeisance, and vanished, like lightning, down the acclivity.
“Here they come,” said de Guiscan, “they have found us out, and are swooping like falcons from the heights.”
The maiden looked, and beheld the troop of Saracens defiling down the mountain, one by one; the narrowness of the path forbidding even two to ride abreast.
“Allah il Allah!” shouted the foremost infidel, perceiving the knight, and galloping furiously upon him as he spoke.
Not a word was returned from the crusader. He stood like a statue of steel, awaiting the onset of the fiery Saracen. As the infidel swept on his career, he gradually increased his distance from his friends, until a considerable space intervened between him and the troop of Moslems. This was the moment for which the young knight had so anxiously waited.
“Allah il Allah!” shouted the infidel, waving his scimitar around his head, as he came sweeping down upon the motionless crusader.
“A de Guiscan! a de Guiscan!” thundered the knight, raising the war-cry of his fathers, as he couched his lance, and shot like an arrow from the pass. There was a tramp—a wild shout—a fleeting as of a meteor—and then the two combatants met in mid-career. Too late the infidel beheld his error, and sought to evade that earthquake charge. It was in vain. Horse and rider went down before the lance of the crusader, and the last life-blood of the Saracen had ebbed forth before de Guiscan had even regained his position.
The savage cry of revenge which the companions of the fallen man set up, would have apalled any heart but that of de Guiscan. But he knew no fear. The presence of Zelma, too, gave new strength to his arm, and new energy to his soul. For more than an hour, aided by his strong position, he kept the whole Saracen force at bay. Every man who attacked him went down before his lance, or fell beneath his sword. At length, as sunset approached, the Saracens hemming him in closer and closer, succeeded in driving him back behind a projecting rock, which, though it protected his person, prevented him from doing any injury to his assailants, who, meanwhile, were endeavoring, by climbing up the face of the rock, to attack him from overhead. He found that it was impossible to hold out many moments longer. He turned to look at the maiden: she was firm and resolved, though pale.
“We will die together,” said she, drawing closer to his side, as if there was greater protection there than where she had been standing.
“Yes! dear Zelma, for that is, I fear me, all that is left for us to do.”
“Hark!” suddenly said the maiden, “hear you not the clattering of horses’ feet—here—in the rear?”
“Can it be your attendant returned?”
“Yes—yes! it is—praised be the Christian’s God.”
“I vow a gold candlestick to the Holy shrine at Jerusalem!”
On, like a whirlwind, came the host of the Christians, over the plain beneath, and through the broad highway, until, perceiving their rescued countryman still alive with his charge, they raised such a cry of rejoicing that it struck terror into every Moslem’s heart. In a few moments all danger to the fugitives was over.
The infidels, now in turn retreating, were pursued and cut off almost to a man, by a detachment of the Christian force; while another party of the succorers bore the rescued fugitives in triumph to the Christian outpost.
In the parlor of the —— convent, at Jerusalem, a few months later De Guiscan awaited the appearance of Zelma. Since the day when they had together reached the Christian outpost, he had not beheld that beautiful Saracen, for she had seized the first opportunity to place herself under the instruction of the holy abbess of the —— convent at Jerusalem. During that separation, however, de Guiscan had thought long and ardently of his rescuer. In the bivouac; amid the noise of a camp; in the whirl of battle; surrounded by the beautiful and gay; wherever, in short, he went, the young knight had carried with him the memory of the fair being who, at the peril of her life, had saved him from the stake. Their hurried conversation in the palm grove was constantly recurring to his memory. Oh! how he wished that he might once more behold Zelma, if only to thank her anew for his life. But constantly occupied in the field, he had not been at leisure to visit Jerusalem, until a summons come from France, informing him of his father’s death, and the necessity that he should immediately proceed homeward, to preserve the succession to his barony. He determined to see Zelma once more, if only to bid her farewell forever.
As he was swayed thus by his emotions, he heard a light step, and looking up, he beheld the Saracen princess.
“Zelma!” he ejaculated.
“De Guiscan!” said the maiden, eagerly advancing, but checking herself as instantly, she stood, in beautiful embarrassment, before the knight.
Both felt the difficulty of their relative positions, and both would have spoken, but could not. At length de Guiscan said,—
“Lady! I have come to thank you again for my life, before I leave this land forever.”
“Leave Jerusalem—Palestine forever!” ejaculated Zelma.
A bright, but long-forbidden hope lighted up the countenance of the young knight, and perceiving the renewed embarrassment with which the speaker paused, he said:
“Dear lady! I am going to my own sunny land far away; but I cannot depart without telling you how deeply I love you, and that I have thought of you, only of your sex, ever since we parted. Oh! if not presumptious, might I hope?”
The still more embarrassed maiden blushed, but she did not withdraw the hand which the young knight had grasped. He raised and kissed it. The next moment the trembling, but glad girl, fell weeping on his bosom. She, too, had thought only of him.
The proudest family in the south of France, to this day, trace their origin to the union of Zelma and de Guiscan. * * *
BY MRS. C. H. W. ESLING.
I love those little happy things, they seem to me but given,
To mirror on this lower earth, the far-off smiling heaven,
Their blue eyes shining ever bright like violets steep’d in dew.
Their looks of angel innocence—who’d not believe them true?
The echo of the merry laugh, so full of heartfelt glee,
The very revelry of joy, untameable, and free;
The little feet that almost seem to scorn our mother earth,
But ever, ever lisping on in frolic, and in mirth.
Oh! how we look on them, and think of all our childhood’s hours,
When we were sunny-hearted too, and wander’d among flowers,
When like to theirs, our floating locks, were left to woo the breeze,
Oh! Time, in all thy calendar, thou’st no such times as these.
I do forget how many years have sadly passed me by,
Since my young sun of rising morn, shone gayly in the sky;
When I behold these happy things in all their joyous play,
Pouring the sunshine of their hearts, upon my cloudy way.
Would I could watch their gentle growth, and guard them from the blight,
That ever tracks the steps of Time, like darken’d clouds of night,
Would I could see their laughing eyes still innocently wear
The looks of guileless purity, unmixed with woe, or care.
Dear little children, ye have been to me, a source of joy,
The sweet drop in the bitter cup of life’s too sad alloy,
In ye, mine early days return, the rainbow days of youth,
Of single-hearted blessedness, of tenderness, and truth.
Philadelphia, January, 1841.
THE SILVER DIGGER.
BY J. TOPHAM EVANS.
“Ha! ha! ha!” shouted Piet Albrecht, “and so old Chriss Mienckel is going to be married at last, and to pretty Barbara Mullerhorn, the violet of the forest! Your gold and silver are the best suitors after all! Give me a purse of yellow pieces before all the rifles of the mountain. What sayest thou, comrade,” continued he, clapping upon the back a young man, who sat next to him, “dost thou not think that old Mullerhorn, the gold-lover, would have fancied thee much better, if thou hadst carried more metal in thy pouch than upon thy shoulder?”
“I pray thee, Piet,” responded the young man, “keep thy scurvy jests to thyself. My soul is far too heavy for mirth.”
“Holy Saint Nicholas!” said Piet, “he thinks of little Barbara! Well, courage, comrade, and drink somewhat of this flask. Right Schiedam, and full old, I warrant thee. What, not a drop? Well, here’s to thee, then.”
“Aye,” said a tall, dark visaged man, attired in a hunter’s garb, “aye! these love sick spirits are hardly worth the trouble of enlivening. Once was Adolf the gayest hunter in the hills; but of late, his courage is as dull as a hare’s, and all for a green girl, whose old schelm of a father loves his own broad pieces too well, to bestow her upon a ranger of the free woods.”
“Peace, Franz Rudenfranck,” said the youth; “I will hear such words, not even from thee. If old Mullerhorn continues to refuse me, I will leave these, my native mountains, and wander in some far distant land, hopeless and broken hearted.”
“Pshaw,” rejoined Rudenfranck, “thou art far too young for despair as yet. Throw thine ill-humor to the fiend, whence it came. There are other lasses as fair as Barbara Mullerhorn, and, by my faith, not so difficult to obtain. Therefore, fill comrades, let us pass a health to the recovery of Adolf’s heart, and a more favorable issue to his passion.”
And the cup went gaily round, amid the shouts of the revellers.
Adolf Westerbok had been the gayest huntsman of the F——g district, and the truest and merriest lad in the mountain, until an accidental meeting with Barbara Mullerhorn at a dance, had entirely changed the current of his feelings. It is an old story, and a much hackneyed one, that of love. Let us spare the description. Suffice it to say that Adolf and Barbara met often, and that a mutual affection subsisted between them.
Adolf proposed himself to old Mullerhorn, and demanded Barbara in marriage. But old Philip Mullerhorn, a rude, churlish, and avaricious farmer, scornfully rejected the proffer of Adolf, and forbade him any farther interview with Barbara, alleging, as the grounds of his disinclination, the poverty of the hunter. Barbara was no less afflicted than Adolf. Still, meetings between them were contrived. At last, on the very evening, upon which the conversation, narrated above, took place, Barbara informed her distracted lover, that her father had announced to her his intention of bestowing her in marriage upon Chriss Mienckel, an elderly widower, whose share of this world’s goods was ample enough to attract the covetous regards of old Philip Mullerhorn.
Burning with rage, and filled with tumultuous thoughts, Adolf quitted Barbara, after bestowing upon her a long embrace, and repaired to the inn of the hamlet, in hopes of finding Franz Rudenfranck, a huntsman, who had professed a singular attachment for him, and who had signalised this attachment by many personal proofs of friendship.
The news of old Mienckel’s success had reached the hamlet before him, and he had not been seated many minutes, before Piet Albrecht, the professed joker of the village, began to rally him upon the subject. Piet had already irritated Adolf in no small measure; but the lover had thus far concealed his feelings.
“Ha! ha!” exclaimed Piet, gaily, “to think that the old, shrivelled widower of threescore should outcharm the youth of twenty! If I had been Adolf Westerbok, I don’t think that Chriss would have carried matters so, and I should have worn the wedding ribbon in spite of his ducats. But there’s no accounting for tastes, eh? What say you, comrades?”
The hunters laughed; and Adolf, annoyed at length beyond endurance, rejoined in somewhat of a surly tone; to which Piet answered more jestingly than before.
“Silence, fool!” said Rudenfranck, now interfering, “thou hast neither wit nor manners, and I should but serve thee rightly, did I lay my ramrod soundly over thy shoulders.”
Piet shrank back abashed, for there was that expression upon the brow of Rudenfranck that few cared to see, and fewer to withstand. The hunters were silent for a moment, but one of them, at last, answered Rudenfranck.
“That would I fain see, Franz Rudenfranck. Keep thy ramrod for thy hound; for, by the holy apostles, if thou layest the weight of thy finger upon Piet, I will try whether my bullet or thy skin proves the harder, albeit some say no lead can harm thee.”
“Peace, Hans Veltenmayer,” rejoined Rudenfranck. “If thou wert wise, which any fool may plainly perceive thou art not, thou wouldest chain that unruly tongue within thine ugly mouth, or keep those threats for thy wife, who, if some say aright, would receive them so kindly, as to repay thee, not in words, but in heavier coin. Tush man, never lift thy rifle at me.”
He turned sharply upon the hunter, who had seized his rifle and was levelling it toward him; wrested it from his hand, and by a slight motion, cast him rudely upon the ground. Veltenmayer rose, and slunk among his laughing companions, muttering.
“Come, Adolf,” said Rudenfranck, “I know what thou wouldst have. Leave we this merry company, and go thou with me to my hut.”
They left the inn, and plunged deep into the forest.
The F——g district, as it is called, where the scene of this legend is laid, is one of the highest points in the great range of the Alleghany mountains. High, broken peaks, capped with towering pines, rise upon every side in billowy confusion; while the loftier and more regular chains of mountains stretch far away in every direction, fading and sinking upon the eye, until from a rich, dark green, they seem to meet and unite with the azure of the sky. Rough, rocky precipices; a red and stony soil, where the green mosses crawl and intertwist, in confused, yet beautiful arrangement, over the sward; thick low underwood, and forests almost impenetrable from their density; deep ravines, and craggy watercourses, some entirely destitute of water, and others, gushing precipitately along, flushed by unfailing springs, are the characteristics of this mountain district. The rude log cabins of the few inhabitants of this country, lie distant and scantily scattered through the almost pathless woods, and the entire appearance of the scenery has a sublime, though a savage and uncultivated air. The original settlers of this tract were Germans and Swiss, whose descendants, even at the present day, are almost the sole tenantry of these hills. Their nature seems congenial to the surrounding mountains; and the national exercise of the rifle, the merry dance and song, and those yet more venerable Dionysia, the apple-butter boilings, quilting parties, and log liftings, still constitute the favorite amusements of this primitive people. Even their religion, a strange compound of German mysticism, engrafted upon a plentiful stock of superstition, seems peculiarly appropriate to their mode of living, and their wild country. Nay, the very dress of a century back, still holds its fashion among these hills; and the peasant or hunter, loosely attired in his homespun suit of brown or blue adorned with fringe, or decked out with large, antique, silver or pewter buttons, occasionally garnished with the effigies of some popular saint; his large, broad brimmed wool hat, flapped over his face; his leather leggings; and dark, curly beard, presents a lively image of his fathers, the original settlers of the district. Add to this, the bright, keen wood-knife, sheathed in its leather case, and stuck in a broad girdle, with the powder horn and pouch; and the unfailing rifle strapped across the shoulder, and you have a perfect description of the general appearance of that people, who inhabit the F——g settlement, and the back-woods of Pennsylvania, at the present day.
Rudenfranck and his companion strode onward through the woods for some time without speaking. The elder hunter eyeing his friend keenly, at last broke the unsocial silence.
“I need not ask of thee, Adolf, why thy brow is clouded, and thine eye so heavy. I, myself, although thou mayest smile at such confession from me, have suffered long, and deeply, from a like cause. But my tale shall not now interrupt thy grief, and I have often thought that the very leaves of the forest would find tongues to repeat a story, which might move nature herself. I would afford thee aid; not gall thy wounds by the recital of my own. Speak; is it not thus? Thou hast met Barbara Mullerhorn, even after her churlish father had forbidden thy suit. I know too well, Adolf, that the more we are opposed the brighter burns our love. But in pursuing thus thy suit, thou hast not done wisely. Yet I may still aid thee, and I will do so.”
“Alas, good Franz,” replied the youth, “this complaint is far beyond thy remedy. Gold alone can sway the determination of Philip Mullerhorn, and well dost thou know that Chriss Mienckel is the richest man in the settlement. How then canst thou, a poor hunter like myself, afford that aid, which wealth alone can give? No! no! I see nought save disappointment—save despair!”
“Thou knowest but little of me, Adolf,” said Rudenfranck, solemnly, “but thou art destined to learn more. See, the moon is already rising through the pines, and on this evening, the annual recurrence of which, is fraught with dread and woe to me; and each succeeding anniversary of which, brings me nearer to my stern destiny, shalt thou learn of me a secret, which, if thou hast the fearlessness of soul to fathom, all may be well, at least with thee. But thou canst only learn it of me.”
“Rudenfranck,” said Adolf, “the hunters speak much evil of thee, and strange tales are current concerning thee in the settlement. Unholy things, it is said, flit round thy hut in the hushed hour of midnight. Unholy sounds are heard resounding through the deep glen where thou abidest. Old men speak warily of thee, and cross themselves as thou passest by, and the village maidens shrink from thy hand in the dance. These may be idle tales; but, Rudenfranck, thy words to-night are suspicious. Nevertheless, be thou wizard or enchanter; be thy knowledge that of the good saints, or of a darker world, to thee and to that knowledge I commit myself. Thou hast proved thy friendship, and, for weal or woe, I will trust thee.”
“Men speak not all aright,” rejoined the hunter, while a dark shadow obscured his visage, and his words fell as though he spake them unwillingly, “nor say they altogether wrong.” The young huntsman looked at Rudenfranck for a moment; then, grasping his hand, he cried—
“Then thou canst aid me, Rudenfranck?”
