The Vale of Yumuri.
Published By Samuel Colman.
Before the story of Idomen was finished, some parts of it were published by a friend in a weekly paper, for the purposes of revision. The same friend took out a copy-right, and deposited the title page, with its motto, in the office of the clerk of the district where the instrument was procured. A copy of the same instrument was placed in the hands of a well known counsellor-at-law residing in the same district, and, in case of a full edition, will appear in the usual manner; this impression is considered merely as a proof.
J. Douglas, Printer, 34 Ann Street.
Idomen, or the Vale of Yumuri, is a story which, on account of its subject and tendency, not only admits of a preface, but absolutely demands one.
To such as read for mere amusement, it may seem, perhaps, of little value; but the physician and physiologist, or the theologist and metaphysician, may, perhaps, be induced to look at it more than once; because every one of its pictures is drawn and coloured from nature, and of the truth of The Confessions, those who read them may be as well assured as of the beatings of their own hearts.
There are few deeds within the power of mortal perpetration; which excite more grief and horror, than suicide; and though lightly passed over by the thoughtless, because of its frequent occurrence, no one who reflects or feels at all can deem it a subject unworthy of inquiry or attention.
To see, as it were, the inmost soul of one who bore all the impulse and torture of self-murder without perishing; is what can very seldom be done: very few mortals, indeed, have memories strong enough to retain a distinct impression of past suffering; and few, although possessed of such memories, have the power of so describing their own sensations as to make them apparent to another.*3 vi π3v vi
To say nothing of anxiety respecting a future existence, how intense must be the anguish which can entirely overcome our natural hopes and love of life! and how much keener still the torment which can surmount our fear of that dismal and repulsive process which, in the present state of things, death must ever involve.
The elegant Greek, or the Roman who became his imitator, might easily resolve on a change of being: a form cold, but still beautiful, was laid on a fragrant pile, and covered with flowers and perfumes; a vivid flame dissolved what was still lovely; while the pure unsullied ashes, in an urn of some precious material, were kept, to be pressed to the heart of some friendly survivor, who believed (and perhaps with reason), that the dear spirit, or its manes, was still to witness of his devotion. The Greeks attributed four distinct parts to man:—the body, which is resolved to dust; the soul, which, as they imagined, passed to Tartarus or to the Elysian fields, according to its merits; the image which inhabited the infernal vestibule; and the shade which wandered about the sepulchre. This last they were accustomed to invoke three times, and libations were poured out to this as well as to the manes or gods who were the genii of the dead, and had the care of their ashes and wandering shades.—See Voyages d’ Antenor. This note will also be found in Zophiel, or the Bride of Seven.
In some instances, even—as was the case with the pious Artemisia, the ashes of the once adored were swallowed in Every one must remember that the monument erected by Artemisia to her husband, the beautiful Mausolus, was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. She drank his ashes in her wine, and her spirit, two years after, followed his whom she had so much loved. the same cup which had touched his lips while vii π4r vii still warm and ecstatic; in the hope that these only remains might mingle with the blood which had glowed in the beauty of his presence.
But, as we live now, reptiles and rottenness must be thoughts synonymous with death. And how many beautiful forms have, voluntarily, been given over, even to these, merely to escape from a present misery, too intense to be long endured.
However, self-immolation may be made fascinating by philosophers, let those who meditate on a deed so dreadful in itself and its consequences, be restrained, if possible, by looking at the Confessions of Idomen. Let them obseve the excess of her pain, and the nature and process of its cure. Godwin, in his Life of Mary Wolstoncroft, makes an excellent observation on a similar subject. This woman, excellent in herself, though mistaken in her views of the world, was once induced to an attempt at self-destruction. Wounded by the perfidy of one she had loved and trusted, her misery became so extreme that no ray of hope seemed to glow for her; but heaven frustrated her own dark design, and she was afterwards one of the most happy of mortals.
I must here be permitted to wander a little from my subject. This nineteenth century is called, by many, the age of improvement; the great developer of intellect; the age of morality and of religion (Heaven grant that the eulogy may be made true, if not exactly so at present.) Much is said about utility, but (let me most humbly ask), of what utility is any thing on earth, unless it can be made conducive to the virtue and happiness of earth’s inhabitants?*4 viii π4v viii
The beings of this sphere come into an existence, on it, in a state of unqualified helplessness. No infant could long survive his birth, unless Love stood near to preserve him. The new-born infant may be likened to Hope —the newly-made corse to Despair. Should the form nourished in hope be consigned, unthought of, to hope’s opposite?—Without love, the infant must perish; without love, the corse must become not only what the living fear, but what the living sometimes cannot touch without danger of a most dreadful disease. A young surgeon known to the writer of these remarks, was several weeks very ill, and narrowly escaped with his life, in consequence of something received into his system through a scratch of his hand, while employed in the necessary though very horrid process of dissecting a deceased fellow creature.
Dissolved by a pure flame, the earthly dwelling of a soul which must be immortal will join, immediately, that celestial matter in which the planets move. How far preferable, therefore, is flame, to either earth or water, for the giving of dust to dust, as the sacred writings enjoin!
When every stream of this New World has been navigated, and when roads are cut through all its forests, it may be that some being, even of this hemisphere, may abstract himself, a little, from the charms of gold, ease, and notoriety; and turn his power and reason to the kindly purpose of saving the forms of those he loves from what even thought dares not dwell upon. A beautiful custom may be thus revived, though Idomen and her story be forgotten.ix π5r ix
To the fact of the swallowing and subsequent delivery from poison, (exactly as related in The Confessions,) there is one, or more, still living, who can bear witness; a circumstance which, (taken in connection with the prayer preceding the deed,) very strongly induces a belief in the immediate agency of such unseen delegates, as may well be supposed to operate in the complicated mechanism of nature.
How far any mortal may be influenced or acted on by such invisible agents, as are suffered by Deity to exert their powers, holy or unhallowed, is a subject for an interest the most profound.
The most wonderful and beneficent intelligence which has ever yet appeared upon earth, is said to have uttered this exclamation: Thinkest thou not, if I should pray to my Father, that he would send me, at this moment, legions of angels?
This is certainly enough to sanction, to the adorers of Him who thus hath spoken, a belief in unseen protectors.
The more powerful and expanded the mind of a mortal may be, the more sensible it becomes of the influence of intelligences independent of itself. In support of this assertion, passages may be brought from the lives of those who are called men of genius, while every religion of which the records are saved from oblivion, will present, of this influence, a proof still more potent. Indeed, the very title of man of genius, could have been derived from nothing else than that belief in good and evil genii, *5 x π5v x (or as Christians call them, angels), in which the classic countries believed.
A desperate criminal resorts sometimes to the cord, or to the dagger, either to escape from corporeal pain, or to revenge himself on such as he knows or believes will exult in his torment or disgrace; but, generally speaking, it will be found that persons of tender and generous dispositions are those most in danger of self-destruction. Suicides often leave behind them such memorials and vestiges, as cause them to seem more worthy than most of the compeers who survive them.
Alas! for such persons, if they cast aside spiritual aid and trust to what is called their own reasoning powers! No intelligence which an earthly form can envelope, was ever strong enough to depend entirely on itself, in every distressing emergency.
No mortal (at least none capable of great actions,) was ever more reasonable than Washington, of America; yet, it is said that even he was once known to despair. A crisis also in the life of Peter the Great of Russia, exemplifies in an equal degree, that no mortal can trust to himself. This sovereign, by his own reasoning powers, had acquired firmness and self-denial enough to disguise himself and labour, for years, as a poor mechanic, to effect a favorite design; but when this design was more than half effected, the mere danger of seeing it prematurely blasted was sufficient to deprive him of those very reasoning powers which had formed it: by hazarding a battle with the Swedes he would have rushed to certain destruction. What saved him? the entreaties of a once poor peasant girl, whom he had espoused? was there no heavenly guardian concerned? —See Voltaire’s Life of Charles XII. A friend, at the moment when he would have xi π6r xi rushed to inevitable death, held the bridle of his warhorse, and drew him gently from the temptation. Was this friend, or was he not, commissioned by some heavenly being? Can any mortal answer this question?
Many very useful persons there are, who can conceive of no delight higher than the one afforded by their daily meals; or that common creative process, the mystery and sublimity of which is entirely lost sight of in their grossness. For such as these, suicide is never to be feared. Nay, even the flesh of a suicide, in case of an emergency of hunger, would be eaten by them with as little emotion, as they would feel in wringing the glossy neck of a dove. Persons like these, if they can think at all, are very liable to be atheists; and well may they adopt the belief of atheists; because, feeling in themselves so little spirit to ascend, they may very naturally suppose that clod to clod will be the last of them.
Others there are, more nearly allied to their creator, who find or imagine in some mortal, a resemblance to Deity, and adore according to their own conceptions. Such, in case of losing the object so chosen and endowed, are in great danger of suicide; if bereaved by death, they hasten to follow and rejoin; if, as sometimes must happen, they find or suppose themselves deceived or betrayed, their tortures become so severe, that they are glad to rush from the cruelty of earth, and to throw themselves upon the mercy of Him who made them; far better would it be to bear, and await the relief of his wisdom; for after all that can be urged, what has any one done to merit a perfe cct and immediate happiness?xii π6v xii
Let those who are capable of discerning their god in a mortal, avert both eyes and ears from the fallacies and falsehoods of the audacious—the delights of their souls are such as cannot be even faintly conceived by the utterers of cold and narrow speculations; neither can their sufferings, which most often preponderate, be soothed or pirited by such as never felt them.
Those there are, who, from loss of happiness, become sick at the light of the sun. Let such be content to suffer a little, before they resolve on a deed which has once made them shudder. Let them cling, as it were, to the sandals of an unseen father, who cannot disapprove their adoration. However intense may be the cold and darkness of their despondency, it will as surely pass away, if they can only bear it awhile, as that flowers and verdure will spring from those sods of Canada, which are seen crushed and hidden with snow-drifts; or that night and clouds must give place to those heavens of gold and azure which show, in bold relief, the mamey and palm-tree of Cuba.
The protection and support of intelligencies, or beings unknown and superior to themselves, is needful to all who can love!
The preceding reflections have been first presented, because the being who offers them believes, in the inmost depths of her heart, that the soothing and direction of such feelings as sometimes impel to self-immolation, would add more to the sum of earthly happiness, than even the breaking of the bonds of those blacks who labour under xiii π7r xiii masters. On the state in which our thoughts can be kept, depends our principal enjoyment. Many have so far relied on this conviction, as to suppose an equal share of happiness in the bosom of every son and daughter of Eva, the first taster of discontent. Upon this, philosophers must decide. Incompetent to meddle with any great political question, the relatress of the story of Idomen can only say, that the happiness of the first pair, before their expulsion from their native garden, can seldom be more fully realised than on a flourishing coffee estate, where the sable labourers among its fruits and flowers, are directed by wisdom and benevolence.
The peace and plenty depicted in the little domain of Dalcour, in the epilogue of the story, is not an exaggeration: the same effects may be produced by any man of moderate fortune, if endowed with the same taste and character as the one represented. That excessive quickness and luxuriance of vegetation which, at first, tempted many to exchange commerce for agriculture, can, however, only be found where the forests are newly felled. The earth, when laid bare to the sunbeams, and tortured for the wants of many, becomes, even within the tropics, exhausted ere many years are flown. From the wilderness alone can an immediate elysium be realised.
Not only slavery, but servitude, of all kinds, seems, at first sight, unjust and offensive; but how avoid it?— Were the hopes of the alchymist realised, even gold could not buy us food; and could a perfect equality be established among all people, who would dress for us our food when procured? Were every individual perfectly xiv π7v xiv free and equal, every individual would soon be far more wretched than slaves are now, even with a bad master. Arts would cease, and barbarism deface the fairest countries; many even would groan and die; for who could long endure the severe and sordid toil which would fall on every individual, if condemned, unassisted, merely to supply the daily wants of his own nature?
It may be said, that, in a state of the perfect equality mentioned, persons would form themselves into bands, and, by turns, assist each other. If so, it would soon be perceived that some could think, and organise, while others could do nothing but toil under their direction. This difference once understood, all idea of external equality must, of course, give immediate place to it.
In endeavoring to give happiness to those who are said to bear the image of Deity, as much attention must be given to their inclinations and capacities, as to those of inferior animals.
A dolphin cannot endure the air; and an eagle must die in the limpid waves of the Bahamas. Between one and another of those descended from the first mistress of Paradise, there is said to be full as much difference as between some beautiful milk-white courser and the ruddy contented groom who washes his hoofs or braids his flowing mane.
The pretty flying-fish, which sometimes comes, as it were, to welcome a vessel to the tropics, ventures often out of its native element, on excursions of pleasure or beneficence; but the slightest hurt will kill him, and he xv π8r xv must soon return to his own silvery fluid, or his wings will be dry and useless. Is it not often thus with the minds of philosophers and philanthropists? Tired of a universe which almost bounds their vision, they are fain to soar to a purer and more charming region; but having risen just high enough to see there is something still beyond, their powers for flight are exhausted, and back to earth they must descend.
No mortal ever moved upon this nether sphere, more benevolent, or less selfish and cruel, than Bartolomeo de las Casas; yet, he it was who first proposed and effected the bringing over the ocean of blacks, (who were already slaves to those of their own colour,) to be the slaves also of white men.
The natives of Cuba, as well as the gentle and highly civilized Peruvian, wept, repined, and perished beneath those galling tasks imposed by the avarice of Spain; According to every account, no form of government of which any records are preserved, could possibly have been more favourable to virtue and happiness than that of Peru, before the conquest of Pizarro. The mildness and excellence of its laws and customs, both public and private, were such as it is pleasing to contemplate. An exception to this mildness consisted in the penalty to which were subjected the Virgins of the Sun, who lived in a similar manner to that of the Vestals of ancient Rome. Their vows, however, were so seldom broken, that long lives might be passed without a single instance of the infliction of this penalty.— The magnificence of public works within the Peruvian empire, gave evidence both of wisdom and industry. One immense road from Quito to Cusco, a distance of fifteen hundred English miles, was raised above the rest of the country, and furnished with buildings convenient for travellers. Yet those who toiled cheerfully for their sovereign and priests, xvi who assisted with their own hands, could not live beneath the control of men who had given them treachery in return for good faith and confidence.—See notes to Les Incas, by . xvi π8v xvi while beneath those self-same tasks, the limbs of the negro became rounder, and the ivory of his mouth was shown in smiles. This was enough to satisfy him, who well might be termed a true and guileless bearer of the crucifix, that the change he had caused was not a bad one. By signs like these alone, can the intentions of heaven or nature be made known to humanity.
Nourished for many years by the labours of ebony fingers, no one can possibly feel for the negro a sympathy more pure and intense than the writer of these observations. The same has lived many days and weeks entirely, as it were, (or rather as it is) at their mercy; the same has assisted at the birth of many, and, of some, closed the eyes with her own hands, ere the flowery sods hid them forever; the same has given out ribands and beads for their dances; the same has knelt to heaven, at the dreadful sound of the lash, and prayed, in an agony, to the God of mercy and of justice. The sounds of prayer was nightly; the notes of festivity were frequent, and the echo of the last seldom heard; otherwise, who but a fiend could endure to live long in the midst of them?
Whites are still bought and sold in Asia, to say nothing of that servitude or slavery which every poor person is condemned to suffer.
Neither is servitude confined to the poor alone, except, xvii π9r xvii indeed, in the sense that every son of Eva is poor. As regards the subject of individual toil, the greatest of mortals are more on a level with the most humble, than is, by any means, supposed or understood. By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, was the first curse imposed; by pains only shalt thou taste pleasure, is the law which no mortal can evade. Lady Morgan, in a little work entitled The Boudoir, mentions her surprise, when a very young girl, at finding an English Duchess (whom she had visited a little too early), with hammer and nails in her hands, ascending a ladder to fasten up some classic wreaths which were to ornament her rooms for the evening. Many attendants were about her, but none of them had sufficient understanding to relieve her of a task so irksome.
A planter in the midst of five hundred sable vassals, must either toil almost as severely as either of them, or derive little benefit from their assistance.
Without the labour of queens and princesses, many of the heroes of antiquity must have gone without garments or ornaments.
In the present age, (despite of the improved state of manufacture,) a young queen or princess, even, must do much towards the arrangements of her own habiliments, and go patiently through many a weary process, whenever she may wish to appear in the full splendour of her beauty; because a delicate taste or perception of the beautiful is the gift of so very few (except, indeed, excellent artists,) that every lady is disfigured who relies solely on her tire-women.
According to an excellent historian, poor Mary, Queen xviii π9v xviii Scots, took much pains to preserve a velvet dress, merely for the adornment of a death foreseen to be inevitable.
It is the common error of every inferior intelligence, or order of beings, to suppose those a little above them have nothing to do; yet even the creator and his delegates are known to us only by their deeds and employments.
Would to heaven and to the nature of things that pain was not the lot of any mortal!—were all persons just, kind and beneficent, even slavery itself would be desirable.
Could those principles be inculcated, now, which during the dark ages, were by a few, absolutely acted on, a greater improvement would be wrought in this world than has been effected by all the lectures and works on education which have appeared during the last semi-century. Could it always be held disgraceful to hurt a person thrown by heaven or circumstance in our power; could it always be made a rule to spare a fallen enemy; could it always be considered as beneath the hand warmed by gentle blood, to hurt anything defenceless;—could these thoughts and feelings be thoroughly understood and generally diffused, dependence of all kinds would cease to be misery, and that on which it is said, hangs all the law and the gospel, would be practical as the division of one flowery meadow from another; then, indeed, would the kingdom of heaven be come.
Of that punishment which, in every system of religion, is expressed by the strongest and most terrific metaphor, xix π10r xix opinions, of course, are as various as the subject is vague. Analogy and experience, however, must convince every one capable of reflection, that suffering is and must be the natural result of crime. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, is expressive of what will be felt by all who have inflicted pain, while tasting themselves that pain’s equivalent. Every wound maliciously given to a heart, sensitive and confiding, every needless blow inflicted by cruelty, on a skin black or white, will be as surely requited and felt in return, as that warmth is necessary to life, or that blood flows from a gash.
The state of the negro at the present day, attracts more of the public attention than that of those suffering poor who in colour, more resemble the firmament; but, as regards the jetty African, provide plentifully for his meals; give him the female he prefers; let him have means to procure a few trinkets and ornaments, and above all, exact no task beyond his strength or capacity. Thus provided for, the brilliant rows between his pouting lips are disclosed by as much happiness as he, probably, is capable of tasting.
Of the sons and daughters of the country of gold and ivory, the maker of these poor remarks is so much the friend, that she could not, without a thrill of anguish, see their bright eyes dimmed with tears, or a single matted curl torn cruelly from their shining foreheads. Should any of the genii come to the guidance of an intellect enshrined in ebony, ungenerous, indeed, would it be to oppose either deed or wish to its advancement.
To whom, indeed, could be presented a field more vast, xx π10v xx or alluring than to a black man of genius. (Could such a being be found?)
The improvement and civilization of almost a quarter of the globe, with all the luxury which wealth and climate present, are objects which seem to articulate the words: come, do, and take! Nay, the work is already begun at Liberia. Could any black man finish it, the slavery of his race would cease.
Of the beautiful island of Hayti, the African is sovereign, with those means of improvement which commerce can bring at his call from the most civilized countries of Europe. By the free possession of that island have his glory or his happiness increased? This might seem a question worth no less than a hearing and an answer. Recent events in Hayti, may possibly furnish an answer. It is worthy of remark that the Swiss, the German, the Irishman, and indeed, white men of almost every nation, will rush in crowds, when a land of promise is described to them; with no other means than their own energy, they obtain by toil, a passage over the ocean, and often, absolutely bind themselves out as slaves, pro tempore, merely for the remote prospect of calling their own, a little land, which can only be reclaimed from the wilderness by a continuation of their toil. The negro does no such thing: he must be put on board a vessel and have his passage paid; and when landed at last, in a fertile country, he will scarcely, unless in some degree compelled, do work enough to support his own life. He has not, like the white man, an ideality of distant and future good.
Could a few sable youths and maidens be found who would hasten to that island purchased with blood, and induce to some exertion the urchins, who roam naked, (looking like little statues of bronze,) through its woods xxi π11r xxi and plantain groves; or would they even assist in setting plantains and bananas about the confines of Liberia, the banners of the elephant might easily be spread. But of what avail are those laws and permissions which invite the two most opposite colours to the same couch and table?
Nature will always step forward as the common queen and legislatrix. Her edicts are stamped in characters too strong and definite to perish because they are misinterpreted. Licentiousness or necessity may often break her commandments; but the fair descendants of the fair mistress of Eden, are proud of their locks, like the sunbeams of Euphrates; their arms and bosoms like his lilies; and eyes the colour of his waves like the skies at noon, or when dark beneath the shade of his willows. Will these ever set aside those rules of taste and beauty, which even the birds of the garden and wilderness know how to respect and to observe? The lines which came to memory, as if to be inserted, are so very applicable to the subject that I make a note of them. They are composed by Addison, in Latin, and translated, (I believe,) by Dr. Goldsmith. During childhood, they were put into my hands by persons whom I must ever respect.— A perusal of the classics is not, now, the fashion of the day; but a cultivation of the virtue of sincerity must surely produce far better resuls than that fastidiousness which has followed their disuse, and which serves only to lend a deeper shade to hypocrisy. The nature of birds is thus described: Chaste are their instincts, faithful is their fire, No foreign beauty tempts to false desire: The snow-white vesture, and the glittering crown, The simple plumage or the glossy down, Prompt not their love. The patriot bird pursues xxii His well acquainted tints and kindred hues. Hence thro’ their tribe no mixed polluted flame, No monster brood to mark the groves with shame: But the chaste black bird, to his partner true, Thinks black alone is beauty’s favorite hue: The nightingale, with mutual passion blest, Sings to his mate and nightly charms the nest, While the dark owl to woo his partner flies, And owns his offspring in their yellow eyes.xxii π11v xxii
While the lives of every variety of mortals must be kept up by food and fire, hands must be found to fell the forest, and to delve in the earth for roots and water; whether these hands should be black or white, can only be determined by the wonderful artist who nerves and tints them. May all who toil, and are toiled for, receive and give kindness in return!
On the subjects involved in the story of Idomen no more remains to be said. It is many years since the writing of its pages was begun, and many of those looks for which they were transcribed from the tablets of the inmost soul can never, now, be cast on them.
Before even the thought of this transcription a few germs of laurel were plucked for the wearing of their scribe, by a philanthropist, a bard and an historian, from his own full and well-deserved wreath. His beautiful form, though in ruins, remains still upon earth; but his more beautiful intelligence seems recalled to its native heaven while death is reluctant to strike.
Should that most benevolent intelligence, (be it either on earth or in heaven,) take cognizance of what a most grateful votarist has said, may it judge of her according to her sincerity, and pardon and rectify her errors.xxiii π12r xxiii
The vivid germs, bestowed by a hand so excellent, that votarist can scarcely hope to wear; born, as she is, in a new world, far distant from the home of the bard of Madoc, although familiar to his lyre; or should the wreath, begun by such guileless generosity be ever permitted on temples once throbbing to be encircled, it is now steeped in so many tears that its leaves may want strength to unfold, neither, haply, can its blossoms expand in any way that has been hoped either of warmth or loveliness.
A stranger newly transported from the snows of the north, and placed in a piazza not far from the shores of Cuba, becomes, if he has the least sensibility, inebriate with warmth and fragrance. Inhaling the perfume of orange trees, and surrounded with fields of coffee (with its glossy green leaves growing in wreathes with crimson berries, or white blossoms,) he moves, looks, and speaks as if under the influence of enchantment. Let him who sighs for death, come hither; a light veil will soon be spread over all the scenes of memory, and the climate, if it does not destroy, may, at least, shorten his material term.
Ambrosio del Monte, a young Cuban, educated in Germany Many of the most opulent inhabitants of the island of Cuba send their children to Germany, for the purposes of education. had proposed to me a visit to a cavern near the valley of Yumuri. At six in the morning we were on horseback, with A 2 A1v 2 negro attendants. The air was sweet with the yellow flowers of malva; and a small herb bearing blossoms of cerulean blue, still trembled with the large dew drops of a refreshing night.
The sun had just arisen with that burst of splendor known only in the tropics. A few solitary pelicans were seen about the bay of Matanzas, whose broad, semi-circular expanse, smooth and bright as a mirror, reflected every object around it in light of the richest colors. A party of young men were just entering a small boat to go to a vessel moored at a distance in the harbor. It is more beautiful, said one of them, than the Bay of Naples.
We passed through the town, and were soon beside the lucid Yumuri, as it glided insensibly between banks of eternal verdure, reflecting every flower and leaf that hung in profusion around it. I could but muse, a moment, on that happy people who once lived and loved in these retreats, and passed as calmly to their graves as this stream to the bay, which so sweetly and silently engulfs it. They welcomed the christian to their abodes and‐where are they now?
We soon entered the woods, and descended to the first large and murky apartment of a cavern that had never been explored. This cavern, at a very short distance from the flourishing town of Matanzas, is seldom visited, because those in its neighborhood are intent only on their mercantile avocations. Though it has never been entirely explored, many apartments of it have already been entered. An intelligent geologist would find, in it, much to admire. There are few things in nature that awaken more fearful sensations than an unknown labyrinth in the earth. Our negroes were afraid; our 3 A2r 3 lights too ill guarded to proceed, and we were soon glad to abandon this craggy temple of darkness for the breath of flowers and of heaven.
Leading our horses through the trees, we found a path cut through a thicket, which had else been impervious. Innumerable creeping plants had climbed from tree to tree, entangling the branches with their verdant meshes, and now hung waving and floating on the air in wreaths and luxuriant masses.
The path was just wide and high enough to allow us to mount our horses, but soon opened into a spacious avenue of bamboo. The spectacle to me was astonishing. Immense reeds planted in clusters, and at equal distances, had reached at least fifty feet in height. Their strong stems, bending gracefully, and crossing each other near the summit, formed a vast arch or aisle of the Gothic order. There was on the road from Matanzas to the partido Guamacaro, in 18241824, a bamboo aisle or avenue, like the one described, nearly half a mile in length; it led to the central building of a plantation owned by a French gentleman. Some of the researches of Sir William Jones give reason to believe that the first idea of Gothic architecture was indeed derived from the growth of bamboo. The roof, of small innumerable leaves of a grassy texture, was impenetrable to the sun; and the tall clustered columns whence it sprung were, many of them, bound together with a natural A2 4 A2v 4 tracery of ipomea, and convolvuli, still fresh and vivid.
For the eighth of an English mile we rode under this shapely bower, which looked as if reared by magic. But art had merely directed the hand of nature. An old man planted the reeds, and a few years had completed the magnificent structure.
The moaning of the smaller dove was heard near us, and the high verdant arches above our heads, were disturbed by the black wings of the Judio, whose nest was concealed in them.
Noon was fast approaching, and the heat of the sun without, was intense. We alighted from our horses, and treading on a thick carpet of fallen leaves proceeded leisurely through the charming walk, till it gave us the vista of a coffee plantation, divided into compartments and enclosed with broad hedges of lime trees, cut in the form of a thick wall, and filled with fruit and blossoms. On my first visit to the island of Cuba (in 18231823), I was struck with the beauty of these hedges: they seemed, as it were, a wall of verdure, at least five feet in thickness. The plantations where I saw them, were then new, and they were impervious even to light, by reason of leaves and blossoms. They were cut perfectly smooth at the height of about five feet, except that some trees, at equa-distances, were suffered to shoot to their natural height.
In the centre of an open space, stood a dwelling formed of stakes driven into the earth, and woven together with wild plants, in the manner of basketry. A rustic piazza of tasteful shape, was surrounded by sweet scented shrubs, and twined with passion flowers, convolvuli, and that delicate creeper called by the French la chevelure de Venus. A lawn in front was covered with the fine grass of Bermuda5 A3r 5 muda, which, spread like mats on the borders of every flower bed, prevented the feet from being soiled by the red mould of the country.
In the centre of the lawn surrounded by flowers, and protected by a thick bower of grenadilla, was a bason formed of the lime of the island converted into plaster, and from a vase cut from the lime rock, (standing on a pedestal, and ornamented with spar, from some neighboring cavern,) gushed a small stream of filtered water.
Low hedges of those roses which are always in bloom, and emit a faint odor, like that of the violet, added to the cheerfulness of the scene. The hollow trunk of a palm tree had been cut into convenient pieces, which stood elevated round the bason, and were filled with honey by the wild bees, while borders of red head (or ipecacuana) seemed almost alive with the humming birds which it had been planted to allure. This plant makes a pretty border for flower beds; the stocks, of a light green, are very succulent, entirely destitute of leaves, and surmounted by blossoms of a deep red colour, which particularly attract the humming bird.
Warm and weary, we were hesistating whether to advance farther or to return again to the woods, when a negro appeared with a message from his master, inviting us to rest beneath his roof until evening.
We found waiting for us, in the piazza, an elderly person, whose benign countenance was shaded by hair still profuse, although white as the ipomea which opens at sunset upon hedges of lime and prickly pear. The neat arrangementA3 6 A3v 6 ment of his linen dress with the gentle composure of his manner, increased the favorable opinion conceived before, from the taste of his rural embellishments.
We accepted an invitation to dine, and were soon shown into little apartments where we found cots to repose upon, defended from the mosquitos by clean transparent muslin, purchased at Matanzas; gourds of different shapes and sizes supplied the place of basons and ewers, and were filled with water, cold from the tank and filtering stone.
We threw off our riding dresses, and after bathing and dressing in fresh linen, yielded to the allurement of the pillows prepared for us, and enjoyed the luxury of that noonday sleep, so grateful and necessary after any tropical excursion. The health of many foreigners would be preserved, if they knew a little more of physiology, or the nature of their own systems. By taking a little necessary repose, even the amount of their industry would be rather increasedK4 224 K4v 224 creased than diminished. None but dogs and foreigners are up at this hour, is a common adage among the Spanish inhabitants of Cuba, while retiring, after their principal meal, for the purpose of a refreshing siesta.
At three we were summoned to the table, where two other guests, who were wayfaring men, also took their places. The virtue of hospitality still exists, in a great degree, among the plantations of Cuba. A party of travellers, though unknown to the proprietor, are often received and refreshed.
Soup of a turtle, taken by accident in the river, was served in the turtle’s own shell, cutlets of the white meat of the same turtle, a young peacock, a guinea fowl, doves from the cote, and parrots served in pastry, formed the principal course; side dishes of rice grown on the plantation, and sweet potatoes, (which had ornamented its provision grounds with their glossy vines and purple blossoms) were brought at the same time with large vegetable eggs 7 A4r 7 dressed with crumbs of bread; the unripe plantain appeared in small pieces browned at the fire; and the same fruit wholly ripe was roasted and served in the fresh juice of the sugar cane. Next came shell fish, red as coral, from the bay of Matanzas, and small oysters, with flat purple shells, each of which contains a small pearl. In those oysters which I have seen, the pearl was not perfectly white; but, perhaps, might be bleached by some chemical preparation. Milk, curdled by the climate, pressed into the form of a heart, and laid on rose leaves, was eaten with cream and a syrup boiled with blossoms of the orange tree.
The wine that sparkled in our glasses was the purest of Bordeaux and Xeres. A fragrant anana, fresh guayavas, rose apples, fig-bananas, and sapadillas, were profusely heaped at the dessert, and coffee from a neighboring secadero finished the bountiful repast. Not a dish or fruit is mentioned at this meal that has absolutely not been tasted by the writer. Fresh leaves, curiously folded, had, during this course of fruits, supplied the place of richer vessels; I cannot forbear dwelling, for a moment, on the extreme beauty of the plaintain leaf. When newly formed, it is so carefully rolled, by nature, so as to present the form of a spear. During the rainy season of 18401840, a negress unrolled one in my presence; it was full five feet in length, and two and half feet in breadth, and resembled silk of a beautiful green, striped with different shades of the same colour; while the central stem or supporter, rather less than three quarters of an inch in diameter, appeared like a slender wand of the finest polished ivory. When perfectly grown, however, these leaves unfold of themselves, and soon after break into strips. and the only servants, save our own, who appeared at table, were two young negresses selected for a comeliness not common among women of their color. They were clad in a single tunic of white linen, with blue handkerchiefs upon their heads; their waists were encircled with belts woven of the purple shoots of some gaudy creeper of the forest, while their glossy black necks and bare round arms were ornamentedA4 8 A4v 8 mented with collars and bracelets of the scarlet grains of the coral plant which had grown near their own habitations.
The sun was near sinking when we rose from table and repaired to the grounds that first attracted us. The hospitable Dalcour showed us specimens of spar from caverns or grottos in his neighborhood. We admired the ingenuity of his fountain, from which the water flowed slowly, but filtered and ready for use, while the high light roof above it, shaded by two clusters of bamboo, and thickly covered with vines of the luxuriant grenadilla, protected the bason from the sun and formed a cool retreat from the ferver of noon when too oppressive.
This water, said Dalcour, comes from a neighboring tank, kept always full by the rains that fall upon our secadero. It is conducted through tubes of bamboo smeared with the bitumen or liquid coal that oozes from a rock at Camarioca. It is but a frail material! —yet even these simple reeds may last as long in the bosom of the earth, as he who placed them there is permitted to remain upon its surface.
We wandered about the grounds till the brief delicious twilight was fading, and then sat down to rest in a little arbour at the extremity of an alley, where orange trees were growing, alternately with low pomegranates. Trees were seen, here and there, bearing a 9 A5r 9 fruit of the color of a glowing peach, but shaped like an inverted pear, and surmounted by that dangerous nut, in the form of a Turkish crescent.
Our bower, slightly woven of guana, was covered with the vine of the passion flower, and shaded by the acacia of Florida. A hammock near its entrance, was suspended from two trees of the Otaheite almond.Into this Ambrosio threw himself, and lay rocking and looking at the sky that still tinted the foliage with its colors.
All the beauties of the island, seemed united on this flourishing plantation. In the tropics, said Dalcour, nature is active and profuse, and such adornments as these are easily procured and assembled. On a new plantation in Cuba, a man of taste may do almost every thing he chooses, in the way of natural or rural embellishments. In this particularly the French stand pre-eminent. Those who toil for gold only, usually die either before or soon after it is obtained; while their quarrelling survivors seldom reflect enough on past benefits, to allow them even a tombstone. Yet the traveller in Cuba can find little to examine except our numerous caves. The dwellings of the planter are generally new and simple. Bamboo form his only arches and palm trees his only columns. Nothing can be more curious and beautiful, than the natural caverns and grottos of Cuba. A Frenchman, near the Cafetal Hermila, (where the writer of this 225 K5r 225 note lately resided,) lived for many months in one of these natural shelters, which situated, far up, on the side of a precipitous hill, was almost an elegant dwelling. A projection of the rock formed the place for his bed; and a little way from the entrance, which was protected by a door of wild vines, stood a hand-mill for grinding his maize or Indian corn. In this place lived the planter, till his coffee trees were set; his negroes, afterwards, had time, under his direction, to make another domicile. I saw the cave, while the stain of the smoke of his fire was still visible; but it was afterwards destroyed, for the lime and limestone at its base. A grotto, not far from the same place, formed a perfect Chapel of Nature; a concretion, shaped like a baptismal font, and always full of pure drops, was kept supplied by another concretion, which depended from the roof, and looked like an angel’s head rudely sculptured. This last existed but two years ago, and probably still remains; being on the side of a rocky hill, in the midst of a tangled wood. I once visited a grotto in the same neighbourhood, but probably (as I recollect going one afternoon with a party on horseback,) about three miles distant from the one last mentioned. This little natural abode, contained three apartments; some columns in it were so complete, as to seem made by art; while others were about half- formed; a slender cone or pyramid arose from the floor or base, while another of the same shape depended from the roof, with a drop as pure as dew at its extremity. An entire column was formed by the meeting of these two points. In one of the apartments was a soft soil, and a natural tank filled with the clearest filtered water. High pointed arches were filled with innumerable bats, which flew about with a humming sound as we entered with waxen tapers, because of the declining sun. We could not have found our way, either to or from this grotto, (through the thick woods tangled with innumerable vines,) except for the assistance of an intrepid K5 226 K5v 226 overseer, or administrador, who had been a soldier under Napoleon; he, (with a sabre, such as were generally worn in Cuba at that time,) cut a path through the tendrils hanging from the branches above, and the luxuriant foliage beneath, which had almost shut up the narrow path. Our horses were obliged to proceed, with their riders bending closely over their necks. The moon being at that time invisible, we were compelled to be very careful in thus making our way back to our retreat. This last-mentioned grotto was seen by the writer in the year 18241824; the other very recently. As soon as respiration ceases the remains of the stranger are cast into the earth. His substance soon changes to flowers and weeds; and death is an event so common, that few find leisure for a sigh even when it occurs in their circle.
The man of feeling, when disgusted with coldness or perfidy, retreats to the pages of romance, and seeks in the fields of imagination such beings as he has vainly panted to behold A5 10 A5v 10 and possess in reality. Yet, false and insipid as it seems at first sight,—life—real, every-day life, abounds with incidents often more wild and affecting than creations of the most fervid fancy. Poor Idomen! who will not forget thee when I am no more? And who was Idomen? I said. Her story, returned Dalcour, is long;—if you will hear it, remain with me till to-morrow.
The rays of the moon, which had now arisen, were playing in the silver locks of our bland host, and glancing, faintly reflected, over the jetty curls of Ambrosio del Monte, as they peeped between the large meshes of the net work of the hammock that still supported him. The tube rose, or azucena, burthened the mild atmosphere, with a perfume resembling that of the magnolia; while its tall spires, full of blossoms, were seen between the trees of the alley. The faint odour of the coffee fields, from time to time, mingled with our breathing. The rose that keeps always in flower was growso near, that even amid so much aroma, we could distinguish its light fragrance like that of the violet.
Moonlight in these climates, produces a remarkable effect; it seems to penetrate the system through the pores and conduits of the skin, and produces that softness of languor so difficult to overcome or resist. The way to our home, though not very far, lay through 11 A6r 11 thickets almost impervious; the pleasing fatigue of the morning had also been enough for my companion; we remained with the courteous stranger, and desired him to relate his story. Dalcour rose a moment, drew aside the flower and leaves that the moonbeams might enter more freely; and placing me by his side on a turf seat covered with Bermuda grass, began thus, the relation which seemed overflowing from his memory.
The Fireside.Various misfortunes had determined me to visit the new world. Far advanced in the path of my life, my wishes were few. I sought only gold enough to retire to some humble recess; and hoped for no other pleasure, than to find at last, some being capable of friendship, that I might sometimes unburthen my heart, by expressing my real sentiments. After many commercial adventures, I found myself in P――d, the most northern capital of the still new American republic. I sadly followed my affairs, finding little to interest one whose feelings had not yet recovered their tone after many and severe afflictions. Burleigh, a merchant of middle age, heard me refuse an invitation for the evening, on the plea of not speaking sufficient English to be tolerable in the company of ladies. On the following night he said to me, come to my house; my wife sings and speaks French; and, perhaps in this part of the world, there are not 13 A7r 13 many like her. The evening was cold; and books had already fatigued me; I followed him to his house, merely because it was indifferent to me whither I went. Snow fell fast upon our heads as we entered the door of Burleigh, and the light of his warm saloon gave me a feeling like pleasure. No group of cold matrons or gay laughing girls were awaiting me. One female alone appeared, dressed in white, and sitting on a crimson sofa, drawn near to the fire. She was teaching an evening hymn to a fair curly-haired child, who sat upon her knee in all the loveliness of infancy. The room was furnished in good taste, and in a style of luxurious convenience rare even in the richer dwellings of those semi-anglo regions. Tapers of wax stood upon a table where books and some loose music lay scattered. The lady arose at my entrance, held her fair boy by the hand, and courtsied with that mixture of diffidence and expectation which bespeaks the keenest sensibility. Idomen, said my conductor, I have brought to you a stranger, from the country you wish to see;— show him your books, and entertain him as well as you can. Idomen, despite of her maternity, had an air of extreme youth, and blushed as she spoke in my language; yet I soon drew her into conversation, and perceived in her a fervor and taste 14 A7v 14 for the elegant arts, not commonly found even in the most classic countries. I took the child upon my knee; played with his soft hair, and told his mother that, despite the coldness of the climate, I was reminded of Venus and her son, in the island of Cyprus.— But where? said she, as the colour of her cheek became brighter, where are Apollo and Adonis? After tea and cakes had been served, Madame Burleigh, at the request of her husband sang a few songs in French, which she told me had been learned at Quebec; and said also, that she had been to Philadelphia. It scarcely need be remarked that, in the fine arts, Philadelphia far preceded any other city of the North American republic. Pleased with her warmth and artlessness, I proposed visiting her daily, and reading with her the works of some favorite masters, in my language. She cast a doubtful glance at her husband, who bade her accept my offer. The following morning I returned; Idomen had already lying on her table, Atala, and Letres sur la mytologie. I had brought with me a volume of Jean Jaques Rosseau, and turned to that lyrical scene, so charming to artists of the higher order, Pygmalion ou la statue qui s’amine.—The readiness with which it was translated surprised me; but the feeling which it caused to be disclosed filled me with compassion. 15 A8r 15 It was long since any being had interested me like this; I cultivated the favor of Burleigh, and often played with him at cards and draughts while Idomen was busied with her child or the affairs of her household; but while thus engaged with the husband, I never forbore to observe every action of his gentle companion. This young and dutiful woman, calmly as she seemed to pass her life, was a being full of passions; yet these passions had never been awakened. The perfect serenity which reigned upon her fair forehead, was like that of the ocean on a still summer morning,—alas! for the storms that might arise. It was pleasing to observe the harmlessness of her thoughts upheld as they were by a sentiment which enabled her to make the most difficult sacrifices, without murmur or a shade of petulance. Formed in every nerve for the refinements of pleasure, she cheerfully undertook the most wearisome employments; and deprived herself whole weeks, even of the consolations of music. Still, a natural taste or perception of the beautiful caused Idomen to make the most of those advantages which nature had in kindness bestowed upon her; and her dress always varied from the fashion of the day, enough to be in good conformity with the style of her countenance and figure. Idomen wished to please, she wished to be beautiful; but every engraving or description which from childhood had 16 A8v 16 fallen into her eager hands had been absolutely devoured, and both memory and fancy were so filled with an exquisite ideal, that she thought humbly and even despondingly of her own attractions. In the circle which surrounded this woman there was not one being whose thoughts bore the slightest affinity to those which filled her own intellect. Her husband it was true, loved her to the utmost of his nature; he even overrated her accomplishments, and was proud when he saw her admired. But Burleigh was sensual, unskilled in the mysteries of the heart; and Idomen, though ministering to his pleaures, became often the object of his petulance. Many of her hours had been passed in weeping; she felt that she was not happy, but never thought of repining; for she had yet to learn that happiness existed, unless in those scenes of fiction, which beguiled her hours of loneliness. In the circle where Burleigh lived, married women were not used to receive the least attention from any other than their husbands.— Occupied with the cares of their household, they dreamed of nothing beyond it; and generally on becoming wives, laid aside every art or accomplishment which, while maidens, they had begun to cultivate. The innocent amusements of Idomen were so often looked upon with blame, that she rather concealed than displayed them. 17 A9r 17 The matrons of her neighborhood said, so much of books and singing leads to idleness. From mere natural docility and the painfulness of censure, Idomen did as they directed; and often sat whole weeks, making those household articles, which to them, was sufficient employment. But imagination sought refuge from inanity; for the heart will still pant, though the hands and persons are enchained. Madame Burleigh, while thus restricted, composed many flowing verses, which when the task was done, were written on scraps of paper with her pencil. By praises and gentle attentions, I won entirely her confidence, and my conversation had, for her at least, the charm of a first friendship. The mind, accustomed to find solace only in itself, is long in gaining confidence sufficient to pour forth its thoughts even to the ear of kindness; yet still I succeeded in obtaining a few glances at the soul of this woman. Burleigh, she told me, had educated and protected her, at a period when her family, by a reverse of fortune, were in a state of dismay and embarrassment. A loved and accomplished sister, who was now no more, had shared with her mother, she said, the care of her infancy, and given her the name Idomène, as it is written in French, but she was called in A6 18 A9v 18 her family Idomen. And is your husband, I said, your only relative now? I have, she returned, an uncle and cousins; but they are in distant countries, and absorbed in the toils of commerce. My husband has been to me, in the place both of father and brother; and duty and gratitude demand that I should serve and obey him in everything. Tears fell from her eyes as she spoke; and the melancholy firmness of her accents was sadly and singularly in contrast with her soft sunny complexion, and the expression, sometimes almost voluptuous, of her ever varying countenance. A prince, thought I, might be proud of thee, Idomen, for a daughter; but, in scenes where thy lot seems cast, to be what thou art is a misfortune. The North American republic at that time, was agitated by a war with the mother country, whose language it will speak forever. My uncertain fortune called me to this island— of fruits and flowers, and soft breezes said Ambrosio del Monte, as he rose and quitted his hammock, plucking from the vine of the grenadilla, a superb flower, which had the sun shone instead of the moon, would have looked like a purple Nothing can be more luxuriant than the blossom of this vine or creeper. It bears a close resemblance to the passion flower, passa cerulea, except that it is three times as large. The leaf of the plant is, however, entirely different, being broad and curled. A fruit, resembling the musk melon, is the product of these splendid flowers. coronet. Dalcour smiled and spoke to him in Spanish. The young man called to his negro and strolled slowly toward the piazza, while lights in the rustic hall 19 A10r 19 began to glimmer through the foliage and blossoms. The courteous host proceeded:—I did not tell Idomen I would return, but promised myself to visit again the cold but picturesque region where she lived. My parting was sad and regretful, but I left her in the bosom of affluence. I had traversed so much of the world, that few objects were new to me. To reflect on the events of my life, was like opening a Sibylline volume, of which the worst oracles were fulfilled. Yet the innocent being who had crossed in my path so lately, held now, a large space in the fields of my imagination; I felt for her, I knew not what of pity and solicitude; but, son of casualty as I was, how could I benefit one to whom the gifts of fortune were not entirely denied? In this island I formed a friendship with one of your country. The broken ties of exile, the conflicting interests and vicissitudes which follow in the train of commerce, have all less effect on the German than on men of other countries; accustomed to reflection, his mind becomes his world. Governed by laws created for himself, the calm expansion of his soul remains pure and unbroken; even amidst the selfish mass who wrangle and wound each other, at every step around him. In the midst of every thing which can blacken and pollute, 20 A10v 20 a native integrity remains fresh and unsullied in his bosom; as dew contained in the cup of that flower to which travellers fly for refreshment amid the marshes of Florida, A flower in the form of a cup, and containing a draft of dew, has been described in the earlier notices of Florida. or as the cool clear draft contained in those vines which hang pendant from the forest trees of Cuba, when the vertic rains cease to fall. This vine of Cuba bears a small inferior sort of grape. A small gourd becomes immediately full from a large one when cut with a sabre, such as are commonly worn by horsemen in that country. To a German I confided,—the little wealth won from the wreck of my fortunes was placed in the hands of a German, and thire treat which has called forth your praises was chosen for me by a German.
Dalcour ceased, held his watch a moment towards the moon, and said to me, where is your friend? He lingers in the house, I replied, to write billet doux, or compose seguidillas. A young Cubana has enchanted him, and his fancy is now too full to suffer him to listen.21 A11r 21
The evening was not far advanced. The admirer of Idomen looked at me enquiringly, resumed his seat and proceeded:Before taking possession of this little domain, I was called once more to the States of North America. Late in the season I went again to P――d. A mania had possessed the merchants of that coast, for investing the fruits of their toil in privateers, which swarmed from their ports during a war with Britain. Some were enriched by the experiment; but Burleigh had been nearly ruined. Again I visited Idomen; her household was reduced, but a degree of elegance was still preserved about her person and apartments. She expressed a lively joy at my return.— Pass wtiith us, she said, this evening.— Pharamond, my cousin, has promised to come; and will bring with him a beautiful person, whom I once saw, for a moment, when still almost a boy, in a little boat, on the river St. Lawrence, in Canada. At an early hour in the evening, I returned. Idomen wore black because of the loss of some friend, but the covering of her arms was transparent, It may be recollected that the dress of ladies, at that time, was almost Grecian. and her fair hair was braided and arranged with more than usual attention. Every thing which she thought could entertain, was collected and placed in her drawing room. 22 A11v 22 Burleigh soon entered with some neighbors, who were quickly placed at a whist table; but I remained sitting on the sofa, with Idomen, who waited for her cousin. Three blossoms of narcissus were on her bosom, with a small sprig of myrtle, and relieved by her mourning dress, had an effect so pretty that I immediately noticed them. The snow lay in the streets without, and the wood fire blazed briskly within, (the same as when for the fist time I came to the dwelling of Burleigh;) while the freshness and fragrance of these solitary flowers, bore as strong a contrast to the season of the year, as she who wore them to those who surrounded her. I never saw, said Idomen, the narcissus bloom in winter before. These were called forth from their bulbs by a poor Hollander, who sold them lately, for a subsistence; there were but three, and I have plucked them in honor of my three most valued friends. You recollect the fable, I said, Narcissus perished for the love of himself, and nothing remained of him but this flower; which, upon your mourning robe looks so very white, and beautiful. Echo, she replied, perished for the love of Narcissus, and nothing remains of her but a sound. Poor Idomen! her words were like an oracle of her own destiny!—my story alone, is her echo, and who will repeat it when these lips are closed forever?—when the blood of 23 A12r 23 this heart, which so yearned to her, is changed to tropical verdure.
Dalcour arose, stood a moment at the entrance of the arbour, put his hands awhile to his forehead, and then continued thus his recollections:The door soon opened, and Pharamond Lloyd presented Ethelward, the promised beautiful stranger. The endeavor of Madame Burleigh to acquit herself well of the honors of her husband’s house, prevented at first, the full effect of his appearance; but, as soon as introduction was over, one of the milk white hands of Ethelwald was thrown careless over the keys of an open piano, which was drawn towards one side of the fire, and the eyes of the lady were arrested; but the party at whist thought more of their game than of melody; and as those who remained were just four, Idomen soon desired us to sit down to another table, lest music might disturb those who were intent upon their play. The solicitous hostess was placed opposite to her beautiful guest, whom she had not yet had leisure to observe, because of the numerous attentions which it was necessary to pay to others, but wax lights were soon upon the table and all at last were seated. Lloyd dealt the cards, and there was nothing to impede the glances of Idomen, which were either riveted to the face or wandering eagerly over the hair and 24 A12v 24 admirable bust of her partner. Her whole soul seemed abroad in the looks she cast on him. Placed directly opposite, the eyes of Ethelward were continually encountering hers, and expressed an undissembled satisfaction. I looked alternately at each; and while surveying the young stranger, I could hardly forbear sharing in the sentiment of delight which appeared at this moment to have entire possession of her whose countenance I was watching. At the period of their utmost splendor I had seen the capitals of Europe. The beauties of Asia, I had admired, and wandered over much of America. But never had I witnessed before such an assemblage of personal wonders, as now met my eyes in the unconscious young man before me. His age at this time was twenty-three years; his stature much exceeded six feet, and his figure, though still supple and slender, had attained enough of obesity to give that roundness of surface so much admired by painters. The ancient Romans, sometimes fed their gladiators with a chosen food, to make them look more beautiful;—but here, what tints and contour had been refined by a process of nature, from the snowy earth of Canada! The complexion of the youth was so fair, as to seem almost preternatural; but the expansion of his forehead, a certain stateliness of 25 B1r 25 carriage; the turn of his neck, and the noble outline of his whole person, perserved him despite of his uncommon softness, from the slightest appearance of effeminacy. A smile of voluptuous sweetness played, as he spoke, about his exquisite mouth, and disclosed rows of teeth as white and free from stain or blemish, as bleached pearls newly taken from the oyster. Still, a purity and even anxiety of expression, relieved at intervals the mild brilliancy of his eyes; and a strength of arm almost gigantic, was forgotten in the delicacy of his manners, and a certain indescribable grace which seemed beaming and floating, as it were, over his whole person. Idomen, towards the close of the visit, sang at the desire of her husband. Secure in her faith, Burleigh was entirely free from jealousy, and delighted to show her to strangers and foreigners. Some ladies had joined the party, and cards were laid aside. Ethelwald was enamoured of music; he sang, with Pharamond Lloyde, some of these wild boat songs peculiar to the peasants of Canada, and spoke of the beauty of his native river. The evening was finished, and when the hour of parting drew near he went carelessly to the piano forte, and accompanied himself in one of those simple but touching airs derived from the troubadours of France, and still heard from many a lip on the snowy banks of the St. Lawrence. B 26 B1v 26 A few years’ residence in Europe had improved the natural taste of the performer, and tender cadences of Italy sometimes heightened the effect of his closes, without conveying the faintest idea either of study or display.— Every stanza that he sang had this conclusion: Quand on aime,On aimera toujours,Toujours davantage. No one ever sings well without feeling, for the moment, what he utters. The soul of Ethelwald seemed to warm every note and word; he looked up; and his curling hair, of a pale, golden brown, shone so brightly between the flames of two waxen tapers, that it was not difficult to imagine an irradiation round his forehead, like that sometimes given by painters to the god of verse and of the lyre. The room was warm; and small particles of moisture had oozed through the pores of his spotless skin, and glistened like points of diamonds. Idomen was standing near me, and said in a low tone, does he not seem some creature of mythology, with flesh composed of ambrosia and ichor instead of mortal blood; are not the sublime and beautiful united and personified in him? In height and outline might he not be the model for a warrior? And yet the colors that adorn him are more delicate than those admired even in the fairest damsel! As the body of Hector when dragged on the earth round the city beloved of Venus, was preserved27 B2r 27 ed from every wound and stain; so the beauty of this being of our world, seems protected by some deity from all the wounds and stains of mortality. The eyes of all in the room were attracted, at this moment, towards the stranger, and the words of Madam Burleigh were not heard, except by the friend who was listening to her.— I feared lest the feelings of this woman were combined with those of the artist: yet even if so, I knew the character of Idomen; I trembled not for her honor, but I feared for her life or tranquillity. On the following day before twelve, I again sought the dwelling of Burleigh, and found the young mother engaged, as was her custom, in instructing her fair-haired boy. I brought with me Les Incas, for Idomen, when I first knew her, had wished, as I remembered, for that alone of all the writings of Marmontel. I waited for some household arrangements; then desired her to read to me a little, as had once been her pleasure. Madame Burleigh met my request with the same compliance as ever, but her lips pronounced as if by mechanism. Her thoughts could not be fixed on the subject before her; the quickened beating of her heart was seen through her white morning robe, and her cheeks were red with the fever of excitement. Have you dreamed, I said, of your beautiful guest? I have not dreamed, answeredB2 28 B2v 28 ed Idomen, but here are some verses that I had just written down, when little Arvon returned from walking. Ethelwald, as I anticipated, was the subject of the verses. They were smooth, glowing, and full of such classical allusions, as might naturally be brought to memory by the scene of the preceding evening; still I was happy to find in them more of the fervor of taste than the disorder of a newly conceived love. I asked many questions of her who stood blooming before me, for I wished to discover, if possible, what channel her thoughts might have taken. Idomen answered with perfect artlessness; she delighted to speak of the beautiful Canadian, but the terms of her praises, extravagant as they were, seemed scarcely, even to me, exaggeration. She did not know the nature of her sentiments, neither could I at first divine them.— Accustomed to the ties and restraints of her early union, Madam Burleigh never thought, for a moment, of any delight inconsistent with them. Admiration for this object filled the void in her heart, and was indulged in with perfect innocence. Those feelings which destroy the health and peace of the lover, had never yet been awakened. The warmth of a passionate soul seemed directed from its usual course, and entirely subjected to the empire of a guileless intellect. She could, even at that period, have knelt at the feet of the chef 29 B3r 29 d’œuvre of Nature that enchanted her; but the slightest breath of sensuality would have caused an excess of pain, by turning the currents of her thoughts from that course of etherial ecstacy in which they were free to wander. After this I could conceive of the sentiment which animated Petrarch of Italy, when he refused the offer of the pontiff, his patron; and declined receiving in marriage that Laura, the mere thought of whose displeasure could deprive him of peace and of health. See life of Petrarch, by a lady. Hobhouse, in his notes to one of the cantos of Childe Harold, is a little offensive in doubting the Platonism of Laura and her lover; but situated as both of them were, no other kind of attachment was possible. A contemporary said to Plato, who was conversing on ideas, I can see a table, but not the idea of a table. Some there are, however, who can see the idea, no less than the material. Le Sage makes even Gil Blas understand the nature of such love as that of Petrarch; as evinced by a passage in his account of Donna Aurora de Guzman. A most beautiful conception of the power of soul over sense, exists in the Atala of M. de Chateaubriand. Ethelwald, at this time, was also peculiar in mind as in person; in him appeared none of the grossness of selfishness of a young votary of pleasure: he listened to his own praises with a species of gratitude; and no feeling of vanity could have induced him to cause injury to her who so freely bestowed them. Before I left the house of Burleigh, he had come with Pharamond Lloyde, and brought copied music to Idomen. I listened awhile to their songs and conversation, then withdrew to look after my affairs, and reflect upon the destinies of those whom I had left to a few fleeting moments of present happiness. Ethelwald, at an early age, had entered the British army, in Canada; and after the victory of the allied powers at Waterloo, had remained two years in Europe. But in that profound peace which succeeded the fall of Napoleon, the services of young officers were not needed; and he was now returning, on half pay, to live 30B3v30 with his father, on the banks of his native St. Lawrence. In walking through the streets of P――d, after leaving the house of Idomen, I twice met this young Canadian. The day was pleasant. He wore a neat blue undress, such as was common at that time to Englishmen of his quality. His cheeks glowed with the coolness of the air; and a travelling cap of dark fur, was gilded and relieved by the hair that curled in light ringlets around it. His mien, gait, and stature, united with so uncommon a face, were sufficient to call forth surprise from all the sober citizens of P――d, who were passing to or from their employments; while little children who were returning from school gazed steadfastly awhile on the stranger, or uttered exclamations of delight. Pharamond Lloyde was to return to Canada very soon; and I knew, would come with his friend to take leave of Madam Burleigh, before evening on the following day. I yielded to the wish to be present at this interview, and sought the tasteful home of the woman I most admired. Ethelwald occupied a part of the sofa where Idomen was sitting; and both endeavored to persuade her cousin to stay another week at P――d. Lloyde said it was impossible to be longer from Quebec; and some circumstance, as it appeared, compelled his brilliant companion to bear him company. 31 B4r 31 Idomen had yielded her imagination entirely to the influence of the scene. Well, said she, may I desire you to remain,—you seem to me like an incarnation of the sun,—like a living Apollo. In your presence I forget that there is any thing like pain in existence!— When I look at you and hear you speak, I feel as if transported to the regions of beauty and of music. These praises were not lost on the Canadian; though born and educated amidst the snows and forests of the St. Lawrence, he had wandered through the galleries of the Louvre, where all those chefs d’œuvre were assembled, which, after the fall of Napoleon, were restored to the cities that bemoaned them; and a natural taste for the beautiful had made him a lover of the arts. The winter sun was declining and the guests arose to depart. A small present of music was laid upon her piano, and accepted by Idomen. The young men took their leave in the English manner; a shake and pressure of the hand, and an utterance of the words, God bless you! Pharamond assumed the right of consanguinity, and touched his lips to those of his blooming cousin. The friend who so lately had been liked to an Apollo, or an incarnation of the sun, seemed wishing to follow his example; and was withheld less, perhaps, by the immediate presence of others, than by that strong sense of respect and propriety, so sacredly32 B4v 32 credly observed both by French and English Canadians, when admitted to the drawing-room of a lady. Madam Burleigh ran through the passage, and accompanied her visitors to the door, which they closed gently after them, because of the coldness of the air. The wood fire fell in the drawing-room, and while I hastened to look at it, the latch of the street door was touched from without. It was Ethelwald; he had returend a moment, and asked of Idomen, in a low hurried tone, a kiss such as had been given to her cousin. A few words ensued and he was gone. In a moment, my friend was in the room; a little agitated, but radiant with warmth and animation. Did you grant his request? I said. Idomen answered, am I not a wife?— Stranger as he is, why should he so have returned?—and yet he only asked of me the same proof of friendship I had given in his presence to Pharamond; I need not have been so cold; and now I suppose, he will forget me!
The sweet toned bell of the plantation, at this moment, sounded. The hour of nine had arrived, and the negroes of the field were retiring to sleep in their cottages, not far from the principal dwelling.
Dalcour led me to the hall, where another light repast was awaiting us.
Small birds, and shell fish from the bay or 33 B5r 33 river, were served with wine of Bordeaux, and followed by fruits and coffee.
The same two young negresses appeared as before, with their collars and bracelets of the grains of the coral plant; their turbans of blue handkerchiefs, and their short robes or tunics of clean linen, bound by girdles of crimson tendrils; while below them their jetty ancles were conspicuously circled with scarlet bracelets of grains like those about their arms.
Ripe fig-bananas, of a small delicious variety, were brought to us in baskets, woven for the occasion, of the same broad, fresh green leaves which had shaded them while See note the seventh of this work. growing.
The rind had been stript from the mellow fruit, which before was bursting from it; and the luscious straw-colored pulp looked as if beginning to melt upon the green rural vessel that supported it.
We soon arose from supper and retired to the piazza. Ambrosio complained of fatigue; he had written his seguidillas and billets- doux, to his pretty Cubana, and his thoughts were still absent and wandering about the long lashes of her eyes and the glossy black tresses of her hair. After bidding good night in Spanish, he retired to his sylvan apartment; entered a bath formed of the hollow trunk of a palm tree, prepared in a little alcove, and curtained with muslin like his bed. Clean and refreshed, he lifted the veil of his cool couch; adjustedB5 34 B5v 34 ted on it his own travelling pillow of silk covered with lawn, placed himself in an attitude of luxuriant repose, and thought till he dreamed of Raphaëla.
I soon rose to follow my friend, but the night seemed too lovely for sleep. My kind host stood before me in all the beauteousness of age as described by a bard of Britain. His every feeling was awakened by the story he might never relate again. The moonlight seemed melting over his thick silver hair and linen dress. He looked as if loth to retire; and I entreated him to continue his story.