“That will I, as I have the power,” said the hunter; “but we are at the hut. Thy hand upon it, that what I shall tell thee will find a grave in thy breast. Else I will not, I cannot assist thee.”
“My hand upon it,” replied Adolf.
“Enter then,” said the hunter, “let fear be a stranger to thy breast, and all shall yet be well.”
As they entered the cottage, a shadowy form flitted past the door, and the wind sighed mournfully through the forest.
The hut of Rudenfranck differed but little in appearance from the ordinary dwellings of the settlers of the district. Large pine logs, piled rudely together, and cemented with mud, in order to exclude the wind from the chinks, composed the cabin. Two or three common chairs, a pine table, and a camp bed, with a few culinary utensils, constituted the entire furniture of the hunter’s hut. A torch of resinous wood, which flared from an iron bracket, gave light to the room, and a large fire soon occupied the wide hearth. A few articles of sylvan warfare hung round the cabin; and on a shelf, some pewter mugs and earthen dishes, a pair of stag’s antlers, and two or three old folios, their ponderous covers clasped together with silver clenches, lay exposed. A large, rawboned dog, rough of coat, and muscular of form, whose fine muzzle and bright eye, spoke of rare blood, was extended before the hearth. Roused by the noise made by Rudenfranck and his companion in entering, he sprang up, erected his bristles, and uttered a low growl.
“Down, Fritz, be quiet,” said Rudenfranck, as the dog, recognising his master, fawned upon him; “welcome to my poor hut, Adolf. I can give thee no better cheer than our coarse mountain fare will afford, although I may assist thee in some other important matters. Come, draw thy chair to the fire, man. The wind is somewhat sharp to-night, and I will endeavor to make out some refreshment for thee.”
He retired for a moment, and entered again, bearing a noble supply of fat venison, which he immediately set about preparing for their supper. The rich steam of the savory steaks soon attracted the attention of Fritz, who, stretched out before the fire with lion-like gravity, inhaled their genial flavor with manifest symptoms of approbation. Rudenfranck’s preparations were soon completed, and, producing a curious green flask, and two tall silver cups from a recess, he invited Adolf, by precept and example, to partake of the viands set before him.
But the spirit of Adolf was too heavy for feasting, and the morsel lay untasted on the trencher before him. Rudenfranck himself, although he pressed Adolf to eat, neglected his meal, and the table was speedily cleared, Fritz being accommodated with the relics of the repast.
“Taste this wine,” said Rudenfranck, “although myself no great lover of the grape, I am somewhat curious in my choice of wines, and may indulge my little vanity so far as to quaff the juice I drink, out of a more costly metal than falls to the lot of most gay hunters.”
“Truly, Rudenfranck,” replied Adolf, “thy promised plans for the relief of my unfortunate condition seem to have escaped thy memory. For rather would I hearken to them, than drink thy wine, even from a silver cup.”
“Not so, Adolf,” said the hunter, “I will now fulfil my promise to thee. But first, the secret of my power to aid thee, and the means by which this assistance may be rendered, must be explained to thee. Listen, then, and regard not my countenance but my words.”
“You have heard the elders of the hamlet speak of Count Theodore Falkenhelm, a renowned noble of Alsace, in Germany. This Falkenhelm was known to have sailed from Germany, with many other settlers for America. Few knew his reasons for quitting his native country, for he was a dark, unsocial man, and some have said that he had dealings with the Spirit of Evil. He had not been resident here for a long time, before it was observed that he became averse to society, cautious of remark, and jealous of scrutiny. The spot in which he had fixed his abode, was visited by few footsteps, for his mood was fierce, and his society, at times, was dangerous. It was concluded that he was insane. But it was not so. Mark me.
“A youth, some five years after the count had taken his dwelling in these mountains, arrived here from Germany. He had not long ranged these woods, before the fame of the count inspired him with a boyish curiosity to see and to know him. An opportunity was soon afforded; for returning one evening, wearied with the chase, a thunder storm and night overtook him near the cottage of the count. He demanded hospitality, and was admitted, though reluctantly. What he saw that night, when all was hushed in the death of sleep, he never told to mortal; but he raved wildly of fiends and phantoms, and died, soon after, a maniac.
“Shortly after this event, the count disappeared, nor has since been heard of here. But many succeeding years brought news of a dismal tragedy in Germany, and from the account of him who brought the report, it was supposed by those who remembered the count, that he was the principal actor in the scene of blood.
“The hut which the recluse had deserted, was the source of continual dread to the superstitious peasants, whose fears had magnified the ruinous cabin into a palace, where the revels of the great fiend were held. But one, whose heart was bolder, and who had lately arrived in the settlement, took possession of the hut, repaired it, and there fixed his abode. That man, Adolf Westerbok, stands before you.
“I have not always been what I now appear. I was well born, although poor, and had served in my country’s battles, not without reputation. I loved the daughter of a baron, of high family and large estates, whose castle, on the Aar, stood near the dwelling of my father. Thy tale of love is mine, thus far. Although loved in return, and loving—O! spirit of my injured Thekla!—deeper, far deeper than mortal, whose blood burned not like mine, could love; she was torn from me—me, who would have died for her; whose only aim in life was to approve myself worthy of her—and whose love was mine alone—torn from me, and dragged, an unwilling, wretched sacrifice, to the castle of a rich nobleman of our country. Here, her tears and visible decay, instead of moving compassion in the heart of her husband, rendered him jealous and morose. On one occasion, he struck her to the earth in furious rage—struck her, do you mark me?—aye, inflicted a blow on that fair breast which I would have braved hell to defend! It caused her death, for she was pregnant—she died that day. I—yon insulted heaven knows how deeply!—I avenged her, and the steel which struck the life blow to his heart, never has been, and never shall be cleansed. Look at it—I keep it as a memorial of most holy revenge!”
Rudenfranck drew from his vest a broad, sharp dagger, and threw it on the table before Adolf, who saw with horror that the blade and hilt were encrusted with the stains of long-spilled blood.
“I was forced to quit Germany, and wandered through Spain an aimless, hopeless man. Here I became acquainted with Count Falkenhelm. He was in danger from the Inquisition, and I aided his escape from their toils. A hater of mankind, naught, save the knowledge of how bitter an enmity Falkenhelm bore to it, prompted me to rescue him from the snare. A murder was committed in Alsace. Letters came to me from Falkenhelm, desiring me to hasten to him, and ere he met the inevitable doom of his crime, to receive a last legacy which he wished to bequeath me.
“I hastened to him, and on the night ere he was executed, he imparted to me this secret: that, deep within these forests, the mighty treasures of a long buried sage and necromancer, whose power could control the elements, and the spirits of fire, lay hidden. These were the treasures of Bructorix, borne from Germany by magic spells. They were guarded by potent spirits of hell. To me did he commit this knowledge, together with those books, at which you have often wondered, and this spell, which commands the world of demons.”
As he spoke, he again went to the recess, drew forth a small gold box, and opening it with reverence, displayed a fair linen cloth, folded in such a manner as to present five angles, at equal distances, in the centre of which was fixed an opal, of immense value, upon which certain mysterious letters were engraved. The letters which formed the spell, glistened and flashed as though with internal fires, as the light fell upon the polished jewel.
“This,” said Rudenfranck, closing the box, “is the magic pentagon, the key to the treasures of King Bructorix.”
“Heavens!” cried Adolf, “you received, then, this most fatal gift?”
“I did; and took upon myself an awful penalty. I said, ‘Ambition! thou shalt be my God, for love is lost to me!’ I came on to this country immediately after the execution of the count, and have discovered the treasure. Reasons, unimportant for you to know, have detained me here some years, disguised as the hunter Rudenfranck. This is the point, then. You cannot obtain Barbara Mullerhorn without gold; nor dare I, if I could, bestow this treasure upon you. You must follow my example, and call upon the spirit of Bructorix yourself. I will instruct you in the manner, but you must undertake the adventure.”
“And the penalty you spoke of,” said Adolf, trembling, as the hot eyes of Rudenfranck glared upon him.
“I cannot tell you. The spirit proposes different sacrifices. Mine is—”
A loud gust of wind interrupted the speaker, and Adolf shuddered, as he fancied he could distinguish the flapping of pinions through the blast.
“Ha!” said Rudenfranck, breathing hard, and speaking low,—“I had forgot!—I had forgot!”
“Is this thy plan?” said Adolf, “I fear me it is unhallowed. I will begone and pray to be delivered from the evil one. Rudenfranck, I will not accept of such assistance.”
“Thy life upon it,” said the hunter, “if thou betrayest me.”
“I have given my hand to secresy, and yet—”
“Choose well and warily, Adolf.”
“That will I, Rudenfranck. There can be no sin, I trust, in hearing so unholy a tale. Is this the only plan—?”
“It is the only one. But, away, if thou canst not accept this aid. I can give thee no other.”
“Then,” said Adolf, as he turned slowly to leave the hut, “I am ruined and desperate!”
“Aye, go,” said Rudenfranck bitterly, looking after the retreating form of Adolf, with a fiendish sneer, “go, fool! Thus is it ever with that microcosm of folly, man. Aye, I can plainly see that the treasure of King Bructorix will soon acquire a new guardian. Another victim, and I leave these fatal shores, and forever.”
As Adolf returned homeward, many and various were the contending reflections which embittered his mind. At one time he thought of the misery which he must endure in beholding the object of his dearest affections, united to Mienckel, her profound aversion; now, vague dreams of the wealth and happiness which the possession of the hidden treasure would confer upon him, flitted across his mind; but a chill damp struck through his soul as he remembered the intimated penalty; and wild imaginations of spectral forms, demoniac faces, and the awful legendary tales, so current among the peasantry, filled his breast with horror. He reached his cottage, and threw himself upon his humble couch, agonised by conflicting emotions. No sleep visited his pillow, and early the next morning he arose and went forth, hoping to subdue the fever of his blood by exercise in the cold air. He wandered about for some time, listless in which direction he took his way, until he found himself near the farm house of old Mullerhorn.
It was a jolly day at the house of that ancient. Turkeys, geese, pigs, and the promiscuous tenantry of the barn yard, bled beneath the knives of the rosy Dutch damsels. The smoke curled in copious volumes from the ample chimneys, and the hissing of culinary utensils, employed at the genial occupation of preparing divers dainties, together with the savory odors from the purlieus of the kitchen, gave indisputable tokens that something highly important was taking place in the house. Adolf viewed this busy scene with melancholy feelings enough, for he well presaged what it meaned. He paused, and leaned sadly on his rifle; but his heart felt still heavier, when, from a window of the farm house a fair white hand was extended, waving a handkerchief toward him. A tear stole down his cheek, as he acknowledged the signal, and, raising his rifle, was about to depart, when a slight tap on the shoulder arrested him, and a plump little maiden, whose rosy cheeks, and smiling face, were the very emblems of good humor, in fact, a perfect Dutch Hebe, accosted him.
“Why, how now, master Adolf? Have you not a word for an old acquaintance?”
“Ah, Agatha, is it thou? How dost thou, my good lass?”
“Better, Adolf, than either yourself or Barbara, if there is any judgment in your looks. Why, you look as if you had seen a spectre, and if you will keep company with that black-looking wretch, that Franz Rudenfranck, I wouldn’t insure that you will not see one, some of these dark nights. Bless me, how you change color. Are you sick?”
“No, no, Agatha. Not so sick in body as in heart. How fares Barbara?”
“Why, indeed, Dolf, for I will call you Dolf again, and it’s a shame for father Philip to make us all call you master Adolf; master indeed! she has done nothing but cry all night. But she is to be married to old Chriss this morning—the odious fool! I’m sure she hates him—and I’ve a thousand things to do; so good bye to you Dolf.”
The lively little girl ran off, and Adolf again was about to pursue his path, when old Mullerhorn, accompanied by the intended bridegroom, and some of his neighbors, arrived at the farm.
“What, Adolf,” said the old man, while a cynical smile played over his thin features, “Adolf here. Thou hast been a stranger of late, lad. But, come, wilt thou not in with us and witness this merry marriage? In faith, it will gladden my little Barbara to see thee there. Come, thou must aid in this gay ceremony.”
Adolf was, for a moment, undecided what answer to make old Mullerhorn; but curbing his indignation, and repressing an angry reply—he thought it most prudent to accept the invitation.
“I thank you, neighbor Philip,” said he, “and willingly will go with you.”
“Why, that is well spoken, boy,” replied the old man, unusually elated by the occasion. “I always liked thee, Adolf; but no ducats, lad, no ducats.”
“They are not so very difficult to procure,” whispered a voice in Adolf’s ear; he turned, and beheld Rudenfranck.
“Well, in, Adolf; and eh? Franz Rudenfranck too? But, in—in with ye both,” said old Mullerhorn, and the party entered the farm-house.
The room into which they were ushered, was an ample, commodious apartment, constructed in the true Dutch fashion, with a polished oak floor, and noble rafters of the same wood. It was hung around with some few gay colored prints, illustrating Scripture subjects, and some bright tin sconces; and the furniture was substantial, although homely. A large mahogany press, whose bright surface and polished brass knobs, might have compared in brilliancy with the mirror, stood in one corner; an old fashioned Indian chest, ponderous and highly japanned, ornamented the opposite niche. Some heavy chairs with long, high backs, and formal arms and legs; the never failing spinning wheel and Dutch clock; and a pair of tall, ill-shaped, brass fire-dogs, completed the garniture of the apartment. The walls were decorated with festoons of evergreen, tastefully arranged by the fair hands of Barbara herself. Two ill-looking, dingy paintings, also occupied a couple of recesses; and a neatly polished cherry table, near a window, displayed an inviting array of apple brandy, cherry wine, cider, and such refreshments as were indigenous to the country. The good dame, after welcoming kindly her guests, bustled off to resume the superintendence of the kitchen; and the unfortunate Barbara herself, arrayed in bridal trim, and looking through her tears, as lovely as the violet, freshly bathed in dew, remained, seated in one of the large chairs, and vainly endeavoring to conceal her emotion. As Adolf entered, her heart palpitated violently, and she could with difficulty so far command herself, as to bid him welcome. Nor did the sight of Barbara in such distress, fail equally to afflict her lover; a grief which Rudenfranck artfully increased, by hinting strongly to Adolf, the possibility of changing the entire face of the scene.
The magistrate having arrived, and matters being so arranged as to bring the affiance to a conclusion, Rudenfranck took the opportunity to lead Adolf apart from the rest.
“Thou thrice sodden ass,” said he, “can’st thou call thyself a lover, and yet allow so much innocence and beauty to be sacrificed to age and avarice? Say thou the word; promise to obey me, and thou shalt yet possess her. See, they are about to sign. Hesitate a moment longer—and look, Barbara implores thee—she is lost. Farewell.”
“Stay,” rejoined Adolf, hurriedly, “this must not—shall not be. Rudenfranck, I promise.”
“Then, demand of old Mullerhorn that the ceremony be delayed, and leave the rest to me.”
“Father Philip,” said Adolf, addressing Mullerhorn, who was just about to affix his name to the deed, “you are aware how long and how truly I have loved Barbara. To see her thus sacrificed, is more than I can bear, and I entreat you to consider farther upon this matter, and to defer this marriage.”
The guests looked utterly confounded. Chriss Mienckel opened wide his large, gray eyes, and stared upon the bold hunter in profound amazement. Barbara turned red and pale by turns; and old Mullerhorn crimsoned with rage.
“Have I not told ye, Adolf Westerbok, that I would never bestow Barbara upon a beggarly hunter? What devil then, prompts thee to interrupt a match which thou hast no power to prevent?”
“Dearest father,” said Barbara, clasping the hard hand of the old man, “hearken to Adolf.”
“Away, idle girl! Adolf, tempt me not to do thee an injury.”