Dalcour soon drew me towards a sofa, woven of bajuca by one of his skillful negroes, and drew forth footstools of the same sylvan material. After seeing me at ease, he remained awhile absorbed in recollection. the perfume of the flowers came gently wafted over us; and the charm of pleasure and repose seemed blended with his melancholy accents, as he again proceeded in his story.Soon after the scene depicted, I left again the country of Idomen, and was constrained to make several voyages between France and revolutionized Hayti. The little I had embarked in commerce, was, at length, successful. I 35 B6r 35 had been to this island and soothed. The softness of its climate,—the wildness of its recesses,—the surprising quickness of its vegetation,—all combined to fix the wavering choice of one whose hopes had often been scattered. I had found here also, a friend, an excellent and honorable German. He saw this spot where a little coffee had been planted, and learned that its possession was within the narrow limits of my fortune. Authorized by letters, he obtained it for me; and hither, at last I came, and found solace and amusement in making these little arrangements which now call forth your approval. More than five years had elapsed since I saw and admired Madam Burleigh. My letters to her husband had now, for two years, been unanswered. Relieved from the bustle of commerce, I began to reflect more intensely on what might be the probable destiny of the woman he had cherished and protected. I resolved to go again to P――d, and waited but to plant my estate. Penetrating a few leagues into the country to procure young coffee and fruit trees, I turned, as is usual for solitary travellers, from the rough, unpleasant highway, into the alleys of a fine coffee plantation, in Guamacaro. A few moments brought me to the line of the principal entrance. A noble avenue, half an English mile in length and leading to the casa grande, or house of the master, was 36 B6v 36 shaded by palm, orange, and mango trees.— Between these were planted roses, oleanders, jessamines, tuberoses, and many other shrubs and flowers emitting a grateful odour. At convenient distances were seats, sheltered by arches of lattice work, and covered, like those before us, with vines of the passion flower, convolvulus, and many other odorous creepers, whose nature it is to climb in wreaths, and attach themselves with tendrils. I felt inclined to alight; and left my horse to the care of the negro who followed me, walking slowly forward through the shade. I soon found myself in front of a small edifice standing a little back from the avenue, and adorned with jessamines and lyrias. It was a temple built of the lime stone, abundant in all its neighborhood, which still lay in heaps in the higher and less cultivated parts of the plantation. The little structure was elevated four steps from the earth, having in front, an entablature supported by four white columns, in good accordance with the rules of Doric architecture. A French overseer stood at the door, and invited me to enter. The ceiling within was slightly concave; and the building seemed to have served for a library and music room.— Books were seen packed in boxes; and a few pictures and ornaments had been taken down from the walls. The resident master of the estate was lately 37 B7r 37 deceased; and the face of the man who bad me welcome was shaded with melancholy.His late employer, he said, was from the north, and the building we were in had been erected by a lady, his niece, who came to the island in deep mourning; and who, a few months before the sudden death of her uncle, had been summoned, by a letter, to leave the pleasant place she had made and visit a relation in Canada. In a corner of the room stood a little basket containing what appeared to be slips of waste paper. I took it to the window, and how was I surprised, to see fragments of torn verses, in the hand writing of Idomen! I asked many questions of the administrador. He knew little of the lady, except that she was kind and courteous, and that she sometimes seemed afflicted; that the planters of the neighborhood had spoken much about her because of the singularity of her pleasures and employments, when contrasted with their own pursuits; and because, though still young and said to be without fortune, she seemed indifferent to establishing herself in marriage; she was fond of flowers, and had rode and rambled much about the fields; and when her library was finished, she had passed in it a part of every morning. I now remembered that Idomen had told me of an uncle. Here, then, he had lived; and here, had probably, been past the first year of her widowhood! Idomen was now at liberty 38 B7v 38 to love, but Idomen was now a wanderer. She was gone to visit her cousin Pharamond at Quebec. Amid the snows and ice of the St. Lawrence, who would supply for her the warmth of a tropical sun? I thought of the handsome Ethelwald, and felt, for her, I knew not what of solicitude. I returned thoughtfully to my home, which then, had not had time to bear its present aspect of adornment. I immediately wrote to Madam Burleigh, and wished her all happiness and peace; yet offered, if adversity should threaten her, my humble roof and all that remained to me for her protection. For two months I went not even to Matanzas; every day was passed in marking out improvements, directing my workmen, and planting trees and shrubs which needed little care save that of nature. There is scarcely any beautiful design of flowers and shrubs, which may not be effected in Cuba. The rose is not a native of the country; but when brought from other climates, where it blooms but one month in the year, it will keep perpetually in blossom. From 1839-12–1841-05December, 1839, till May, 1841, I was actually supplied every morning from one favourite tree, bearing small white roses. My German friend had gone to reside at Havana; and I had been entirely careless of what transpired in my neighborhood. At length I rode to the smiling town, to purchase wine and linen for my household. Near the margin of the Yumuri, not a half league from my own dwelling, I observed, for the first time, a small house, ornamented with boxes of flowers, and giving proof of more care than is common with the inhabitants of this island. A white female servant stood at the door of the principal apartment, and I saw within books, pictures, and a piano forte. 39 B8r 39 In the course of the morning, I enquired of a foreign merchant, whether strangers had lately arrived? Madam Burleigh, answered the Englishman, or as our Spanish friends call her, Dona Idomen, has come, and lives alone, with her servant, though safe, in being near a Spanish family. The lady is said to be amiable, but singular in her tastes. What friends can she possess, who have suffered her to come unprotected to a country like this?— She has no doubt returned to look after a bequeathment of her uncle Llewellyn Lloyde, with whom she lately passed a year, on his estate, at Guamacaro. It is about six months since he died suddenly. I waited to hear no more, but concluded my business as speedily as possible; and at the decline of the sun, stopped at the dwelling I had remarked in the morning. It had been a full month, tenanted by Madam Burleigh. Idomen received me half screaming with joy and astonishment. The five past years had left no traces on her countenance. Her person was simply but carefully adorned; and her cheeks, neck, and arms, displayed the soft roundness of health. Her dress was black but light, thin and graceful; and a few jessamines and orange blossoms were fragrant in her fair braided hair. Idomen, I said, we meet again for my consolation. I know now what may have befallen you; but now, at least, you seem in hope and 40 B8v 40 in health; you have not yet reached the age of Sappho when she perished at Leucate; but happy am I that no Phaon has been your destruction. Tears were my answer, but they were tears of a softened recollection. My servants and horses were weary, and longed for their own nightly shelter. I took leave of my newly found hope, but not before having tendered her my eternal friendship, and the utmost I possessed, either of life or its sustenance. I soon passed the wood, regained my own piazza, and threw myself into a hammock, but the charming events of the day had indisposed me for sleep. My negroes, pleased with my return, served my evening repast with all that they could of alacrity. My white administrador, reported the amount of labor; my four black mayorales came to pay their respectful obeisance, and to speak to me of their own affairs, either of love or convenience. One asked for his favorite in marriage, another to rebuild his cottage thatched with palm leaves. Having dismissed them all to their rest, and taken a bath of malva, A bath with an infusion of malva, is held in great esteem by the Cubanas. It is said, by them, to allay fever, and to heal the system after bruises or fatigue. I sought at the hour of eleven, a sofa in this same piazza, like this which now supports us. Alas! how different were my feelings! 41 B9r 41 The sky with all its constellations looked blue and beautiful as it now looks. These flowers returned not their fragrance as I breathed; but all were planted and springing to luxuriance. The scenes of strife and danger I had passed, returned but in dim perspective to my soothed imagination. I looked out upon my little domain, with a sense of security and pleasure. My watch dogs slept; the negro who kept guard at my sheltered portal, sounded a few notes on a pipe of his own construction. His sable favorite heard, and crept softly to rejoin him, through the budding coffee trees, bearing a present of ground nuts or manies, from her own garden, and roasted at the nightly fire that still burned in front of her cottage. In the hottest nights within the tropics, the negroes are fond of fire, and will, if allowed, sleep very near it.— Accidents, however, were so frequent, that on many estates in Cuba, their fires could only be kindled on the ground without their cottages. The wild ipomea waved her delicate tendrills, as if preparing to embrace my newly rooted bamboos. The night blooming Cereus was ready to spring open in the woods; the dew fell warmly in the moonlight;—all was teeming and quick with the life of vegetation. How strongly doth hope entwine herself with the sensations of man; she reddens his lip when a child, and follows, playing with his silver hair, even to the brink of his last resting place! B6 42 B9v 42 I was happy, I knew not why. Sixty summers had passed over my misfortunes. Did I hope that Idomen would devote her glowing years to my solitude?—No! The power that has granted this blooming shelter to the needs of my declining age, knows well that I wished not a sacrifice. To sooth and protect was all —and that was enough for my happiness.
Dalcour was silent for a moment, and I saw, by the moonbeams, that tears were trickling from his eyes. He arose, walked into the hall, and awakened a negro, who, with turban of blue handkerchief, and bracelets of vegetable coral, on his arms and ancles, was sleeping with smiles upon his mat and blanket—Benito awoke slowly; but perforated as soon as he arose, an unripe cocoa nut, filled two goblets with its cool The milk or juice of the cocoa-nut, can be obtained in large quantities, only while the shell of the nut is green and tender. delicious liquid, and presented them to us, on one of the leaves of its tree which he had twisted and woven into a salver.
The friend of Idomen soon gained his composure. He quaffed the sweet nutrition and spoke a word to the negro. Benito went out and returned with a napkin and a cup, borne nupon the same salver of cocoa-leaf, and formed of the shell of a ripe nut, filled with water, pure from the filtering stone, and scented with blossoms of the orange tree.43 B10r 43
My sensitive host bathed his eyes, lips and forehead, and received a newly opened cluster of tuberoses from the hand of the faithful Benito, whose Spanish good night was returned with benignant courtesy.
We both sat down again upon the sofa of bajuca; Dalcour handed me the flower, and seemed pleased thus to resume his story:Early the next morning I repaired to the house of Madam Burleigh attended by the good boy Benito, who had found for her breakfast some rip fig-bananas and an avocado pear,— that fruit or vegetable marrow so cooling and grateful to the palate, when eaten with the light bread of Matanzas. It was nine o’clock when we arrived. The convolvulus was still unwilted by the sun, and the malva with its yellow blossoms, was spread like a carpet near the threshold. Idomen stood at the door to receive us.— She was dressed in a white morning robe, after the English manner, and a passion flower, of a small singular variety, was placed amid the natural curls on the left side of her forehead. Her whole aspect was serene, and fresh as the air she was breathing. Unequal in years and born in a distant quarter of the world, she met me with all the heart healing delight of a perfect and unalloyed confidence. Not far from our view, flowed the smooth stream Yumuri. The hills rose on our left, covered with eternal verdure and crowned with 44 B10v 44 a few palmettos, whose plumy tops were waving softly in the sun. I held a moment the hand of Idomen, and was happy. The moaning of the smaller dove was heard from a neighboring thicket of shrubs bound together with lianas; but a black vulture descended and stalked before us in gloomy stateliness. I looked at the bird and shuddered.
The Confessions.Madam Burleigh told me, that for a year, she had not read. To think of the scenes that had past, was now, sufficient amusement for her hours of pleasure and reflection. The recent events of reality were still passing in her memory, and affected more intensely her thoughts than even those works of feeling and fancy which had once so strongly attracted her. I am, she said, surprised at my own contentment. Before I saw you, I had no certain good in view, yet despite of all that has befallen me, I have felt, since established in this cottage, as if sustained by some pleasing hope. Happy climate, I exclaimed, what a power dost thou possess of throwing a bright misty 45 B11r 45 veil over every obtrusive recollection! Idomen, you have accepted my friendship;—you do not doubt my integrity. Tell me, then, all that has passed to you. Confide in me, even as in thy God when thou addressest thyself to him in prayer! This speech brought tears to her eyes.— Sweet, sweet tears of gratitude and guileless confidence! who else had ever dropped them for me? Souls have existence upon earth, fully capable of friendship! but scattered are they, far apart, by time, circumstance, and that pride which shudders at rejection. How many pass to the grave, without knowing even one fellow being! How pines, in secret, the solitary philanthropist, who wastes his benevolence upon ingrates; and lavishes upon those who heed it not, that love of which the mere knowledge would have been heaven to a bosom of reciprocity! The breakfast table was occupied and removed. We retired to a little boudoir separated by a white curtain from the principal apartment. Here stood a sofa, and near it a small work-table, adorned with a vase of tuberoses, pomegranate and lime blossoms. Idomen sat down and busied her hands as when I first had known her. I placed myself by her side on the sofa, and entreated her to describe to me the days of her absence. Life, she said, was new when I first saw 46 B11v 46 you at P――d. A void was in my heart, but misery, save that of many griefs in childhood, I never yet had tasted. After my cousin and Ethalward had departed and you, my friend were gone, perhaps never to return, I began to reflect on my condition. Our affairs grew worse and worse. Vessel after vessel had been taken at sea, and Burleigh my husband, sought relief from his fears, in such amusements as suspended recollection. A stranger to need and to economy, his expenses increased with his misfortunes. I lingered sadly at home, took care of my darling boy, and endeavored to make what little retrenchment I could, to avert, if possible, the ruin which I knew was pending. The neighbors who surrounded us became less warm in their attentions. I foresaw from the first, what every thing would come to, said a lady who came to visit me. Mrs. Burleigh, said another, your piano, I am afraid, must soon be closed. I foresee that you must soon be obliged to make a change in your way of living. I too, foresaw enough. I knew that some change must be at hand, but a vague hope sustained me. Our table had been hospitable, our doors open to many; but to part with our well garnished dwelling, had now become inevitable. We retired with one servant, to a remote house of meaner dimensions; and were sought no longer by those who had come in our wealth. 47 B12r 47 I looked earnestly around me; the present was cheerless, the future, dark and fearful.— My parents were dead, my few relatives in distant countries, where they thought, perhaps, little of my happiness. Burleigh I never had loved, other than as a father and protector; but he had been the benefactor of my fallen family, and to him I owed comfort, education, and every shadow of pleasure, that had ever glanced before me, in this world. But the sun of his energies was setting, and the faults which had balanced his virtues, increased as his fortune declined.— He might live through many years of misery; and to be devoted to him was my duty while a spark of his life endured. I strove to nerve my heart for the worst. Still there were moments when fortitude became faint with endurance; and visions of happiness that might have been mine, came smiling to my fevered imagination. I wept and prayed in agony. Still heaven was kind to me, for I felt not the suffering of want. The disgusting lamp, with its oil of sea animals, took the place of my neat waxen tapers; but my rooms were decent and comfortable, and my wood fire well supplied. Burleigh passed many of his evenings, I knew not where. Perhaps it was a fault that I never had complained of his absence, and that I forbore reproach, and shrunk when rough answers were made to me. 48 B12v 48 My little Arvon said his prayers and went early to bed, and many a long hour I sat alone arranging his garments and my own. My hands were employed, but thought could not be confined. During evenings like these, fancy wandered sometimes in pleasant fields, and many verses came flowing to be arranged, and were written on slips of paper in my work basket. Wakeful, sometimes, in the night, I listened to the moaning of the winds of winter, and to the breathing of my sleeping husband; beguiling my fears of what might come, by thinking of plans for its endurance. In these reveries, I said in my heart, when a little child I could make verses, I will strive to excel in Poetry. The poets are distinguished; fame attracts friends, and if I can have friends, sincere and elegant friends, poverty and seclusion will be nothing. Alas! how was I mistaken! In uttering this exclamation, Idomen became disconcerted. She dropped, while, the cambric she was sewing, and half concealed her face with a cluster of flowers that I had brought for her. Their odour was powerful, resembling that of the little plant mignionette; I had plucked them from a tender tree that I had brought, for its fragrance, from Guamacaro; and I now blest them for their influence. Idomen subdued her emotion. My eyes were fixed on her, and she seemed to divine 49 C1r 49 that I was reading her inmost thoughts. I will tell you all, she said, and yet, in those dark moments I have described, I thought of the stranger Ethalward, only as a picture I had seen, or as the beautiful delineation of some poet. Could I have seen him, in those days, I would not for worlds that he should have looked upon my unhappiness. In my former pleasant drawing room, I had sighed for the image (when it came smiling to my soul,) that I now endeavored to banish from a dwelling- place that seemed to me so dreary. In this secluded dwelling-place my first crime was committed—do not start or shrink at the word!—crime, indeed it as, but a crime that passed only in intellect,—this material form that your early praises conspired, oh! my friend, to make me value, has been guarded, in kindness, by heaven! “I felt assured, but said only: This, indeed, is thy promise, continue. She paused a moment and resumed: The man of the world might laugh;—the prude, male or female, might condemn. In my own bosom I felt sometimes half guilty, and sometimes grateful to providence for the amusement and solace afforded me. Crime, even though it were, it healed my sickening spirit, and saved me, perhaps, from the gloomy prostration of despair. C 50 C1v 50 There lived at P――d an uncommon man, descended from some of the Scottish settlers of New England. His name was Brikmoor Grant. He had passed with reputation, through one of the best Universities of the New World. In a country where wealth is divided, and few individuals have much, the merit and learning of Grant obtained for him sufficient distinction. He had risen by his qualities and efforts, above the restraints of poverty, and moved in the most refined circles of merchants whose earnings had escaped the wreck of wars and of winds, and of men who had studied at school and were successful in the learned professions. In the cities of the North American Republic, such are the only nobility. Birkmoor Grant, when a little child, had suffered the sorrows of an orphan; and seemed to have feeling and taste. In a note, written amidst a thousand hopes and fears, I sent to him requesting an interview, and received him with trembling, when he came, yet succeeded, at last, in expressing the desire I had formed of publishing some of my verses. Oh! my ever valued friend, whom heaven allows me to meet again, in the solitude of this island, after so many eventful years! the praises first received from you in the snowy region of my birth, were then still resounding 51 C2r 51 in my heart, and gave courage to impart my design. I spoke with emotion, and earnestness; Grant heard me with attention, and promised to lend me his assistance. I now became happier than before; charmed and amused, I went cheerfully through the labors of my little household; copied, translated and composed. Secluded from the world, and pained by the cold regards of some whom I had known in better fortune, the visits of Birknoor Grant afforded me the utmost relief. He looked over my verses and my prose; scrutinized and praised. Save a few, my dear friend, shown to you, these verses, which then became so great a solace to me, had never been read by any mortal. Burleigh, my husband, so far from cultivating letters, very seldom even read or wrote; even his letters on business were written by others at his dictation. Still, nature had implanted in him, the highest and most perfect veneration for learning and the elegant arts; and no student or tyro, ever asked him in vain for a subscription. Persons like this overrate the ability of others; Burleigh declared himself no judge of what I wrote, but favored the visits of Grant, and saw how my hours were employed with satisfaction and encouragement. C2 52 C2v 52 Caution and coldness characterize, it is said, men of the Northern republic. Of the first, Birkmoor Grant had his share; yet his actions to me, were most friendly; and the fervor of a gratitude, expressed from the depths of my soul, threw him sometimes off his guard, and drew from him words of passion. Your visits, I said, with a little music and poetry, are, now all the pleasure of my existence! At the future I dare not look:—the prospect is too doubtful—too dismal. May I even hope, always, for your friendship. Always, so help me God! was the answer.— He was pale, he trembled, and drops of perspiration appeared and stood upon his forehead— How many oaths are uttered that never reach even so deep as the memory of him who speaks them! This scene transpired of a morning, when he whom heaven had sent as the friend of my dark hours, alone, was sitting, by my side, over a MSS.manuscripts which he had read, marked, and corrected. It was but a momentary meeting of souls destined soon to be severed, or wrapt in that impenetrable envelop which shrouds the best thoughts of mortal beings. If we ever meet again, in time or eternity, gratitude will still expand the sentiments of mine, and his cannot suffer with remorse, for injury either done or caused to me. Birkmoor Grant, when my friend, had reached53 C3r 53 ed the age of thirty, and passed as a model in morals and good conduct. His company was sought by the gayest circles around him; and many a father and mother were pleased when he visited their daughters. His person, besides, was excellent, in height, figure, and features; and his crisped hair, blacker than the raven of Canada, the snake of the Mississippi, or the vulture that stalked this morning by the limpid and flowery Yumuri. Besides these endowments of nature, which had been trained to produce more effect than is common with men of his country and profession, the manners of Grant were cultivated; and he piqued himself on being able to shut up his books, and to look when he pleased, like a man of the world. I often wrote pages merely for the pleasure of hearing him read a few words. His visits were frequent; sometimes in the presence of Burleigh and my son; sometimes in my hours of solitude. Often when drest for some neighboring ball or festival, he would come ere the evening had advanced, and spend half an hour at our fireside. At one of these intervals, I said to him, in sincerity: How kind of you to remain here so long in quiet conversation with a recluse, while a circle of gay young girls have, perhaps, attired themselves to please you, and are now, perhaps, waiting in expectation. Because, C3 54 C3v 54 he answered, it is here that I am to find my happiness. A shade of self-complacency marked the rest of his visit, as well as an evident satisfaction that his presence was fully appreciated; and that his voluntary absence from a more happy company was considered in the light of a sacrifice. Soon after this, I had reason for less of gratitude. A year had passed in a pleasant and harmless friendship; but the motives of Grant were now changed and apparent. He uttered sentiments that I could not answer; and gave me to perceive, that beneath the veil of my retired misfortunes, he was capable of a deed that must afterwards be concealed by falsehood. Here, then, was my crime. I had not courage to part with his visits immediately. Do not start, my friend, or blame me too deeply. These visits were dangerous, but no more. Could he basely avail himself of a weight of circumstances that I struggled continually to bear? Could he sacrifice a sincere friend to himself, and conceal the deed by duplicity? A thought like that, alone was sufficient for my preservation. Yet, I suffered him to hope, for a while, and to think himself completely beloved. That sufferance alone seemed a crime to me, and the sense of a mental debasement, added at intervals to my torments. Still, his company continued to be a solace and amusement;55 C4r 55 ment; till, at last, instead of reproaches I gave him a copy of these verses, which were a close to our readings together in Italian: To meet a friendship such as mine, Such feelings must thy soul refine As are not oft of mortal birth: ’Tis love without a stain of earth, Fratello del mio cor. Looks are its food, its nectar sighs, Its couch the lips, its throne the eyes, The soul its breath, and so possest Heaven’s raptures reign in mortal breast, Fratello del mio cor. Though friendship be its earthly name, Purely from highest heaven it came; ’Tis seldom felt for more than one, And scorns to dwell with Venus’ son, Fratello del mio cor. Him let it view not, or it dies Like tender hues of morning skies, Or morn’s sweet flower of purple glow, When sunny beams too ardent grow, Fratello del mio cor. A charm o’er every object plays, All looks so lovely, while it stays, So softly forth in rosier tides, The vital flood ecstatic glides, Fratello del mio cor, C4 56 C4v 56 That wrung by grief to see it part, A very life drop leaves the heart; Such drop, I need not tell thee, fell, While bidding it for thee, farewell. Fratello del mio cor. The habitual prudence of Grant preserved him, I doubt not, from pain—he loved the less as he esteemed the more; and not very long after this, sought a girl of fortune in marriage. I had no time to think of him more, for soon my whole soul became absorbed, and every moment devoted. Poor Burleigh had caught a fever by a series of imprudent exposures, against which, all remonstrance had been vain. By his bed I continually watched, reflecting upon benefits received at his hands, and on the large amount of good dispersed in the sphere around him. Wayward and petulant, immoveable in will, and with character unformed, save by circumstances, his faults had increased with misfortune; but his soul remained full of generosity. He died, and my boy was an orphan. Pale with grief and watching, I saw him deposited in the earth; and of those who had sought and received from him, a few appeared as my comforters.
Dalcour arose, paced with me a few moments the leafy piazza, shook the fragrance from a jessamine of Florida that hung like a curtain between the rustic pillars, and asked 57 C5r 57 me if I was not yet weary of listening to the story he had begun. Pleased with the melody of his voice, I had shared the melancholy pleasure that he evidently took in its recital. I plucked a rich carnation from a vase of limestone that stood raised from the earth, and sat down again upon the sofa of bajuea, inhaling the perfume of the flower that so lately had luxuriated near me.
Dalcour called to a negro who assisted in keeping the night watch; a mocking bird of Virginia was soon hung in his cage, upon the lattice of grenadilla that overshadowed the fountain, and the notes of the bird, softened by a little distance, were heard at intervals, as the friend of Idomen continued again his recital:Madam Burleigh had paused, and I saw that she was agitated. Fearing to exhaust her too much, I arose to depart, recommended an early meal and siesta; and obtained from her a promise to ride with me, for health, at the decline of the sun. Protected from the heat by an umbrella of peculiar construction, I rode slowly into the town; procured neat trappings for a lady’s pony, and returned to wait the time of the passeo at my own growing plantation. At five o’clock I returned again to the dwelling of Idomen, while Benito, my excellent negro, followed in my track, with a pony reared and broken in the neighborhood. 58 C5v 58 For the use of ladies, few horses are more delightful than those of Cuba, and this was one of the most gentle. I had purchased him for his beauty, easy step, and obedience to the rein, and my heart now exulted in seeing him adorned for a friend, endeared to me by so many circumstances. The saddle cloth I had procured in the morning was blue bordered with yellow, and in the Spanish taste. Though favorable to the dress of the rider, I half regretted its concealment of the fine mottled sides of the gentle gray creature, who curved his neck as Idomen mounted to her seat. Benito, my negro, loved the animal, and had taken of him unusual care. On this occasion he had fastened round his neck It is not uncommon to see a creolean horse with flowers about his head and neck. a garland of my newly blown roses, and named the pretty creature as he stood still to receive this first ornament Ojo-dulce. The dress of Idomen was light gray, bordered with black; thrown open because of the warmth of the air, and showing frills of neat lawn at the neck, hands, and bosom. She wore on her head a fine palm-leaf hat of the country, surrounded by a wreath, woven, as she waited my arrival, of blossoms from an orange tree in her enclosure. 59 C6r 59 The sun was approaching his decline with more than usual resplendency; and the expressive face of my companion, seemed beaming with health and pleasure. Her light exercise;—the odor of her flowers;—the colors of twilight;—the melting, as it were, of the whole sky;—a sense, perhaps, also of confidence in my protection;—the whole charming present combined, had steeped for the moment her heart, as if in a flood of balm; and scenes and beings at a distance, were banished awhile, even from that memory which so closely and constantly retained them. A blood-warm bath, perfumed with orange flowers, and softened with an infusion of malva, is not more grateful to the form weary of exertion, than hours like that to souls that have suffered from sorrow. We rode through Matanzas;—it was the hour of the passeo. Numerous volantes adorned with silken fringe and silver plating passed each other in the streets, filled with ladies entirely unveiled and dressed for the evening. It was pleasant to hear the music of their greetings, and to see the quick, peculiar movement of their small hands, waved in salutation; yet we soon passed through the town towards the Rio San Juan, and sought the cool borders of the bay. Refreshed by the breeze of the waters, we rode slowly on till attracted by a group of trees 60 C6v 60 placed by nature, in singular order, than alighted a moment from our horses, to examine the bowery retreat. A wild fig tree had formed itself on an old wall In 18291829, this singular group of trees was still standing on a road bending near the bay of Matanzas, and leading into the country. The wild fig tree, or as the French call it, figuier maudit, may be seen in Cuba, in every state of its curious and surprising formation. perhaps of some early Spanish settler, for no vestige of the edifice remained, save only that portion which distinctly appeared through the meshes of the curious plant, which rising above it in the air were united in a stately trunk. Large masses of luxuriant foliage, extended themselves on high, in a circular form; and relieved with their dark deep green, eight tall silver shafted palmettos standing round it at a pleasant distance. The whole seemed a temple of nature. Visit it, when you ride with Ambrosio. Perhaps he will sketch it with his pencil. The spot to me had a charm, and indeed, so had every thing beheld on that day and lovelier evening. While we still lingered, looking alternately at the scene and the colors of the sea and sky, a gentleman passed us followed by two servants with laden horses, as if returning to the country. He looked at us both with scrutiny, and saluted Idomen in Spanish by her christian name; she waved her hand with some emotion61 C7r 61 tion and said, in return, Vaya, señor, con Dios. The sun was near sinking; yet the rider proceeded slowly, looking back till we remounted our horses. His name, said Idomen, is Belton; I knew him at Guamacaro, as the very intimate friend of my deceased uncle Lewellyn. We passed back through the town at a quickened pace, for, at this time, but few volantes were found lingering in the duskiness. I left Madam Burleigh at her door, promising to return the next morning after breakfast.— Assisted by Benito, I threaded my way through the dark wood, bending closely to the neck of my pony, to avoid the boughs and vines that swept over us, till we gained the commodious avenue of my newly planted bamboos. My contented negroes came severally to welcome my return. They had washed their arms and faces at their own tank, and brought with them little children to witness the safety of their master. Supper was already spread, and as soon as I could I retired. But when bathed and composed upon my pillow, the looks of the stranger who had spoken to Idomen by the wild fig-tree, seemed present again ere I slept. As soon as the labors of another day were directed, I took with me again my faithful negro, and repaired to the dwelling of my friend. 62 C7v 62 Benito brought on his horse a vase of tuberoses in water, together with the blossoms of that little tree, more fragrant than the mignonnette of France; covered from the sun with fresh plantain leaves. Madam Burleigh received them unwilted. I had become more anxious than ever to hear the rest of her adventures. She waited but to taste with me the milk of a cocoa-nut, placed the flowers I had brought on a little table of her cool curtained boudoir, and thus continued her narrative: When poor Burleigh was laid in the earth, my health, for some weeks, continued wretched, but I struggled for fortitude and composure, and assistance was not long withheld.— Lewellyn Lloyd, my uncle, soon heard of my bereavement, and sent for me to come to this Island. To see another country and climate was pleasing to my imagination; but it grieved me to part with little Arvon. A friend, once dependent on my husband, remained still attached and unchanged. He urged the necessity of my absence, and promised to take care of my boy till I could send or come to reclaim him. I saw that he loved the child, and trusted, with tears, my dear little orphan to his assurances. My autumnal voyage to this island was long and interrupted by storms. Sick and tossed upon the waves I scarcely rose from my pillow,63 C8r 63 low, and the whole of three successive weeks was but pain and hurried reflection, cheered at intervals with hopes of the future. The winds became hushed as we approached, and beneath the clear waters of the Bahamas, the sea-flowers were seen upon the sands. The odour of plants and ripened coffee came greeting our senses while still upon the bosom of the ocean. To see the distant land was renovation, and cold, storms, and sickness were forgotten. It was noon when we entered the fine harbor of Havana, and the first day of the week. The scene that arose before us, seemed too wildly picturesque for reality. Beings of all tints and complexions, between the light Spanish olive, and the jetty black of Africa, seemed crowded to gaze on our arrival; arrayed in clean white garments, they looked as if prepared for a festival. Sunday in Catholic countries, is always af estivala festival, and most on that day wear clean dresses. The day was warm but not oppressive. The castles Moro and Punto, rose gilded with the sun, on each side; and about the dark ledges of the wave worn cliffs that support them, stood groups of men and boys, angling, as if for pastime, in the waters of the bay beaneath them; their unsoiled linen dresses were relieved by the color of the rocks; and the whole seemed like a sketch from the vivid fancy of some painter. 64 C8v 64 But why should I pause to describe emotions known by so many? The feelings of those who come from a land of snows and leafless forests to those beautiful islands of the sun, are well known, my friend, to you. And yet, I returned, to hear the description from thy lips, surpasses to my heart, the reality as it looked to my eyes. Now that I have become thy father and protector, I hope to see all in thy presence. The beauties of the country are known to me well; proceed, then, to tell me of thyself. Disclose to me every incident, as it comes to thine own soul in truth. Idomen looked at me and continued: Unaccustomed to the sight of a relative, my uncle Lewellyn Lloyd received me with unhoped for affection. A few days were passed in Havana. That haven of adventurers from many countries has seldom been presented to the world, either in verse or romantic story; yet scenes are daily passing in its courts, which outvie the inventions of fiction. We rode on the beautiful paseo; listened to the music of the opera; and visited the tomb of Columbus. How rude is the bust of marble; and yet as I stood by it, in the cool cathedral, the soul of the hero seemed present. Llewellyn soon became impatient to see me at his home in Guamacaro. Two days we rode slowly in a volante, curtained with green 65 C9r 65 silk, through the alleys of blooming plantations. On the grounds of the Conde de Loreto, the fruits that were lying in heaps, seemed enough to fill a city with luxury. But one night was passed at Matanzas, and riding slowly through the sun we reached ere the fourth evening of our journey the Cafétal San Pablo, the same that you saw at Guamacaro. A French mayoral had ornamented the place as well as he could for my reception.— The hall within looked gloomy, but flowers were twined round the simple pillars without, edged every walk, and bloomed and breathed in every alley. The calmness of the scene gave me pleasure. Here I might ride, write verses, and look at the sky and verdure. The twilight was nearly past, when I stood with Llewellyn, in the piazza, glancing far down the darkening avenue of palms, orange, and mango trees. Two hundred expectant negroes came soon in a line, two by two, conducted by white overseers, to welcome the relation of their master; they all bent the knee an instant, and uttered the Spanish commendation. Soon after drawn up in a ring they repeated an evening prayer; then retired to the lawn before their cottages, to sup and pass the evening at the sport they most delighted in. It soothed me to be welcomed with festivity.C6 66 C9v 66 ty. Would to heaven that fear and pain had never been made necessary to mortals! At half-past nine the sweet toned bell of the estate resounded through the fresh dewy air; I retired soon to my bed-room, entered a blood- warm bath, and lay me down, protected from the insects by clean white lawn of France. It was long before I sank into sleep. The varied objects of the day were floating in succession through my mind; and mosquitos that sang without my barrier of lawn seemed darting and striving to reach me, while fresh from the North and sanguineous. When dreams at last began to mingle with reality, the pleasant morning bell soon banished them; and a noise like the waves of the sea seemed rushing towards the roof where I slept. It was but the numerous doves, who had come from their cote at the well known sound of the bell, and lighted on the dwelling of their master, to wait for a repast of maize, daily strown for them, thus early, before the steps of the piazza. Vultures may stalk by these rivers, but Cuba is a region for the dove. Many beautiful doves are natives of the woods of Cuba. I have seen them of the size of a fieldfare or robin; and the delicate little creatures utter the most plaintive moan that it is possible to conceive of. When I rose all was verdure and brilliancy. The sun had risen in his beauty, but the dew was still heavy upon the flowers. Palmettos, papayas, trees of the Otaheite almond, and dark plumy clusters of bamboo, rose high against the clear blue firmament. 67 C10r 67 The large flocks of doves had dispersed, but green chattering parrots were tearing with their ivory beaks the rind of the most acid oranges. Lizards of various colors—green, blue, flame-like vermillion, and velvet black, glided out to bask in the sun, and to lap with their soft tiny tongues the large drops hanging near the The tameness of the small lizard is very surprising. When approached by a human being it never attempts to move, but continues lapping the dew or standing perfectly still, with a certain expression in its eyes which might seem to indicate reason. There was once, 228 K6v 228 I am told, a superstition, which taught that the lizard was on certain occasions sent to warn persons of danger. The degree of heat that the negro can endure, is very astonishing. I have seen women take their little children to the secaderos, or coffee dryers, at the hottest season and hottest hours of the day, where they would sit and luxuriate in the sunbeams, though eggs might almost have been cooked on the plaster beneath them. branches. To pace the cool piazza, to inhale the respiration of flowers, to banquet the eye with soft tints and shades; to feel upon the cheeks and forehead, caresses from the fresh morning breezes, for a while was sufficient amusement. The limbs of the negroes that passed to and fro among the trees were round and glossy with health, their labors were light and cheerful, and their far native land forgotten. Singing, in low hum, rude songs of their own composing, they lived all day among the flowers of an eternal spring; plucking the red berries of the coffee fields, or trimming broad hedges of lime trees, continually in fruit and blossom. The noonday beam that endangers the brain of the white man, to them was but pleasure and rejoicing. Their jetty black skins became I have never, in Cuba, seen the slightest frost; but there are some days in winter, when a little fire is grateful, although very few indulge in it except the negroes. smoother and more supple in its heat, and they welcomed its hottest reflection like the serpent that glides from his retreats in the vernal season of the north. Ripe fruits were their nightly repast, their sports music and dancing. C5 68 C10v 68 The few wants they knew, in a state so near to that of nature, were promptly and easily supplied, and they lived careless of to-morrow as the birds that feasted on their orange trees. The purple-shelled crab, that leaves his traces in the red soil of their gardens, must remember his path to the sea; the ant that devours their coffee plants, must plan and choose a retreat ere he delves his subterranean abode; but the negro leaves all to his master. In the power of men wise and humane, how happy are even ignorance and slavery! For six months I lived in tranquillity. The neighboring planters with their families, were early and frequent in their visits; and Llewellyn, my uncle, was kind, and satisfied with my endeavors to please him;—but my boy, my darling boy, was absent and fatherless. At length that curiosity felt, ever, at the arrival of a stranger, began to be fast subsiding. My relation and protector spent much of his time at Matanzas. Alone, amid the shades of San Pablo, I had power to choose and arrange my own rural amusements. In all my life, before, I never had lived in the country; and no where could nature have appeared in a softer aspect. In the morning I directed the household, and then read or wrote a few hours. In the twilight a pony was brought to the piazza, 69 C11r 69 and I rode through the fields and alleys accompanied by some neighbor or domestic.— This mode of life was new, and inspired a contentment that I seldom before had tasted. No external amusement was sighed for, every hour was occupied, and every flower and insect a subject for admiration and wonder. But this calm was of short duration. A friendly merchant died, and embarrassments were perceived in the affairs of him who protected me; while some other secret affliction seemed preyed on his mind and spirits. My sense of contentment fled; and the future again became threatening; though, so lately, it had scarcely claimed a care, save that of thoughts and plans for the welfare of my absent boy. Two owners of estates in Guamacaro had intimated a wish for my hand; but uncharmed with their manners and wholly unacquainted with their sentiments, my sould could not otherwise than revolt at a contract so immediate. It was said to Llewellyn—your niece, it is very true, can depend on herself for amusement, and make herself contented as she is; yet still, as she has no fortune to depend on, it will be better, both for herself and for you, to get her off your hands by a prudent marriage. Thus was the offer made, and thus was it urged to me. Loth to sell myself, I knew not what to answer; and said, only, that having been a wife even from childhood to the beginning70 C11v 70 ning of the still present year, I wished to be at liberty, so far as with gratitude I might, at least for a little while longer. My uncle said no more, but grew every day cooler and cooler. A year was finished at San Pablo: the planter who had caused my uneasiness, took little pains to win my esteem, yet often spoke secretly to Llewellyn. Pressed, pained and distrustful, I knew not how to proceed, when a letter arrived from Canada: Pharamond Lloyde, my cousin, had lost by sudden death, his young and beautiful wife, and entreated of me a visit of consolation. Llewellyn saw the letter and made no effort to detain me. With a thousand dark misgivings I prepared to leave, again, this sweet island of flowers and forgetfulness. The planter, who had been to me more reasonable and respectful than the rest, came to San Pablo on the eve of my departure, and a tear was on his sun-burned cheek. Why did he not sooner evince some real affection. Every thing was ready. I had prayed earnestly to heaven for direction in my resolves, and went, half promising to return;—yet as I stepped into the volante which was to bear me to Matanzas, there came to my heart a sensation resembling the touch of death. A vessel in which ladies were passengers, left, before three days had passed, its morring in the beautiful bay. Llewellyn and the friend 71 C12r 71 who had dropped a tear at San Pablo, went with me together in a boat when the time of her sailing approached. It was the month of March, the coffee trees were in full blossom, and the sea winds for many miles before us, were rich with the perfumes of the island.— The eyes of both my conductors were beaming with regret and tenderness as we parted. Alas! I never saw them more! The little boat that bore them was soon out of sight; and both, ere another year had passed, were embarked on the sea of eternity!
The scenes and events that follow, were passed, said Dalcour, in a country far distant from me, yet I learned them from the lips of Idomen, and have written them since, in my language. I keep them preserved in my cabinet with the verses and designs of her whom I cherished but to lose again: go with me to my inner apartment, and I will show them to you.
I followed Dalcour across the hall towards a passage that I had not remarked; but now that he had ceased to speak, I perceived that he was pale and exhausted, and begged him to retire till the morning.
The apartment of Ambrosio was still, as I passed by it to my own; and I threw myself at once upon my pillow and found the refreshment of sleep needful in every clime, but most needful in the tropics.72 C12v 72
Like Idomen at San Pablo, I was awakened in the morning by the sounding wings of tame doves. The sweet tones of the bell soon followed. I lay listening to the various noises of the plantation till I heard the voice of Dalcour, then arose to bear him company among the fair scenes of his creation.
At nine, a breakfast was served which might tempt the most delicate gastronome. Jellies, oysters containing pearls, small birds, a flavorous paste made with the tender grains of unripe maize, fried slices of ripe bananas, melting avocado pears, and honey of the country, carefully taken from the comb, and scented with the blossoms of the orange tree; these viands were served with light bread, rice and wine, and followed by coffee and chocolate. While, for palates less easily excited, garlic, anchovies and the bring scarlet pimiento, could be brought at a moment’s warning, yet would ill have accorded, in their odor, with two large vases of flowers which Benito had placed upon the table.
Ambrosio, as soon as he arose from the meal, gave pencils and tablets to his negro, and repaired to the avenue of bamboo, to sketch its green arches in perspective. Before another hour had passed away, the biographer of Idomen sent for me to come to his most secret retirement.
A narrow passage between partitions of basket73 D1r 73 ket work like the greater part of the dwelling, conducted to a small apartment, secluded in one of the wings, and lighted by two small windows entirely concealed with flowers and foliage. Different from all the rest, this one little room, or closet, was neatly finished with fine plaster, and hung, wherever there was space enough, with choice paintings or engravings. Two cases for books were each of them surmounted by a bust of fine marble, one a copy of the Belvidere Apollo, the other a little resembling Canova’s Venus from the bath.
A round French table, in the centre, was faced with marble wrought in mosaic, and the floor that we trod upon, was also a pavement of marble. In a niche, or indentation in one of the sides of the room, stood a small stove of porcelain, to be heated during those few winter weeks when cold reaches even to Cuba, and changes the colour of the cheeks and lips, though it cannot harm the tenderest Great pains must be taken in order to preserve papers in the West Indies: letters, engravings, and even books bound in boards, are soon devoured by the insects. leaf.
A pretty French cabinet, alose of porcelain, and delicately painted, stood open, and seemed reserved for papers and choice relics, which elsewhere might be injured by the Great pains must be taken in order to preserve papers in the West Indies: letters, engravings, and even books bound in boards, are soon devoured by the insects. insects.
This, said Dalcour, is my oratory.— Here but one domestic ever enters, and seldom any stranger; here I sometimes come, in the hours of midnight and reflection; and here I pass those few days, when the sun is D 74 D1v 74 farthest distant, and when, though gathering flowers all the while, the creole wraps his cloak closely round him.
My attention was immediately arrested by an oval painting, apparently of some ancient master, on each side of which, on a small projection or table of marble, stood two waxen tapers in candlesticks of carved alabaster, and covered with glasses. The picture presented half the figure of a woman of light complexion and mild expression of countenance, who held on a scarf, in her lap, fresh flowers of a temperate region, exquisitely tinted and delineated.
Dalcour seemed pleased with my attention, and said that he had purchased the picture in France, because of its resemeblance to Idomen.
The English verses of her whose memory was so dear to him, were rolled with his own MSS.manuscripts which he seemed to wish me to copy:— I preferred to hear the story from his lips, as before, and promised to wait till the moonlight might be shining again his piazza. The glowing beams of the sun seem never in accordance with those deep feelings of the heart which shrink from the common observation, and seldom can well be expressed even to the best earthly friend; but the tongue will sometimes gain courage when evening conceals the countenance.
I wished to read and write, at least, so many of the verses as related to the story half 75 D2r 75 told to me; for I was fain to take the whole to my country as a fragment of the distant new world.
I saw that a cushion of silk was lying upon the too cold marble before the picture of Idomen; and conceived of the fond superstition which caused a knee sometimes to bend there. The light task even that I proposed, seemed, in such a retreat, profanantion; and yet, to take to any other place, those papers, once warm in the hand of the very friend so cherished in memory, might be still more repugnant to one who so worshipped an ideal; but Dalcour soon relieved my embarrassment, by requesting me to wait where I was, in possession of the papers, till he joined me. One small silken ottoman supplied the place of the other seats, and that I was to sit on with my tablets.
At three I rejoined del Monte. A meal, a siesta, and a ride about the grounds, filled well the other hours till moonlight. Ambrosio, before the time of the passeo, had gone through the wood to Matanzas, but promised to return the next morning, and finish his sketch of the fine arched perspective of the avenue of bamboo by which we entered.
As soon as the twilight had faded, I dressed myself afresh in cool linen, and sat down upon the sofa of bajuca to wait for the coming of my sensitive and bland entertainer. He had not joined in our afternoon exercise, but came D2 76 D2v 76 to me newly bathed, and retaining the odor of orange flower water. Refreshed from a long repose, he felt not the last night’s wakefulness; and, handing me a cluster of flowers, proceeded soon with his story, as it came from the lips of Idomen, to be written forever on his memory. The tones of Idomen herself could scarcely have been more plaintive than those of the fervent old man, who seemed to inherit the soul of one of the troubadours of his country. He paused awhile, to recollect her words, and then continued thus her narration. We had left the land of sunshine and sweets. The month of April had begun, yet snow storms greeted the return of our vessel to the country of my birth place.P――d seemed no longer my home, yet there many duties detained me. When a few months had passed, I took with me my darling boy, and went, over mountains and through woods, to Canada,—to the country of Ethelward— to a land of deeper snows and wilder forests than even the one where my soul had first waked to consciousness. Yet music, beauty, and love, had power to make even, on the ice of the St. Lawrence, a paradise unknown to me before. Little Arvon, then eight years of age, was my only attendant and companion. It was autumn. The wild scenery of northern America was tinted with the most beautiful colors,77 D3r 77 ors, that autumn ever wears in the world.— The bold barren cliffs of the mountains;—the cold mountain streams, strown with fallen leaves,—the desolate branches, despoiled of their foliage by piercing winds, or still bearing that foliage painted, by early frost, with the richest gold and crimson, might be likened to the gorgeous vestments of a queen who stands, with all her train, amid the shrinkings and sufferings of poverty. How strong was the contrast of those bare dark rocks and forests, already half dismantled, to the flowers and everlasting verdure that fleeces those shores and tangled deserts, and return to the smiles of the sun, every day that he rises in Cuba! Rude cultivators of the ruder soil, and traders who carried their contraband, merchandize to Canada, from the flourishing republic, were all our travelling society. Both farmer and trader were kind to little Arvon and to his mother. Bearing good will to all mankind, we were helpless ourselves, because alone; but be it to the honor of those regions, continual good offices were received on our way, and no evil done or designed to us. We stopped at Montreal for refreshment; and a passage for us was taken in the steamboat, which then, but for a few years, had roared through the waves of the St. Lawrence. In all the varied climates and vast extent D3 78 D3v 78 of the new world, what stream can compare with this? The wild aborigines of the country, first called it the great river; and that name in their own soft language, composes the word Ladaüanna, which sounds like the music of the waves. An aged This chief in 18261826, (and who for aught I know, still is there,) resided with his family at Lorette, the cathlic village, about nine miles from Quebec, where Indians live in peace and happiness, in a state of semi-civilization. His name was Lauanaui, to which had been had been prefixed the names Nicholas Vincent. Thinking the House of Assembly were not sufficiently mindful of his nation, he went himself to England, and had several personal interviews with George IV. He spoke and wrote English. chief of the Hurons, who learned to write of white men, traced afterwards, that name at Lorette, on a leaf of my pocket book, with a hand that had scalped his enemies. Beautiful Ladaüanna! how clear and sparkling art thou to the eye! to the lip how sweet and salutary. A cataract, the wonder of the world, is formed by the waters that rush to the sea through thy channel. And, near the soft ripple of thy brink, was born the most lovely of mortals. A night and nearly a day had been passed upon the waves, which, near to the shores, were beginning to be candied with ice. A passing storm had caused our course to be retarded. 79 D4r 79 It was colder than usual in October, but the brilliant tints of the northern New World had not yet faded into russet. The leaves of the walnut were still like burnished gold, and those of the maple of a glowing scarlet; while tall flourishing pines, with their various evergreen companions, seemed defying the approach of winter. A light fall of snow had powdered the foliage, and faintly sparkled in the pale rays of the sun, just escaped from his clouds to set clearly; like some mortal who vanquishes misfortune to die when his path becomes pleasant. Oh Nature! in whatever climate thou art seen, how many charms adorn thee! Where the last dwelling of the white In the year 18311831, (I know not what may have been done since,) one might stand on a rampart of Quebec, and see plainly the last dwelling of civilized man intervening between himself and the North pole. Huts of the savages, were, of course, scattered beyond. My attention to this circumstance was directed by a gentleman in the profession and practice of law, who had lived in Canada fifty years in matrimony with the same lady. man is seen towards the northern polar ocean, I have beheld thee, crowned with rocks, and admired thy rude magnificence. In these regions of burning Cancer, thy temples are ever bound with flowers. After this brief rhapsody was finished, I left Idomen a moment; and finding Benito in the small, shady court within, I received from him a ripe guayava, and cut it in parts to present it, on a leaf, to her who was speaking for my pleasure. Its pulp of bright rose color, enclosed by a rind of pale gold, could not tempt her to soil her lips at that moment; but I laid it on the table before her, to emit a rich fragrance, as she continued: D4 80 D4v 80 When the steamboat was near approaching the Canadian town, Trois Rivieres, I felt cold and retired to the cabin of ladies, leaving Arvon in safety on the deck. A thousand emotions were crowding to my heart, as I sat a moment in solitude, while all was noise and bustle above. The boat stopped opposite to a place that awakened to me no other than pleasing recollections; yet my heart, I knew not why, beat violently. A hope was obtruding itself, vague and indefinite in its nature, but strong and exciting in its effects; and I called on my utmost resolution to suppress and subdue it. My sense of the past became dim, and the present was scarcely realized, when little Arvon came running with pleasure in his eyes, and entreated me to go up to the deck with him. I followed him to the door of the cabin.— Mother, said the expectant boy, they say Mr. Ethelwald is coming; is not that the beautiful gentleman that held me on his hand, when I was very little, in your drawing room at P――d? A small boat had advanced from the shore, with one person besides the rowers. It was indeed, Ethelwald. Half overpowered, I concealed myself within the door-way, where I was standing. He did not remember Arvon, but with eyes beaming beneficence, and a smile that seemed the epitome of every thing delightful either on 81 D5r 81 earth or in heaven, he lifted the highly pleased child, extending his arm a moment, like the well-known Peruvian chief in a tragedy of the German Kotzebue. Every eye was immediately arrested by this playful exhibition of strength, so picturesque and so uncommon. As soon as I had regained self-possession enough to appear, I called Arvon to me, and bade him ask the stranger to come a moment to the door where I stood. Short as had been our stropping before Trois Rivieres, the steamboat was again ready to proceed. Ethelwald came at my summons, he took my trembling hand, discolored by the frosty atmosphere, but his own hand, beautiful in its strength, was white as the petals of the magnolias of Florida, and warm and soft as down beneath the wing of the ptarmigan of Canada. The beams of the coldly setting sun seemed clinging to his fair curly hair; his cheeks were glowing with execise; but his beautiful nostrils were white and symmetric as if sculptured by the hand of a Phydias. He looked, I cannot describe his looks!— A seraph descending on Mount Hermon, or a god revealing himself in the manner conceived by Homer, seemed realized in this mortal of the northern New World, whose birth place was still within the glance of the tawny savage of the forest. 82 D5v 82 My tongue, at last, served me to say:— Has the change of five years been complete? or can you still perceive in me a friend?— I can, I can! he exclaimed; but ere he could add another syllable, his Canadian rower came running, to hasten his departure.— The bell of the boat rang violently, for night was fast descending on the river. Let me hope that we shall meet again, were his words; he pressed, and shook gently my hand, and in one moment more had sprung into his boat and was gliding away through the duskiness. It was dark, but I saw him gain the shore. I held little Arvon by the hand and drew him gently from the deck, but the boy was not inclined for sleep. The scene just passed, had struck forcibly on his memory, and he seemed to take pleasure in recalling the events of his infantine life. Here Idomen looked at me; and I said, I also at P――d have held on my knee in friendship, your little flaxen haired Arvon. That orphan boy, is now, she replied, with strangers; will you help me to protect him, if I send for him to this land of flowers?— Can you still ask I returned? To whom but to him and to you is the rest of my life to be devoted? How strong were the feelings of maternity which caused her to revert to her child, so 83 D6r 83 soon after thinking of one who was likened, in her mind, to a seraph. To prevent all expressions of gratitude, I said: But, Idomen, of what did you dream on the night following this interview with the handsome Ethelwald? Call him not handsome! said she, suddenly; from a term so common as that, his looks can never be conceived,—you ask me, my friend, of what I dreamed, but that night I closed not my eyes. The dull trembling noise of the machine, that was forcing our prow through the river, hitherto had but caused me to sleep. When I thought of my expected arrival and meeting with Pharamond, my anticipation had, I scarcely knew why, been gloomy. But now, the scene lately passed had followed me to my pillow, and my narrow but comfortable bed was pressed, not in sleep, but in reverie. Fear vaguely whispered of something to be suffered, but pleasure was predominant in my soul. Alas! who could ever bear misfortune, were it not for the aid of some sweet vision or some passing incident? Early the next morning, we stopped at Quebec. The powerful vapor that had impelled us was escaping with its loud roaring noise, and all was bustle and tumult on the deck above. But few greetings of friends had taken place, ere I heard the voice of Pharamond84 D6v 84 mond, who had come to look for us. A sense of all that had befallen me struck suddenly to my heart, and I could not forbear trembling as I presented to him my Arvon, now an orphan. It was soon after my early marriage that, for the first time in my life, I saw my cousin Pharamond. He then made journeys to visit me, and was never weary of expressing to me his affection. Now he remarked my unusual paleness, and I thought his kiss of welcome was coldest I ever had received from him. The streets were still nearly bare of snow, and a caleche took us to his dwelling. Few cities in the world are more varied and picturesque than the gray fortress of Quebec. I had seen it once before, on a summer excursion. I had stood upon the green sods around its hanging citadel, and overlooked the broad bason of the Ladaüanna. The mouth of the stream Montmorency, could be seen from the harbor where we lay, and the murmur of its distant cataract, narrow, but higher than Niagara, had been sweet to my ears even in this dull morning. But the day was cloudy, and though Pharamond tried to be cheerful as we passed through the cold narrow streets, a constraint appeared in his manners, which I never had observed before. Of this he himself was sensible, and desired me to attribute it to the loss of a well-beloved wife. The house we entered was high above the 85 D7r 85 river, in a street leading to that gate of the fortress called H――. Every room was fitted up with a comfort that was perfectly English. Nothing seemed intended for display. A low dining room, warmed by a stove of molten iron covered with devices, was the first apartment we entered; and the three servants of the establishment were all which, at the moment, greeted our arrival. Mother, said little Arvon, as soon as we were left alone, do you think you shall love to live here? I thought of the sofas and carpets of my own pleasant drawing rooms, where the boy had first sported in his infancy;—where you, now, had first played with his curls, while you praised my music and poetry. I thought next of the flowery walks and fields of this island. I thought of many other things; but when I thought, also, of the late meeting with Ethelwald, I felt that I could endure the gloom of the approaching winter. It pained me more than any thing else, to see little Arvon look sad; but while I caressed and strove to amuse him, Pharamond returned with a young relation and took him to walk on the ramparts, and to see the troops of the garrison at their accustomed daily parade.— English soldiers in their neat showy dresses, and Scots in their highland attire, can no where present a finer spectacle than among the rocks 86 D7v 86 of Quebec; the scene of the death of Wolf, of a picture by West, and the strong hold of British America. While alone and dressing for dinner, there came to my mind a reason for that shade of coldness which appeared in the manners of my cousin. Llewellyn Lloyde, our uncle, was reputed as a man of wealth; Pharamond had thought me his favorite; and when he requested my visit, thought it probable that a rich planter, his relation, would leave his sunny fields to attend me during the summer. On the contrary, I had come, alone with my orphan boy; and with looks expressive of sadness, rather than the joy he expected. At dinner I endeavored to speak on subjects, that I knew had once been charming to my cousin, and I saw him beguiled at intervals, into something like his former cheerfulness. Day passed after day, and the scenery around was renovating to my health and spirits. After breakfast in the morning, I walked on the ramparts with little Arvon; stood with him near the hanging citadel, and sat with him sometimes on the cannon that frown upon the brink of the precipice that overlooks the bason of the river. The plains of Abraham skirted with trees, the distant hills, taking from the northern atmosphere a thousand beautiful tints; the gray walls and towers of the fortress, all appeared to me as seen through a mist of 87 D8r 87 enchantment. Even the cold of the climate was almost forgotten. I felt an enthusiasm, deeper than I had ever known before, even, my friend, amid the eternal verdure of these scenes of forgetfulness. Two weeks passed away in this manner, and I entertained the friends of my cousin, who passed at home those hours not devoted to his affairs. Constantly, but not impatiently, I expected intelligence from Ethelwald; when one day a letter arrived, bearing the arms of an ancient family; it was conceived in terms of friendship, heightened even to tenderness; and signed by the names in full, Walter Rodolph Arno Ethelwald. Regret was expressed that a letter only was obliged to supply the place of an immediate visit. How inspiring is such an incident! keep the heart filled with a pleasing sentiment, and all worldly misfortunes are easy to bear. A vague apprehension of some impending danger and misfortune still, intruded itself on my mind, but I had, now, many moments of a hope, that in itself was almost happiness. Yet another change was soon to take place. Letters on urgent and unexpected business summoned my cousin immediately to England. No time could be lost, for the river would very soon be frozen. His home must soon be abandoned. I saw that he was pained and 88 D8v 88 embarrassed on my account; but I soon thought how to relieve him. A young relation was going to his seminary at N――t, there I could place little Arvon, and remain near my boy during the absence of Pharamond. The plan was approved and executed.— Pharamond resolved to embark from a port in the United States, and accompanied me himself to the seminary, but eleven miles from Trois Rivieres. Ethelwald came, while we stopped in preparing to be rowed across the river, already very cold and crusted with ice near its borders. His looks were warmth and summer. He gave many charges to the boatmen of his native stream. They rowed with care and swiftness, and sang all the way to their oars, which seemed, in their accustomed hands, as if only used to beat the time of their melodies. Pharamond placed my boy in the seminary, and had found for me, the best accommodations in the little village near him. The affairs of my cousin were pressing; he waited but to see us established, and bade an affecttionate adieu. The principal fathers of the seminary were excessive in their kindness to Arvon, and paid to me early visits; speaking in general terms, and saying nothing on the difference of religion. The chapel and other buildings where they 89 D9r 89 taught, were of gray stone, and stood upon the high banks of the river Nicolet. Gardens were seen where a hill declined on one side, but on the other side, which was its summit, arose a thick grove of tall pines, where the students were permitted to take exercise.— the roofs and spires of the whole were covered with plates of tin, and such was the purity of the climate that these plates retained always their brightness. They looked in the distance like polished silver, glittering in the sun, and relieved by the dark green of the pine tress. Every thing was novel and picturesque.— The inhabitants of the village were simple in their manners; gay, kind and hospitable. I soon found myself, alone, in a family descended from one of the old nobles of France, but living, now, in the usual manner of the country. Ethelwald had promised to visit me, on the third day after my arrival; and I busied myself as soon as I could, in arranging the little parlor assigned to my use, by the family. Never till now, had I been so fully sensible of a great change in my condition. I had no piano forte; the room was warmed by a dim stove, and the furniture rude and inelegant; yet still a sofa and carpet, although of no costly texture, threw over it an air of luxury, when compared with most of the dwellings of this little home in the forest. D6 90 D9v 90 At the neighboring seminary Ethaelwald had been placed in his childhood; the scene, therefore, would not be strange to him; he was familiar alike with the opulent nobles of Europe, and the savage sons of the desert who still hunt the beaver in those wild but fertile recesses. The house where I lived was warm; and on the morning of the expected visit I dressed myself in white, and placed a carnation, which bloomed all the winter, on a small table near the window, where I had spread books and music. This window looked towards the seminary; the clock of the chapel had just sounded eleven; and I perceived a large fine figure aproaching the declivity that led to my dwelling. A knock was soon heard; my heart beat quickly as I ran to receive the expected; and a greeting ensued, like those between friends of many years. The organ of my greatest pleasure, has been to me, from childhood, the eye. Not a gleam of beauty was ever lost on Idomen, though born amid puritans, in a retired village of the new world. The charms, of every thing I had seen, seemed concentrated and enhanced in him who then stood before me. Even you, my friend, educated, as you have been, amid the paintings and statues of Europe, you who 91 D10r 91 have wandered through the Louvre and Vatican, and seen the chefs d’œuvre of Florence,— even you, my friend, expressed wonder, when you looked upon him first at P――d. Five years had passed away since that interview; the figure of Ethelwald had gained in fulness, but colour and proportion were still unencroached upon. He wore a military undress of blue, lighter than usual, and the linen disclosed at his neck, hands, and bosom, was white as the snows of his birth place. We stood near the window whence I had watched his approach; and my soul, as he spoke, drank a nectar of music and of beauty; too potent for one so weak. His hair, though a shade darker than when I first beheld him, still clustered in golden ringlets; his teeth had lost none of their stainless and pearly perfection; his hand, though nerved with the strength of a Theseus or of a Hercules, was white as the faintest infant princess ever bleached by the moist air of Britain. His age was now within two years of thirty; but the fabled Venus, as she stepped from her shell could not have been imagined more exempt from blemish or discolor. He had lived much in the freezing air of his native woods and rivers; he had buffeted the same winds that tinge, with deep brown, the wrinkled cheek of the Canadian peasant, as he sings and smiles at his toil; but it seemed92 D10v 92 ed as if sun and elements had admired and passed by him untouched. Ethelwald, for a moment, observed my attention. When you saw me, he said, at P――d, you likened me to Apollo; but now you see me a mortal—almost an old man.— My quick answer was, what then am I?— When your hair is gray, he returned, mine will be white; and in that thought there is comfort. Such a speech from such a creature!—how could I do otherwise than feel it even as I did? Three hours, which seemed but as a moment, he remained, with me, in conversation, and then departed to meet an engagement. The lands appertaining to Nicolet had been purchased by a British officer from a former French Seigneur, and their proprietor now lived with his family at a commodious cottage called the manor house. Thither Ethelwald repaired to dress and dine, but returned to me early in the evening. He had brought with him from trois Rivieres the miniature picture of a brother, who died in the British army in India. A little history of their family ensued after looking at this. Of a beauteous hand of brethren, Walter Rodolph Arno was the last. All but him, had been snatched in early youth from a world they were formed to adorn;—from a world whose other inhabitants their persons 93 D11r 93 entirely surpassed. The Canadian families around, remembered them with regret and enthusiasm; and looked upon the last who remained, as something too fair to stay long. The picture lay before us on the table, and during the intervals of conversation, Ethelwald read from a little book he had brought with it, many extracts and specimens of verses once breathed by voices he could hear no more, and copied by hands of his kindred, whose beautiful whiteness had become but the gray dust of the earth. Softened by such reflections, the charm of his presence was enhanced. The flight of hours was unheeded, the interview was uninterrupted; except that from time to time some one of the family walked in through a half open door, that led to their own apartment, spoke a few words in French, and retired again. The clock of the seminary, to our utter surprise, struck eleven; the hours of our host were early, and Ethelwald arose to return to the manor house. As he threw on his warm, furry cloak, my eyes glanced an instant round the little apartment, the humble scene of a visit so delightful; and was suddenly and forcibly struck with the contrast between that scene and the brilliant figure before me. Here then, I said to myself, has lingered so many hours, one to whom Catharine of Russia would have opened with her own 94 D11v 94 hand, the richest chamber of her palaces.— Have you not, I said, passed a dull evening?— Would to heaven, he returned, that my evenings might all be like this! I said no more, for his answer had deprived me of utterance. Ethelwald bade good night in the English manner, pressing my hand that trembled with a pleasure so extreme, that I felt not the parting till he was gone. I retired immediately to my room, washed in the sweet water of the neighboring river, and threw myself quickly in bed. Sleep I could not. Even coherent thought was impossible. I counted till after four, the striking of the seminary clock; and at seven I counted it again, with the impression of vague but sweet dreams. I thought that Ethelwald would cross the river early for his home at Trois Rivieres; but at ten he came again, to pass another half-hour. It seemed still a dream as I followed to the door this being so unlike the rest of mortals. Stand not here, he said, you may take cold and die too,—and then—all will be past. A thought of the early death of his six brothers and sisters, was, it seemed, passing through his mind. I returned to my little drawing room, stood till I could see him no more at my window that looked towards the seminary, and then 95 D12r 95 sat myself down in the chair he had lately risen from. The smiling picture of his brother was suspended to the chain about my neck. I placed it before my eyes, sat leaning upon the table, and for an hour moved not my position. I know not what I thought, but during that hour, I had no wishes. I sat in a stupor of delight; and to move again, I felt neither strength nor inclination. Could mortals long endure a state of happiness? A sentiment of pain recalled me to myself. Little Arvon ran into the room. He had felt himself ill, and his benevolent instructors had yielded to his wishes, and let him come suddenly to visit me. It was but a sense of confinement that affected him; but the slightest uneasiness of this sensitive orphan boy, went always through my heart, like an arrow tipped with poison. The worthy family around me gave him jelly of currants and raspberries, that grow in abundance where the forests have been newly cut down. I soon consoled him and went out with him to walk on the banks of the still unfrozen river, that hastened with its tributary waves to the beautiful Ladaüanna. The day was warmer than usual, and tracks of the hare and ptarmigan were seen in the sparkling snow. A party of Indians had come to the village to sell, for the approaching winter, moccasins, wrought with the quills of 96 D12v 96 the porcupine, stained with the most brilliant colors; and snow shoes curiously woven of the soft pliant skin of the deer. We saw them in a group at a distance, as we followed the bending of the stream. The squirrel glided lightly through the sun, still apparently employed in collecting his last winter stores from the scattered walnut and beech trees. The river was crusted with ice at its borders, but took, at its still flowing channel, the bright blue of the sky, against which, the spire of the chapel of the seminary was glittering like polished silver. Tin is a common covering for house tops and spires of church in Canada, where it neither rusts nor corrodes. My boy was happy in these scenes. The excitement of travelling and the liberty he had lately enjoyed, made confinement of any kind, irksome, but the priests were kind and gentle; they thought of his state as an orphan and a stranger that knew not their language. They allowed him to visit me daily, and promised to vary his aliments in any way his health might require. My solicitude for this child was extreme. I thought of his friendless state, and felt that my own happiness must be secondary to the duty I owed him. He passed with me the day, and at night returned to the seminary. The next day brought me letters and papers from Ethelwald, and my table seemed covered with his name. It was said, in Europe, at this period, that 97 E1r 97 the world was at peace, and many regiments were disbanded. Ethelwald was now an officer on half-pay, but holding a civil employment which occupied his time and attention. For three days he came not, but every morning brought a note; and a pleasing perturbation that I had not power to overcome, took entire possession of my faculties. A small protestant or English chapel had been built near the manor house; there I was invited to dine at the conclusion of the evening services. Ethelwald, who crossed the St. Lawrence late on Saturday evening, came at the proper hour, to attend me. The chapel, surrounded by trees of the forest, was new, simple, and unadorned. There was no music save the voices of those who attended. Ladies were near me, but my most admired sat opposite; and when he sang—his expression, or what I felt, would be lost in a faint description. To look at beauty and listen to its music, are given to our conceptions as types or specimens of the ecstacies of heaven. Has any one lived a life without tasting a single day of happiness?