“Nay,” said the hunter, “is it even so? Well, then; gold for gold—ducat for ducat—nay, double each ducat that old Mienckel can bestow, will I lay before you, Philip Mullerhorn.”
“Thy morning draught has been somewhat of the strongest, Adolf. Where should’st thou have met with these sums?” Chriss Mienckel chuckled portentously, and thrusting each hand into his capacious pockets, a melodious harmony of jingling coins soon resounded from their precincts.
“Look in thy pouch,” whispered Rudenfranck. Adolf did so, and drew forth two purses, richly furnished with gold. Astonishment fairly stupified the guests; and the covetous eyes of old Mullerhorn glistened at the sight of money. But the recollection of Mienckel’s broad lands and fair cattle crossed his mind.
“Gold for gold,” said he, musingly. “Well, well, it may be so; and Adolf, when thou canst certify me concerning these riches, thou shalt, perhaps, find me not altogether opposed to thee. This ceremony, for the present, with the consent of Mienckel, shall be postponed.”
Mienckel nodded his assent; for he was a man of but few words. But Adolf, holding the hand of Barbara, demanded an immediate trial.
“Be it so, then,” replied Mullerhorn. “My neighbor’s property is well known. Let it be thy task to prove thy fortune equal to his.”
“Yes,” said Mienckel, “house and farm—cattle and gear—broad lands—rich farming ground—bright ducats——”
“To balance which, I throw, as earnest, these purses,” said Adolf. “Rudenfranck, can’st thou not aid me now?” whispered he, turning to the hunter.
“Not now,” rejoined Rudenfranck, “you have the last of my gold. To-night——”
“To-night!” said Adolf, impatiently, “an age! Father Philip, I pledge myself that on the morrow I will prove myself worthy your regard in purse as well as in love.”
“Agreed,” said Mullerhorn, “until to-morrow let the espousal be deferred. If thou can’st then satisfy my doubts, Barbara shall be thine. If not, this marriage shall no longer be prevented.”
“Thanks, father, and farewell. Come thou with me, Rudenfranck. Ere to-morrow night, sweet Barbara, all shall be accomplished.”
Rudenfranck and Adolf left the house, and walked through the forest in the direction of the hut of Rudenfranck. Few words were exchanged between them, until, being arrived at the hut, they closed the door carefully, and Adolf broke silence.
“Now, Rudenfranck,” said he, “I must know the means by which this treasure may be discovered. Speak then, and quickly. I promise obedience in all matters, faithfully and truly.”
“Then,” replied Rudenfranck, “it is thus. Meet me to-night, as the moon casts a straight shadow over the range of the Wolf Hills. You know the dark cavern by the run, where, it is said, that old Schwearenheim was carried off bodily, by the Evil One——”
“It is a fearful place, and a fearful hour,” said Adolf.
“Fool, thou hast gone too far to recede. Only hint at doing so, and, by all the fiends of hell, I withdraw every hope of my assistance from thee. Wilt thou excite the expectations of Barbara, only to dash them again to the earth? Wilt thou thus vacillate, until it becomes too late to save her from Mienckel? If thou dost so, thou art the veriest driveller that wears man’s attire. Mark me, and answer not. Meet me there, at the cave, when the midnight hour arrives; and hark thee, thou must procure a wafer of the consecrated host. Bring thy rifle with thee, and leave the rest to my care.”
“Be it so,” said Adolf, “it is too late to recede.”
“See that thou fail not,” said Rudenfranck, “and now promise to Mullerhorn what thou wilt. Keep thou but faith with me, and thou shalt enjoy all that thou hast ever hoped for. Be not seen with me to-day. Go to the village. Look cheerily; procure that which I have directed thee, and fail not at midnight.”
The shades of evening were gradually enveloping the country in darkness, as Adolf and Barbara sat together, in the mansion of the Mullerhorns. They spoke of love and happier times, and the bright eyes of the maiden beamed joyously upon the countenance of the youth. Adolf had learned the art of dissimulation in a brief space of time. Alas! it is but the first step in evil that alarms, and he, that has abandoned the paths of virtue, but for a moment, finds it far more difficult to retrace his steps, than to continue in the ways of error. To the enquiries of Barbara, concerning the wealth which he had so lately acquired, he replied, that the death of a relation, whose property was ample, had enabled him to compete, in point of riches, even with Christopher Mienckel. Barbara fully believed him; for true love is ever ready of faith; and fondly pictured to herself many a scene of happiness and of domestic felicity. Thus the evening wore on; and the hunter was startled to hear the hour of ten strike from the clock, as he arose to quit the society of Barbara, and to join the companion of his unhallowed undertaking.
“Whither away to-night, and so early, Adolf?” asked Barbara, as the hunter made ready to depart.
“I have shot a buck in the forest, and must seek aid to bring him in,” replied Adolf.
“It is full late to seek your game in the broad forest to-night, Adolf,” said Piet Albrecht, who had been solacing himself with a dish of discourse with Agatha, in the kitchen, and now came to bid Barbara good night. “Yet, if you would wish my help, to show you that I have forgotten our difference, I don’t care if I go with you.”
“I thank thee, Piet,” replied the young man, “but the game lies far off, and Franz Rudenfranck has promised to go with me.”
“Where have you left it?” asked Barbara.
“Deep in the forest; near the Wolf Hills. At the cave of Schwearenheim.”
“I know not,” said Piet, shuddering, “what could tempt me to go there, so near midnight. It will be nearly that, Adolf, when you reach there, and the cave is, the saints be good to us, an unholy spot.”
“Pshaw, Piet, this is mere superstition,” said the hunter; but his cheek glowed, and his flesh trembled. “Why should the cave be a more unholy spot than any other part of the forest?”
“You know as well as I do, Adolf, that few of the hunters have the courage to pass there after dark. My father has told me awful things of the place, and one of them happened to himself.”
“What was that, pray, Piet?” said Agatha, “did he tumble into the run, and fancy that the water was Schiedam?”
“Nothing of the sort, Mistress Agatha,” responded Piet. “You must know that my father was a woodsman, as bold as any man among the hills. He happened to be late out one evening, after game; and had chased a large mountain cat to the run, where the cat climbed up an old hollow tree. My father followed him closely, and mounted after him; but his hold gave way, as he was looking down the hollow, and he slipped clear through the hole, good forty feet down the inside of the tree. Well, he thought that his hour was come, and that he should starve to death there; for the inside of the tree was so smooth that he could get no hold for either hand or foot; and so he had lost all hope of ever escaping, when he saw something black come sliding down the tree. He recommended himself to God, and when the thing, whatever it was, came within reach, he seized hold of it, and it climbed up again, dragging my father after it. It had no sooner reached the top of the tree; but a loud clap of thunder was heard, and the thing sailed away in a flame of fire, far away over the tree tops. My father clung fast to the trunk of the tree, and slid down the outside, after he had clambered out of the hollow; then thanking Providence for his deliverance, he went home as fast as his legs could carry him.”
“A wonderful tale, indeed, Piet,” said Agatha, laughing.
“Wonderful enough,” said Piet.
“Well, Piet,” said Adolf, “was this truth?”
“Truth!” replied Piet, “I should like to have heard any man tell my father that it was otherwise.”
“Do not go to-night, dearest Adolf,” said Barbara, turning pale.
“This is mere folly, sweet Barbara. If I failed to bring home my buck, all the hunters would cry shame upon me.”
The clock struck the half hour, and Adolf, snatching up his rifle, bade Barbara good night, and leaving the house, struck into the path which led to the Wolf Hills.
“Aye, aye,” said Piet, looking after him, “he doesn’t believe in any such matters; but I fear it is no good that he is bent upon. So much gold, too, and so lately. But it’s no affair of mine. Did you mark the wildness of his eye, though, Agatha?”
The moon shone brightly and calmly over the still woods, and the gentle breath of the night wind sighed mournfully over the ear, as it kissed the forest branches, and swept through the tops of the pines. The murmur of the stream, as it flowed smoothly onward between the high mountain passes, added to the soft influence of the scene. All nature was lulled into repose. A small charcoal fire, burning on a rocky ledge, beneath a tall cliff, disclosed the mouth of a dark cavern, at the entrance of which sat Rudenfranck, the hunter, wrapped in a cloak, to protect his person from the heavy damps of the night. He rose from his seat, and moved restlessly about, making some arrangements in the mouth of the cavern, and occasionally casting an anxious glance over the surrounding hills, as if impatiently expecting his victim.
“I think that he will hardly fail me,” muttered he. “No, he has too much at stake to abandon this enterprise. How still the night is! Strange, that he comes not, and yet the hour approaches rapidly. All is prosperous thus far. O, star of my destiny, triumph in this hour, which is doomed to complete the anxious toil of years! Rejoice in the anticipated majesty of high dominion! But why do I feel so sad? What small voice is that, which whispers me to desist from my undertaking? Repentance—repentance! My spirit is too dark, and I could not, if I would, repent. How quickly my heart beats as the time speeds on! Yet one more victim! Why, I shall be a king? that word is too weak, to express the glorious extent of wisdom and power which I shall enjoy. But happiness—no, no!—that feeling I shall never more experience! These thoughts—the recollection of past crime. Why should I think of crime, who am beyond the hope of salvation? Ha! he comes! ’Twas but the plash of an otter. No! he is here!”
“Rudenfranck, is it thou?” said Adolf, “lend me thy hand. So. I have met with strange warnings in my path toward thee. I fear to go on. Can nothing be devised save this dread trial?”
“I have already told thee, nothing. Come up. The air is damp, and my fire burns brightly. Have you procured that which I desired of thee?”
“I have it; but, Rudenfranck, sacrilege was the price of it.”
“Never regard the price, so as thou hast it. This is right,” said the hunter, as he received the consecrated wafer. “Help me to build this pile, which must be raised before we commence our solemn work.”
Adolf assisted Rudenfranck to build a small pile of stones, upon which were deposited the box containing the pentagon, the consecrated wafer, and a small cruse, in which was a dark red liquid. Rudenfranck also placed a brazier on the pile, into which he deposited some slips of parchment, inscribed with talismanic characters. As they finished their task, the moon cast a straight and gigantic shadow across the Wolf Hills, and the pines seemed to dilate, in the white glare, to an unearthly size.
“It is the hour,” said Rudenfranck. “Be firm. Shrink not; and expect the full reward of thy bravery. Help me to don these vestments.” He threw across his shoulders a furred robe, which he bound tightly round his body with a broad, red girdle. He then placed on his head a conical cap, and taking in his hand a sword, inscribed with characters, and without a guard, he described on the earth, the form of a pentagon, the centre of the figure being occupied by the altar stones, at the side of which Rudenfranck placed his companion.
“Lay thine hand on the altar,” said Rudenfranck, “and pour from this cruse into the brazier, the liquid which it contains. Stay not to look around thee, but feed the fire steadily, while I perform our magic ceremonies.”
Rudenfranck lit a fire in the brazier as he spoke, and drawing a dagger from his girdle, plunged it violently into his arm. The blood flowed freely. He allowed it to run upon the five angles, reciting in a strange language, mysterious charms. He then placed the linen pentagon in front of his breast, and commanded Adolf to feed the flame as he had instructed him. Adolf poured the liquid from the cruse into the burning brazier; and Rudenfranck, gradually raising his voice, until from a measured chaunt, he broke into furious vehemence, suddenly pronounced the charm of the opal. The moon, which had till now shone brightly, changed its color to a deep red; thunder rolled, and the forked lightning flashed frequently and fearfully. The stars shot wildly across the face of heaven. The wind whistled and groaned through the trees. The earth quaked; and the whole frame of nature seemed to shudder at the incantation. A furious crash resounded through the cavern; brilliant lights danced through the gloom; the magic words engraved on the opal gave out a dense and aromatic smoke, and the entire body of rock, seeming to split asunder, with a tremendous crash, disclosed a magnificent brazen gate, ornamented with characters similar to those on the opal, at the sides of which two gigantic skeletons, crowned with diadems, and bearing strange weapons in their bony grasp, stood, the grisly warders of the charmed treasure.
Rudenfranck paused from his incantations, and, turning to Adolf, said in a hoarse whisper,
“This is the portal which encloses the treasures of Bructorix; but the phantom of the sage must now be invoked. Take thou this holy wafer, and affix it to yon brazen gate. Do this speedily, and fear not.”
Adolf, highly excited and bewildered by the scene, obeyed without hesitation. Once, as he was about to affix the consecrated element to the gate, he fancied that some invisible arm endeavored to restrain his hand; but he performed the commands of Rudenfranck, and returned to the altar.
“Now,” said Rudenfranck, “but one more thing remains for thee to perform. Raise thy rifle; take good aim, and shoot at the wafer of the host. Shoot bravely!”
The wretched and abandoned Adolf followed the instructions of Rudenfranck. He raised his rifle, took deliberate aim at the holy emblem, and fired. A demoniac shout rang through the cave. The angles of the pentagon shot forth vivid lightnings. The skeleton guardians of the gate threw down their weapons, while red light flamed from their eyeless skulls. The massive leaves of the gate flew wide open, and displayed an immense vault, filled with huge vases of gold and jewels, which shone with ineffable brilliance. The arched and fretted roof was sustained by bronze pillars, representing strange and hideous animals, contorted into the most grotesque attitudes. Thousands of gnomes, swarmed through the vault, of misshapen forms, whose fierce and raging eyes dwelt upon the hunters, with anger and contempt. Thrice did Rudenfranck, bowing himself to the earth, call upon the name of Bructorix. Thrice hollow thunder pealed throughout the cavern, and, at the third appeal, a gigantic figure rose slowly through the earth, and stood before them. The figure was enveloped in an imperial robe of purple, embroidered with jewels, precious beyond description. A girdle of living fire encircled his waist, and a crown of various and brilliant gems bound his white and flowing locks. In his hand he carried an ivory sceptre. His countenance, scathed by flames, looked like that of some ghastly denizen of the tomb, newly raised to-day; and its expression was lofty, haughty and commanding.
“Who calls upon the name of Bructorix?” asked the spectre, in a sepulchral voice.
“The seeker of his power, mighty spirit,” answered Rudenfranck. “I bring to thee the promised victim, and expect the reward of my services. Once more prolong the date of my life, and execute those promises made me; when by mighty spells, I had raised thee from the abode of the dead, in Germany. That term expired, I bring unto thee another soul, or else resign my own.”
“Would this youth enjoy my treasures,” asked the phantom, “and knows he the nature of the obligation I demand of him?”
“He asks wealth of thee, and, in return, will accede to thy demands.”
“Let him sign the deed, which gives over to my master his soul and body, and his wishes shall be gratified.”
Rudenfranck drew from his breast a parchment scroll, and the infatuated Adolf, with his own blood, subscribed to his eternal ruin.
“Take of my treasures,” said the sceptre, “what thou would’st have, and use it as thou wilt. In exchange for the gift of thy soul, contained in this writing, thou shalt have full access to my treasure. But, mark me. Seven years are granted unto thee, at the close of which time, thou must return, and pay thy homage to the lord of these realms.”
“And myself?” asked Rudenfranck, “shall I not reap the harvest for which I have labored? Recollect thy promises made me in Germany.”
“They are thine,” said the spirit. “This sceptre controls the fiercest demons. Take it. Return to thy native land, and revel in the possession of all earthly wisdom, riches, and power. But when thy date of life has again expired, seek not to renew it. It is enough. Dismiss me.”
“Depart to thy place, accursed spirit,” said the hunter. The spirit of Bructorix descended, and the phantoms hastened to pile the vases of gold and jewels outside of the brazen gate, until the first grey light of the dawn began to glimmer through the clouds. Instantly, the gorgeous scene disappeared, and the cavern resumed its original appearance. Adolf and Rudenfranck, loading themselves with gold, carefully filled up the mouth of the cavern with rocks and brushwood, and returned warily, homeward.