—happiness in accordance with the pantings of the heart which feels it?—happiness, for the time, so large as to leave no room for wishes? One day, at least, of such happiness, has been mine. One day! A single point between E 98 E1v 98 two masses of dulness and solicitude made sufferable by a few pleasures,—often uncheered with hope, and sometimes blackened by despair. On the scenes of that day, let me dwell, oh, my friend, a moment longer! The voice of Ethelwald gave the tone in which I sang to the Most High. His arm supported me as I descended the steps of the sanctuary; and I thought, as I felt its warm gentle pressure,— Heaven has materialized a being of my fancy and exceeded her wildest idea. The English of Canada are very exact in their etiquette. We all had walked to church, and on reaching the hall of the manor house, every one immediately retired to be rid of furs and moccasins, and to dress, for the approaching meal, in an evening garb, however plain. At table Ethelwald was beside me. The first wine of the repast, was poured by his hand, raised to my lips at his request, and tasted at the same time with his. He saw my light soup almost undiminished, and helped me himself, from a choice partridge or Canadian pheasant, snared in the neighboring woods by some semi-civilized Indian; but pleasure had risen too high, even for the refreshment of food, and the little I could swallow, seemat that moment, a difficult interruption. From time to time, I caught a glance, as his white hand raised to his lips, the white 99 E2r 99 morsel of bird on the fork of silver. His hair shone in the light of the tapers; the warmth of the well furnished room had brought to the transparent skin of his forehead, such lucid particles of dew as you, my friend, once beheld, with me, at P――d. I looked at him again, and thought, does he, indeed, nourish himself with food, and has he blood like mortals? Pardon, oh, my excellent friend, the unreasonable emotions I describe! Some fiend, perhaps, tempted to destroy, but he whom I loved, at least, was not unworthy. The clergyman, to whom we had lately listened, our polite host and hostess, and a young girl, the daughter of their friend, with a lover to whom she was betrothed, formed, with two other guests, the evening party. No amusement was introduced, because it was the first day of the week, and the family were of the church of England. We merely conversed or sang a little to the piano. Ethelwald lost no opportunity of placing himself at my side; and whenever sitting at a distance, his eye never failed to meet mine, with an expression that comforted my soul. The hour for retirement too soon arrived; the use of a cariole had been declined. I was guarded from the cold by thick garments of the north, and Ethelwald led me to my dwelling. E2 100 E2v 100 The first moon of winter was shining, and cast, as we walked, our united shadows on the sparkling white path that slightly crisped beneath our footsteps. Alas! if my love was but a shadow, it was not delineated on snow!… The tablets on which it was engraved will be carried with me to eternity. I fain would have spoken, but words were denied me; neither did Ethelwald speak much; of much there was no need, the tone of his voice was enough to tell me all that my heart demanded. From time to time he drew my arm closer beneath his, or lifted me from the earth wherever the frozen path had been roughened. The house where I lived had a little hall in front. The door was partly of glass, and a light shone through it from within; my beautiful friend, before it opened, would fain have pressed his lips to mine, but withdrew them at my faint repulse,—asked pardon,—lifted me over the threshold, it was too late at night for him to cross, and withdrew with a pressure of the hand. The Canadian servant slept, but my bedroom as always kept warm; I ran to it in haste, and as I threw off my outer garments, and remembered who had helped to wrap them around me, I felt astonished at having twice denied him what I gave every day to my son. Man is not made for rapture; could Idomen—a woman, therefore in the second grade 101 E3r 101 of mankind, and weaker perhaps, than even that second grade should be—could Idomen long have endured a happiness like that of the day which had just passed away forever? Sleep, that loves to hover over grief, keeps kindly at a distance from pleasure. On that night, sleep was long in banishment from my pillow. When I closed my eyes, a moment, I dreamed of being clasped in the arms of my friend, and awoke with the vivid imagination, alarmed, and reflecting on my state—something whispered that my thoughts were dangerous—but no!—there was no guilt in him who caused them. I was wakeful, and the night was still. I could not hear a sound save the breathing of some of the family, through the thin walls of my chamber. Fearful, and reflecting on my dreams, other scenes began to rush upon my mind. I thought upon my darkest years; and then the last day I had passed would come to me, entire and like a smiling picture. What a contrast of pleasure and of pain!—Which was my future to resemble? The doubts that ensued were almost insufferable; and I strove, as I had often done before, to beguile my perturbed feelings by endeavoring to condense them into verses. Here Idomen rose a moment, and gave me from her port folio, a few leaves of paper numberedE3 102 E3v 102 bered as if in succession, and fragrant with braided knots of that odorous grass, found by Indians in the woods of Canada; these dry relics of a distant country were sweet, even near the flowers that surrounded us. Having rested till I read the verses, Idomen again, thus continued: In the morning I arose weak and languid but happy,— though doubts would intrude themselves. A day had passed almost without nourishment and a night almost without sleep. My soul had been full and satisfied, but my countenance shewed traces even of this slight irregularity. The eye and the blood are made of earth; celestial food makes them brighter for a while, but that which comes from the ground can alone preserve them from perishing. I washed me for renovation, in the soft sweet water of the neighboring tributary stream, braided my hair as well I could, and swallowed an egg like drink from its shell, as I had been taught at sea, to supply the deficiency of appetite. This manner of taking sustenance while exhausted with any powerful emotion, is noted here for its excellent effect. Ethelwald could not stay long, but came before he went to cross the river; he seemed anxious for my health, and gave me many cautions. As we stood near the window whence 103 E4r 103 I watched his coming and departure, he took my weak hand that trembled in his, and pressed me a moment to his heart. Even then I had power to draw back—resistance to the highest delight, had become to me involuntary as breath. Yet why and what did I resist? No ill was intended—no dishonor could possibly have been perpetrated. Was it some spirit who abridged me of a pleasure like its own in heaven?—where souls meet the souls that were made for them, and love is pure though ineffable. Ethelwald again asked pardon; renewed his cautions, and parted with a promise of return. I watched his fine figure till it disappeared by the dark pines of the seminary. It was the hour for a visit from little Arvon, and I stirred not till I saw him approach. The next morning brought me no letter; but the day following, a packet arrived. He must think of me, I said, while absent, or he would not take pains to write so much. The letters of this friend, born in a snowy region, still half a desert, and serving as hunting grounds to the red sons of the forest— those letters, which I still retain, were delicate, easy, flowing—perhaps models in their kind. With the education of him who wrote them, no particular pains had been taken, but an exquisite natural taste for all that is beautiful, had given to him what never can be E4 104 E4v 104 taught. I dare not read them, now; but I sewed them in satin of rose color, and keep them ever near me. On that day, when the dearest of them came, of many delightful pages, this passage enchanted my attention: I fear you were almost angry with me when last I stood at your window; but oh! with how little reason? I feel for you the warmest regard, may I not also say affection. These words I read over many times, and thought till I had scarcely power to move.— When I walked they sounded in my ears, but doubt and presentiment came over my heart like a damp. I feared to believe myself happy, but now, I dared not think of the alternative. The next day all thought was impossible, for Ethelwald, ere noon, was in my drawing- room. The weather had become very cold; he brought me warm gloves, and books, and moccasins of the country, for Arvon. No allusion was made, by my friend, to that passage of his letter, which had sunk so deeply in my heart; but my looks must have well convinced him, that he felt no affection unreturned. My fortune, said he who enchanted me, is small. If I go to India promotion will follow. I would have gone with him to the ends of the earth! This I felt but told him not; some adverse power restrained 105 E5r 105 my tongue. I looked at the being before me, thought of little Arvon, and uttered not a definite word. The picture of Ethelwald’s brother was fastened to a chain about my neck; he saw it and said, I cannot give you that, but I will give you mine. His picture! besides the inimitable original, no gift could have been so delightful. Have you got it?— I asked with emotion; but something invisible restrained me, and I claimed not his promise in words. Was not this the crisis of my destiny?…and did not my evil fate prevail? It was no longer a time to say more; two Canadian visitors entered, and claimed the civility of us both. One arm of Ethelwald was mine, the young visitors by turns, shared the other. We walked by the pine grove of the seminary, and along the path leading to the manor house. The banks of the river N…t were covered with snow; and snow clouds were gathering in the heavens.— We returned to an early repast, but the sun was near setting ere it ended. Ethelwald lingered till twilight. The winter day was too short; the cold was fast increasing; the broad Ladaüanna would soon close; and while closing might be impassable for many days. Ethelwald seemed to look with regret at the shadows gathering without my window;— the snow began to fall in large flakes; by forestE5 106 E5v 106 est and river he had eleven English miles to go; yet he still seemed inclined to linger.— the company who had followed us from the dining table, left the room a moment to look at some painted doe skin dresses, lately purchased from the Indians; his exquisite mouth was near mine in speaking low, and I gave him what had thrice been denied. Is this first kiss, said a voice from the deepest recesses of my soul, the seal of thy death or of thy happiness? I shuddered. To die with him that I loved, at that moment, had been more than I can fancy of heaven; but to see him no more on earth, was what I dared not think upon. It had already become dark; and the family gathered round the door, as Ethelwald made his adieus, smiling at the storm he was to brave. I mingled, as accustomed, in the amusements of the evening; and even sang songs to please others; but to me, all was insipid; every thing seemed hollow and unmeaning, for the joy of my soul was withdrawn. From time to time, expressions were dropped in praise of him, who, so lately, had made paradise of the little dim room; and then, while I heard his name, I was happy. Most of the company had known his family, and described with enthusiasm, the beauty of his mother, and then the last sister he had 107 E6r 107 lost…When she died, they said, Walter Rodolph tore his bright hair; and it was feared he would that day follow this last of his beautiful brethren. He seemed to be regarded by the artless speakers around me, as a being unlike the rest of men; and they paid to me a species of homage, because I was the subject of his attention. At nine o’clock refreshments of the country were served; thin cakes, dipped in syrup of the same maple, which, in autumn, decorates their forests with foliage scarlet as the tulip, —walnuts, butternuts, jelly of red currants, sweetmeats of wild plums, and conserve of raspberries that grow so profusely where the thick woods have been felled. A boat song or chanson sur l’eau, was sung at my request. The rhymes seemed as if composed extemporally; but the simply pleasing air was one of those which accord most sweetly with the murmuring rivers and cascades, so abundant in the rocky wilds of Canada. The chorus or refrain, ran thus: Voila long tems que je t’aime, Jamais je ne t’oublierai. In its course, the words also struck my ear: J’ai perdu ma maitresse, Jamais ne je la retrouverai, Pour on bouquet de rose Que je lui ai refusé Je voudrois que la rose Fut, encore au rosier. 108 E6v 108 The songs at length, were over, the dim stove replenished with boughs from the neighboring woods; and before the clock of the seminary struck eleven, every head beneath our roof was on its pillow. Beware, says Plato, of the kiss.— Many, perhaps, have found by experience that Plato had reason for that caution. While still at Quebec, even after the banquet of a letter bearing the four beautiful names of my friend, my slumbers were but little interrupted. My heart had received an impression, but the stamp had not, then, drawn blood. Now, it had sunk below the surface to a depth that was soon to be discovered. Memory was too faithful. I feared not for Ethelwald; for a Canadian boatman, who loved him, was his conductor. The winds, besides, were not violent; and the river of his birth was well known were he crossed. But the first hurried pressure of my lips, given as he was going forth to meet a storm, braved on my account, had been returned with an eagerness that was now felt again and again.— When I sank to a momentary sleep, it seemed as if his arms supported me;—but fears mingled with my dreams, and I woke, startled and unrefreshed. In the morning, the cold had increased; and two days passed without a word from Trois Rivieres. On the third day some boatmen 109 E7r 109 made their way over the closing river in an Indian canoe of bark, sometimes trusting to the waves, and sometimes dragging over ice, their light manageable vessel. By these means a letter reached me, which related in a playful manner the return of him who left me, for his home, on the last stormy night. The winds had not been violent, but the waves were about to congeal, and the darkness was so bewildering that the rower had missed his way. These words were in the letter of Ethelwald: The poor fellow was in such a fright, that he left the boat entirely to me; but fortunately, a dear little nun, soon hung out a light from the highest window of her convent (at Trois Rivieres,) we soon saw it, and were conducted in safety to our landing. The letter telling this was affectionate, but I thought I could perceive in it a slight difference from the others. It promised a visit soon, but left the dear when untold. While expecting one beloved or admired, there is always a certain preparation which occupies both mind and person. The sweet Ladaüanna, was frozen, and could now, I knew, be crossed. Three days I braided my hair, and placed music and a flower of winter on the table near my favorite window. But still, I looked in vain, towards the slope of the hill of the seminary, for that figure, which could not be mistaken. I did all I could to be cheerful,110 E7v 110 ful, but, at night, retired sadly to my pillow. On the fourth morning came—not my friend but a letter dated late on the night preceding. Ethelwald to write to me, had retired from a convivial circle; in the moment of mirth, he had thought of his solitary expectant; his lines, though entirely unguarded, were such as might well be dear to me. They were meet for no eye but that of a friend, and I prized them the more that they were not. Yet the fifth, sixth, and seventh day passed;—still Ethelwald was absent. He came no more, like a god of Grecian mythology, to diffuse light and summer through my lone and wintry habitation. My nights became almost sleepless—my days passed in fruitless excitement. The beautiful being who had charmed me, kept continually embodied to my mind;—and I often sank upon my couch, exhausted by that strong mental effort which was constant, and wore on my system, though entirely unconscious and involuntary. My earthly frame was too weak for the continual demands of ideality. Every day I grew thinner and thinner, till I realized the words of the psalmist beloved by protestants and puritans: My beauty wasteth away, even as a moth fretteth a garment. The thought was bitterness!—even now, how far was I inferior to the object of a 111 E8r 111 love and admiration, too wild and intense to be endured or to endure? Was all this change in a week?—how then could I live, if deprived…I dared not think of it!… The family around, perceived in me a difference, but ascribed it to mal de pays. The pastor of the English chapel near the manor house, visited me as one of his flock. This was a man, destitute of worldly prudence, but his heart was kind and good. He perceived that my health was declining, and reverted to the visits I had received, till I thought he suspected the state of my feelings. He did not enquire what had passed, but told me that the friends of Ethelwald were, now, overwhelming him with fêtes and invitations. So much of the time of their favorite, they were determined should not be passed among the pine trees of N――t. Alas! what had I done, that strangers should conspire against my happiness? In the picturesque towns of Canada, there lived families who had beautiful daughters; and he, who was an ornament to every room that he entered, and to every street where he walked, had lived single to the age of twenty- eight. Must this paragon of the country be monopolized—and perhaps, even carried off by a stranger whom nobody knew?—(A Yankee?) At the castle of St. Louis, at Quebec, the 112 E8v 112 fair sons and daughters of fair Britain, were wont to be often assembled. Ethelwald, (though born in Canadian America, and apparently unconscious of the merits he possessed,) was a man whose fortune would have been made had he lived in the time, and been seen by a Catharine of Russia. Ethelwald must adorn the handsome groups at the castle. So thought Lady D――e, while directing the arrangement of her drawing room, or looking from her window, far over the magnificent basin Nothing could exceed the magnificence of the prospect from the window of the Castle of St. Louis, which has since been destroyed by fire. of the spreading Ladaüanna. This lady lived, in effect, as the vice-queen of her providence. The handsome officer from England, the amiable descendant of France, the half-civilized Indian of the forest— Nicolas Vincent Zauanaui, the same grand chief of the Hurons who had an audience of George IV in England, went sometimes with his wife, who also spoke English, to the Castle. all, with the females whom they loved, delighted in paying to her, their varied homage. The wishes of this lady were seconded by the power of her husband, and her regards had been directed to Ethelwald. Had these things transpired but one month before, I should have lost a few brief days of pleasure, yet escaped such degrees of pain as 113 E9r 113 are felt but by few among mortals. But now hope had been indulged; the arrow had entered; and to tear it forth again was a torment more dreadful than death. Three other days and nights passed away, and still I saw not the friend whose presence had become to me, as needful as the sun to a garden of the north. Hitherto, I had almost disdained the gifts of the world and of fortune; the mere want of them might now, be my perdition. I felt myself as a withering blossom, which God alone, could resuscitate; and yet, I was too weak even to ask of heaven, the only dew which could restore me. The reptile of suspicion was creeping towards my heart, and the winds that blew over me, seemed chill from the deserts of despair. I dared not write to Ethelwald, nor to ask of him the cause of his absence; to find him cold or unfaithful was more to be dreaded, even than the pain of the burning suspense I endured. While still in this miserable state, Henry Arlington, the commercial partner of my absent cousin, Pharamond, came to visit me in my retirement. He seemed shocked at the change in my manners and countenance, yet spoke of the gay manner in which Mr. Ethelwald had lived, particularly for the last two weeks. E6 114 E9v 114 The devotion of this breathing image of a deity, to a retired woman, had, it appeared, been discussed in every circle; and every effort had been made to amuse and detain Ethelwald. Lord D――e, our Governor, said Arlington, exerts himself to obtain promotion for his new favorite. A succession of parties are contrived for him; his head will be turned with vanity; and I am told, even now, he intends getting published some of your verses, in praise of his own beauty. I felt a sickness at my heart; but so strong was the self-command, acquired while I lived with poor Burleigh, that I now succeeded in suppressing all violent emotion. During the whole conversation, I had been walking the room with Arlington, but perceiving that my steps began to falter, I sat down as we approached the sofa. During all my life, I had never fainted save from loss of blood; but strength at this moment had entirely forsaken me. Arlington saw that I was ill, but that he had noticed when he first entered. He now changed the subject of his speaking; and strongly advised me to leave awhile little Arvon, my son, and visit his wife at Quebec. I promised that if not better I would come; and he soon after left me, promising to return the next day before proceeding on his way to Montreal. 115 E10r 115 It was difficult to sit through the daily repast when he was gone;—soup, bird, and sweetmeats, were as slips of paper on my tongue, for all external sense of taste was benumbed by the feelings that absorbed me. I retired to my chamber and lay down awhile on my couch, unconscious of the passing of hours, but awake to a conflict indescribable. When the hour for tea had arrived, the Canadian servant came to call me to that little drawing-room where I had passed days and hours resembling heaven; but my head ached; I desired to be left to repose, but slept not, for I could not weep. The night passed in thoughts that devoured me. Had Ethelwald felt no regard?—had he visited me only for amusement? Could he wound me to the quick, to gratify a trifling vanity?—Could he, who had seemed so tender and noble, unreflectingly doom me to perish?—to think so unworthily of one so dear, was worse than to leave him forever. Have I then, I thought, become an inconvenience?—He whom the world caresses shall soon, if so, be set at ease. My thoughts became insufferable; I threw myself from side to side upon my bed, and made and rejected a hundred plans of procedure. Fixing at length upon one—one stern resolve, I found, as I reflected on it, as it were, a cruel alleviation of my torment. 116 E10v 116 In the morning I arose weak and languid, but firmly intent upon my purpose. I first gathered together music, papers, gloves, and every little poof of kindness which the beautiful Ethelwald had brought to me.— Then with excessive pain I penned a note, the contents of which have now fled from my memory, and brought a large sheet of paper to enclose the packet I had made. While folding the ample envelope, the first thing I saw was music, presented by this friend of times past, when I first knew him at P――d, —so young—so beautiful—so apparently unconscious and sincere! For five years I had looked at this music, and never till now, with other emotions than those of pleasure. A shriek almost escaped me as it disappeared beneath the paper I was folding. I felt as if acting against some strong resistance, and every nerve seemed strained, as I doubled the last corner of the paper that enclosed it. When it was entirely out of sight, I could proceed better, and lighted my taper at the stove. The packet was soon fastened with a riband, and seal of black bearing my usual impression. I looked at it, when alone, and shrank back —was it not the seal of my destiny? and did not some unseen being direct the movements of that morning? 117 E11r 117 Scarcely had I finished when Arlington came, as he had promised, to ask if I had any commands for him. Here, I said, is a parcel and a letter. Will you present them to Mr. Ethelwald as you pass through Trois Rivieres? He looked for an instant at the packet and at me, and then said, Mrs. Burleigh, you are certainly ill, and I fear lest I said too much during yesterday’s conversation. It is not for me to ask what are the contents of this letter and parcel; but let me advise you not to send them till you have had time for reflection. I have reflected, was my answer, and when once resolved it is better to execute. Arlington was intent upon business; and being in haste to accomplish it, he took the parcel and letter and departed, repeating his wishes to see me, ere long, at Quebec. When again left alone, I endeavored to find consolation, and to resign myself to the will of Heaven, to that spirit who, felt but unseen, marks out the destiny of mortals. I strove to applaud myself for what I had done, as an act of generosity and duty;—but ere the next day had passed, came a letter from Ethelwald. With a feeling, haply, like that of the savage warrior of the woods, whose death song is composed, I broke the seal of this paper, traced by the hand of one far dearer and more charming to me, than life to the hunter of the forest. 118 E11v 118 Had the words of this letter been either light or indifferent, pride would have been awakened, and the passions that follow in her train might have assisted me in recovering from the shock. But every expression of my beloved was that of gentleness and sorrow. After telling me that his absence had been entirely the result of unavoidable circumstances, How could you, for a moment, he continued, believe a report which would prove me, if true, a false friend, base in feeling and in character? ought you not first to have considered?—Every thing once mine you have returned; have I deserved this at your hands? You say let us not meet again.— I will not visit you if you desire it not, but if we meet by accident, I cannot be so inconsistent, as not to continue to evince for you the regard I have felt and expressed. Thus wrote Ethelwald, a seraph in mind as in form, under circumstances, where any other man would have shown both pique and resentment. Every line of the paper in my hand was breathing with tenderness, combined with a sense of injury, which renewed with double force every feeling of my love and admiration. All excuse and self-complacency forsook me; degraded in my own eyes, I felt as if unworthy either of heaven or of earth. My frame was already weak with what I 119 E12r 119 had suffered of suspense; now all power seemed also forsaking my mind, save one only of self-torture. Still I sank not entirely; accustomed from childhood, to reflect much, and often thrown upon my own resources, I made constant effort to look calmly at the worst and to seek for hope and amusement in vague and distant objects. The hymn, which you will find among my papers, of that winter which I shudder to think of, was the fruit of one of many sleepless nights. It depicts but faintly, the suffering that became less intense whenever I could express the slightest pang of it in verse. Sire of the universe,—and me, Dost thou reject my midnight prayer? Dost thonu withhold me e’vn from thee? Thus writhing, struggling ’gainst despair? Thou know’st the source of feeling’s gush, Thou know’st the end for which it flows— Then—if thou bid’st the tempest rush, Ah! heed the fragile bark it throws! Fain would my heaving heart be still— But pain and tumult mock at rest: Fain would I meekly meet thy will, And kiss the barb that tears my heart. Weak I am formed, I can no more, Weary I strive, but find not aid,— Prone on thy threshold I deplore, But ah! thy succour is delayed! 120 E12v 120 The burning, beauteous orbs of day, Amid its circling host upborne, Smiles, as life quickens in its ray— What would it, were thy hand withdrawn?— Scorch—devastate the teeming whole Now glowing with its warmth divine! Spirit whose powers, of peace, control Great nature’s heart, oh! pity mine! That winter which I tremble to recall at this moment of vivid recollection;—that winter allowed one day of happiness, which memory will always retain, and fly to the picture she has made of it, when the present is dull or languid—all the pain of that winter, which to think of, oh! my friend, makes me shudder even in thy presence, and while breathing the perfume of these flowers—the pain of that winter and of my life, was, perhaps, too small a price for the happiness of such a day!
Thus, exclaimed Dalcour, doth nature evince her kindness! The mind, where she reigns, casts aside the remembrance of pain, and treasures every moment of pleasure, to look upon with joy, through the varying path of futurity. Idomen could forget months, and even years of suffering, to dwell upon the memory of one day; and the color that now mantled on her cheek, almost pale before she spoke, arose from the excitement of that long past day of satisfaction.121 F1r 121 I wished to prolong the sentiment so pleasing, tho’ indefinite, and was fain not to suffer my friend to revert immediately to scenes that I knew must follow. I presented to the now smiling Idomen, an orange, brought by Benito on a piece of fresh plantain leaf. The faithful boy had peeled it with his ebony fingers, (kept always pliant and unsoiled for the light labors he loved,) and opened it, without spilling a drop of nectarious juice, at its own delicate divisions. Idomen swallowed it in complacency, but said:—My friend, do not fear to exhaust me; the scenes I soon shall describe were indeed, terrible, while passing, but to speak of them now, amid flowers and fruits presented to me by the hand of friendship, I feel to be almost a pleasure. So the mariner, while seated on deck of a new skiff, on a calm sea, rosy with twilight, reverts to the horrors of a wreck, escaped only one voyage before. I know not, yet, the will of heaven; but whatever fate may be marked out for me, the past, at least, is certain, and mine. I would not give the scenes past with Ethelwald, with all their pain of more than many deaths, for a whole long life of calm happiness.