The guests of the preceding day were assembled in the farm house of Philip Mullerhorn, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Adolf. Old Mullerhorn went frequently to the door, and looked out, with anxiety, down the road which Adolf usually took when he visited the farm.
“I fear all is not right with him,” said he. “Adolf is late in coming this morning. He should have been here a full hour before this.”
“Peradventure,” snuffled Chriss, “the young man has fled, doubting whether he could make good his boasts of yesterday.”
“Not so fast, my good friend,” said the voice of Adolf himself, who then entered, bearing in his hand a valise, evidently containing articles of weight. “We shall soon prove whose boasts shall be first accomplished.” As he spoke, he threw the valise upon the table, before Mullerhorn, “I am come,” said he, “Father Philip, to receive my bride.”
“Heavens!” said Barbara, earnestly regarding the countenance of Adolf, “what has thus blanched thy brow, and changed thy visage? Thy cheek is ghastly, and thy look unearthly! Why glares thine eye so wildly? What hast thou done? The light of thine eye is not from heaven! Holy Virgin! the cave! the cave!” cried she, fainting.
“Adolf, what ails thee?” asked Mullerhorn. “Thy brow is indeed pale, and thine eye fierce and blood-shot. Thou comest from no holy work this morning. Hadst thou the whole treasure of earth, no daughter of mine, Adolf Westerbok, should’st thou wed, until the secret of thy conduct is explained.”
“It is nothing,” said Adolf, stammering as he spoke, “a weariness—a sickness—it will soon be over.”
“I fear the mark on thy brow is of no earthly malady. Remain here no longer. Depart from us, for thy society is not for that of Christian men.”
“I come to claim my bride!” cried Adolf, hoarsely, “and to pay the dower. No man shall prevent me from this. Why gaze ye thus on me? Stand back; the man who interferes in this shall rue his intrusion. Barbara, dear Barbara, you cannot, do not thus repulse me?”
“Adolf,” said Barbara, gaining courage, and her voice before faltering, becoming firm and steady, “depart from me. All is now explained. Thy anxiety of last evening; thy expedition to the cave of Schwearenheim; all is explained. Barbara Mullerhorn may have loved thee, and she did so; but she will never consent to be the bride of a forsaken wretch like thee.”
A sudden exclamation from Piet Albrecht attracted the attention of all present, and aroused Adolf from the stupor into which the words of Barbara had thrown him. The room was filled with a rich, purple light, in which the figure of Rudenfranck, arrayed in his magical vestures, and holding the ivory sceptre of Bructorix, appeared to the terrified spectators. Well might they be terrified; for upon the brow of the hunter a brilliant star gleamed brightly with a sulphurous light, and his tall figure seemed to dilate to superhuman size.
“Why dost thou stare at me?” sneered Rudenfranck to Adolf, who gazed upon him with a bewildered look; “why dost thou stare at me? Produce thy treasure and claim thy bride.”
“No! no bride of hell!” shouted Mullerhorn. “I doubted this yesterday. Away from us, Adolf Westerbok; and thou, mysterious being, whether thou be phantom or devil, in the name of God I defy thee.”
“And see,” cried Mienckel, tearing open the valise, “what is here?”
“Old chips of iron and leather, as I live,” said Albrecht. “It is the Evil One. Let us fly from here, else we die!”
Adolf gazed wildly at the valise, and with a loud cry of despair, seized his rifle, and vainly endeavored to destroy himself.
“Ha! ha!” laughed Rudenfranck, “thou hast yet seven years to enjoy thy gold. These are the treasures for which thou hast forfeited thy soul. Miserable fool! Did’st thou think it mattered to me whether thy fate was prosperous or not! Into the snare thou did’st enter of thine own accord, and thou must pay the penalty. Farewell! My ends are accomplished! For the prescribed space of my life, wealth, wisdom, and power in the fullest are mine! That space expired, I will mock at thee in the halls of the fiend. This sacrifice of thy soul hath ensured my success, and I thank thee for it. Farewell, Adolf Westerbok. Fool! idiot! driveller! Thou hast thy hire, and I triumph over the world of spirits.”
As he spoke, he waved his magic sceptre. The cloud enveloped him in its folds, and he disappeared, with a laugh of malicious scorn.
Barbara Mullerhorn survived the misfortunes which had attended her early love, and lived to marry a wealthy farmer of the neighborhood, who proved himself every way worthy of her choice.
Piet and Agatha also entered upon the matrimonial engagement, and their descendants may still be found among the hills.
For some years after, a wan, gaunt, and ragged wretch might have been seen toiling and digging incessantly along the range of the Wolf Hills. The fire of lunacy burned in his eye, he spoke to no one, and never uttered language, save in his insane self-communings. The neighbors universally shunned him, and no charitable voice soothed his misery. He dwelt in the gloomy cave by the run, where the unholy rites of Rudenfranck had been celebrated. His sole occupation consisted in a continual search after hidden treasure.
Seven years had elapsed since the occurrences above narrated, were reported to have taken place, when a hunter, pursuing his game among the Wolf Hills, accidentally discovered the dead body of a man, shockingly torn and mangled, at the entrance of the cavern of the recluse. It was the corpse of Adolf Westerbok, the Silver Digger of the Wolf Hills.
This legendary tale, we learn, is founded upon a superstitious tradition, still current among the backwoodsmen of Pennsylvania. The outline of the tale is preserved as far as the nature of the legend would permit. The cavern is yet to be seen, where the hidden treasures are supposed to have been concealed; and the hardy hunter of the mountains still regards it with fear, and prefers taking a long circuit through the woods, to passing the cavern after nightfall. The whole country, indeed, is full of such traditions, which only require the pen of a Scott to be perpetuated, alike for the amusement and wonder of posterity. Let no man say that America is without legendary lore, let no one deny that she affords materials for poetry! Every hill; every stream; every valley; every plain has its own wild story of border troubles, or Indian traditions. When shall our minstrel arise to hallow them in undying song?—Eds.
Mt. Savage, Md. January, 1841.
“The winter has come, and the skaters are here.”
BY GEORGE LUNT.
The earth is white with gleaming snow,
The lake one sheet of silver lies,
Beneath the morning’s ruddy glow,
The steaming vapors gently rise.
Keen is the cool and frosty air,
That waves the pine trees on the hill,
And voiceless as a whispered prayer,
Breathes down the valley clear and still.
Come, ’tis an hour to stir the blood
To glowing life in every vein!
Up,—for the sport is keen and good
Across the bright and icy plain.
On each impatient foot to-day,
The ringing steel again we’ll bind,
And o’er the crystal plain away,
We’ll leave the world and care behind.
And, oh! what joy is ours to play,
In rapid, round, and swift career,
And snatch beneath the wintry day,
One moment’s rest, and hasty cheer.
Then, when the brief, sweet day is done,
And stars above begin to blink,
As home the swift lake bears us on,
Our sweethearts meet us on the brink.
Then gather’d round the cheerful blaze,
While gusts without are blowing shrill,
With laugh, and jest, and merry lays,
We pass the jocund evening still.
Around the board our feats all told,
Comes nature’s welcome hour of rest,
And slumbers never bought with gold,
Sit light on each untroubled breast.
No lagging pulse impedes our sleep,
No startling dreams our couch annoy,
But health and peace, in quiet deep,
Smile hovering round the country boy.
Then, when the morning bright and clear,
Springs gayly o’er the glistening hill,
With hardy sports we hail it near,
Or hardy labors bless it still.
Newburyport, Massachusetts, January, 1841.
THE SYRIAN LETTERS.
WRITTEN PROM DAMASCUS, BY SERVILIUS PRISCUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, TO HIS KINSMAN, CORNELIUS DRUSUS, RESIDING AT ATHENS, AND BUT NOW TRANSLATED.
Servilius to Cornelius—Greeting:
Your reply to my last epistle, my dear Cornelius, was the more pleasing, because so unexpected.
The speed of its transmission shows the great measure of our obligation to the sagacity and enterprise of Constantine. For who, until our emperor bent to it the considerations of his active mind, ever knew of such rapidity of communication?
In the fair lines before me, I again greet the face of a friend, and hold cheering communion with one divided by long distance. I promised in my last to give you some description of the curious ceremonies of those worshippers, and I find you are urgent that I should fulfil it, since I was so fortunate as to witness some of the hidden mysteries.
You esteem it strange that I, a foreigner, and but a few hours in Baalbec, should have stood at once upon such good terms with Mobilius, as to have induced him to conduct me to one of the most secret recesses of the temple—with all the perils of exposure through my carelessness. I have nothing to offer in answer to your surmise but conjecture. Mobilius was certainly upon some familiar footing with the priests, and perhaps being partly moved by the hope that the imposing magnificence of the ceremonial would win a convert to his creed, he ventured to introduce me. If such was his anticipation, how signally in error! how vain to fancy that the sense can blind the judgment! that the splendor of the cloud that curtains some yawning chasm in the mountain side, can be mistaken for the solid pathway.
The sun had long gone down beneath the dizzy peaks of Lebanon, indeed night had far advanced, when Lactantius, Mobilius, and myself, properly arrayed in dark vestments, sallied toward the temple of the sun. Hurried along at a rapid pace, for he feared we had tarried too long, we soon came in view of the temple’s towering portico, which may still be seen by the curious stranger, even in the absence of the moon; for ever-burning lamps, filled, as they say, by never-failing oil, hang beneath the architrave. Entering at the great door, we were stopped by the porter, but recognising Mobilius, he permitted us to pass, without farther scrutiny, though he was evidently displeased; for although I could not clearly distinguish what he spoke, I heard him mutter angrily in the Syrian tongue.
We did not cross the grand courts, which, like the portico, were filled with perpetual lamps, but hastened through low corridors, vaults, and crooked passages, which might defy the skill of man to retrace, but Mobilius seemed well accustomed to them, so that I inferred he had acted as a guide on more than one occasion. After endless windings, we came into an archway, faintly lighted from without, and proceeding farther, entered a dark room. Here we were obliged to grope our way, and were commanded by Mobilius to tread with the utmost caution. We speedily, however, came to a spot, from which we beheld the great floor of the temple, through a narrow opening, artfully concealed in one of the ornaments of the entablature. All was still.
“Earlier than I expected,” whispered Mobilius, “the ceremonies have not yet begun.”
This leisure enabled me to examine the exquisite architecture of the edifice.
The temple was the loftiest of all those that surrounded it, and which had their position and style of architecture in strict reference to this, as their great centre. The roof was of marble, and I could clearly distinguish, by the lamps around, the delicacy and lightness of its mouldings, pannels, and compartments. In the centre was a sun, carved in the full glory of his rays: marshalled at equal distances, surrounded by its sculptured edge, and sunk deeply into the marble, like a picture in its frame, were the heads of Venus, or as this people designate her, the “Syrian Goddess,” and also of Jupiter and other deities; and if I do not err, I could discern, constellated like the rest, the heads of Antoninus, and of other Roman emperors.
The marble walls were carved with niches and tabernacles disposed in two rows, which were filled with statues, between the floor and the roof, and supporting the latter, stood pilasters and columns of the same order as those which sustain the architrave.
Upon the tesselated pavement in the centre of the temple was erected a gorgeous altar, composed in part of precious metals, and of rare and various marbles, tastefully inlaid, and yet all designed in conformity with the strict rules of the architect. The fires upon it threw a reddened glow upon the walls and pillars, and a representation of the sun seemingly illumined from within, by a mildly burning light, whether real or unsubstantial, I cannot say, hovered above the altar, resembling the undulating brightness which the agitated waters in the vase cast upon the tapestry, or the flickering pale reflection of the moonbeams on the ground, as they struggle through the trembling leaves. My thoughts now reverted to the ceremonies we had come to witness, and some perplexing fancies, in spite of resolution, stole upon me. First, the brief acquaintance of Mobilius; the knowledge that Lactantius was a Christian, and his increased apparent dislike of that form of worship, since Constantine had threatened to close the temples of his faith; and Lactantius had expressed a hope it might be so, and the fact that there was, unquestionably, a connection between Mobilius and some of the priests. But again I thought could he be so base as to delude and betray those who had reposed such confidence, and would not his fears prevent, if he even would, because of the certainty of detection? While these reflections were flashing through my mind, the soft mingling of many voices swelling into the full pitch of harmony, and then sinking and dying as if wafted away upon the wings of the wind, broke the spell, and aroused my attention. Such clear, rich, enrapturing melody, I never heard, even surpassing that which floated from the shores of Cyprus; and a thrill of pain ran through my veins as it suddenly ceased, just as if you were to dash a harp into pieces in the midst of its sweetest outpourings.
“What means this?” I whispered, but a low murmur from Mobilius brought me to instant silence. Directly I heard a silvery ringing voice swell forth a chaunting note, and all the voices fell in one by one, with sweet and heavenly accord, until the lofty temple echoed and re-echoed with the sounds.
The great door then sprang asunder—without the jarring of a hinge—by some imperceptible agency, revealing in magnificent array, numerous ranks of priests, clothed in vestments of the costliest dyes, and walking to the sound of instruments, with measured tread, in glittering procession. Some bore many of the symbols of their faith—such as the heifer’s head—the crescent, the golden bull—some ears of corn, others silver torches, when ascending the altar steps, they lit them at its fires, which threw into still brighter effulgence, the dazzling ornaments of the priests, and all the solemn pageants. This was, as Mobilius whispered, the splendid ceremonial which precedes the great sacrifice. Now came a bewildering and elaborate observance of the usual ceremonies, but so numerous and complicated, that it were tedious to recount them, if I even could.
After a little the music was again heard, both of instruments and voices, swelling, blending, and pouring forth the same entrancing harmonies. The priests, in three rows, circling round the altar, sent up a swelling chaunt, and in a moment, as it were, with the quickness of lightning, three bright fires sprang from the different portions of the altar-top, so brilliant, as that for many seconds, I was not able to discern a vestige of what I had just seen. At this, Mobilius, taking us by the hand, said, “we must depart,” and led us by a different route from that through which we entered. At one place, in suddenly opening the gate, at the end of a long passage, I was startled by a flood of light, illuminating a colonnade, which seemed to lead into a subterraneous passage, plainly connected with another temple. We shortly reached the great door itself, and glided through the portico, seemingly unobserved, though I doubt not it was guarded by some unseen janitor. We now emerged into the open air, and hurried rapidly on. Upon turning to take a parting glance at the temple, my eye was riveted in deep and reverential admiration. The moon was at a towering height, and shone down clear and silvery. Not a cloud spotted the heavens, nor the bright-eyed stars, that like watch-lights, palely burnt around her. No sound disturbed the silence of the night, except the faintly dying note of a trumpet, as it softly echoed from some far, far distant battlement, or the rattling of some chariot wheels in its progress homeward, from the banquet of the wealthy Heliopolitan, which lingered for a moment on the ear, then was lost forever.
The lights upon the temple paled away in the eternal brightness of the queen of night, throwing the portico in bold relief, as if it were covered with a mantle of snow, and casting its deep recesses into the shades of midnight. Beside the temple rose a grove, bathed in a silvery flood of light, and the tall obelisks, which being but faintly visible among the foliage, stood like spectres, and upon steady contemplation, appeared to stir from the place of their foundation, such is the power of fancy.
I turned; my companions were gone. They had passed on unheeded, and I wandered as I best could toward the mansion of Septimus.
The gorgeous streets of this great city, lined, as they were, with marble palaces and temples, and thronged but a few hours since with the gay, the beautiful maiden of Heliopolis, or the busy wayfarer, were now as silent as the place of tombs. The cold beams of the pale moon shone still undimmed and uninterrupted, save here and there by a projecting shade or darkling grove, whose loftiest boughs closely interweaving, reared a verdant arch, revealing now and then through the thick foliage, the night’s illumined heaven, and its cold azure depths. So I wandered, cheered at intervals by the soft murmur of the fountains among the trees, whose waters sparkled in the moonbeams.
This grove was ornamented with statues, and verily, I believe, of all the Gods in the Pantheon, among which was Mars, whose highly polished shield shone like another moon.
Now completely lost, I found myself near one of the city gates, and hearing an approaching footstep, I recognised a citizen, some gay Heliopolitan, I supposed, returning from a midnight banquet.
“Can you tell me,” I enquired, “in what direction lies the house of Septimus?”
“Oh! readily,” he answered, “I will go with you, for it stands nearly in my path. I perceive, my friend, you are a stranger, and we dare not break our ancient rule of friendship.” Thanking him for his kindness, we proceeded forward, and I found him a communicative and entertaining companion.
“Pray,” said I, “what noble edifice is that immediately before us, now silvered by the moon?”
“That is the temple of fortune, erected many years ago, after some signal benefit had fallen on the city, through the beneficence of the Gods. It is the work of the lamented Epamenides, his first, his last design,” and he appeared much affected by the reflection. He continued, “behold the proportions.”
I no longer doubted but that my friend was some young architect, enthusiastic in his profession, and not being able to understand his learned phrases, endeavored to divert the conversation.
“In what you say I cordially concur, but what is fame and fortune since but a few lustres must snatch us from their enjoyment, though they be the highest and the brightest which the generosity and admiration of our countrymen can award? Man toils much ere he reaps, so that if the harvest is not scanty it is ours for the enjoyment of but a brief space.”
“You do not draw your conclusion,” said he, “after the manner of the model of all that is great in reason and philosophy. Were the votary to hold such doctrines as these, he would never reach the fires, however ardently he might fix his gaze upon them; he would never attain the consummation of his burning wishes. But he would reason after this manner—toil would be well were the goal worth the reaching. So mark the inconsistency.”
Although not convinced, I was compelled, forsaking my former conjecture, to conclude that the stranger was some eminent philosopher of Heliopolis, so ingeniously did he argue. Though I thought it could not be of so severe a school as some sternly avow.
Walking a little, we met a man in the agonies of a strange sickness. Here I fancied will be afforded an opportunity of testing the truth of my conjecture—for philosophers, especially those of the present day, are ever ready to prescribe both for afflictions of body and of mind precepts which they are most rarely in the habit of practising themselves. But I was again mistaken, for, taking the sick man by the hand, he examined his pulse, and closely scrutinised his features, upon this abstracting a small casket, containing medicines, from his robes, he administered a portion, and its good effects were wonderful. All conjecture was now put to flight; for I at once decided that my new friend was a disciple of Hippocrates.
How fruitless is all surmise, for he afterward informed me he was a member of the forum, and held an office under the emperor. This brought me to the widely spreading portal of Septimus—which almost seemed to welcome me after my absence. I met Lactantius pacing to and fro the hall with Mobilius, as if theirs had been an intimacy of months. “Ah!” said the latter, “we were about sallying out for you—but yet knew it would prove of no avail in such a city as this.”
“Welcome,” exclaimed Lactantius, “I was anxious on your account. How came you to leave us?”
“I did not leave you—it was you who left me—doubtless in the heat of controversy upon the Chaldean mysteries.”
“I understand your meaning, Servilius,” said he, smiling, “but how came you here at all; you are not acquainted with the streets of Baalbec, especially by moonlight?”
“Through the kindness,” I replied, “of Apicius.”
“You are fortunate,” ejaculated Mobilius, “and should deposite your offering to-morrow in the temple of fortune, as is the custom here. He is the first of statesmen and advocates; an accomplished orator, and a very generous and learned citizen. If he pressed you to visit him at his palace, you are still more fortunate.”
“And so he did,” I rejoined.
It proved as Mobilius predicted, for I did not meet a kinder or more noble-hearted friend than this same Heliopolitan.
“As it is late,” observed Lactantius, “we will seek our couches, and to-morrow,” archly glancing at Mobilius, “we may examine the Egyptian mysteries.”
But I must draw to a conclusion, least I should sketch this epistle to a tedious length. I bid you an affectionate
* * *
THE SOUL’S DESTINY.
BY MRS. M. S. B. DANA.
And oh! the soul! she saw in visions bright,
The veil withdrawn which hides the world of light,
With eye of faith she gazed in tearful joy,
And they were there! her husband and her boy!
Sweet hope of Heaven! thou art a healing balm—
If storms arise thy deep rich holy calm
Comes with a spirit influence to the breast,
And to the weary mourner whispers “rest!”
Rest—for the fondly loved, the early dead!
Rest—for the longing spirit Heavenward fled!
Rest—from a tiresome path in weakness trod!
Rest—in the bosom of the Saviour, God!
THE SACCHARINEOUS PHILOSOPHY.
“Her ‘prentice han’ she try’d on man, and then she made the Lasses O.”
Gentle reader—art thou fond of molasses? Not only molasses in its simple state, but in its various compounds? If thou art not I pity thee. Thy taste relishes not that which would otherwise be a source of inexpressible pleasure. Eatables may be divided into the two great classes of the sweet and the sour. From the full enjoyment of at least one-half then of the good things of life (and that the better half) art thou deprived. Again I pity thee.
But some may say, that although not lovers of molasses or sugar, (as I shall consider them the same in this essay,) yet they are really very fond of many sweet things. They like a portion of the saccharine, though not fond of the gross and clogged sweetness of molasses. Let such, however, think not of escaping in this manner. What! like a thing in part and not in fulness—like the rose-bud and not the open rose—like an amiable and not a perfectly angelic being—like five dollars and not five hundred—like middling and not good health—like imperfect and not perfect happiness—like strawberries and cream, and not sugar or molasses—I tell thee, man, woman, or child—Caucasian, African, or Malay, thou art crazy, bewitched, or tasteless.
How shall I describe the delicious sensations which the saccharine matter imparts to the outward man? Alike in fruit, and flower, and honey-comb most gratefully apparent. And thou, ice-cream! who has so often diffused throughout the body of this “me,” a most delicious coolness, what wouldst thou be without that essence, whose merits I am exalting? Insipid and unmeaning, like unto a flower without color or fragrance.
Oh! how well can I remember the time, when, released from school, I hastened home, and, sitting on the kitchen door-sill, enjoyed my bread and molasses. I never felt more thankful than when, plate in hand, and a huge slice of the wheat loaf in reserve, the preparatory pause was made “according to the good order used among friends.” And then, also the “switchel,” that nutritious and cooling drink, (molasses and water, with a little vinegar,) with which our revolutionary fathers quenched their thirst, when rooting up their ditch on old Bunker. Even the horrid tales told me in childhood by the pestered servants, of thumbs, and fingers, and bloody streaks, the evidence of cruel treatment in the Indian isles, turned not the edge of my keen desire.
But I shall no longer occupy paper with the advocacy of the merely sensual claims of molasses. It has other and higher demands upon your notice. The author of this lately perused, with pleasure, that most important work upon “The Philosophy of Clothes,” by Thomas Carlyle. It suggested an interesting train of thoughts upon the subject before us. Molasses, and its kindred sweets are the well fitting garments of the spirit of love and purity. Here then we have an unfailing index by which to judge of the characters of our fellow men. Herein is contained the germ of our new and spiritual philosophy.
Charles Lamb in his “Elia,” quotes and endorses the sentiment of one of his friends: “that no man be entirely reprobate who is fond of apple-dumplings.” This I grant to be true. He did not, however, remember that both the apples and the dumplings contain a portion of saccharine matter; and this accounts partly for the dislike felt toward them by a reprobate spirit. And again—who ever heard of eating apple-dumplings without sugar or molasses? I therefore bring Charles Lamb, who, although he did not perceive the great principle coiled up in this succulent eatable, has taken notice of the above interesting fact, as a witness to the truth of my theory.
When do we find that the love of all sweet things most commonly prevails? In youth undoubtedly. When the mind is pure, free from worldly guile, innocent, and lamb-like. When the fresh and untainted spirit drinks eagerly and deeply at the fount of truth, and its type or representative on earth (according to Swedenborg) pure water. Then, sugar-plumes are a delight—ginger-bread a blessing—molasses candy, especially when rolled and pulled out into sticks, bright or dull yellow, according to the cleanliness of the maker’s hands, “the staff of life.”
The child becomes a man. He grows selfish and proud. He loses his relish for innocent enjoyments, and with it his taste for molasses. The spirit of love becomes impregnated with impure desires, and his outward man changes accordingly. The saccharine matter no longer suits him in its natural state—it must be fermented, and gases added, and gases deducted, to correspond with the altered soul. What a beautiful emblem is this change of saccharine substance to the poisonous liquor, of the transition state of the immortal in man. First the spirit as in childhood, pure and gentle, like the sweet juice of the grape. Then youth, with its noble and generous bearing, comparable to the result of the first fermentation. Manhood comes on, and with it the fermentation proceeds. Soon the soul is agitated with innumerable gases—and from their bubblings, and combinations, and effervescence, it comes forth a new creature. Well satisfied are most if they go no farther than this, but succeed in calming the troubled elements at this second fermentation. While some, unable to arrest their progress, plunge into the third and woful state; from which, if they succeed in coming out, they appear all soured, and be-vinegared, your universal fault-finders and found-fault-with. Too many, alas! emerge not even at this third gate, but dash recklessly into the fourth, the last and worst, and hope-decaying state—and when dragged through it, are cast out with the blessed feelings of childhood putrified—the flesh rotted off, and exposing the then loathsome skeleton of the soul, the never to be destroyed framework of an eternal nature.
How beautiful also the resemblance in another sense. Wherever you meet the poison fire, under whatever name it may assume, whether brandy, gin, whiskey, wine, cider, or beer, as you are confident that the innocent sugar must have been its basis; so in whatever form you meet vice in the human heart, you may be also assured, that there was, and perhaps is yet, in that heart a stronger or weaker basis of God-like love.
Although the good, spiritually, is to be considered the cause of the liking for the saccharineous, yet they are to some extent mutually creative. The outward may appeal so strongly as even to produce the inward. “Hang up a coat in the highway, and will it not soon find a body to fill it?” Who has not often observed the child when requested by its parents to swallow the bitter dose of (so called) medicine? What a struggle between duty and disgust! What measures are then taken by the wise parent in order that the right may conquer? How is the virtuous appealed to and strengthened? One single lump of sugar, perhaps not larger than a hickory nut decides the question. Duty prevails. How shall we account for such things without adopting a similar doctrine to that which I have thus partly illustrated?
Reader, thou wilt believe or not, as thou choosest. But before this is dismissed as unworthy, for thy own sake, examine facts. Find among thy acquaintances, that man, sullen, and morose, and cruel, who loves molasses. Understand me—loves molasses—not who sometimes eats it, but who clings to it with a passionate devotion—who prefers it to the best pie ever baked, apple, mince, peach, or cranberry,—as I do. If thou canst find such a being—thou thinkest I’ll recant? Not I. Such a man is an anomaly, a monster, deserves not to live—and if he knows what a beautiful theory he is practically marring, and has the least spark of generosity within him, is willing to die. If he wont die I care not,—he’s only an exception, and “proves the truth of the general rule,” as all metaphysicians will tell thee.
If it were needful I could skip from individuals to nations—could prove the truth of my doctrines by referring to the Irish with their potatoes, buttermilk, and whiskey—the Hindoo and his rice—the West Indian slave with his patient endurance, the result of his frequent sucking at the juicy cane.
But why multiply proof? Why refer to the bee with his industrious habits, caused by living entirely upon honey—the bear with his good nature, hugging you, even when in anger, to his bosom, how he also likes sweet things—the humming-bird, with its love for the sweets of flowers—the—but why instance more?
Oh! ye wise, give ear while I call your attention to this new philosophy, which I name saccharine, and not transcendental. Parents, guardians, physicians, nurses,—“they that have ears to hear let them hear.”
BY J. W. FORNEY.
The leaf hath fallen!
E’en the withered leaf; and from the trees
Hath faded Nature’s robe of living green;
While, thro’ their naked boughs the wintry breeze,
Makes mournful music o’er the vanished scene—
The funeral requiem of those blushing flowers,
That bloomed and flaunted in the sunny air,
When the coy spring-time and her laughing hours,
The graceful monarchs of the season were.
The song is hushed!
And gone those warblers for a softer clime,
Whose morning welcome, and whose evening hymn
Made the gay summer but a trysting time,
And prayerful music poured aloft to Him!
No more they usher, with their mellow song,
The bright-eyed morning beaming through the cloud—
Where erst they met, in bright melodious throng,
Now roars the tempest in its wrath aloud.
The brook is frozen!
The babbling streamlet sparkles now no more
In the full glory of the sun’s warm beam;
The ice-king’s sceptre has been wafted o’er,
And sleep is brooding on the modest stream.
There are no flowers on its frozen side—
The sun shines only with a cheerless glance:
Still is its melody; and the valley’s pride,
Is calm as Beauty in a pleasing trance.
Lancaster, Pa. January, 1841.
THE CONFESSIONS OF A MISER.
BY J. ROSS BROWNE.
One who dothe hymself professe to be the teller of a hystorye, must often be contente to doe that whych in annye other character he would be ashamed to owne to. He must unryddle thoughts, telle tales, spake of factes done pryrilye and not for worldlye showe.
A Legende of the Monasterye of Lylis.
When life ceases to afford us gratification, we not unfrequently take a strange delight in reviewing and pondering over the misdeeds of the past, and in anticipating the weird and desolate future. This revelling in the consequences of our own depravity; this spirit of darkness and recklessness; this tendency to a defiance of all moral and religious consolation—when morality and religion no longer dwell within us—may be termed the wreck of hope, and life, and salvation; for as the mariner, engulphed by the tempest, faces death in boisterous revelry, so we seek to riot in our own wickedness, and plunge into perdition, rejoicing in the sin, and reckless of its consequences.
Even while I write, the recollection of deeds which might well cause the blood to curdle and the flesh to crawl, thrills me with an awful and savage delight. The open gates of hell are ready to receive me, but I rejoice in anticipating the hour of eternal ruin!
I am a native of Italy—a Venitian by birth; a wanderer by choice. During the political disturbances under the doge, Paolo Reniers, I obtained an office of considerable value; by which I was enabled to enjoy a handsome annuity. For some time the French forces, commanded by Bonaparte, had been endeavoring to take possession of Verona; and had already made some attempts on Venice; but these eruptions were if any thing the means of my promotion. Before the downfall of my patron, I acquired a fortune which placed me on a footing with the patricians of the day. Had heaven so ordained it, I might then have retired to my villa, and in peace and seclusion enjoyed the fruits of my industry; but the seeds of avarice were sown—I was destined to reap their harvest. The intrigues of political life were not sufficiently disgusting to deter me from applying for employment under the government, to the successor of Reniers. That wary craft which had rendered me so indispensable to this corrupt and imbecile monarch, was not overlooked by Lugi Manini; for in a country where duplicity is the chief point, in the education of individuals, to whom the official authority is entrusted; and where art and cunning are so universal as to render every man a match for his fellow, superiority of this kind is regarded with peculiar veneration.
The satellites who swarmed about the court of Manini, were not slow in betraying their jealousy at the preference with which he regarded me; but where jealousy exists there is dissention; and even among my enemies I had my partisans. The rancor of political strife rendered me fierce and haughty; and few dared to avow their hostility in my presence. Hardened in dissimulation, I could at once assume the gentlest tones of friendship, or the most cutting sarcasm, and the coldest frown of dignity. Increase of influence gradually compelled those who at first resorted to the basest methods for my overthrow, to relinquish their attempts, and acquiesce in my measures.
Power, however, was not my chimera. I had contracted an undying thirst for riches. I longed to regard myself as the master of millions. The very clink of gold was sweeter to me than the applause of an enraptured populace. Daily—hourly—my thoughts were concentrated on the darling object of my ambition. That cold and stern temperament, which, in my political schemes, had been fostered by every act of diplomacy, and every duty of my office, rendered me callous to all worldly allurements, save the desire of personal emolument.