This again, said Dalcour, is nature! and yet, I knew it well to be but a passing hyperbole, the overflow of excessive excitement F 122 F1v 122 which gushed, in this speech, from the lips of her who had suffered. Had the chocie been offered, Idomen would have been found obedient to duty and to reason.When a few brief moments were passed, I again desired Madame Burleigh to proceed, in sincerity, with her story; but her lips were still moist with the fragrant gift I had presented. She retired to the court, a moment, and rinced, habitually, the delicious sweetness of the orange from the well kept ivory of her mouth. No care was ever spared by Idomen to preserve from a decay, so common among the fragile beauties of the new world, such gifts as should always be guarded, because they are received from heaven. But when this moment had been given to the angel of health, she sat down again by my side, remained a little while silent, and thus continued her story: In beings formed to taste it keenly, the desire of happiness is strong. Happiness, in its utmost excess, had been but lately in my view. Had my own hand broken the cup, which heaven had presented? I asked myself this, and conceived, for the first time in my life of the torments ascribed to those wretched souls in perdition, who have been shown, for a moment, the delights of paradise, to be told that their own sins have shut them, forever, from the scene. Alas! with such a consciousness, 123 F2r 123 what need of the fires of matter, or the scorching of external arteries? In the midst of such reflections as these, came a card from the manor house. A large ball was to be given, and Ethelwald, I knew, would be invited. But one month before, with that pleasure could I have adorned myself to meet him at such a festivity!—but now?—the thought was a stab to my heart; annihilation, even, would at that moment, have been preferable. Ethelwald, I thought, would be there; and gay, thoughtless persons might come, also, on purpose to look, in curiosity, on one, to whom the present favorite of the world around him, had devoted whole days, and even weeks. To meet such persons, would require my utmost health and firmness; how, then, pained and altered as I was, could I sustain the glances of scrutiny? I feared to meet the gaze of the multitude; yet one look of kindness from him I had offended, would have been to me like the dew-cup of the deserts of Florida, to the slave dying of thirst, yet fugitive, and fearing to return to the well or fountain of his master. This flower, in the form of a cup, and containing a draft of pure dew, was said, by early writers, to be found in the stagnant marshes of Florida. A note to the same effect has already been given in this work. The night of the ball arrived, and the cold F2 124 F2v 124 increased to an intensity which, mingled with the heat of stoves, pained every vein and artery on the surface of my sensitive skin. The pain of my heart was still keener; but a faint gleam of hope was like the sun of approaching spring. A young relative of my host, had come to N――t for the ball; and learned, with unfeigned regret, that I was too ill to go. Her name was Elmire; she, I knew, would speak of me to Ethelwald, and the next day, oh! heaven!—might bless me with an interview. A dress of pale blue was chosen by this gentle girl. Azure, celestial azure, was the favorite colour of him who reigned in my thoughts. With an impulse, accompanying my natural love of beauty, I assisted at her toilet, and helped to arrange her fair locks so as best to comport with the style and colour of her face, neck, and garments. When all was finished, her hair, countenance and vestments were so complete in the harmony of tints, as to waken in me, when I looked at her, despite of the pain at my heart, a feeling almost delightful. I felt, as it were, a spirit too sad to enter paradise, who comes weeping to fold the robes of some messenger to that smiling region. The reputation for loveliness is generally obtained by some circumstance. Often, after hearing the praises of a belle of some town or 125 F3r 125 village, a stranger, while beholding her among her companions, is heard to ask, which is the beauty? With the gentle Elmire it was otherwise. She had never been vaunted. Few travellers go searching for violets or lilies of the valley, when rose and magnolias are flaunting, in their fragrance, around them; yet violets and lilies, were they near at hand, would often be chosen in preference. When Elmire was complimented, she blushed, turned aside, and spoke of the beauty of her mother. That mother soon came to N――t, to take back Elmire to her home. In her youth she had lived at a remote township, in the midst of Canadian forests; and her mortal form, though entirely neglected, remained still, as little impaired as nature, unassisted by mortal skill, could, in any climate, have preserved it. The happy peasants of her neighborhood had named her in their simplicity, l’ange des bois. Her beauty, except that of Ethelwald, was the most perfect I have ever seen. Both have lived, and will probably cease to live, in some one of the groves or cities of a country, without other poets than the savage archers of the forest. When such forms of beauty come on earth, perhaps, ere they fade or change, some model is made of them for heaven. Or perhaps, they F3 126 F3v 126 come to show for a moment, some glimpse of what, in heaven, is eternal, when forms shall take the cast of divinity, and every lovely particle, that seemed lost and scattered upon earth, shall be called and united to its own, to smile and to bloom forever. When Elmire was gone, I felt weak, and retired to my couch,—there, though I slept not, the night was less painful than those which had preceded it; for a glimmer of hope was in view, as I looked forward to the morning. Ethelwald was to be at the ball; could he leave N――t without seeing that friend, to visit whom he had so lately crossed the Ladaüanna in storms? At four o’clock, the young visitor returned. I heard some of the family arise to admit her, but feared to call and ask her questions. When the soul has suffered much, it clings to the faintest hope, even as the infant, whose mouth is sore, clasps with his little transparent hand the smooth coral and silver bells, and shrinks from the food presented. It seems better to embrace an illusion than to hazard, by certainty, the renewal of ineffable pain. With the first, a little rest was possible—the last would have banished repose entirely from my pillow. In the morning, ere breakfast was ready, 127 F4r 127 Elmire came to my bed-side. She told me that Ethelwald had danced little, and spoken with her, often, through the evening; that he expressed sorrow at not seeing me as he expected; the more, as a party of friends had engaged him to cross the river as soon as the company should separate, to proceed with them at that early hour, upon the frozen St. Lawrence to Quebec. Besides this intelligence, a note soon arrived from my beloved, which evidently had been penned during the late festivity. Of tenderness it was full, like the letters I still preserved, but the hurry of the scene, and the influence of mirthful companions, were, also, both perceived in its contents. Hope now fled, and the light, again, was misery. Elmire wished me to return with her and with her mother, to their residence at Trois Rivieres. At any other time I should have shrunk from the cold; but change of place is often desirable to the wretched. I sawmysaw my little Arvon, and prepared, on the second day after the ball, to accompany the mild Elmire, with her father and her mother, to their abode. Eight English miles we had proceeded over the country, when our cariole descended to the ice of the Ladaüanna, which seemed like a pavement of crystal. F4 128 F4v 128 The whole snowy landscape was magnificent, but to look at it long, could be done, only at the peril of death or mutilation. During the intense cold of Canada, it is not uncommon for careless travellers, to freeze dangerously their ears and faces. The quicksilver of the the thermometer stood at a point which it reaches but in few parts of Europe. The same degrees of latitude in the New World, are well known to be far colder than in those eastern regions long inhabited by civilized man. In the frozen Ladaüanna, there are always open chasms. Through these, as is said by the peasants, the great river breathes.— How superb was its breath on that day! Our cariole, drawn by a little thick-haired Canadian horse, seemed but as a speck in the snowy immensity around us. One English mile we had rode upon its frozen waves, and another mile was yet to be past. I held over my mouth my closely furred hood, and only made bare my eyes to look at the scene before me,—at the breath of the vast river. Through those deep chasms or mouths, through which breathed the Ladaüanna, arose clouds of vapor, mounting to the sky,—assuming the form of phantoms;—mingling light and shade,—and sparkling in the cold beams of the distant sun of winter. 129 F5r 129 I thought of the depths whence arose those brilliant vapors,—and an idea darted through my soul. Could I throw myself into the midst of these shining particles, the warm wave beneath would receive me, and how soon could I be safe from all the disappointments of the world! Attended as I was, I could not stir from the cariole. Had escape at that moment been possible, the thought would have been obeyed, perhaps, as suddenly as conceived. It could not be—yet my mind from that moment became possessed with a design, which heaven alone had frustrated. After two or three hours, we ascended the bank of the river, and soon reached the dwelling of Madame C――l, in a street of Trois Rivieres. The rest of the family appeared and welcomed, with embraces, Elmire and their parents.— L’ange des bois was living in one of those low-roofed abodes of her country, which display all the charms of hospitality. The table was already spread. Canada, with its still few inhabitants, is a country of ease and of plenty. Soup was followed by venison and birds of the forest, kept frozen in snow, since the autumn. Wild nuts, wild fruits preserved in the sugar of the maple, and the beautiful apples of Montreal, kept always bright and unfrozen, No apples in the world are more beautiful than those 130 of Montreal. The sunny side of the mountain near that city, is favorable for gardens; the inhabitants have a sort of passion for its culture; and fruits are abundant around it. F5 130 F5v 130 and fair as the fruit of the fabled Hesperides, composed the dessert, while pieces of ancient plate told the families of Europe from which my kind hostess and her children had descended. Their present was happy; their past was tender regret; and pleasing hopes adorned their future. Madame C――l spoke freely, herself, of her uncommon personal perfections, but took no pains either to display or to embellish them. Untinctured either with vanity or ambition, she confided in the love of her husband; and thought only of him, her children and her household. Yet her face was still of fair colors, while nothing could exceed its outline; her hair was still shining; her light brown eyes softly bright; her lips full and red; and her hands, though much used, white and taper. The dwelling where Ethelwald was born could be seen from her window. She had known his mother and brethren, and spoke of them all in terms of love and admiration. I have said that the friend whose absence made me miserable, was he last who survived of his family. Madame C――l spoke of the favor he had lately obtained in the sight of the governor of the province, and said it was 131 F6r 131 surprising that one like Ethelwald, had already remained so long, contented in the place of his nativity. The verses, oh! my early and constant friend, which drew from you so much concern for my happiness, when I showed them to you at P――d, were given anonymously to a journal of the day, and when printed, with the permission of my husband, were sent, still anonymously, to Ethelwald. His soft eyes had read them;—his musical voice had pronounced them;—his kind heart had suspected whence they came;—and his white hands, after five years had passed, unfolded and showed them to me again, one delicious evening at N――t. Five years he had remained contented near the roof of his childhood, and sometimes read in secret, a few verses, the only proof of regard from a woman, whom he had then known but a week. Why did he preserve them?—What scenes have since transpired?—Why had our late meetings been permitted by heaven? This I unconsciously asked of my soul, now so deeply troubled. I heard and rejoiced at his honors;—but when I thought of myself, my whole being, as it were, seemed shivering within me, and the design I had formed while crossing the ice of the Ladaüanna, absorbed every inward thought with renewed intensity. Yet, dark as was all within me, I responded132 F6v 132 ed to the country of my fair hostess and her beloved. I listened to their artless songs of the country, and sang them others, in return, though with a voice that, in my own ear, was hollow, and with a feeling entirely indescribable. By many an early struggle I had learned the art of seeming cheerful to those around me, while my heart, in secret, was desolate or suffering. Thus, sometimes, on a sod of Florida, are seen pale flowers and verdure, while the hollow darkness beneath it, is tenanted by a serpent and her progeny. Early the next day, the father of Elmire conducted me back to N――t. The cold had a little diminished; but the breath of the Ladaüanna still mounted in columns to the skies, and its waters, covered with snow, resembled rocks of crustal, heaped with feathers of the ptarmigan. I thought of my design of yesterday, and wished that its current was flowing. N――t, which had lately seemed beautiful,— N――t, with its dark gray seminary and glittering spires, with its grove of pines and river, broad, my friend, as the Seine of thy country, though but small as a tributary of the St. Lawrence. N――t, with its happy little dwelling, where I had passed the sweetest moments of my life, seemed now the dearest place for my tomb, and I longed to lay me down in the bosom of a land that seemed to me as a foster mother. 133 F7r 133 I deemed that the world could, to me, be no longer as before; yet even for years ere this period, vague hopes for the future were sometimes all that made it endurable. My desire, now, was for death; but what would become of my boy, of my fair little Arvon, already too much an orphan?—would not suicide also, be guilt?—to me it had never seemed a crime;—still there was a doubt! I pondered long in secret, and went through long trains of reasoning. Arguments, whispered, perhaps, by some evil spirit, arose in favor of my purpose. Men of ancient times,—men who thought much, men who lived nearer than we to the time of the creation, believed, that at least, two genii attended the steps of every mortal. The adorable bearer of the cross said nothing to disprove this belief;—he, even, was tempted, and prayed to be delivered from temptation. Idomen was weak and overwhelmed; the power that preserved her was not mortal. Oh! father of spirits, desert me not again! for I know I live only by thy protection.
I trembled, said Dalcour, as I looked intently on the blooming fair-haired woman by my side. Her face was covered with her hands. Of those which are called the stormy passions, her heart was entirely destitute.— Anger, hatred, and revenge, endanger the peace of others; but far more dangerous to 134 F7v 134 the possessor is an excess of these feelings, which are good only when governed by reason or by heaven.Idomen soon recovered her composure, and said:—I have promised, oh! my friend, to tell thee all; I conceal not a thought or a sentiment; thy regard would possess no charm for me, if obtained by falsehood or deceit. See me, then, as I am!—Behold that Idomen whom heaven has preserved, and esteem her still, if thou wilt. Without fault, there is said to me no human being; happy then, is she who is still esteemed, when all her faults are made apparent!
Proceed, I said, in thy story, as thou hast begun. My esteem, Idomen is already thine. Truth for me, is enough. I do not ask perfection. While the tongue is unsoiled with falsehood, there is little corruption at the heart.Yet dreadful, said Idomen, were the hours that I would depict to thee! I soon resolved fully on death. My imagination heavily employed itself in devising means to execute a deed that might free me, at once, from the world and all its evils. Yet great as was at this time, my suffering, its endurance even seemed preferable to the shock that might be felt by my boy. Yet my Arvon had, now, become acquainted with those around him; he spoke French a little, and was contented. Seeing my droopD2 135 F8r 135 ing state, he desired me, with his own lips, that I loved, to go to Quebec, stay till I was better, and then return to him again. His innocent wishes determined me. I wrote to Henry Arlington that my health required a change of scene, and a young relation was immediately sent to escort me. I parted with my child, as I thought for the last time on earth. My sleepless nights had continued. After once more crossing the frozen Ladaüanna, and while stopping at Trois Rivieres, I desired my young attendant to procure for me a phial of Laudanum, to be used at discretion. The black potion was obtained, and carefully secured in my portmanteau. Refreshments were served at an inn; eat I could not, but feeling a deep thirstiness, I swallowed from time to time, an egg, in some wine of France, mixed with water of the Ladaüanna. Our hardy Canadian driver took care of his long-haired pony; and we soon proceeded on our course upon the frozen waves of the river. My young conductor perceived not the state of my feelings. He was one whom I had known and regarded; and whenever he conversed I listened with a sort of indescribable suspense. But during long intervals of silence as we proceeded slowly on the ice, I sat occupied entirely with such thoughts as but served to strengthen my purpose. I am weak, 136 F8v 136 I said in my soul, and may fall into utter despondency;—nay, if this deep mental suffering should continue, even reason may ere long, forsake me; it is better to be dead than a maniac. All day we glided on, as lonely as a little boat at sea; and at night ascended the bank of the river, and stopped for rest at a village. On the third day we reached the snow crowned fortress of Quebec. Arlington was lately married. His companion, though gay, was deeply imbued with an admiration of belles lettres, and seemed pleased to receive me for her guest. The cause of my illness was easily divined by Marian; she loved to watch the progress of the passion which had so consumed me, and watched it with a feeling like those of poets when they read a tragedy. Marian was piquante, lively, shrewd, and teeming with wit and sarcasm; yet her manners, to me, were softened to a degree of respect and almost of tenderness. Perhaps some guardian spirit, acted on her heart at that time, and secretly commissioned her to preserve me. Arlington’s house was in one of the broader streets within the gray walls of the lofty tower-flanked fortress, and to my surprise, I was told that a hotel nearly opposite was the temporary abode of him I loved. 137 F9r 137 To be so near was a deep satisfaction, but the hand of despair had grasped my heart, and was cold there. Ethelwald, when apprised of my arrival, called upon Mrs. Arlington, and desired to see me. How lately could I have flown to him! But now trembling, exhausted, my lips, cheeks and hands, rough with the fever of my blood, and the cold winds of the river, I went to the drawing-room to see him, once more, from whom I thought soon to part forever. He took my weak hand in the manner of friends in the country. His own hand, (mid winter though it was,) was warm, moist with a light perspiration, and whiter than the milk of the cocoa-nut, or petals of the fragrant magnolia. The touch of that hand, it seemed to me, was enough to make the dead awaken, and my heart, half petrified as it was, felt almost a thrill, in return for it. At first my eyes were cast down; I constrasted the fullness of the happiness of him before me, with the feelings that devoured my peace. A sentiment of pride came over my heart. Friends and fortune, I thought, may desert me,—but at least, I have courage to die. Vain boast of a desolate soul! power even to seek the grave, is not given to every wretch who sighs for it. F6 138 F9v 138 The tone of the voice of Ethelwald, despite of every endeavor, very soon caused my lids to rise. I wished not to trust myself to look at him; but my eyes, as soon as raised, were riveted. The most perfect health adorned his beauty; he seemed encircled by a vapour of softness and of briliancy; and his countenance was so full of benevolence, that I fain would have knelt and wept before him. But Marian Arlington was present, and her voice turned the current of my emotions.— I saw her shrewd dark eye glancing first upon me, and then on her other visitor.— I wished her to leave the room for a moment, but could not ask her, and a strong sentiment of pride restrained me while beaneath her observation;—pride in one who sought the grave! Alas! what an enigma is every thing mind to itself! During such intervals as that, do not unseen beings shed their influences? The moment was past. Marian ran to the window, and said that a carriage was driving to the door of the opposite hotel. It contained a party that Ethewald was to join. He took leave; but I could not, as I once had done, find strength to follow him to the door. After all, said Marian, when he was gone, of what value is beauty in a man?—your favorite, I am sure, is vain, and you will make him more so. No! for him I am determined you shall not distress yourself. 139 F10r 139 I was not in a state to answer. I retired to my room near the saloon where we sat, bathed my aching head in the waters of the Ladaüanna, and endeavored to gain strength for the day. With great effort, I succeeded in dressing for dinner at five. Some friends of my hostess came in, and the theatre was proposed. My faint refusal was not taken; neither had I energy enough to resist with firmness. At N――t, Ethelwald had once spoken to me of his walks through the Louvre while at Paris. With what pleasures, he said, could he lead me to the statues and pictures which had most engaged his attention. I may at least hope, he continued, that you will walk with me, some day, round the fortress of Quebec, and look with me at the prospect from its ramparts. From these ramparts may be seen the last dwelling of civilized man, intervening in all the vast wilderness between the castle of St. Louis and the brink of the arctic ocean. See note 20. We were, now, both in the same fortress; yet the walks of Ethelwald were taken with others, and Idomen was in the care of strangers! The friends of Arlington were ready in their attention; but after the arm which had lately supported me, to lean upon another was like death. 140 F10v 140 In the course of the theatric entertainment, I looked a moment towards the box of Lord D――e, and saw him who had appeared to me like a deity, on earth, surrounded by gay, trifling ladies, who kept him in continual conversation. I dared not take another glance; when returned I was too ill to sup, and retired to my pillow, reflecting on the next day’s purpose. Alone in the darkness of the night, and disturbed only by the sound of carriages, returning at intervals from scenes of festivity, I lay endeavoring to be calm, and to silence those doubts which conscience continually presented. Words like these came to my mind:— what tie have I to the earth, save that only of my child?—him I cannot benefit, even though I strive to remain. At best, I am weak; if I droop continually, at last, what shall I become? a burden, a burthen? alas!—even now, what am I else? If I live in misery like this, reason must ultimately forsake me. How terrible for poor little Arvon, who has looked on me only as a being loving and beloved! How very far more terrible to look upon a maniac;—upon one, perhaps, even loathsome, than to see me only in memory;—(as he knew me, oh, my friend, when you first took him on your knee!) children are soon taught to bend their minds to new objects. Arvon, even now, can bear my 141 F11r 141 absence; he has learned to like what is around him; and if there be kindness on earth, he will find better friends than I! No! no! he shall never see his mother an object for other feelings than those of love! Towards morning I slept from exhaustion; at nine, I arose to breakfast with Marian, and afterwards retired to write. My purpose had now become fixed, and despite of the night I had passed, my appearance, though pale, was calm to those around me; but if the soul which now warms me be eternal, the remembrance of that day, so calm to those around, will continue to the latest eternity. I first wrote separate letters to Arlington and to Marian, beseeching, for the sake of compassion, and as they valued their own futurity, to conceal from my son the manner of my death. I then wrote to Pharamond, told him that I was ill, and that I felt I should never see him more. I then recommended little Arvon to his care, and besought him to petition our uncle, Llewellyn Lloyde, in favor of my orphan boy, as soon as he should return to the beautiful river, and find me no longer on earth. To write these letters seemed a duty, but it was a terrible one, I know not what death I may die, but no greater pain, I am sure, upon earth, can be suffered. To swallow the poison, when compared with it, was a trifle. 142 F11v 142 I next looked over a small trunk of papers. From time to time they had been saved, when my imagination was under the influence of a strong but vague hope that I should, one day or other, be loved and renowned; and live longer than my natural life, in the history of the country of my forefathers, and that where I first beheld the light. No mortal, I said, shall smile at the fancies of lonely Idomen!—and the few long preserved papers were burned at the same taper, where I had just sealed, with black, my letters of death. Here Madame Burleigh shuddered, and again exclaimed: You have bid me, my friend, speak truth to you, even as to God!— I know not why, but what I felt in burning these papers, in resigning this vague hope— this indescribable illusion, caused me a pain even greater and more sickening than the certainty of leaving life, and my child. Yet love for Ethelwald was stronger even than this hope or illusion, for it forced me to resign a flattering possibility which, from childhood, had mingled with my reveries. At five o’clock, instead of appearing at dinner, I lay exhausted on my bed. Marian was kindness itself; she knew not what I had been doing, but imagined that I suffered because Ethelwald had not come in the morning. With her own hands she brought me nourishment—soup, light wafers, and jelly of the beautiful143 F12r 143 tiful apples of Montreal. In the evening she remained at home, with some intimate friends of her selection, and came frequently to my room. Perceiving that I slept not, she brought her companions to my bed-side, determined that my own regrets should be lost in the charms of conversation. Despite of my heaviness of heart I perceived her delicate attentions, and felt for her, esteem and gratitute. In the morning I breakfasted in bed. Appetite I had none, but I swallowed, to give me strength, an uncooked egg and some jelly, and promised at five, to be present in the drawing room. My earthly affairs seemed concluded, and I strove to give to friendship the last day of my existence, in a world where it is often sought in vain. When the day was nearly spent, I arose, called forth all the strength that remained to me, bathed carefully, dressed myself in white, and succeeded in braiding with my trembling hands, the hair, which your praises, oh, friend of my retreat, first taught me to value at P――d; and when Marioan saw me, she placed in it a few dark leaves of a laurel, cultivated in a lower apartment of her home. I had once looked for laurels more lasting.
Idomen, I returned, let they hopes continue! If heaven has planted laurels in thy reach, thou hast now, a friend, whose humble 144 F12v 144 power may, at least, help thee to gather them! She looked at me an instant, and proceeded:The saloon of Marioan overlooked the street; there the family party had assembled before descending to the dining room. On entering, I found them at the windows, and went to look with the rest. Ethelwald was walking down the snow-covered pavement, together with a young man of exquisite beauty, though of a style entirely different from his own. The last was like an animated statue of brown marble; the first like a celestial visitant. The stranger was a Thespian of uncommon personal endowments; within the walls of Quebec, good scenic representations were seldom enjoyed, and every lover of the elegant arts caressed and entertained the present visitor. Ethelwald looked up toward our windows with a smile, which, to see, was worth a whole year of common happiness! with a smile that should have healed and consoled, but my heart was closely grasped by the strong hard hand of despair. At table, remarks were made on the two that had walked together; on the favorite Thespian, and on him who lately had been favored by the governor or viceroy of the province.— Another guest came in at the dessert, and added that a certain lady of wealth and beauty was evidently making endeavors to gain the 145 G1r 145 heart of Ethelwald. To her, and to every one beside, it was a wonder that he had lived so long in quiet, on the banks of his native river. I spoke not a word on the subject; but I heard enough to determine me, even if I had not before been resolved. The whole party were against going to the theatre, and Marian would not leave me at home. I know not why it was, but I felt no reluctance in going, although shrinking as before, from every arm that supported me. How potent, yet how complicated and indefinite, are the varying motives of the soul! to ourselves how unaccountable! to the world how utterly inexplicable! The taking of means not to see another morning, had all day, absorbed every energy. Yet I spent at the theatre, the eve of my meditated death, and even the scene represented is still impressed upon my memory. H――n, the Thespian visitor, had chosen for his apperance, the part of Kotzebue’s Rolla, and the light dress of a Peruvian chief displayed to full advantage the grace and symmetry of his figure. His hair was wild and thick, his eye dark and piercing. A white tunic fell to the knee, and was confined lightly round the waist with a cincture of gold and serpent skin. A small golden sun shone at his breast, and another on each shoulder.— His fine neck was bare; and his finished limbs, G 146 G1v 146 except their bracelets, bore nothing but a thin silken covering, which seemed, in closeness and colour, like the skin of a warrior of Potosi. Ethelwald, I knew, was present, and admiring also the fine form of the mimic Peruvian; but I dared not look towards the place where he sat, for fear of a prying glance from the lady who would fain abridge his liberty. We retired, when the tragedy was over, and at ten, I sat at the supper table, with Arlington and Marian, who said she thought me recovering, and that she hoped soon to see me returned to spirits. To spirits, I replied, I indeed, hope soon to be restored! Something whispered to my heart, at that moment, take heed lest those spirits be evil. At eleven I retired to my room, with the intent to do my last earthly deed. When carefully bathed in the waters of the river I loved, when my hair was combed and parted, when I had put upon my feet, which I thought would never wander more, white slippers and hose of Cuba, I folded about me a white morning robe, just washed, by a laundress of Canada, in the waters of the Ladaüanna. May my weary soul, I said, be washed and made free from stain, even as I now endeavor to throw from this material form, every particle of soil or pollution! To finish this last toilette, now made for my mother earth, I went and looked sadly in 147 G2r 147 the mirror of my chamber. The expression of my own eyes was too dreadful to be contemplated; I turned away and shuddered. Papers and a pencil were always kept near in my hours of solitude; I wrote and sealed a brief letter to him whose visits once seemed to me like those of a messenger from heaven. It was now past midnight, the letters I had written were placed beneath the pillow of my bed; and I held in my hand the same large phial filled with black juice of the poppy which had been procured at Trois Rivieres. All was ready. I heard a carriage stop at the opposite hotel, and found myself involuntarily at the window. A few dim lights were still burning, and as the door opened, I saw a figure, which I knew to be Ethelwald; and it appeared to me that he turned and looked a moment towards my room. Three days have passed, I exclaimed, and he has not come, though so near! Yet, even if he still regards me, how can I wish to be a cloud to his brilliant days? No! I will die, while there is still a hope that he loves me!—at this a thousand thoughts were poured like a flood into my soul. I remembered the scenes at N――t. I contrasted the sweetness of his breath—of the kiss which seemed so warm and true, with the black fœtid draught, which, even as I held it in G2 148 G2v 148 my hand, my sense shrank from inhaling.— The soft mystic warmth which had seemed to encircle his beauty, came to my mind in contrast with the coldness of my own bed of death. I returned from the window, knelt down by the pillow I had smoothed, and earnestly repeated this prayer to heaven. Creator of suns and of systems, thou who beholdest thousands of worlds at a glance, yet regardest the sparrow and her brood, father who carest for the pains of an insect, look down upon her who implores thee! If the death I seek be permitted, oh, take me to some other state of being. Purify me, as thou wilt, with suffering, but make me, at last, not unworthy. If the deed I would do be a crime, deign to interpose thine omnipotence! Author of daily miracles, which seem, to the eyes of mortals, but the mere workings of nature, regard me at this crisis! Thou who canst only punish to perfect, save me from too deeply offending. If to swallow this poison be a deed beyond forgiveness, act secretly but surely upon the conduits of my blood, and withold its effect from the heart I now lay bare to thee. Creator, thou who knowest me better than I have wisdom to know myself, if punishment be needful, give me strength to endure it. If I die in sin, requite not that sin upon he innocent! Giver of life, protect thou my child upon this 149 G3r 149 earth, and, when it be time, send him gently beyond the bourne of mortality. When these words were pronounced to the supreme director of men and more perfect angels, I swallowed the contents of the phial; rinced carefully my mouth and hands, passed a handkerchief of white lawn over my head and beneath my chin, (as if done to the newly expired,) and tied it closely near the temple. I then lay gently down, held to my nostrils a handkerchief wet with water of the orange flower, and expected my last earthly sleep. To my utter astonishment, no heaviness or stupor came over me. I lay perfectly at ease, wooing, as it were, the slumbers of death.— But instead of the expected sleep, I felt a light pleasing sensation; my bed seemed as if rocked with a gentle motion; and thoughts circled through my brain in a manner vague and confused, but pleasant in their nature and impression. I know not how long this delirium continued, or whether I slept at all; but when daylight appeared through the windows, I felt myself still alive and sick, as at my first voyage on the ocean. The wants and necessities of these forms of matter are more imperious while on earth, than even the cravings of the soul. Till the hour for breakfast, I lay violently ill, and G3 150 G3v 150 could think of nothing else save preserving my bed and dress unsoiled from the black profuse ejection. At nine o’clock Marian came in. My dress, my looks, and the odor of the draft I had swallowed, told her, at once, what had been done. I asked her, as a friend, to conceal the discovery she had made. Marian consented, but first, exacted from me, an assurance that I had no more poison in my chamber. From the first, she had loved to watch the course of my feelings, subjected entirely, as they were, to the power of a passion, by every one spoken of with pleasure; by every modern person deemed romantic; to every heart known a little; but felt, in its excess, by few. The curiosity of her whose care saved my life, was now, more excited than before; and with feelings, like those awakened by a tragedy of Schiller, she left me sleepy from exhaustion and flew to prepare restoratives. In the course of that very morning came Ethelwald;—had I died he would have been called in to look upon me!—he was told that I lay slightly indisposed; and another evening had come, ere Marian let me know of his visit. Exhausted as I was, a lively regret took possession of my soul; for, had I known he was beneath the roof, I would have seen him, even as I lay, and told to him the cause of my suffering. 151 G4r 151 But destiny had differently ordained; and Marian, perhaps, while her kindness saved me from death—(for even the effect of the poison must have killed without her care and gentleness;)—Marian, perhaps, was commissioned to separate my days from those of him I loved, even as darkness at the beginning of the world, was separated from light and animation. Carefully nursed and nourished, in three days I was able to rise; but the vivid regret I had felt, at not seeing once more, when he came, the bright being, whose estrangement made life insupportable, was succeeded by a despair more dull and heavy than before.