Constantly moving in the gaudy circles of the court, I was at once disgusted with the prodigal splendor of every thing around me, and incited to aspire for the most exalted degree of opulence. Those whose power was greater than mine, I merely looked upon as instruments by which the great object of my life was to be effected. Even Manini himself I did not consider in any other light than as one ultimately to be the means of my success. Deceit in the service of others had made me too wary a courtier not to cloak my designs in professions of the most disinterested friendship toward him who was already the tool of my machinations.
The schemes were too well concerted to fail. A few years of untiring zeal found the doge still nominally my patron, but in reality my minion. Wealth had poured in upon me. No longer was the desire of riches a chimera; no longer had I to live in feverish and dreamy suspense; no longer was I fortune’s votary.
Though in the prime of life, I too, passionately loved the possession of my gold, to violate in my enjoyment the strictest rules of economy. I gambled—but that was my business. I drank—but the excitement was necessary to sustain my vital principle.
Having adhered to my victim till he was weak and worthless, I abandoned him for more lucrative game. I sought out the haunts of the young and inexperienced. I became a kind of polite sharper; for though I generally gambled for the riches of my victims, I so managed as to secure the spoils in defiance of ill-fortune.
We all know that the peculiar vices of a man’s character increase in extent as his evil course of life is persisted in; even when that course is not more intrinsically depraved by continuance. It was the case with me. I did not actually rob; I did not murder; I committed no more heinous crime than that of swindling or gambling; and yet every day I became a worse and worse black-hearted man.
Before this epoch in my career had drawn to a close, I became acquainted with the daughter of a Venitian banker. She was not beautiful; she was not accomplished; she was not amiable—but she was rich. At this time, I too, was rich. Both fortunes united would make a brilliant coalescence. I pressed my suit, and succeeded. The foolish girl did not discover till too late, that I despised herself, though I adored her fortune. My wealth was now immense; and it might be supposed that I was satisfied; but my thirst for accumulation was only excited by what I had already acquired. Had I been possessed of the world’s wealth, I am pursuaded I would have wept, like Alexander, because there was nothing left to satisfy my desires.
That fortunate tissue of events which had hitherto marked my career, was destined to be speedily reversed. In Venice there lived at this time an individual, who, if he had not my boldness of purpose and capacity for scheming, was at least my equal in shrewdness and avarice. This person was called Carlo Dolci—a nomenclature which he boasted as certain evidence that he was descended from the great painter of that name. Dolci met me at my accustomed resort—one of those hells with which Venice then abounded. His appearance was peculiarly forbidding; but I fancied I had seen too much of the world to be prejudiced by mere outward show. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I found that my new acquaintance was a man of some knowledge, and of polished and persuasive manners. His characteristic trait was extreme cunning; nor did his grey, twinkling eye and piercing glance contradict what his manners and language bespoke.
One topic led to another. We spoke of games. Dolci with his infernal art, flattered me out of all prudence, by declaring he had heard so much of my skill at play that he was determined to avoid strife in such an accomplished quarter. Fired with a desire to verify his words, I immediately challenged him. We began with moderate stakes, and I won. We doubled, and I still won. We continued to increase the stakes till they amounted to an immense sum. Both were equally excited; but my good fortune did not yet leave me. Dolci, I knew, was rich; and I was determined to fleece him. I doubled the largest stakes we had yet contended for. Dolci was the winner. Maddened at such an unusual reverse, I dared him to contend—fortune against fortune! Each now staked his entire wealth. It was to be riches or poverty to me. The swollen veins stood out on my forehead. A cold perspiration teemed from the brow of Carlo Dolci. His teeth were clenched; his hair wild and matted—his eye unusually haggard. The dice were thrown. I gasped for breath. A dimness came over my eyes. With a dreadful effort I strained them to catch a glimpse of my fate. Merciful God! I had lost—I was a beggar!
With a grim smile, Dolci grasped the stakes. I rushed from the hell, a frenzied wretch. A mocking laugh was borne after me; and I knew no more. For several days I was a raving maniac. When I recovered my reason, I found myself stretched on a pallet in my own house. My wife stood by, with disgust and hatred pictured in her countenance. Her first words were those of contumely and reproach. She did not make any allowance for my situation; she reflected not that it was the province of the female to forgive error, and to administer consolation. I married her for her money; that was gone, and I now was to feel all the miseries of my choice.
The only solace to my afflictions, was a little daughter about eight years old, but uncommonly mature both mentally and physically. She attended me with untiring assiduity; she lifted the cup to my lips; she soothed with her silvery tones the agony of my mind; she sang for me her plaintive airs; she bathed my burning temples; she prayed for me—she wept for me—she was every way the beau ideal of innocence and affection.
“Father,” she would say, “why do you clench your hands—why do you rave of ruin and beggary? We shall all go to work when you recover; and we shall earn more money and be very happy.”
Alas poor Valeria! she little knew the loss I had sustained. It was not the loss of luxury for that I never enjoyed; it was not the loss of domestic peace—for I was a stranger to it; it was not the loss of reputation, for I cared nothing about it; but it was the loss of MONEY—of that which gave the only zest and pleasure to my life.
One mortification was spared us in our beggary. No splendid edifice was to be abandoned—no luxurious equipage to be sold—no servants to be dismissed—no fine costumes to be sacrificed—no sensitive feelings to be wounded by a change from affluence to penury and want; our condition remained unaltered. While blessed with riches I was too careful of them to be guilty of extravagance. My avarice, not my prodigality, was my ruin. I did not gamble for the pleasure of the game, but from sheer desire to accumulate immense sums of money. I then conducted my affairs on a grand scale. Wealth poured in on me not by degrees, but in floods. Now, however, the time arrived when I was doomed to begin a new career under new auspices. I had no Reniero or Manini to plunder by a few acts of political sagacity. I had no immense states to retrieve my want of luck with Carlo Dolci. To toil up the rugged path—to exert my humble acquirement—to trade—to barter—to beg—were now the only means in my power to make amends for want of prudence.
Having settled my wife and daughter in a small house, I procured, partly on credit and partly with what little was left, a meagre stock of jewelry, with which I sallied out as a travelling pedlar. By adopting this course of life I sacrificed no fine feelings; I never was proud of any thing except of my riches. I considered not that because I had wielded an intriguing pen in the great contest between Bonaparte and Lugi Manini, my dignity would in any degree be lessened by honest exertions for the retrieval of my fortune.
The succeeding epoch in my career may be passed over. To detail the vicissitudes of my wandering life—to dwell upon the manifold reverses of fortune—to trace succinctly the gradual and disheartening manner in which I acquired money—and to portray the eagerness—the infantile delight with which I grasped it and hoarded it to my bosom—would be alike futile and uninteresting.
In struggling between penury and avarice, the autumn of my life passed away. The misery of connubial contention, I am persuaded, whitened the hair of my head, even before my winter had blasted it with its frosts; but heaven ordained it that my declining age should not be harassed by the persecutions of her with whom I had never known an hour of true happiness. She died in a fit of madness—a malady to which her passionate and ungovernable temper had frequently subjected her. It would be adding hypocrisy to my manifold sins to say that I regretted this instance of divine dispensation. I still had a companion—differently, but no less intimately dependent on me for her support and protection. This was my daughter, who had attained her eighteenth year.
Valeria was beautiful—extremely beautiful. I had roamed in the Florentine and Venitian Vatican; I had studied, if not with the eye of an artist, at least with the eye of an ardent admirer, the most exquisite productions of Georgione, Titian, Correggio, and Veronese; I had dwelt in ecstacy on the master-works of every school from the Appellean and Protogenean, to the Lombard, the Bolognese, the Carraci, and the Rasain; but I had never seen any thing either ideal or substantial, so exquisitely symmetrical—so etherially chiselled in every feature—so thoroughly the impersonation of angelic beauty and sweetness, as Valeria. I speak it with a father’s pride; I may be partial, but I believe I am sincere. The dark, luxuriant hair—the languishing eye—the finely rounded arm—the faultless figure bespoke Italian blood; and that too of a gentle quality; for though I claim no distinction, I am myself of noble descent.
In Valeria, then, I saw my future fortune. I had sufficient to support life; but I desired wealth. To sell my daughter to the best advantage was now the sole and engrossing subject of my thoughts. I cared not whether I gained her an honorable alliance or not; money, not titular distinction, was the object for which I determined she should be sacrificed.
There lived in Venice, at this time, a Neapolitan nobleman, of agreeable and accomplished manners, and fine fortune, named Don Ferdinand Razzina, upon whom I had long looked as the instrument by which my schemes were to be consummated. Razzina was young and volatile. His imprudence rendered him easily subservient to my machinations. By the most consummate art I managed that he should get a glimpse at Valeria. This proved sufficient stimulus to an ardent imagination, to fire him with the most extravagant notions of her beauty. He had barely seen her as a flitting shadow: that shadow surpassed to him in loveliness the beau ideal of his airiest dreams. I knew too much of the human heart not to concert my measures on the fact that mystery is the food of love; and in a very short time Don Ferdinand was supplicating at my feet for information concerning the fairy vision he had seen.
“Nothing,” said he, “shall be spared in remuneration for your services. I love her. I shall never love another. My peace and happiness for ever more depend on her. If you respect the passions common to humanity; if you are not devoid of every feeling of sympathy; if you value your own welfare, and my peace of mind—procure me an interview!”
Schooled in cunning, I treated the matter with indifference; I dwelt on other themes—but finding Don Ferdinand deaf to aught, save the engrossing object of his thoughts, I consented to introduce him, on an enormous advance, to my daughter. He seemed much surprised at this declaration; for he had fancied—from what cause I know not—that Valeria was my protege, and the unfortunate pledge of some noble amour. In a moment the truth of my schemes burst upon him. He was young—ardent—impetuous—but he neither wanted penetration nor humanity.
“Wretch!” he cried, with all the indignant fervor of one unaccustomed to such unnatural cupidity—“you would sell your daughter’s honor!—you would ruin her for your own emolument!” He paused in agitation for some moments, during which I maintained a grim and stony smile—then continued, “but your villainy is nothing to me. I shall not upbraid you for what turns to my own advantage. Here is the sum. Recollect, however, we perfectly understand each other as to the terms.” I answered merely by a leering nod of the head. Razzina departed—promising to call on the ensuing evening.
That short but active interview had laid bare the character of the noble prodigal. He was evidently gifted with no common intellect. He had seen little of the world; so that whatever sagacity he had was inherent. Much good was mixed with the evil which formed his prominent traits. He was young and passionate; but he had no small share of the milk and honey of human kindness. His opinions respecting my course I regarded with contempt. I had studied too deeply the mysteries of human nature to be baulked in my designs by a beardless and soft-hearted youth. I knew that the bait was too well administered to be rejected.
Returning to a miserable garret in which I always slept to avoid the expense of furnishing the lower part of the house, and also to enjoy the solitude, I flung myself on a pallet, and spread the gold on the floor.
A filthy lamp threw a sickly and flickering light on every thing around. The wretched place was strewn with rubbish and dirt; here and there lay a broken stool, or the remains of a chair; in the centre stood a greasy and ricketty table, and hung up in confusion, on the walls, were battered tin-cups—a few platters—a spoutless coffee-pot—and sundry tattered habiliments.
I glanced around me with a smile of sinister meaning. I piled up the gold—threw it down again—and scattered it about, and grasped it once more with childish eagerness. Then, as if fearful of detection, I hid it, fervently praying that the Almighty would watch over, and preserve it.
It was now necessary that my daughter should become acquainted with part of my designs; and I summoned her. In a moment she was at my feet.
“Valeria—” and as I addressed her, I endeavored to modulate my voice into tones as affectionate and as soothing as possible—“Valeria, we are very poor—God knows we are.”
“Yes; but father why speak of it now? We are as well off as most people, and I am sure we need no luxuries.”
“My child, you know not our poverty. You see me now a decrepid and palsied old man. I am unable to make a living; and henceforth on you I must depend.”
“I shall cheerfully do what I am able, father.”
“I know it my child—I know it; but your utmost exertions cannot save us from starvation, unless properly directed. Valeria, listen to me. I ask you as a father will you obey my commands?”
“As long as they are bounded by reason and virtue, I shall. I have always obeyed you—I am not disobedient, I sincerely believe.”
“Valeria, can you love?”
“I can. I do love.”
“Ha! whom do you love?”
“I love you, my father—and—”
“I love Marco da Vinci—I never intended to deny it.”
In a frenzy of rage and astonishment, I started to my feet, and stood for some moments like one transfixed. My lips were white; my mouth foamed; my cheek was blanched; my eye fiery and distorted; and my whole frame convulsed with passion.
“God’s curse be on you!” I shrieked, shaking my clenched hand in the face of the terrified girl—“God’s curse be on you, for the declaration. You love Marco da Vinci? May a father’s ban fall like the flames of perdition on you! May the heart that you so foolishly bestowed, be blighted and withered in its bloom! May the avenging hosts gather round you at your death-bed; and taunt you, and riot in your agony!”
“Father! Father! O, cease those horrible words! you will drive me mad!”
“No,” I replied, in a stern but more softened tone, “I shall not drive you mad, Valeria; but I have news that will make you feel as if madness would be a blessing. You are sold. Here is the money”—and I drew forth the gold I had received from Don Ferdinand. “Yes, to-morrow you will be the mistress of Don Ferdinand Razzina.”
“Never!—so help me God!” cried Valeria, in a voice so calm and determined, that I feared for the success of my schemes; “death—aye, a thousand deaths before dishonor!”
“We shall see,” I replied, with a grim smile.
“We shall!” said Valeria, retiring; and in tones so deep and ominous that I shuddered. She repeated, “we shall!”
Hitherto I have devoted my pen almost exclusively to the narrative of my own confessions. I must now diverge a little to introduce the reader to a character, of whom nothing has yet been mentioned except his name.
Marco da Vinci was a young painter, of extraordinary talents, and great mental accomplishments. He was descended from a noble house; and might have enjoyed the height of affluence had not misfortune set her seal upon him at an early age. Favored in an unusual degree as to his mental and physical capacities, he received all the care and cultivation that a fond father could bestow; and on attaining his eighteenth year few could boast a more vigorous mind—a more profound education, or a more chaste and amiable character. Thus far was Marco successful.
Smitten with an undying thirst for distinction, he resolved henceforth to abandon the quiet enjoyments of leisure and affluence, and dedicated himself altogether to the nobler calls of ambition. Alas! he knew not that he had yielded the substantial enjoyments of life for a misnomer—a chimera!
It was the ardent hope of Da Vinci’s father, that the youth should, at no remote period, occupy an exalted station in the affairs of the government; but the rancor and bitterness of political life had no charms for the young enthusiast. Enraged and disappointed at the unexpected determination of his son, Don Ignatius da Vinci, abjured him in the zenith of his passion—disowned him, and left him an outcast and a beggar.
The ambitious Marco wended his way to Venice, where his talents soon attracted the attention of a distinguished painter. Under this individual, Da Vinci studied with all the devotion of an enthusiast, and an unfeigned lover of the art. A very short time was requisite to make him a finished painter. That pruning to rule—that softening and chastening, which can only be attained by painful and almost hopeless perseverance in most cases, were soon mastered by the ardent disciple.
In the course of time, Marco da Vinci accumulated, by his industry, sufficient capital to begin business on a small scale. At first he succeeded beyond his expectations; but soon he found that novelty is the spice of patronage, and that before him he had every probability of sinking into oblivion, and of eking out his days in starvation. Too proud to apply for assistance to those by whom he had been so basely injured, he determined to submit to his fate with manliness and fortitude, and to merit, if possible, sufficient patronage to support him, while he should by an extraordinary effort of his pencil retrieve his past misfortunes.