It is little, said Dalcour, to read or tell the story of a stranger; yet even that sometimes agitates and disturbs; and we cannot speak minutely, of sufferings endured by ourselves, without strong and fatiguing emotion. Idomen wished to continue, but I saw that her strength was overtasked. At the hour of the passeo, I knew that two friends were expected from Matanzas, and I left her to spare her spirits, and to emerge from the past to the present.The sun was high and powerful, but the way to my woods was not long. I mounted my creolian pony, languid with the hottest hours of day, and resting on his saddle the staff of my green silken umbrella, I proceeded,G4 152 G4v 152 ed, half concealed in its deep concave, towards the shady groves of my dwelling. Benito followed, bearing my change of dress on a little horse, brought a light near the palm-covered cottage of his mother. A palm leaf hat of his own weaving, covered his woolly locks. Large drops of oozing moisture ran down his black, glossy forehead, made cool by the profuse evaporation. The careless, happy negro was humming extemporal airs, and never thought once of the sun. The edges of the heart-leaved convolvulus (or morning glory) were beginning to roll inwards, even in my shady pathway. It was the hour for refreshment and repose. I retired to my vine woven chamber, and as soon as its shade had cooled me, I bathed me with sponges of the river, and put on fresh linen for my lonely repast and siesta. A soup, enriched with nutritious roots from my garden, was boiled at my fire every day, and sent, when I had tasted, to the women with young children in my hospital, to be shared with any who were sick. This, with a speckled guinea fowl, and a heart of fresh curds laid on rose leaves, were my simple but luxurious banquet. Fig-bananas and fragrant guayavas were presented on fresh, green leaves, and set before me, at the dessert, with a vase of such flowers as I loved. I sat long, alone at table, musing on Idomen and her story. 153 G5r 153 The powers she possessed of feeling both pleasure and pain, were, as it seemed to me, but proofs of the depth of her genius; for who can describe or conceive of that which he never has felt? Amid so many griefs and transitions, it seemed to me a subject for wonder, that her reason, ever active and reflecting, had not been even more disordered than the truth of her narrative had proved it. Her present healthful appearance, though absent, and still loving Ethelwald, gave assurance of her mind’s elasticity. Her fancy was evidently feasting on some vague hope of seeing him again. Her passion I deemed an illusion; happy as she had described him, and surrounded by gay, friendly circles; it was not probably that one so admired, at his home, would appreciate the character of Idomen, at a distance, or prove for her the love of a storied knight-errant or troubadour. Yet his reign over her warm imagination was still undiminished and entire; and for that I felt a secret satisfaction, as it guarded her heart from new attachments. I knew the full strength of gratitude in a soul like hers whom I admired, and resolved to become her protector, in any way comporting with her wishes. I would favor her cultivation of the muses, and take her to polished Europe, when at last she might wish to study there. Ethelwald, I 154 G5v 154 doubted not, would yield to the attractions of some fair daughter of Britain;—while reason, friendship, gratitude, the welfare of her child, and, what is so strong in an artist, the hope of success in her art,—every inducement would conspire to obtain for me, even the hand of Idomen, if necessary to her safety or to her honor. Benito slung my colored hammock of Otaheite, and I took my siesta in the woods. No nauseous worm or reptile is found either in the fruits or among the thick leaves of Cuba. The pretty lizard, so entirely fearless of man, The tameness of the small lizard is a surprising circumstance; it seems to put entire confidence in human beings, and never moves when they approach, unless driven by violence. Its eyes are very beautiful, and seem to express wisdom or thoughtfulness. I loved always to contemplate, and welcomed his delicate eyes, whenever he approached my solitude. At sunset, I went with Benito, to where the branches of the night flowering cereus had clasped themselves like serpents, around fallen trunks of palmetto. A curious fruit is sometimes found on these plants, shaped like a tapering pear, and covered with prickles like the leafless stem that it grows upon.— Chance smiled upon our search, for we found two of these rare luscious apples, or pulpy coverings of seed. As I saw them closely swelling,155 G6r 155 ing, near the serpentine branch that bore them, I could but think of the fruit presented by the invader of paradise. But one, far unlike a destroyer, now sought them, for her, whom he wished to adorn his paradise. Benito, as he stood, wove a basket of leaves, and I placed the rare fruit that had crowned my search, in my cabinet of porcelain, till morning. At ten, the next day, I found Madame Burleigh in expectancy. I gave flowers for her boudoir; but reserved the fruit of the night blooming cereus to change the current of her thoughts when perturbed by the scenes she depicted. A few brief incidents, said Idomen, will finish, oh! my friend, the gloom of my many adventures, and reveal the whole past life of her whose heart is laid bare to thee! Again I had strength to go through the routine of the day; but half that day was spent in lassitude on the sofa. Light soups and jellies, presented by the hand of Marian, with the charm of her conversation, preserved the little life I still retained. The presence of this friendly companion, had in it, I knew not what of animation and influence; yet the faint joy it imparted was only as the light of a passing taper, flashing at intervals through the iron grated aperture of the dungeon, in which my soul sat G5G6 156 G6v 156 imprisoned. The gloom that hung over me, became deeper and deeper; and I doubted the care of heaven, though so lately preserved from death. No! I secretly exclaimed, if heaven had preserved, heaven would comfort! Even Marian, I know well, (while her lips amuse me with gentle words, and her hands present me with sustenance,) is reading the tablets of my mind, like some story, half real and half imaginary. As I become weaker she will be weary;—but no! I will retire in time. I was now able to walk out. An elderly lady who had come from N――t, brought me a letter penned with the infantine hand of my dear absent little Arvon. Every thought of horror returned; and I feared that I might live to give him pain. The bearer of Arvon’s letter was going out to buy ribands and artificial flowers for the toilet of her village daughters, and desired me to bear her company, and taste the fresh air to my own benefit. I went with her to choose these little adornments of festivity; passed from door to door, and stopped at the rooms of an apothecary. Candies prepared with healing herbs for the colds of winter, were purchased for Arvon and her children. I spoke of the noise made by vermin in the night, and said I would give her arsenic to destroy the disturbers of her sleep. A youth, when asked, produced some; 157 G7r 157 but said that much caution was needful when arsenic was used in a family. How much, I said, would destroy a human being?—two grains returned the young man, would occasion the death of the strongest soldier in this garrison. I bought what might fill a large shell of a walnut of England; kept half myself and gave the other half to my companion, who, I knew, would leave Quebec very soon, and could not return again to the parlor of Arlington. She left me at my door, and went farther. I returned to my room to dress for dinner, and laid aside the deadly purchase. Little was now to be done, the letters of death I had written were still by me, and sealed. A few more words on their envelop was sufficient.— The same vestments of white which had wrapped me for a dreadful purpose had again been freshly washed in the waves of the Ladaüanna. Beautiful name of a beautiful river, my lips even at that dismal hour, took almost a pleasure in speaking thee; and my chilled heart, even then, could frame good wishes for the forest chief Nicolas Vincent Zaunanaui, a Catholic Indian Chie. who first had pronounced its voweled syllables. St. Lawrence, if indeed thy spirit can watch near the noble stream, baptized with thy name 158G7v158 by thine adorers, pity and protect the wild children of the woods, who still cross its waves in their canoes of bark, who still border their moccasins with the hair of the elk, and transfix with their arrows, the wild speckled pheasant, and the ptarmigan, white as thy sorrows. Again I was taken with the family party to the theatre; but Ethelwald was not there.— Once, since my baffled attempt, I had seen him, but the spirits which were wont to rush forth in joy at his presence, had forsaken me; neither did Marian forbear her watching for one moment. The wish still remained of confessing to him all I had felt; but the power for such a confession was denied me. Again I saw the mimic Peruvian, but the picturesque scene was now lost on me. Again I sat at the supper table, but could not smile with the rest. Requesting some sweetmeats for a soreness of the throat, I retired to my room as soon as was consistent with courtesy. Letters of death were again placed under my pillow; I bathed myself once more in the waters of the river I loved, and wet a white kerchief of Cuba, in perfume of orange flowers, which had blossomed there. Again I breathed to Heaven, the same prayer, my friend, which I have repeated to thee; but it was breathed with less of fervor and more of heaviness than before. 159 G8r 159 At last, after pausing a moment, I chose from the sweetmeats sent to my room by Marian, a wild plumb of Canada, and mixed with it as much arsenic as the quantity of its own stone and pulp. The whole was swallowed. I rinced, carefully, my throat, teeth and lips; tied a white handkerchief beneath my chin, and lay down once more, to my doom, unless heaven should avert it. A heavy sleep came over me, together with a dull impression that I was now, tempting and offending a Deity who had lately interposed. How entirely dependent are mortals! Men have boasted of, at least, the power to die;… but even that power they possess not. Some higher hand must concur, before even death can be obtained, by any wretch, who would rush to an unknown state, to escape from the torments of this world. The sufferer may complain of destiny, and strike his own heart in impatience; but heaven alone can vouchsafe to him, the eternal stillness of the tomb! In the morning I again awoke, not in world of spirits, but on earth, and deathly sick. My offended vitals spurned and flung the heavy mineral, with an effort more painful and violent than was caused by the juice of the poppy. Marian, at the hour of breakfast, came to my room, and sent for a young physician, her relative, who staid by me till the poison was 160G8v160 ejected. When I lay more at ease, they both endeavored to act upon my fears, but spoke less of a future existence than of ingratitude, dishonor, and defacement of my form while on earth. Concealment of what I had done was only obtained by promising that I would make no farther attempt to leave this world. For the term of three months I gave a promise; and fearing to distress me, they did not exact one forever. Three days I lay ill, in bed, thinking that the poison might still destroy, though in a manner less easy than I had hoped for. Marian was constant in her attentions; she brought me such nourishment as could be taken without effort, she sang, conversed, read, and employed ever pleasing art to amuse and beguile me of suffering. Her cares, her conversation, the charms of her mind, were a balm, perhaps, sent by heaven, to heal and restore me to the path intended for my treading. In four days I could rise again; but a light eruption, the effect, perhaps, of the mineral I had swallowed, was spreading itself over the whole surface of my form. Of this my physician in kind wisdom availed himself. Your system, he said, is peculiar, no poison that you can procure will give you death;—you have twice tried the experiment; but disease may be easily induced; and even now, you are fortunate in escaping defacement. 161 G9r 161 How inexplicable are the changes of our hearts; and how necessary to mortals is the sympathy of earthly contemporaries! The confidence of two persons who kept my secret, produced upon my soul a stronger effect than the utmost of her own reasoning powers. Thus, often, some slight external succor, restores action in the palsied energies which have baffled every inward exertion. I had promised to live, and my pain, however keen, must be endured. The mere circumstance of having a promise to keep, acted as a support, and urged and impelled to effort. Rumors continued to float around, that a fair lady, with a fair fortune, was still ardent in her attempts on the heart of him who seemed to me like Phœbus. I knew that if I lingered in Quebec, I must sometimes meet in public, both the idol and the nymph that would enchant him. The fatal packet send from N――t had in every worldly sense, exonerated Ethelwald from farther regard for her who folded it. I looked upon myself, changed, emaciated, escaped, as by a miracle from death, and contrasted the joyous presence of him I loved, with my own sadness and dejection. I could not bear the thought that mere pity should ever take the place of that tender and impassioned attachment which, however evanescent, had existed. G6 162 G9v 162 The time was short since Ethelwald had crossed, to see me, the Ladaüanna in storms; but, to me, it had seemed an age of suffering. I would not, now, that he should look upon me; I would even avoid a meeting with him of whom the mere sight was heaven. In the midst of these revolving emotions, a letter arrived from the pine grove of N――t, and I resolved to return to my child. The same young relation who had brought me to Quebec, took me back to the wild lonely village where my happiest moments had been passed. Wrapped closely from the air, I endured the first hours of our journey; breathing many a secret prayer to heaven, and during long intervals of silence, binding up, as it were, my disordered thoughts into verses. The month of March was begun; the excess of cold had diminished; but the beautiful river was still frozen and hard as a rock of crystal. By degrees I was attracted by the scene. I threw back my close furry hood, and perceived that I once more could look around and breathe the free air without danger. Waves, rocks, trees and mountains, buried and fleeced with snow, assumed forms the most fantastic. A path on the river before us, was marked out by dark boughs of evergreen, set up by 163 G10r 163 friendly hands in the snow, to direct the lonely traveller. The snow in Canada is often so deep, as to cover the walls and fences of every common inclosure. On such occasions, the roads are marked out by branches of evergreen. Our little rough-haired horse of the country was driven by a faithful singing Canadian, and our cariole skimmed like some bird of winter, over a vast expanse of whiteness, or as it were, through a wilderness of brilliancy. We rode low upon the river, but as we passed its banks, huge snow-drifts, at intervals, seemed rising even to the heavens. Every thing sparkled in the sun; the winds were hushed; the sky was blue above us; and looked as serene as the countenance of him I fled from beholding. Spring, though distant, was preparing to approach; I respired the pure breath of the desert, and my soul caught returning animation. I felt the movement of a pleasure whose organs had long been inactive; it rushed through my soul like something new, and the palsied sense was resuscitated. Beautiful nature, how darkly involved is the heart when its pains counteract thine influence! These feelings continued but a moment; yet they left a refreshment behind them, and the poignancy of reflection was softened as we rode one day longer upon the frozen Ladaüanna. To persons who deserved my gratitude, I had promised to live three months; and no promise once given to any mortal by Idomen had ever, in her life, been broken. 164 G10v 164 In three months more the waves would again be unlocked; and a hope now began to dawn that my heart again might be healed. Ere the term of my promise could expire, the vast rocks of ice would be riven, and I should view the magnificent spectacle of the river regaining his liberty. In three months more his waters would flow on in peace and beauty, and then—if heaven willed me not on earth, and my wretchedness still should continue, I could find me a hiding place from the world in the depth of his pure sweet bosom; and be hidden alike and forever from the eyes both of pity and cruelty. Thus whispered my still sickly fancy, but a cure was begun in my soul. In the morning we crossed the great river, and rode over the slightly yielding snow, till the tall pines of the seminary seemed beckoning our approach to N――t. As the clock of the seminary struck twelve, the kind inmates of my former dwelling came rushing to the door to receive me. Each in turn expressed a sorrow that my health was not yet recovered, but said that my eyes looked better than when I had left them for Quebec. O hope! how the first faint gleam of thy twilight has power to change the countenance of a mortal, so fallen in the night of despair! Notice was sent to the seminary, and little165 G11r 165 tle Arvon flew to embrace me. He said it was the cold that made me sick, but now, spring was coming, I would be well again. My young conductor remained but a day, and departed, followed by my blessings.— Would to heaven I could essentially befriend him, and every other being, who has done to me the slightest deed of kindness. I feared a recurrence of pain, and avoided the temptations of solitude. I walked daily with Arvon on the snow, or sat in the midst of the family and neighbors, preparing his linen for the summer. Employment is sweet when busy for those whom we love. The gentle Elmire came again from Trois Rivieres. She spoke often of Ethelwald, and repeated what he had said, at the ball, whither I had seen her depart, with braided hair and dressed in azure. A vague possibility that, at length, he might come to seek, once more, the friend he had loved to visit, soon entered my heart with her accents, and assisted in restoring me to health. Every thing around me had been hallowed by his touch of presence; a glimmer of hope was blended with pleasing remembrance, and conspired to make the long day supportable. But lately I had shrunk from my mirror, and said in the language of the passionate bard —my beauty consumeth away;—my heart is smitten and withered; but now the color 166 G11v 166 seemed fain to spread itself again on my cheeks, and roundness was returning to the arms which had nothing to embrace but little Arvon. It is bitter to look forward to life, when despoiled of an illusion of felicity, yet now, I could resolve to bear the prospect and endeavor, at least, to be worthy of the idol to whom I should have fallen in sacrifice, save only for the hand of heaven. Meantime, the rivers burst, roaring from their imprisonment, and vast masses of ice were heaped like mountains on their shores.— The murmuring boughs of the forest, had cast off their cold incrustations; the skies were clear and blue; the early birds of spring were returning; and the snow fast dissolving, near the earth, paid a thousand, thousand tributes, to the thousand rivers and rivulets now hastening to their giant sovereign, the magnificent Ladaüanna. The sweetness of breezes through forests; the rushing of over-swollen waves; the rapturous cries of birds; the dropping of waters from boughs and housetops; all mingled their melodies with the songs of the ever tuneful peasants of this country of streams and cascades. My heart still smarted with its recent wounds; but a flood of gratitude seemed poured warmly over it; and thanks burst forth to 167 G12r 167 heaven that I had still sensation for the present. The large suffocating stove was now moved from the hall of our dwelling; fragrant branches from the forest took their place upon the large cheerful hearth; and while they crackled into flame, the neighboring children would often assemble and sing there, the boat-songs of their fathers. No walks could be taken save on snow- shoes like an oval sieve, made by the savages of doe-skin cut into threads, and woven or or knotted like net-work. Binding closely to the souls of our feet, these light far-spreading sandals, I walked daily with Arvon, on the banks of the river of the village. Letters from Pharamond had arrived, at a warmer port, distant from Quebec; and reached us by coming far over the still snow-covered country. My cousin arrived at Quebec as soon as the ice had departed. The three months of my promise had nearly expired. It was now, the month of June, and relief had come to my soul, like cool balm to the temples of the sick of a fever. I could but regard this relief as a sign from heaven to encourage me to remain on earth. Yet in all concerning powers invisible, the mind is sometimes shaken with doubts; and it constantly asks itself the question: Does heaven, indeed,168 G12v 168 deed, commune with me in secret, or is it but a fond dream of fancy? I could not trust myself entirely. I dared not return to Quebec, for I shuddered at the thoughts of a renewal of the terrible temptations which had passed. Power unseen, yet protecting, which I fain would obey in gratitude, was not the new energy which sustained and gave wisdom to walk with caution, a breath from the infuser of souls? When Pharamond, at length, found time to spend time one day at N――t, letters had arrived from Cuba, relating the sudden death of Llewellyn, my uncle, and so lately my friend. Tears streamed from my eyes, which but three months before were tearless; he who had parted with me half in anger, was now, no longer upon earth. My mourning dress for poor Burleigh had not yet been entirely laid aside. My friend next in affinity was now, no more, and fresh weeds of black declared the renewal of sorrow. Worldly concerns, for a while, were banished by grief for the deceased; but when Pharamond had left me again, they returned and pressed upon my thoughts. My supplies would soon be exhausted, unless the once kind Llewellyn had thought of me before he left this world. I felt that my duty as a mother, must be set above all selfish 169 H1r 169 wishes. I thought of Arvon, and, for a moment, regretted that I had not given myself in sacrifice to the wishes of my uncle, now no more; a union of interest would have secured independence to myself and to my orphan, with the power of benefiting others; but the deep reluctance I had felt, had been seconded by fears and scruples, lest truth and honor might be violated. To Pharamond I shrank from obligation; once, indeed, he had expressed for me the warmest regard. He saw me, when almost a child, married, and obedient to the slightest wish of my protector. Idomen, he then said to me, could I find another like yourself,—but you are estranged by marriage; and even if you were not, the relationship between us would be an invincible barrier. What choice have I, then, but to devote myself to fortune and to celibacy? My cousin, since that period, had seen a woman that pleased him, wedded and lost her, and now, was again entirely devoted to commerce and to worldly acquisition. I resolved to return to Cuba; my only relation there, was dead; but all species of fear for myself had fled with the brilliant excess of the happiness which late had bewildered me. My little fair-eyed Arvon, who would protect his minority, educate him, and prepare him for the world? I thought of the planter who had wept when I left him at Cuba, and warmly H 170 H1v 170 solicited my return. He might extend to my child his support and affection. That mortals are changeable, I had reason to know too well; but I thought of my escape from death, and trusted in the power that protected me. The timid doe that finds her shelter in the forest, afar from the low white dwellings that overlook the Ladaüanna, will brave danger in defence of her young; the delicate dove of Cuba will struggle and flutter in defence of the inmates of her nest; but even the lioness of Africa is weak when beset with perils. Meantime, the short glowing summer of Canada, was accomplishing the term of its intensity. The snows of eight returning moons had enriched the earth with their deposites, and she, now, in her gratitude, became prodigal of fruits and flowers. Flowers of a darker dye, or fruits of more luscious flavor, regale not our senses, oh, my friend, even in the leafy retreats of this island beloved of the sun! The violets of the gardens of the priests, were tinged with purple like the mountains, when seen in autumn from the gray stony ramparts of Quebec. The roses of Persia, with theirs would be rivalled in sweetness.— The robes of the ancient kings of Tyre, or the shells upon the beaches around us, could not, if compared, outvie the velvet purple of their heart’s ease. Their full clusters of grapes were ripening 171 H2r 171 to jet and to amber. Their currants or cerinths, hung in clusters of alternate topaz and ruby. Melting raspberries of black, red and white, lined the walls of their enclosure; and a small, curious melon lay roughly on the dark prolific soil, yet scarcely yielded, in taste or fragrance, to the anana with its golden embossment, enclosed in its green folded covering, from the sun, whose neat beams have made it mellow. So sweet was the brief produce of these gardens, long buried in snow, which bloom beneath the care of a seminary of priests on a tributary stream of the St. Lawrence. Agitated as had been my own bosom, I could not look without emotion on the tranquil and innocent lives of the men who adorned these retreats. Here, sheltered from the world, sad, as it were, even from themselves, they followed not the beckonings of hope, and were strangers to fear and inquietude. The depths of their hearts I could not see, or what springs of passion were concealed there, but their lips breathed humanity and kindness. To priests I entrusted my son, and the mother and the orphan were respected. With priests, I walked in these fair gardens, which but lately had formed the base of snow-drifts; and beheld glowing fruits upon the branches that, when I first looked upon the silvery spire H2 172 H2v 172 of the chapel near them, were sparkling with icy incrustations. The feelings of ages had passed since that time, through my bosom, and still were retained by memory. The superior of the seminary of the pine grove had taken up earth every summer, while endured the few moments of his recreation; and every summer, with hands washed for sacred offices, had formed one step of a circular mound, and covered it with sods of sweet grass. When, on the seventh year, the green, fragrant base of seven steps was completed, there was placed on it a column woven into shape with wicker; and other years still must elapse ere the newly planted vines could entwine it. Such, said the peaceful architect is the fragile nature of men’s labors. The ancient pyramids of the Nile, thought their projectors have been for ages forgotten, are less permanent to the eyes of the Eternal than this column to the youth of N――t. The nothingness of this life, for a moment, was fully presented to my intellect; and I conceived of the sentiments of those, who in different ages of the world, have retired to commune with the future, and calmly wait a passage to eternity. No beings on earth can possibly lead lives more blameless, than the Catholic fathers in Canada. The didirector of the seminary alluded to, was accustomed to pronounce weekly homilies to the youth under his care, together with a large assemblage of neighbouring villagers, and tears would often stream from his eyes while endeavouring to impress upon them the truths of his religion. The Roman church is truly said to be, above all others, favourable to taste. Even in this remote place, the chapel was adorned with many pictures, some of them very beautiful. The superior, however, was an accomplished man, who had fled from France during the massacres of the revolution. Children from Protestant families were admitted at this seminary for the purpose of education; where the severest punishment they ever received was that of being, after a fault, compelled to kiss the earth. In this harmless community of men, without earthly hope, I could have placed my orphan boy, to pass his days unruffled by those 173 H3r 173 pains which encircle fame, fortune and pleasure. I could even myself have entered the convent at Trois Rivieres, and listened as long as I lived, to the waves of the Ladaüanna.— But the thought crossed my mind as a shadow, not as a reality to be followed. Many have said that the will of mortals is their destiny; and in many a crisis of mortal life, the saying may seem to be truth; but whence comes the energy which urges our will to fruition, or the circumstance that makes it inevitable? The summer so brief and beautiful was more than half passed away; and before the return of the snows of autumn, again I must be upon the ocean. Before I could again embark for this island of flowers and forgetfulness, six hundred English miles must be traversed by land, by lake, and by river. Pharamond had made arrangements for my journey, and dear little Arvon was appeased by my promise to send for him, wherever I might stay. The sweet August of Canada was almost passed when my cousin appeared, once more, at the village of the moments of my happiness. The parting with Arvon and my kind inmates was over; and we glided, once more, in a batteau. The beautiful Ladaüanna was warm and smooth as a mirror; the songs of the boatmen were low; and at intervals they dipped their H3 174 H3v 174 oars in silence, save the warblings of the bright drops that fell from them. My heart was full of pertubration; and when at intervals, I spoke, it was to recommend earnestly to Pharamond, the boy I was leaving behind—yet whom, like the fabled pelican, I would fain have nourished with my blood. Still, when we approached the opposite shore of the river, and saw, at a distance, the Convent of Trois Rivieres, a thousand other sentiments and sensations came rushing and mingling with those which, so lately, were true to maternity. Duty had triumphed over love; but the broad stream we so sweetly were gliding over, had been crossed when rough with storms, by Ethelwald, to see me. On the banks we were approaching he was born; and a strong desire took possession of my senses to behold him, once more, ere I departed. To the momentary wishes of my agitated thoughts, heaven and circumstance were propitious. While resting in a dwelling that overlooked the river, we learned that the ornament of the simple town of his birth had been greeted early in the morning. He had left, for a few days, the fortress of Quebec, and the streets of Trois Rivieres were enlivened by his presence. The day was unusually warm, I had once more bathed in water from the river I loved, 175 H4r 175 and dressed, for our repast, in the thinnest of my mourning attire. I looked earnestly in the small mirror of my bed-room-for-one-night, and saw with a deep satisfaction that some roundness of contour had returned again to my person. I dropped a moment, on my knee, and thanked the Almighty for his benefits. A dessert of fragrant melons and raspberries from newly-felled forests, was served with dried fruits brought from distant climates by the commerce of Britain, and sometimes tasted in this spot, even by the savage hunter of the desert. While we still sat lingering at the board, the coming of a stranger was announced. He bent as he entered the door; it was but the self same figure which before had been present to my soul; but to look upon the heavenly reality was a delight so supreme, that the past and the future were as nothing. The bliss of the deity is but love. Those who have known what is love in perfection, though on earth, and but for a moment, need not ask what reward awaits the just. The sun was declining in its beauty; we sat over the dessert, and the brim of one glass of the tears of the grape was pressed to my lips as those of Ethelwald touched another.— We drank to those who were away; but our souls at that moment were rushing towards each other, and could see no object but the present. H4 176 H4v 176 Scarcely a drop was swallowed save by Pharamond, who soon threw himself upon the sofa, so oppressed with heat, that sleep was with difficulty resisted. I stood near a window, with Ethelwald, whom I never had seen before in summer.— The intense sun of that season, so brief in his country, had slightly tinged his forehead, which seemed amid the snows of winter too spotless for an earthly material. But the charm of his expression seemed enhanced; and as his light golden hair was faintly moved by the zephyrs of his own native river, I thought I could feel by sympathy, every thrill of those delicate arteries that made him a being of sensation. The twilight became paler and paler: sleep had possessed itself of Pharamond, and we both looked from the window, upon the waves darkening with shadows, yet still tinted with rose color. Here was, now, at least, an opportunity for some explanation of the past. But the past and the future were as nothing; to see and to feel were so much, that every other organ was inactive. An innate sense told me I should speak, but my tongue could find only broken sentences. Do you remember, I said,…I am not, replied he, whom I looked upon, I never can be ungrateful!…I felt the soft warm pressure of the hand into which mine had fallen, 177 H5r 177 and that we were to part forever, melted or vanished from my intellect, as a thing which could not be possible. In moments like the one depicted, there is something very inexplicable. When parting from a country, with a strong probability of never returning, I have felt so happy in the immediate presence of esteemed persons, as to make it impossible to realise that we haply might never meet again, and surely never again under the same circumstances. The many things which ought to be said are banished by the vague illusion of another meeting; but when the parting is over, and the fair opportunity past, then comes the torment: we think of what might have been, and could almost tear ourselves to pieces for our own folly and forgetfulness. A word or a promise must have united our destinies, but neither word nor promise was spoken. Something both wished to impart, seemed struggling to burst forth from our lips, but neither had the power of utterance… What mysterious influence reigned absolute till the dear opportunity was no more?—That question can only be answered by the being who marks out, on the map of eternity, the path to which mortals are to wander. Our tongues were like tongues of the entranced; the countenance of Ethelwald, though now shaded by evening, appeared to me anxious and wishful. I long to hear or say something definite;—but alas! it was impossible to break the ineffable silence of expectancy. I know not how much time had passed, but the moon had risen and was shining; and a servant, at length, came in, to ask of Pharamond directions for our morning departure.— A bustling noise, and the moving of travelling trunks ensued; it was time for the inn doors to close. Ethelwald seemed reluctant to go; and I began to shudder and tremble, and could not even say remain with me. Pharamond arose, gave directions to the servants, and appeared as I thought, impatient. The constant companionH5 178 H5v 178 panion of my thoughts pressed my hand closely and departed. I saw him from the window, in the moonlight, his noble form, slowly receding on the shores of the river of his birth. His eyes, to the last, seemed turning frequently back towards my window…oh, heaven of heavens, shall I never behold him again?—to what purpose then, has he been known to me?
Here, said Dalcour, I arose a moment, and asked of Benito, those fruits of the night‐ flowering cereus which had been gathered the evening before, and were not kept by this favorite negro in a small vase of marble from France. They were the first of their kind that Idomen had ever seen, and the current of her thoughts was insensibly changed as she admired them.I cut into halves, with a knife of silver, one of the sweet juicy apples or formations, divested it of its outward prickles, and by tasting one portion myself, compelled Madame Burleigh to swallow the other. This, with the usual process of rinsing the sweetness of fruits from her lips, and the ivory within them, diverted her mind from what it dwelt on, and calmed the over-rising emotion. She looked at me, thanked me for my care, smiled gently, and resumed: The hurry of travelling admits of no consideration; and perhaps its principal charm is 179 H6r 179 the decision it continually demands. The boat would go at a certain hour in the morning, and those who would depart must be ready. Till twelve at night, I was occupied in making those arrangments most necessary to cleanliness and to order; and at six in the morning, I arose. The bell of departure was ringing, as we stepped from the shore to the vessel. I had nerved myself, as well as I could, to walk in the path traced by heaven; yet my eyes, from time to time, wandered round in the hope of encountering a form transcendent above all others. But a letter was all that came; it was placed in the hand of Pharamond, who did not present it to me, till far on our way to Montreal. I lay down on my berth to break the seal; it was tender but not conclusive—give me, said Ethelwald, your address, and you shall receive from me a full explanation. The hurry of the changing scene, a thousand doubts, a thousand wishes, a thousand fears and regrets—all combined to overpower the cooler energies of reason, that might have been enough for my happiness. I remembered all that I had suffered, and thought Ethelwald cold and ungrateful in allowing me, thus to leave his country—and yet my pains had never been known to him, and 180 H6v 180 the greatest offence that had been given, my own hand had committed when I sent to him the packet sealed with black. But the last brief, delightful interview, was still so vivid on my memory, that my mind dazzled by the present, looked not calmly upon past events. Of my answer to the last note of him, who had seemed to me a seraph, I can only remember this sentence:—I go, perhaps never to return—I ask no explanation —may every happiness attend you. Having slept but little in the night, I sent to excuse myself to Pharamond from sitting at his side while at table; drew closely the curtain of my berth, and clung for refreshment to my pillow. Thought would not be bidden to rest, but sported as it were, with the stings of inquietude; and the lines tied round with a riband of carnation, come flowing to be arranged on that day. Demoustier thus describes the young hunter of Cyprus, when he inspired that sentiment which proved the cause of his death:— He was not immortal, but of that enchanting age when life resembles immortality.— The same might have been said of Ethelwald, when first seen at P――d. Since sending the fatal black-sealed package, I had scarcely thought of making verses, but the sight of my idol had been like the influence of the god of Delphos. The stanzas, 181 H7r 181 perhaps, are unpolished, for I never had the heart to retouch them. Had the blest fair who gave thee birth, Lived where Ægean waves are swelling, Ere yet calm reason came to earth, Warm Fancy’s lovelier reign dispelling, The Sire of Heaven, she had believed, To stamp thy form had ta’en another, In allusion to the fable of Jupiter and Alemana. And all who saw had been deceived, And given the Delphic God a brother. And many a classic page had told Of nymphs and goddessses admiring; Altars, libations, harps of gold, And milk-white hecatombs expiring. And oh! perchance there had remained Some Phidian wonder—still, still breathing Love—life—and charms—past—but retained;— And warmth and bliss had still seemed wreathing, Softly around the Heaven-touched stone, As now a light seems, from thee, beaming— While thought—sense—lost in looks alone, Grows dubious if awake or dreaming. And must thou pass?—nor picture show, Nor sculpture, what my lyre is telling?— To feeble lyre!—as morn’s bright glow Fades o’er the river near they dwelling?— Spirit of Titian! hear and come, If come thou mays’t, a moment hither, 182 H7v 182 Leave thy loved Italy, thy home— Oh! let but one acanthus wither, Round her loved ruins, while thou stay’st— Come to these solitudes, and view them; Must genius ne’er their beauties taste?— Nor tear of rapture ever dew them? View the dark rock—the melting blue Of mount and sky so soft embracing— The bright broad stream,—but beauty, hue, Life, form, are here,—all else effacing. Nature, to mock the forms of bliss Which fervid mortals have created, From their own soul’s excess, made this,— And gazed at her own powers elated. Fragrant o’er all the western groves The tall magnolia towers unshaded, But, soon, no more the gale he loves Faints on his ivory flowers; they’re faded. The full-blown rose, mid’st dewy sweets, Most perfect dies; but, soon returning, The next born year another greets, When summer fires again are burning. Another rose may bloom as sweet, Other magnolias ope in whiteness,— But who again, fair scenes, shall meet, The like of him who lends you brightness?— Come, then, my lyre, ere yet again Fade these fresh fields I shall forsake them— But some fond ear may hear thy strain When all is cold which thus can wake them. 183 H8r 183 Though disappointed in the regard and constancy of Pharamond, he still held and will ever hold a large space in my affections. At the hour of the principal repast, with strict injunction that I should swallow them, he sent me bread, soup, and fruit from the plentiful table of the boat, that bore us, against the current of the river, with a noise like the roaring of Niagara. At length the dull murmur of waves and machinery assisted me in gaining repose; but ere the twilight had faded, I went out to walk upon the deck; for soon I must part, perhaps forever, with a kinsman now doubly endeared to me, by a thousand regrets and recollections. Pharamond gave me his arm; spoke kindly, and bade me be supported; and his was the only arm upon which, since my walks at N――t, I could lean upon without a shudder. The long northern twilight was beautiful. The track of the engine that propelled us was seen like a glittering serpent on the far perspective of the river, whose limpid course it had disputed. Yet, despite of the rumbling noise and foaming agitation of our course, the light batteaux of the peasants were seen near the fertile shores, or crossed the far off trail with strong arms trained to the oar. The scene around was so lovely and peaceful that it reminded me, as we streamed along, of paradise when Eve was driven forth. 184 H8v 184 The scenes I was so rapidly leaving were those most entwined with my affections. The waters of the pure, sweet river, sparkled and reflected the deepening color of the sky. I thought of him born upon its banks, and of the doubtful future that awaited me. Tears gushed from my eyes, and it seemed to me at that moment, a far happier lot to be sunken in the Ladaüanna, than to part, with those who drunk of it, forever. I talked much with Pharamond, and his voice had softened to a tone as tender and encouraging, as when he first beheld me just expanding to the figure of womanhood. At ten o’clock my cousin mildly compelled me to retire to sleep for refreshment—but my head and heart were too full for sleep, and the verses tied with riband of purple and rose color, were half of them pencilled ere I rested. To the River of St. Lawrence The first time I beheld thee, beauteous stream, How pure—how smooth—how broad thy bosom heaved! What feelings rushed upon my heart!