A premium had been offered by the Academy of Arts, for the best portrait of a female that could be placed in the gallery in time for the annual exhibition. Da Vinci resolved to take his model from nature. The fame of Valeria’s beauty was proverbial throughout the city; and the candidate for the palm of excellence, sought out our miserable tenement, and implored permission to have a sitting. Too proud of the opportunity to extend her reputation, I consented to the proposition. Fool! fool! that I was! Why could I not see the danger of placing this young and ardent soul in such a temptation? Da Vinci was young—handsome—and intellectual: Valeria was innocent—amiable—and beautiful—could they but love? Fool, I say, fool that I was!
Louisville, Kentucky, January, 1841.
THE FAIRY’S HOME.
Our home is far ’mid the greenwood trees,
Where the rose-bloom floats on the burden’d breeze,
Where the moon’s beams glance on the sleeping tide,
And the lily grows in its stainless pride.
There, deep in our flowery homes we dwell,
In the cavern’d shades of the fairy’s cell,
Where the sound of the wavelet’s ceaseless song,
Shall glad the ear of the fairy throng.
There calm as the blue of the “bending skies,”
Whose beauty may bless e’en fairy’s eyes;
We will pass those hours of careless glee,
Whilst the woods shall ring with our melody.
Our lamp shall be of the fire-fly’s light
That shines ’mid the gloom of the darksome night,
And led by its star-like rays we’ll roam
’Mid the scenes that grace our woodland home.
The notes of the song-bird echo there,
And are warbled again by our sisters fair;
And the tones of each pure and gentle thing,
Are voiced in the strains the fairies sing.
Away from the cares and toils of life,
No part have we in its scenes of strife,
But calm as the sleep of the tideless sea,
Our rest in our Fairy Home shall be.
Philadelphia, January, 1841.
NOT LOST, BUT GONE BEFORE.
BY CHARLES WEST THOMSON.
The dead but sleep—they do not die,
They live in mem’ry’s holy cell—
The woodland green, the summer sky
Of them in gentle language tell.
Each scene that knew them daily speaks
Of all their love so fond and true,
And tears that tremble on our cheeks,
But nerve our sadness to renew.
The grief that rent our hearts when first
Death broke our early bond in twain,
Within our souls, by memory nurst,
Will oft times freshly burst again.
Yet why indulge unfading grief,
For those we loved and now deplore?
Theirs is a slumber calm and brief—
They are “not lost, but gone before.”
NOT FOR ME! NOT FOR ME!
A popular Air in the Opera of
AS SUNG BY MRS. WOOD.
THE MUSIC COMPOSED BY M. W. BALFE.
Geo. W. Hewitt & Co. No. 184 Chesnut Street, Philadelphia.
Not for me, not for me,
Regal halls and courtly life,
blest, my lot would be,
Far from ev’ry scene of strife,
From the world from all retiring,
Gladly would this heart remove,
One dear boon alone desiring
Still to be with thee I love:
Still to be with thee I love.
Let me seek that tranquil home,
Once I knew in happier hours,
Free to wander, free to roam,
Thro’ my own lov’d peaceful bow’rs.
Not for me the world’s false pleasures,
Not for me where splendour moves,
More than these my bosom treasures,
More than these my heart now loves,
More than these my heart now loves.
SPORTS AND PASTIMES.
We open this month with the first of a series of excellent papers on Shooting, from the pen of the author of the paper on Angling, given in our last. It contains some valuable hints to young sportsmen, on the art of Taking Aim.
The pursuit and destruction of wild animals for security, food, clothing, or pastime, have been among the occupations of men in all ages, since the primeval bruere overspread the earth,
And wild in woods the noble savage ran!
Before the more refined arts are introduced into any country, the chase is a necessity, and the chief business of life. The stronger and more noxious animals are destroyed for individual safety; the weaker for food. It is not until civilisation and her handmaid luxury have seated themselves, that the chase becomes a pastime. Nor does it appear when the sportsman first sprang into existence. There is no corresponding word in any ancient language, since that could not be called a sport which was a necessity. It is probable that in the earliest ages of society, the dog was the sole agent employed by the hunter. Afterward various weapons, manual, missile, and projectile—as the club, the dart, the arrow, were used by the hunter and fowler. Then would follow springs, traps, nets, and all that class of devices for the capture of beasts and birds feræ naturæ, comprehended in the term toils. As dogs were employed to hunt quadrupeds, so, in process of time, hawks were trained to bring down birds for the service of their master. The arbalest or cross-brow, preceded the matchlock, which, however, could scarcely be called an implement of the chase, but which, in the order of succession, brings us down to the rifle, and original fowling-piece with its long, heavy barrel, and flint and steel lock; and lastly, we arrive at the double barrels and detant locks of the modern shooter.
When the dog points, or when birds rise near to the shooter, he should immediately draw back one hammer with the right thumb; experienced sportsmen disapprove of the practice of cocking both barrels at the same time. They think that it ought to be a rule never to cock either barrel, until the game be upon the wing, then that the left barrel should be cocked and fired, and thereafter taken from the shoulder. The right barrel should then be cocked and fired if necessary; if not discharged, it should be put back to the half-cock, and the left re-loaded. He should never be in haste. It is more prudent to let the bird escape than to fire hastily. If on open ground, he should not fire until the bird is more than twenty yards distant. He should be deliberate in bringing up the piece to his shoulder, and in making it to bear on the object, but the moment he has brought it to bear, the finger should act in co-operation with the eye, the eye being kept open the while, so that the shooter may see whether the bird falls, or feathers fall from it, for if he does not see it distinctly at the moment of firing, there is something defective in his system of taking aim.
The shooter, when learning, should never aim directly at the body of a rabbit on foot, or of a bird on the wing. This precaution is scarcely necessary when the motion of the object is slow, but by habituating himself to it on all occasions, he will the sooner become an adept. His mark should be the head, the legs, or a wing, if within twenty yards. When farther off, he should make some allowance, according to the distance and speed of the object moving. His aim should be at the head of a bird rising or crossing—the legs of a bird flushed on an eminence and moving downward from him—the wing of a bird flying from him in an oblique direction. His aim should be at the head of a rabbit, in whatever way it may be moving. The same rules apply when the object is more than twenty paces distant from the shooter, making allowance for the speed. Thus, for a partridge crossing, the allowance of aim before it with a detonator, at twenty paces, will be one inch—at thirty paces two inches—at fifty paces five inches—at fifty-five paces seven inches. Half this allowance will be proper when the bird moves in an oblique direction. When an object moves directly from the shooter, at more than twenty paces distance, he should fire a little above it. When a bird or rabbit approaches the shooter directly, he should not aim at it until it has passed him, or has turned aside. The moment it has altered its course the gun should be brought up, and no time should be lost in firing.
It is not easy at all times to form a correct idea of the distance of a bird from the gun. The nature of the situation, and the state of the weather often deceive the eye. Thus, on a bright day birds appear to be near, and on a dull day distant. It is much easier to estimate the distance of a bird in small enclosures, where hedges or trees serve as guides, than on open ground. The hedges, indeed, tend to deceive the unpractised eye; the object is supposed to be much farther off, while on open ground it is supposed to be nearer, than it really is. It is often very difficult to determine whether a grouse is within range; and sometimes the mist increases the difficulty, for then the bird is either scarcely seen, or else magnified, by the sun’s rays gleaming through the mist, to an unnatural size. In general, grouse are farther off than they are supposed to be. The shooter, however, has a peculiar sight: every bird he brings down, in good style, is at sixty yards distance. It is amusing sometimes to hear persons talk, after they have been watched, of the distances at which they have effected their shots; they ever think the game so much farther off than it really was. The sportsman who has not convinced himself by actual measurement, often seems to be laboring under a species of hallucination when speaking of his distances, and, if he bets on them, to a certainty loses. Birds killed at fifteen paces are thought to be at twenty-five, and those at twenty-five are estimated at thirty-five or forty, and so on to the end of the story!
When a covey or brood rises, the shooter should fix his eye on one bird, and shoot at that bird only. He should not be diverted from it by other birds rising nearer to him while he is bringing up his gun, unless the bird he first set his eye upon be decidedly out of all reasonable distance, so as to render the chance of killing exceedingly remote. By observing this rule, he is not only more certain of bringing down his game, but he will more frequently kill the old birds—a desideratum, for two reasons; first, because he will, in all probability, disperse the covey, which being done, any sportsman may generally, without difficulty, bag a few brace; and secondly, because the old birds make a better show in the game-bag.
We think that all shooters, except the veriest bunglers, use a gun properly as regards throwing the end of it upon the object aimed at, and drawing the trigger, and that any inaccuracy of aim must be attributed to the eye not being in the proper place when the aim is taken.
The habit of missing arises not from inability to throw the end of the gun upon the bird, but from the eye not being directly behind the breech, which it necessarily must be for good shooting.
If there were a sight at each end of the barrel, it would be requisite, when taking aim, to keep shifting the gun until both sights were in a line between the eye and the mark; that, however, with a gun not well mounted to the eye and shoulder, would be too complex an operation, for before it could be performed, a swift bird would be out of reach; it follows, then, that the shooter’s attention should be directed only to the sight at the top of the barrel; and the breech end should come up mechanically to the proper level.
When a person is nervous, or afraid of the recoil, he naturally raises his head, and consequently shoots above the mark; on firing, he unconsciously throws his head back, and then seeing the bird above the end of the gun, he fancies he shot under it, when the reverse is the fact. We may also observe that if the shooter does not keep his head down to the stock, he will probably draw it aside, so that his aim will be as if taken from one of the hammers, which would, of course, throw the charge as much on one side of the mark, as raising the head would above it.
The main point, then, in taking aim, is to keep the head down to the stock, and the eye low behind the breach. The sportsman who, from habit or practice, can invariably bring his eye down to the same place, and keep it steadily there, so that he may always take aim from the same starting point, will distance all competitors.
REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.
“The Antediluvians, or the World Destroyed.” A narrative poem, in ten books. By James McHenry, M. D. Author of the “Pleasures of Friendship,” &c. 1 vol. J. B. Lippincott & Co.: Philada.
There are two species of poetry known to mankind; that which the gods love, and that which men abhor. The poetry of the Dr. belongs to the latter class, though he seems lamentably ignorant of this, from the long essay on taste which he has given to the world in the shape of a preface to the work before us, and in which his own peculiar merits and demerits are discussed at sufficient length. He tells us that he has long been tormented with an itching after immortality, and that, being convinced not only that the writing of a poem was the surest passport to it, but that the choice of a subject was the greatest difficulty in the way of such a work, he has spent some years of his life in selecting the present theme. He has also the modesty to acquaint the public that his subject is inferior to Milton’s alone, leaving us, by a parity of reasoning, to conclude that Dr. McHenry is next in glory to the heavenly bard. We congratulate the Dr. on his finesse. There is nothing like connecting one’s name with that of a genius, for if the world is not deceived by it, you persuade yourself, like Major Longbow, by a constant repetition of your story, of its truth. You become a great man in your own conceit, fancy that the world does injustice to your talents, and go down to posterity, if not as the falcon’s mate, at least as
“A tom-tit twittering on an eagle’s back.”
Having thus associated himself with Milton, the Dr. proceeds to inform us that, in the Deluge, he at length found a theme “exalted and extensive enough for the exercise of poetic talents of the highest order,” leaving us, a second time, to infer, what he is too modest except to insinuate, that his own genius is unequalled. He then calls our attention to the plot, asserting that the general “plan and scope” of a poem are second only to its theme—that is, that diction, style, and imagination, in short every requisite of a true poet, are but “flimsy stuff.” The Dr. seems to know his own weak points, and when the “galled jade winces;” but even his elaborated plot is worse than nine men out of ten would construct. We have gleaned little from it except a few facts, which would be strange, were they not ridiculous. There is a description of a harem in the second book, from which we learn that velvets, and embroidery were as much in vogue among the antediluvians as now; an account of a siege in the eighth book, which settles the disputed question, whether Greek fire, melted lead, and catapults, were used then or not; and a detail of a battle in the same book, which gives the divisions and manœuvres of the contending armies, and puts at rest the assertions of military men, who trace our present tactics back no farther than the invention of gunpowder. Besides this, there are two marriages—a rescued maiden—one or more heroes, and as many heroines, with an innumerable catalogue of minor incidents, in short, the materials of a half a dozen bad novels, woven into a worse poem.
We are told in the outset that the “versification is not particularly modelled after that of any preceding author,” and that our classic poets afford no style “exactly suitable for this work,” and, consequently, we are but little astonished when we meet with such passages as the following:
“Subservient to the foul, malignant fiends,
The abandoned race of Cain their God forsook,
And to the infernal agents gave their hearts.
Oh! preference worse than foolish, choice insane!
Which drove celestial spirits from their charge
Of guardianship o’er human feebleness,
And left the hapless Cainites in the power
Of hellish tyrants, whom they blindly served,
Lured by the sensual pleasures amply given
In transient, poisonous recompense for guilt.”
“Here reigned the fierce Shalmazar, giant king,
Sprung from a mixture of infernal strain,
His sire, the power of lewdness, Belial named,
Who, amorous of an earth-born beauty, won
Astoreth, princess of Gal-Cainah’s realm,
To his unhallowed love.”
What the meaning of the author is in the line above italicised, we challenge all Christendom to discover. But even no sense at all, is better than mere verbiage, or coarse or improbable metaphor, as thus:
“Repose at last, where it is ever found
By weary mortals, in the peaceful grave,
In which his heir, that moralising youth,
The melancholy Lameth, had before
Laid down the o’erpowering burden of his woes.”
“The harnessed-spirits spreading forth their wings.”
“Then was the hour of vengeance; then the stern
Hell-generated tyrant felt dismay,
And in his chariot fled—”
But we must bring a still heavier charge against the Dr., that of a total want of originality. The whole plan and conception of the Antediluvians is copied, but “longo intervallo,” after Paradise Lost. Had Milton never written poetry, Dr. McHenry would never have published bombast. Yet the one is only the shadow of the other’s shade. This imitation is perceptible, not only in various attempts to copy the versification, but oftentimes in more glaring and less defensible plagiarisms. Would it, for instance, be believed that the second book of the Antediluvians begins with a passage so nearly resembling the opening of the second book in Paradise Lost, as to make, as Dogberry has it, “flat burglary?” Thus:
“High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous east, with richest hand,
Showers on her kings barbaric, pearls and gold,
Satan exalted sat.”
Paradise Lost, Book II.
“In royal robes, magnificently bright,
On his imperial throne of burnished gold,
And polished ivory, which sparkling shone,
With gems innumerable, of various hues,
That shed a blaze of streaming radiance round
The gorgeous hall, the haughty monarch sat.”
Antediluvians, page 29.
And so on diluting the idea of Milton into a dozen more lines, and shewing, at once, the grandeur of the model, and the feebleness of the imitation. Yet Dr. McHenry calls himself a poet, and pretends to the divine afflatus. But again:
“Such scenes of cruelty and blood,
Exhibited before appalled Heaven,
To make the angels weep, to look on earth!”
Antediluvians, page 202.
“But man, frail man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.”
We might multiply such instances;—but enough. Has the Dr. forgotten the celebrated verse of Virgil?
“Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores.”
The Dr. appears fond of the use of epithets, especially such ones as “infernal, fiendish, hellish,” and other coarse adjectives. We do not object to the use of the two former, provided they appear sparingly and in place, but really the work before us is seasoned rather highly with such epithets for our taste. The Dr. however, appears to be of the Tompsonian school in literature, and not only spices strongly, but swashes away right and left at the accredited school. We advise him, once for all, to give up poetry, which he disgraces, for physic, which he may adorn. God never intended him for an immortal fame. We are satisfied that, if he should be arraigned for writing poetry, no sane jury would ever convict him; and if, as most likely, he should plead guilty at once, it would be as quickly disallowed, on that rule of law, which forbids the judges to decide against the plain evidence of their senses.
“The Dream, and other Poems.” By the Hon. Mrs. Norton. Carey and Hart, Philadelphia: 1841.
Hemans, Baillie, Landon, and loveliest of all, Norton!—what a glorious constellation for one language. France with her gaiety: Italy with her splendid genius: even Greece with her passionate enthusiasm, cannot rival such a galaxy. And this glory too, belongs wholly to the present century, for though the harp of England has often been struck by female hands, it has heretofore only given forth a rare and fitful cadence, instead of the rich, deep, prolonged harmony which now rolls from its chords.
Mrs. Norton is unquestionably,—since the death of Mrs. Hemans, the queen of English song. In many respects she resembles that gifted poetess: in some she is strikingly dissimilar. The same pathos, the same sweetness, the same fancy characterize both; but in all that distinguishes the practised author, rather than the poetess, Mrs. Hemans has the advantage of her successor. Thus, the one is sometimes faulty in the rhythm: the other never. Mrs. Norton will now and then be betrayed into a carelessness of diction; Mrs. Hemans was rarely, if ever, guilty of such solecisms. Such expressions, for instance, as the “harboring” land, the “guiding” hand, the “pausing” heart, the “haunting” shade, and others of like character, taken at random from the volume before us, though not strictly improper, yet, as they are plainly expletive, and weaken, instead of strengthening a sentence, are never to be found in the poems of Mrs. Hemans, or of any one “learned in the craft.”
But, if Mrs. Norton is less correct than Mrs. Hemans, she is, on the other hand, more nervous, more passionate, and at times more lofty. No one can read “The Dream” without being struck by the truth of the remark, that Mrs. Norton is the Byron of our female poets. There are passages in some of her poems of greater power than any passages of like length in Mrs. Hemans’ writings, though at the same time, there are a far greater number of inferior lines in the poetry of Mrs. Norton, than in that of her gifted sister. In short, the one is the more equal, the other is the more daring. One is the more skilful writer: the other shows glimpses of a bolder genius. There is less prettiness, and not so much sameness in Mrs. Norton as in Mrs. Hemans. The former is not yet, perhaps, the equal of the latter, but she possesses the power to be so, if her rich fancy and deep feeling, now scarcely known to herself, should ever be brought so completely under her control as were the talents of Mrs. Hemans.
If Mrs. Norton had written nothing before, this volume would have established her claim to be the first of living poetesses; but who that is familiar with the world of song can forget the many gems—rich, and beautiful, and rare—with which she has spangled beforetime her starry crown? The world has taken more care of her glory than she has herself, and the random pieces she has poured forth so divinely at intervals, and which hitherto she has made no effort to preserve, have found their way into the hearts of all who can be touched by the mournful or the beautiful, until her name is cherished alike in the humble cottage and the princely hall. And now she has come forth in more stately guise, not as a new author among strangers, but as one long tried and known, one endeared to us by old association, one whose melancholy music is, as it were, a part of our very being.
“The Dream” is the longest poem in the volume before us, but, as it makes no pretension to be considered a story, and has really no plot, we shall not judge it by the ordinary rule of criticism. We shall consider it only as a string of pearls, loosely joined together by the simplest contrivance, the idea of a dream, narrated by a daughter to her mother,—and, judging it in this way, we give it unqualified praise. That its merit is unequal, is, in our eyes, no objection to its beauty,—for have not all poets skimmed the ground as well as soared to heaven? Yes! “The Dream” is unequal, but so is Lallah Rookh, so is Marmion, so are all the tales of Byron, and so—to ascend a step higher—is Comus, or Hamlet, or even the Iliad.
But Mrs. Norton, like her gifted sister, possesses one quality which distinguishes her above all other writers, in this or in any tongue—we mean in giving utterance to, what is emphatically, the poetry of woman. In this they resemble no cotemporary, unless it is Miss Landon. Women have written poetry before, but if it had been shewn to a stranger, he could not have told from which sex it sprung. It is not so with the poetry of these two gifted females. Every line betrays the woman—each verse breathes the tender, the melting, the peculiar eloquence of the sex.
Scarcely a page, moreover, occurs in the writings of either, which does not bear testimony to woman’s suffering and worth. Yes! while it is the fashion to sneer at the purity of woman’s heart, and while a pack of literary debauchees are libelling our mothers and our sisters unopposed, from the ranks of that insulted sex have risen up defenders of its innocence, to shame the heartless slanderers to silence. Hear in what eloquent numbers Mrs. Norton vindicates her sex:
“Warriors and statesmen have their meed of praise,
And what they do or suffer men record;
But the long sacrifice of woman’s days
Passes without a thought—without a word;
And many a holy struggle for the sake
Of duties sternly, faithfully fulfill’d—
For which the anxious mind must watch and wake,
And the strong feelings of the heart be still’d,—
Goes by unheeded as the summer wind,
And leaves no memory and no trace behind!
Yet it may be more lofty courage dwells
In one meek heart which braves an adverse fate,
Than his, whose ardent soul indignant swells,
Warmed by the fight, or cheer’d through high debate:
The soldier dies surrounded;—could he live
Alone to suffer, and alone to strive?
Answer, ye graves, whose suicidal gloom
Shows deeper honor than a common tomb!
Who sleep within?
Aye! who? Not woman, we can answer for it. God bless her who has written thus. The wretches who would rob the sex of their purity of heart, and their uncomplaining endurance of suffering, deserve to die, uncheered by woman’s nurture, unwept by woman’s tenderness. Such beings are not men: they are scarcely even brutes: they are aliquid monstri, monsters in part. But again:
“In many a village churchyard’s simple grave,
Where all unmarked the cypress branches wave;
In many a vault, where Death could only claim
The brief inscription of a woman’s name;
Of different ranks, and different degrees,
From daily labor to a life of ease,
(From the rich wife, who through the weary day
Wept in her jewels, grief’s unceasing prey,
To the poor soul who trudg’d o’er marsh and moor,
And with her baby begg’d from door to door,—)
Lie hearts which, ere they found that last release,
Had lost all memory of the blessing, “Peace;”
Hearts, whose long struggle through unpitied years,
None saw but Him who marks the mourner’s tears;
The obscurely noble! who evaded not
The woe which he had will’d should be their lot,
But nerved themselves to bear!”
“The Dream,” as a whole, is the finest piece in the volume before us. It abounds with glorious passages, of which we can only give two more examples—the one, impassioned, nervous, and stirring as a trumpet—the other sweet, and low, and musical as the rustle of an angel’s wing. Few authors can boast such a varied power.
“Heaven give thee poverty, disease, or death,
Each varied ill that waits on human breath,
Rather than bid thee linger out thy life,
In the long toil of such unnatural strife.
To wander through the world unreconciled,
Heart-weary as a spirit-broken child,
And think it were an hour of bliss like heaven,
If thou couldst DIE—forgiving and forgiven,—
Or with a feverish hope of anguish born,
(Nerving thy mind to feel indignant scorn
Of all the cruel foes that twixt ye stand,
Holding thy heart-strings with a reckless hand,)
Steal to his presence, now unseen so long,
And claim his mercy who hath dealt the wrong!
Into the aching depths of thy poor heart,
Dive, as it were, even to the roots of pain,
And wrench up thoughts that tear thy soul apart,
And burn like fire through thy bewildered brain.
Clothe them in passionate words of wild appeal,
To teach thy fellow creatures how to feel,—
Pray, weep, exhaust thyself in maddening tears,—
Recall the hopes, the influences of years,—
Kneel, dash thyself upon the senseless ground,
Writhe as the worm writhes with dividing wound,—
Invoke the Heaven that knows thy sorrow’s truth,
By all the softening memories of youth—
By every hope that cheered thine early day—
By every tear that washes wrath away—
By every old remembrance long gone by—
By every pang that makes thee yearn to die;
And learn at length how deep and stern a blow
Man’s hand can strike, and yet no pity show!”
What force! what passion! Never has Mrs. Hemans written thus,—few indeed have done so except Byron.
We must pass “The Dream” with a single other quotation. It is on the evening hour, and is sweet as a moonlit landscape, or a child’s dream of heaven.
“That hour, once sacred to God’s presence, still
Keeps itself calmer from the touch of ill,
The holiest hour of earth. Then toil doth cease,
Then from the yoke, the oxen find release—
Then man rests, pausing from his many cares,
And the world teems with children’s sunset prayers!
Then innocent things seek out their natural rest,
The babe sinks slumbering on its mother’s breast,
The birds beneath their leafy covering creep,
Yea, even the flowers fold up their buds in sleep;
And angels, floating by on radiant wings,
Hear the low sounds the breeze of evening brings,
Catch the sweet incense as it floats along,
The infant’s prayer, the mother’s cradle-song,
And bear the holy gifts to worlds afar,
As things too sacred for this fallen star.”
There is, in reading these poems, an abiding sense of the desolation that has fallen on the heart of the writer, a desolation which only adds to the mournful music of her lyre, like the approach of death, is fabled, to give music to the swan. We have studiously avoided, heretofore, touching upon this subject, as we would not, by awakening pity, blind the judgment of the public, but we cannot avoid the remark, that every page of this volume bears evidence that the heart of the authoress, like that of Rachel, will not be comforted. The arrow has entered deep into her soul. Like Mrs. Hemans, unfortunate in her domestic life—for the miscreant who would still believe her guilty is an insult to humanity—she “seeks, as the stricken deer, to weep in silence and loneliness.” Hers is a hard lot; deserted by the one who has sworn to love her, and maligned by the unfeeling world, she has not even the consolation of weeping with her children, and finding some relief in their caresses for her broken heart. Hear her once more—we have almost wept as we read—hear her, when gazing in the twilight at the pictures of her absent children.
“Where are ye? Are ye playing
By the stranger’s blazing hearth;
Forgetting, in your gladness,
Your old home’s former mirth?
Are ye dancing? Are ye singing?
Are ye full of childish glee?
Or do your light hearts sadden
With the memory of me?
Round whom, oh! gentle darlings,
Do your young arms fondly twine,
Does she press you to her bosom
Who hath taken you from mine?
Oh! boys, the twilight hour
Such a heavy time hath grown,—
It recalls with such deep anguish
All I used to call my own,—
That the harshest word that ever
Was spoken to me there,
Would be trivial—would be welcome—
In this depth of my despair!
Yet no! Despair shall sink not.
While life and love remain,—
Tho’ the weary struggle haunt me,
And my prayer be made in vain:
Tho’ at times my spirit fail me
And the bitter tear-drops fall,
Tho’ my lot be hard and lonely,
Yet I hope—I hope thro’ all.”
And then, with what a burst of eloquence, she carries out the idea!
“By the living smile which greeted
The lonely one of Nain,
When her long last watch was over,
And her hope seemed wild and vain;
By all the tender mercy
God hath shown to human grief,
When fate or man’s perverseness
Denied and barr’d relief,—
By the hopeless woe which taught me
To look to him alone,
From the vain appeals for justice,
And wild efforts of my own,—
By thy light—thou unseen future,
And thy tears—thou bitter past,
I will hope—tho’ all forsake me,
In His mercy to the last!”
But we must close this article. There are many exquisite shorter pieces in the volume, besides The Dream and Twilight. The Creole Girl; The Child of Earth; I cannot Love Thee; The Visionary Portrait; The Banner of the Covenanters; Weep not for him that Dieth; and several of the Sonnets may be instanced as among the finest. Let us, in conclusion, commend the poems of Mrs. Norton to our fair countrywomen as those of a mind of a high order. Less egotism, a more extended scope of feeling, and greater attention to the rules of her art, will place her foremost among the female poets of England.
“Bancroft’s History of the United Slates.” Vol. 3.
The first two volumes of this history have now been some years before the public, and criticism has long since given them its fiat. The characteristics of Mr. Bancroft are a rigid scrutiny of facts, a general impartiality, and a style, usually nervous, but sometimes savoring of transcendental obscurity. The style of the second volume, however, is an improvement on that of the first, and the volume before us surpasses, in our opinion, either of the former two. There is a philosophy in Bancroft which other historians might well emulate. No man has traced so clearly the causes of the American Revolution. It was the stern, hard, independence of the Pilgrims, handed down to their posterity, and united with the gallant and chivalric freedom of the South, which brought about the greatest revolution of modern times.
The pictures which Mr. Bancroft draws in pursuing the thread of his narrative, are often highly graphic. The early adventures of Soto and others; the colony of Raleigh at Roanoke; the landing of the Pilgrims; the Indian wars of New England, are all described with force if not with beauty. The gradual dissemination of the Democratic principle is also faithfully depicted; and it is clearly shown that the Puritans, the Swedes, and the Quakers, alike formed pure democracies in their settlements. In short, the history is something more than a mere chronicle: it is a continuous essay on the philosophy of the American Revolution.
The third volume brings the subject down to the period of the old French war, an epoch which may be considered at the threshold of the struggle for independence. Here, for the present, he drops the curtain. A fitter point, for such a pause could not have been chosen. Behind, is the long succession of trials, and dangers, through which the infant colonies had just passed: before is the wild, shadowy future, soon to become vivid with its startling panorama. Such a reflection might well fill the mind of the historian with a kind of solemn awe; and it is while such feelings overpower his readers, that he introduces Washington, the future hero of the scene.
The work is beautifully printed, in a style highly creditable to the American press.
We leave Mr. Bancroft with the hope that his historic labors will be pursued with redoubled zeal, satisfied that in him America possesses a philosophic annalist of the highest order.
“Bryant’s American Poets.” 1 vol. Harper & Brothers.
This work does credit to the editor, although he has admitted some, and left out others, of our poetical writers, whom we think he ought not so to have treated. However, a compilation like this can never be made to suit all. The true question is, who can do better?
“Travels to the City of the Caliphs.” By Lieutenant Wellsted. 2 vols. Lea & Blanchard.
This is a light, entertaining work. The adventures of the hero (Lieut. Ormsby) are highly pleasing; and he evinces a laudable desire to fall in love, as well for his own as for the convenience of the reader. On the whole, the book is well written, and quite amusing.
FASHIONS FOR FEBRUARY, 1841.
Fig. 1.—Robe of one of the new figured silks; the skirt trimmed with two bias flounces; half-high corsage, and bishop’s sleeve. Cambric collerette-fichû, trimmed with Valenciennes lace. Violet satin mantelet, lined with gros de Naples, and bordered with a broad band of violet velvet; it is of the scarf form, but made long and ample, and with a small pointed hood. Green satin chapeau, a round brim, something deeper than they are in general; the interior is trimmed on each side with a half wreath of blush-roses; the exterior with bands and knots of green ribbon, and a white and green shaded marabout plume.
Fig. 2.—Lemon-colored satin robe, trimmed with a deep flounce of antique point lace, surmounted by roses placed singly at regular distances above the flounce; low tight corsage and sleeve, both trimmed with point. Head-dress of hair, disposed in thick masses of ringlets at the sides, and a low open bow behind; it is decorated with flowers, and a gold cross, Châle bournouss of white cashmere, lined with white satin, and bordered with a band of black and plaid velvet.
Fig. 3.—India muslin robe; the skirt is trimmed with a closely plaited volan, which encircles the bottom of the border, mounts in the drapery style on one side, and is terminated by a nœud of muslin, similarly finished at the ends; a chef d’or head the volan. Corsage en gerbe and short full sleeve, both ornamented with chefs d’or. The head dress gives a front view of the one just described. Opera cloak of brown rep velvet, lined with blue satin: it is made shorter than the dress, of moderate width, and trimmed with three blue satin rouleaus, each placed at some distance from the other, and a light embroidery surmounting the upper one. A small hood, and a very deep lappel complete the ornaments.
Fig. 4.—Douilette of white cashmere, wadded, and lined with pink gros de Naples; the lining quilted in a lozenge pattern; the corsage is made tight to the shape, and half-high. Demi-large sleeve; the front of the skirt is finished on each side by fancy silk trimming. Mantelet of a large size, and of the same materials, bordered with a rich white and pink chenille fringe. Black velvet chapeau à la Louis XIII, trimmed with white and pink feathers.