—a gleam As of another life, my kindling soul received. Fair was the day, and, o’er the crowded deck, Joy shone in many a smile;—light clouds, in hue, As silvery as the new-fledged cygnet’s neck, Cast, as they moved, faint shadows on the blue Soft, deep, and distant, of the mountain chain It will be seen that the writer had in imagination a 185 long extent of the St. Lawrence, from the spot where these stanzas were composed, no mountains are to be seen. Wreathing and blending, tint with tint, and traced 185 H9r 185 So gently on the smiling sky;—in vain Time—scene—has changed; ’twill never be effaced. Now o’er thy tranquil breast, the moon-beams quiver— How calm the air—how still the hour—how bright! Would thou wert doomed to be my grave, sweet river,— How blends my soul with thy pure breath to night. The dearest hours that soul has ever known, Have been upon thy brisk; would it could wait— And, parted, watch thee still;—to stay and moan With thee, were better than my promised fate. Ladauüanna! monarch of the north! Father of streams unsung, be sung by me!— Receive a lay that flows resistless forth! Oh! quench the fervor that consumes, in thee! I’ve seen more beauty on thy banks—more bliss— Than I had deemed were ever seen below;— Dew falls not on a happier land than this:— Fruits spring from desert wilds, and love sits throned on snow. Snows that drive warmth to shelter in the heart;— Snows that conceal, beaneath their moonlight heaps, Plenty’s rich embryo;—fruits of flowers that start To meet their full-grown Spring, as strong to earth he leaps. How many grades of life thou viewest; thy wave Bears the dark daughter of the woods, as light She springs to her canoe; and wildly grave, In the whole extent of the Western hemisphere, there is, perhaps, no place where can be found grades of civilization more entirely opposite to each other. Three daughters of the Duke of Richmond were once seen, in the height of their beauty and refinement, looking from the window of their own drawing room upon the female savage who crossed the St. Lawrence in a canoe of bark, as small as to be tied about her waist. By this contrivance230 K7v 230 vance the Indian girls can right their frail vessels when upset. Views the great spirit mid the fires of night. H6 186 H9v 186 A hardy race, sprung from the Gaul, and gay, Frame their wild songs and sing them to the oar; And think to chase the forest-fiends away, Where yet, no mass-bell tinkles from the shore. The pensive nun throws back the veil that hides Her calm, chaste eyes; straining them, long to mark, When the mist thickens, if perchance theirre bides The peril—wildering on—some little bark. And trims her lamp and hangs it in her tower; Not as the priestess did of old; (she’s driven To do that deed by no fierce passion’s power,) But kindly—calmly—for the love of heaven. Who had been lost; what heart from breaking saved; She knows not—thinks not;—guided by her star. Some being leaps to shore;—’twas all she craved,— She makes the holy sign, and blesses him from far. The plaided soldier, in his mountain pride, Exulting, as he treads with statelier pace,— Views his white limbs reflected in thy tide, While wave the sable plumes that shade his manly face. The song of Ossian mingles with thy gale,— The harp of Carolan’s remembered here, The bright-haired son of Erin, tells his tale, Dreams of his mistly isle, and drops, for her, a tear. Thou’st seen the trophies of that deathless day, Whose name bright glance from every Briton brings, When half the world was marshalled in array, And fell the great, self nurtured king of kings. Youthful Columbia, ply thy useful arts, Rear the strong nurseling thy fair mother bore, 187 H10r 187 Called Liberty. Thy boundless fields, thy marts,— Enough for thee; tempt these brown rocks no more. Or leave them to that few, who blind to gold, And scorning pleasure, brave with higher zest A doubtful path; mid pain, want, censure, bold— To pant one fevered hour, on Genius’ breast. Nature’s best loved, thine own, thy virtuous West, Chose for his pencil a Canadian sky; Bade Death recede, who the fallen victor prest, And made perpetuate, his latest sigh. In allusion to West’s celebrated picture, The death of General Wolfe. Sully, of tender tints transparent, fain I would thy skill awhile; for memory’s showing, To prove thy hand the purest of thy train, A native beauty from thy pencil glowing. Or he who sketched the Cretan; gone her Greek; She, all unconscious that he’s false or flying, Sleeps, while the light blood revels in her cheek So rosy warm, we listen for her sighing. Vanderlyn— see his picture of Ariadne. Could he paint beauty, warmth, light, happiness? Diffused around like fragrance from a flower;— And melody—all that or sense can bless, Or soul, concentrate in one form his power, I’d ask. But Nature, Nature, when thou wilt, Thou canst enough to make all art despair;— Guard well the wondrous model thou hast built, Which these, thy nectared waves, reflect and love to bear. 188 H10v 188 Nature, all powerful Nature, thine are ties That seldom break. Tho’ the heart beat so cold, That Love and Fancy’s fairest garland dies— Tho’ false, tho’ light as air, thy bonds may hold. The mother loves her child;—the brother yet Thinks of his sister, tho’ for years, unseen;— And seldom doth the bridegroom quite forget Her who hath blest him, once, tho’ seas may roll between. But can a friendship, pure and rapture-wrought, Endure without such bonds?—I’ll deem it may, And bless the hope it nurtures;‐beauteous thought,— Howe’er fantastic—dear illusion,—stay! O! stream O! country of my heart! farewell! Say, shall I e’er return? shall I once more— Ere close these eyes that looked to love—Ah tell! Say, shall I tread again thy fertile shore?— Else, how endure my weary lot—the strife, To gain content when far—the burning sighs— The asking wish—the aching void—oh, life! Thou art and hast been, one long sacrifice! At eight in the morning, we were landed, and sat, in a breakfast room, at Montreal.— Pharamond could go with me no farther; the season for the merchant of Canada was quickly passing away, and vessels were waiting at Quebec to be freighted under his direction. I was left with a friend of my cousin, who had grown old amid the toils of commerce; but his soul was the seat of rectitude. The 189 H11r 189 well known name of Horace Gear, was spread over the wide provinces which Britain retains in America, and was familiar alike to the merchants of the neighboring republic. This just man had a wife and children, to whom he was tenderly attached; he expressed surprise at my loneliness, and my courage to attempt so long a journey and voyage, without any protection, save of strangers. Yet, after reflecting a moment, he said, in a tone of emotion; Emma, my wife, might be forced to do the same, if storms should destroy my shipping, and I should be called to leave this world. May God ensure towards her the same good will that I feel! A faithful girl was procured to attend me, and an elderly friend of my kind host, who was now, on a visit of pleasure, offered to go with me to New York. At that city, increasing in commerce, another merchant, known alike to Horace Gear, and to my cousin, had directions by letter, to receive me, and to provide a safe passage to this island. Gear was opulent and respected, and his table was profuse and hospitable; his fair wife was not well, but a female relation presided. He wished to present me to his friends, and said: I should like better to know your heart bestowed, on some one here, than to see you trust yourself, so fearlessly, to the dangers of the sea and to fevers. 190 H11v 190 Courtesy required of me exertion; but when forced to take the arm of a stranger, in passing from room to room, my heart shrank within me; for I thought of scenes at N――t, and of the arm which had there, been mine. The day was fixed for my departure; and the traveller appointed to escort me, seemed pleased the better, as I promised to leave every thing to his direction. Bourn was the name of this companion, entirely unknown; of years he had numbered seventy; in his youth he had emigrated from Britain; and he told me that all he possessed, had been gained by the trees of the desert, which he caused to be felled around him, and then sent them, in rafts, through many rivers, to freight vessels for his native land. Few, in these northern domains, could excel him in fortune; the sports of the hunter gave him health; and the strength of his manhood was prolonged. I listened to the story of his life; of his dangers when lost in the forest—of his many adventures with the Indians; and the beautiful daughters of the woods, which, during his course, he had seen. His memory was clear and vigorous; and his intellect, untired with study, made eager records of the present. I had little to do, save to listen; and to see awakened, as he spoke, the unspent ardor of a soul, which must soon leave its earthly material. 191 H12r 191 How pleasant to my ear, are the accents which flow from minds long retained in this world. To meet a warm generous intelligence, unbattered by the sieges of years, awakens in my heart a sigh for the elixir of life. I knew not the country we were passing through, and Bourn shook his scarcely gray locks, and smiled at my utter surprise, when told we were approaching Niagara. He had longed to behold, that greatest of curiosities,—and now that time and circumstance favoured, he knew I would pardon a deceit practised only to betray me into pleasure. Sorrow, for a few days’ protraction of my journey, was lost in the sudden expectation of seeing the wonder of half a world, formed as it is, by the peerless Ladaüanna, which traverses forests and lakes to make the most stupendous spectacle known either in the old or new continent. Would that the wheels of the machinist, might never be rolled within the light of its rainbows, or mingle their clatter with the deep solemnity of its murmur! America has rivers and torrents enough for the wants and the wealth of her people.— The soul need not be bartered for bread, nor the scene which most exalts her aspirations be defaced for the grinding of grain, or the weaving of earthly habiliments. Northern half of the new world, and ye fair 192 H12v 192 isles which are called its mother, encircle the falls of Niagara, protect them with the spell of your power, and consecrate the spectacle to God the infuser of souls!! The earth trembled beneath our feet as we reached an inn near the beautiful abyss. For the first day the roar was deafening, and when first led to the brink I could not stand unsupported; but sank upon my knees to endure the confused and overwhelming sensation. Seven days we remained in the neighborhood, and when more familiar with the noise, self possession, at last was restored to me. The first view had been as nothing; for the varieties of the scene were infinite. Every point presented views entirely new, and each, as we gazed, seemed astonishing above all the rest. On the side of the precipice which belongs to the republic, one branch of the vast torrent rolls over a trembling cliff higher, and a little detached from the immense rock of the centre; and midway down the steep, projects a threatening crag accessible to the footsteps of the daring. At this point One can go to the ledge here alluded to, by means of what is called the Biddle staircase. the amazing height of the fall strikes the deepest impression on the senses. A rude stair-case winds down, and gives access to a ledge of the precipice whence travellers may obtain a view. 193 I1r 193 On this crag is sometimes seen a solitary human figure in dark, fearful relief, against the sparkling foam of the headlong stream, which he can touch with his hand, while distant alike from the summit, and the terrible gulf beneath. Be it savage, cradled in danger, or civilized man nerved by thought, the head aches to behold a mortal thus poised between beauty and death. At different hours of the day appear the most vivid rainbows, which change their soft beds of foam, resembling down, with the rise and decline of the sun; while the tints of the whole mass of waters, are more tenderly exquisite even than the colors of the sky. The same waves that cause all this splendour would pass by the happy dwelling where he whom I loved, first saw light. They form the most beautiful of cataracts, and ere they could reach the sea, would bathe and give drink to the most beautiful of mortals! On the brink of the precipice appertaining to Britain, and near where the river falls in the figure of a vast crescent, a high overhanging rock has been shaped by nature like a table, and on the level of its top, a slight building is placed for refreshment to the weary.— On the last evening of our stay, my conductor sat within its shelter, holding in his hands a book in which travellers record their sensations. The feelings of a lady, said Bourn, I 194 I1v 194 will be finer than those of a hunter or feller of forest tress; go out awhile, alone, upon the rock, and think of something to write in this volume, that I may never hold again. I will trace your name in my own rude hand, which dipped in blood, like that of savages, has taken with them, skins from the doe, ermine and castor. I went out, but trembled all the while; and when the aged hunter came to seek me, I gave him the verses tied with riband of pea-green and lilac—colours most predominant in the dolphin while dying, in agony to himself, but in beauty and pleasure to those around him— the colors of the Dolphin and of the Falls of Niagara. Stanzas to Niagara Spirit of Homer! thou whose song has rung From thine own Greece to this supreme abode Of Nature—this great fane of Nature’s God— Breathe on my brain!—oh! touch the fervid tongue Of a fond votaress kneeling on the sod. Sublime and beautiful, your chapel’s here?— Here, ’neath the azure dome of heaven, ye’re wed— Here, on this rock, which trembles as I tread! Your blended sorcery claims both pulse and tear, Controls life’s source and reigns o’er heart and head. Terrific—but, oh!—beautiful abyss!— If I should trust my fascinated eye, 195 I2r 195 Or hearken to thy maddening melody, Sense—form—would spring to meet thy white foam’s kiss— Be lapped in thy soft rainbows, once, and die. Colour, depth, height, extension—all unite To chain the spirit by a look intense!— The dolphin, in his clearest seas—or thence Ta’en, for some queen, to deck of ivory white, Dies not, in changeful tints, more delicately bright. Look!—look!—there comes, o’er yon pale green expanse, Beyond the curtain of this altar vast, A glad young swan;—the smiling beams that cast Light from her plumes, have lured her soft advance— She nears the fatal brink—her graceful life has past. See note at the end of the volume. Look up!—nor her fond foolish fate disdain;— An eagle rests upon the wind’s sweet breath— Feels he the charm?—woos he the scene beneath? He eyes the sun—nerves his dark wing again— Remembers clouds and storms—yet flies the lovely death. Niagara! wonder of this western world, And all the world beside! hail, beauteous queen Of cataracts! an angel, who had been O’er heaven and earth, spoke thus—his bright wings furled And knelt to Nature first, on this wild cliff unseen. Niagara may almost complete my story.— Brought safely to New York, by the aged hunter, my conductor, a vessel was found ready to sail. I2 196 I2v 196 I wished to see nothing in this city of commerce, save only one gallery of pictures; and even he who had grown old amid deserts, could perceive beauty in some of these.— The fine arts are learned by inspiration, and a true love of them comes from nature, and nature alone. Placed safely on board a good vessel with the mail I had brought from Montreal; recommended to those who bore me on my way in such terms as I knew would be regarded; I bade farewell, forever, to the courteous stranger of the forest, who had been to me so excellent a guide. We parted with warmth and regret, in the hope of meeting only in heaven. These verses were composed as I lay, doubtful of the future, and musing continually on the past. The summer flowers not yet are past, The distant bower not yet is sear;— Why do I shrink, as wave and blast Blend in low murmurs to my ear? But late this weary form could brave Autumnal blast or wintry storm;— I stood upon thy frozen wave, Ladauüanna, and was warm. That wave upon my glowing lip, Melted to nectar; and the air, But froze my breath, to let it drip Like summer dew-drops, from my hair. 197 I3r 197 Why to wild forests have I knelt, As to heaven’s shrine, I need not tell,— But ask no more than half I felt, For every yellow leaf that fell. Oh, how I loved!—the coldest glen, The pine tree bending ’neath its ice, The snows that form the black bear’s den, To me, bore flowers of paradise. Hours of enchantment, life and light, Can ye be fled to come no more?— No!—heart, if thou had’st known a blight, Less pain were at thy wounded core. Sweet spirit of the desert wild, Who lent thy plaintive harp to me, And loved me, when a pensive child, Oh, guard my lone maturity! For, like the ocean bird, I roam, From wave to wave, nor look for rest;— The sea my path, the world my home, My guide a flame that burns my breat! Tossed three weeks upon the waves of autumn, I reached this warm Island, but to learn that the friend I most relied on—he who saw me depart with tears, was no longer on earth to give me welcome. He had died on his way to the North, where haply he had wished to meet me. The blow, for a time, was terrible; but the God who bereaved gave also. The friendly Lorington, he who found me this dwelling, came I3 198 I3v 198 soon to tell me, that my uncle Llewellyn, ere he left the world, had provided enough for my necessities. Leonora, the Spanish lady of this last friend, came also to invite me to her home; and with her I remained, until this retreat could be made ready for my shelter. Thus finished the narrative of Idomen.— The hour of her repast was approaching; I saw her arrange the fruits and flowers I had brought, while a place was prepared for me at table.
The CatastropheAt the hour of the siesta I departed with Benito, who hung, in a neighboring thicket, my hammock of coloured ndianIndian grass; and lay down himself, near me, on the f resh turf of malva—while our horses slightly confined, had liberty enough to sleep and to feed upon the verdure around them. Half slumbering, half reflecting on plans for the future, I lay till the sun declined; then returned through the woods to my own dwelling. A letter was waiting me, from the friend who had purchased this retreat. My presence 199 I4r 199 was required at Havana, and he who presented the paper, had come to take my place while gone, in directing the labors of my plantation. My stay need be only fourteen days, but I shrunk from leaving, so soon, the woman who found comfort in my presence. Yet the settlement desired in my affairs, was needful, even to Idomen; for my fast increasing cafetal, was to be for her use as well as mine. This plantation before my purchase was called Santa Teresa; It is very common in Cuba, to name plantations after favorite ladies; the Spanish names, however, are usually those of particular saints. the name still remained cut in wood, but I changed it ere I went for that of Idomen, resolving to procure at Havana, letters of silver to be placed at my portal. To embark for two weeks for Havana required but an evening’s preparation; and before eleven in the morning, I stood at the door of her who made every morning cheerful. A volante with curtains of green silk, closely drawn for the morning, had already preceded my visit; and Lorington and Leonora were sitting on the sofa, with Idomen. A sadness came over the countenance of my friend, when I said I must be absent for two weeks; but Lorington smiled, and promised all the care she might require. Benito still lingered at the door, by his I4 200 I4v 200 horse, laden with fruits; I went to speak with him a moment, and glanced towards the limpid Yumuri. A black vulture was again stalking at its margin, with the stateliness of a plumed hearse. Leonora had come to invite Madame Burleigh to dine at her home, in the heart of Matanzas. The manner of her living pleased me, and brought to mind the cities of antiquity.— We entered by the large door; the hall or principal apartment was furnished with sofas of silk, and butacas or easy chairs of the country. A door, curtained with lawn, led from this to the nuptial chamber, and we passed through an airy refectory, to the inner court, planted with flowers and shrubs, and surrounded by small apartments; while the side farthest from the front, and allotted to the use and employments of servitude, was entirely concealed by screens and foliage. The floor of the court, (or its alleys between beds of flowers) was paved, and on a level with the principal apartment. You have seen this form of building; it is not uncommon in Cuba; but neatness, order and comfort, distinguished the hospitable dwelling of Lorington, the friend of the stranger. The sparkling black eyes of Leonora spoke vivacity rather than languor, and instead of that roundness of form most remarked in the ladies of this island of ease, in her was seen the image of lightness. 201 I5r 201 Seldom at rest, she changed our seats from one silken sofa to the other; from the hall to the open refectory, where birds were hung in cages decked with ribands of many colors. The flowers of her court were fragrant in the dews of evening, when placing herself at the door of the refectory to inhale the sweet air around them, she sung a few wild Spanish airs that thrilled through the bosom of Idomen.— Leonora had never been taught music, but a true ear and a natural taste had given her peculiar sweetness in the expression of strains on a minor key, and in every chromatic passage. Her songs, her pleasing Spanish accents, and her cheerfulness, were charming to my guileless Idomen; but still an unwonted dejection came over her, as she sat or moved with Leonora. I felt, as I looked at her, even as the mother, who leaves, for the first time, her infant; for Idomen was dear to my soul as the last born darling that smiles upon the bosom of maternity when all its brethren are no more. Yet, for fear, there seemed no reason.— I left her in the care of the same friends with whom she was safe before I saw her. The manner of her life, beside, was innocent and regular as nature. At six in the warm, fair morning, the beautiful bay glowed with light, and the steamboatI5 202 I5v 202 boat was ready for departure. Pirates might be lurking near the shores, or some bold privateer of Columbia might be hostile to the islanders of Ferdinand, but fears entered not in the scene. During the years 18271827 and 1828’28, pirates were swarming around the coast of Cuba; and the steamboat between Havana and Matanzas was once or twice boarded by privateers from the neighboring continent. Mothers, with eyes of love, and forms rounded by indulgence, sat in indolent happiness, amid groups of smiling children; young girls, with long braided black hair, and lashes curling on their cheeks, cast livelier glances among the strangers, and waved their small hands as they saw, from time to time, an acquaintance; while black female slaves, loving and obese, sat down upon the floor, around them, sinking often to sleep upon each other’s laps when their services were not required. The ease and content that reigned among these Cuban families, formed a vivid contrast to the faces of foreign merchants; playing, as most of them are, at a desperate game with Fortune. My affairs at Havana were finished, ere the second week was ended. When arrived at the port of my home, it was near sunset. The first being I met was Lorington, who told me that Madame Burleigh was very ill of a fever; but begged me to set myself at ease, as every thing possible had been done for her. 203 I6r 203 Perceiving a public volante, I threw myself into it, and was driven to that dwelling near the banks of the flowery Yumuri, where Idomen so lately had met me, in the beauty of health and sincerity. A mulatress hired for her nurse, came softly to the door to receive me. A mild French physician soon followed, who recommended perfect stillness, and said that the fever had already been heightened by imprudence. I knew not how to contain myself, but after whispering a moment, crept softly to the bedside of Idomen. Good heaven, what a change had come over her—she slept, but pain was expressed in every laboured respiration. Her long fair hair, which had once been so carefully arranged, was now half concealed by a cap of linen, and wet with vinegar to allay the aching of her head. The roundness had departed from her cheeks; she had been profusely bled—on her temples were the traces of leeches; and burning cataplasms were bound upon her arms and feet. And all this change had been wrought in three days! From nurse, physician, and the white servant, who was weeping, I could glean but a broken account. Madame Burleigh had taken cold, while walking one evening, after it had rained, with her Spanish friend, Doña Leonora; and while still indisposed, had received 204 I6v 204 letters from Canada. Her head, for two days, had ached, and the slightest uneasiness was dangerous; but a state of incipient fever, is too often disregarded at Cuba, and no physician had been called. While Idomen was still in this state, a planter had come from the country who had lived on intimate terms with Llewellyn Lloyde, her uncle. The name of this planter was Belton—the same who passed when I stood, with her who now lay suffering, by the wild fig-tree near the bay. Belton had been told of my late attendance on the niece of his friend; and urged by jealousy or some worse passion, had questioned her roughly on the subject. He told her that her character was in jeopardy on account of the freedom of my visits; and that her present way of living was ruinous, not only to herself, but disgraceful to her child and to all her relations in Canada. The brain of the unfortunate Idomen was already too much inflamed; and the thoughtless violence of this disturber awoke a thousand recollections, and touched upon chords which, before, were too highly strained. Attempting to frame an answer, she sank back upon the sofa, and gave evidence of fever and delirium. Belton, surprised and alarmed, had called 205I7r205 both nurse and physician, before even the friendly Lorington had suspected the approach of a malady. The scene had been past but two days; and he who caused it had retired to the country, as if fearing to witness a death which might be the result of his senseless accusation. The most painful thoughts had possessed themselves of the wandering mind of the sufferer. Nurse, physician, and every one who came near, seemed to her, as enemies united to injure and disgrace her; even her medicine was rejected as a draught that contained some treachery. She now slept from exhaustion, but her fever was still at its climax. When poor Idomen opened her eyes, I gently approached to take her hand, hoping to soothe and comfort her. She knew me, but started and shrieked as if in an agony of fear. Leave me! leave me, she said even your friendship is denied to me; plots are laid for my disgrace and dishonor, and death alone can be my preserver! The cataplasms upon her arms and feet became more painful from the slightest movement; and I could almost have cursed myself for disturbing her. I dared not agitate her more, but retired to a corner of the room and listened to her wild incoherency. I would fain have watched over her all night, but shocked206 I7v 206 ed and thrown into confusion by the agony of a being so dear to me; and vexed, wounded and astonished at the suspicion which Belton had cast on me, I knew not how to proceed. The wild talking of Idomen ceased, and perceiving she had again sunk to sleep, I desired the physician to remain while I went to consult with Lorington, on the means of quieting her fears—determined in my heart, that was bleeding for her, not to leave her again in this world. How vain were my precautions! fatal solicitude, that defeated the care it would ensure! Lorington kindly returned with me, intending to watch some lucid interval; and to whisper peace to the sufferer. I had gone but half an English mile, and hastened the calesero who drove us. Arriving half breathless, I found the principal door standing open as usual for the air, and Lorington stole softly to the curtained apart ment ment of Madame Burleigh, to see if she still were sleeping. What were our feelings?— The bed was untenanted, but still warm with the life of her who had pressed it. Both house and enclosure were searched; but neither nurse, servant, or any living being was to be found. We stood a moment as if struck with a bolt from the skies, and knew not what to think, or what to do. At last, a negro entered the house, and 207 I8r 207 told us the Señora was in the river. Scarcely had he finished when the nurse also entered, agitated with recent haste. The physician, she said, had been called suddenly to his own child, who was sick; and that no blame should fall on him or on her, for even I, myself, had thought the Señora asleep when I left her. The woman, still trembling, added, as I frantically questioned her, that she had but stepped a moment from the bed-room to the court to get an orange—that while she was out of sight, the sick lady had sprung from her bed, and despite of the soreness of her feet, had flown, like a bird, towards the Yumuri. I saw her, continued the mulatress, before she had gone far, and ran after her; she seemed standing on a small rock; but before I could reach her she was gone. I called assistance as soon as I could, and people still are looking for her. This negro can tell where she fell, but if they find her she will be dead, and I must be here to receive her. While the woman still spoke, we were on our way to the spot. A handkerchief, worked with the name of Idomen, was hanging on a shrub on the rock. All night and the next day was spent in such search as could be made; but no other trace has been found.
These last sentences were uttered in broken tones, and Dalcour left my presence for the first time since we met, abruptly. While 208 I8v 208 I still paced the piazza, knowing not whether to retire or to remain, I saw his door open through the lattice of the hall, and knew that he again was returning.
Our seats were resumed upon the sofa of bajuca. The mourner of Idomen had wept, but his face had since been bathed, and his silver locks were composed again. I had thought, he resumed, to have spoken with calmness, for more than a year has passed since the scenes so bitter to describe.That Idomen Burleigh should have lived but for such an end, seems to like a frustration of the plans of Heaven, that I scarcely can believe she is no more. A vague idea sometimes takes possession of my mind that she still lives, and I shall see her again. Powers above, whether she may be, deny her not your protection! The boy, Arvon, has not been told that his mother is dead. I write monthly to Pharamond Lloyd, and remit sums for the child that I have kissed, as he sat upon the lap of her whom I loved to look upon. I now seek for some trusty friend to go for me to the shores of the St. Lawrence, and persuade the son of Idomen to come to these flowery shades, devoted henceforth to be his paternal domain.
After listening to the story of Idomen, I soon went to Matanzas. Ambrosio del Monte had gained the heart of his soft-eyed Raphaëlla; and when he returned to his paternal roof, to ask a sanction of his nuptials, I was pleased in being asked, by the feeling Dalcour, to make my home at his abode.
The gracefulness of his declining years, and the friendship he so soon had conceived for me, enhanced in my imagination, the deep effect of his narrative.
I obtained permission to write the story, even as it flowed from his lips, and to make such extracts as I chose from manuscripts, which, like the memory of her who traced them, were treasured as if relics of a divinity.
I wrote a few hours in the morning; sometimes beneath a tent of thin muslin or lawn, spread in the woods to preserve me entirely from insects; but oftener was preferred the coolness of my own retired apartment. The I6 210 I9v 210 room of the picture of Idomen I had been allowed to enter; but I forbore to remain there a moment longer than was necessary to replace the papers, taken from their cabinet of porcelain, every day by the hands of Dalcour, and given confidingly to my care, with the silver key of the oratory.
The idolatrous respect which thus guarded the remains of the departed was more fully transfused through my soul, as I studied the fragments left by Idomen.
Finished specimens, designs of poems entirely new in their subject, and seemingly the conceptions of a master, made me wish for life and leisure, if it were only to give to my country the outlines of this unknown being of the new world, and I burned to become a disciple of the dead, and to finish them as well as I might.
The quiet pursuits of a man of letters accord with my taste and capacity far better than the bustle of the world. Health, with the kindness of a benefactor secluded even as he whose roof Those who go to the island of Cuba for health, can only preserve it by living in a manner similar to that of Dalcour. Excess, either in toil, exercise, or diet, are dangerous in every climate; and in the tropics, they are very soon fatal. Imprudence, impatience for gain, and a want of that knowledge of his own system which is necessary to every human being, are the causes of more deaths than even the fever of the country. nnow gives me shelter, will be enough for my success. May I rise from the flames and fragments of her, who is deplored, even as a phœnix, though less brilliant, to console the guardian of the first.
The hours of my recreation were passed with my bland protector, and I found in his daily mode of life, a constant model for improvement.211 I10r 211
He tasted the sweetness of leisure, and at the same time, accomplished much. The concerns of his estate were conducted with perfect regularity; but every task required was consistent with ease and indulgence. The fruits of his flourishing fields were made ready at home, then sent to a merchant at Matanzas. The principal accounts of the whole were kept, and written out, with his own hand; but two or three hours in the morning entirely sufficed for their completion.
In governing and supplying the wants of more than a hundred human beings, but one white man was employed; and he was not allowed to punish, unless with the consent of his superior. The delinquents of each preceding day were kept in confinement till a certain hour of the morning, when their master, in person, gave audience; if any suffered pain or injury, they were either relieved or righted; if any justly merited punishment, its infliction was not withheld; yet the sound of the lash was seldom heard; and the penalty of the greatest offence could not exceed a certain limit.
At sunset, the whole band were assembled in a ring, and repeated, by turns, an evening prayer; they were then dismissed to their amusement, till the sweet toned bell sounded ten. The routine of their evening was varied according to their wishes. Many prepared 212 I10v 212 themselves a meal, of rations given out at noon, and now united with the fruit of their own little gardens. The palates of all dark people appear to require strong excitements.— Garlic, and the strong acid of the lime, predominates often in their succulent ollas; and the bright scarlet pimiento, which might well be called vegetable fire, was not only boiled with their favorite repasts, but eaten fresh from its stem, like nectarines by the ladies of Europe. The large crab that wanders through the coffee fields, was often arrested in his course, to be boiled with their other meats; and some, retaining the taste of Africa, would still roast serpents and insects; and eat them, unseen, by their fires.
Plenty, and even profusion, pervaded this little domain of a man wise and benevolent, but sloth and waste were discouraged. Plantain groves, with their broad leaves and sweet mellow clusters, were free to every inhabitant; but to cut down a shoot to no purpose, was held in the light of an offence.
Composed, beneath the roof of one who was worthy to be followed, I conformed entirely to his customs; and gave the same time to the labors of fancy as was passed, in business, by him who so gently lent his favors. Always at his side in the time of exercise, rode at the hour of the passeo, sometimes on horseback, to Matanzas, to see through the colours 213 I11r 213 of the brightly declining sun, the greetings of its loveliest inhabitants.
Ladies in open volantes, their black braided hair, decked with jewels or fresh flowers, for the evening, appeared in their sweetest smiles; cavaliers, darkly handsome, followed often in other volantes, their fine heads uncovered save with locks like ebony; and the waving of hands softer than theirs was returned with varied expression.
Scenes like these were before us; but when we looked at the sky, palmettos rising high amid the beautiful light, marked the narrow boundary of the pueblo, and seemed beckoning to our leafy abode.
When oppressed with heat or weariness, Dalcour would ride slowly through the smooth alleys of his plantation. Sometimes, entering the woods, we cut with sabres the hanging vines that hindered our course; while our ponies gently bowed their heads to avoid the tangled luxuriance.
To me, as to Idomen, every leaf, flower and insect, was a page illuminated for my reading.
The white blossoms of the coffee fields had dropped from their glossy wreathes, and berries were forming in their places. The sugar cane was green and tender; the sun was fiercely advancing towards its vertic height, and the earth was preparing to hide herself from his glances in a mantle of sparkling showers.214 I11v 214
The hours of labour, nourishment and recreation, had pased in regular succession, and I went with Dalcour to his flower twined piazza, to pass a few moments in the coolness of night, before the bell sounded for repose. The moon was absent, and darkness hung over the foliage.
I looked through the trees upon the beautiful sky, and saw what I thought an uncommon number of those meteors called falling stars.
Dalcour returned to the hall with a small lantern of crystal and silver, in which was burning the pure spirits of sugar cane; it was the light carried in his own hand, to the woods, when he sought for the blossoms of the night- flowering cereus.
Holding on high this tasteful substitute for moonlight, my bland host walked towards his fountain (on the dewy Bermuda grass) and waving it gently in the air, repeated with an invited cadence cocuya.
The white locks of the graceful old man, attired in spotless linen, and surrounded by a circle of rays from his lantern of crystal and silver; his figure relieved by the darkness of night, and, amidst the foliage, his benign countenance raised towards the sky—the whole combined seemed something more than mortal; and something more than mortal they were, for a refined intelligence enhanced and beautified every object surrounding Dalcour.215 I12r 215
While glancing at this living picture, curiosity for an instant, was suspended, but soon returned with renewed force when I saw those which had seemed to be meteors, drawing near to the person of my friend as if fraught with love and reason.
They were but winged insects, once probably, worms upon the earth. Yet it is no figure of Fancy to call them creatures of light.
My protector took them as they descended, and placed one upon my hand. It evinced no fears, and made no endeavor to escape, but crept slowly beneath the linen of my sleeve, as if delighted with the warmth of humanity.
I placed two of these creatures in an open vase of glass, with pieces of the tender sugar cane, and set them on a stand by my bed-side. Towards morning I awoke, and they were still luminous. I held my watch towards the vase, and saw how the time had advanced. A half finished copy of a poem of Idomen was lying beneath my pillow, and I read by their light many verses. Holding the vase within the muslin enclosure of my couch, I felt that a sensible warmth had emananted from the insects within it; they came out and crept upon my arm, yet all night the case had been open, and they had not attempted to leave it. Brilliant confiding creatures, you seemed to trust and love me, and therefore I love you again!— Let those who will study your natures; I speak only of what I saw of you.216 I12v 216
The regular hours of my protecting friend, his light but nourishing table—his affectionate conversation, and, above all, the interest he took in my pursuits and welfare, had combined in restoring me to health.
Educated for the church of Luther, and at the same time fascinated by the charming muses of my country, the hours that are claimed by rest, I had given to the blandishments of Fancy. My health had become enfeebled, and seemed as if lost forever. To the warmth of this Island I was sent for its recovery, and my daily wants were supplied by the kindness of an absent brother.
Gently, but earnestly pressed, the little to be known of my life, was confided to him who asked it, with the truth even of his Idomen.— A promise of permanent assistance was the fruit of my undisguised confidence. Dalcour, reflective and delicate, soon offered to give me such employ as might set aside the painfulness of dependence, and increase his own happiness in mine.
I had made sufficient progress in the language of the country to converse and understand the broken accents of the negroes; and in them, I began the study of man in his natural state. The difference wrought by civilization between the greatest and meanest, seems at first sight to be immense; but the kings of Europe, beneath canopies of silk and 217 K1r 217 gold, look always for their solace and happiness to the same throbs of the heart which are felt, with equal fullness, by the slave in his palm-covered hut, amid the fruits and perfumes of Cuba. Nature, fair daughter of God, and executrix always of his will, the heart chords of a prince and of a slave, give out, at thy powerful touch, the same notes of the music of bliss.
The soldier, the sailor and the slave, are punished with touches of the thong, and tears flow for their sufferings.
The stabs of scorn and contumely are given in the highest halls of liberty, but none can look upon the heart which bleeds or gangrenes as it repels them!
I composed short addresses in Castilian, pure, but simple as the soul infused through the jetty arteries that tinted the skins of my hearers.
The Saturday of christians was the night of their weekly dances; drums of their own construction were placed on the lawn before their cottages with rude lyres, and flutes of four notes. I repaired as the twilight was fading to the entrance of the aisle of bamboos, and ascended a pedestal of limestone erected near the second cluster. No negro was ordered to attend; but the white mayoral told his band that the senor Herman Albrecht would speak of things in that world to which men go when K 218 K1v 218 they are dead. The curiosity of the savage, and his veneration for that which is told but unseen, are greater than even those of the philosopher. The dance for a while, was suspended; and on this, and every time when I spoke, my words were received and remembered.
The scene was impressive and singular. In the deep archway near the plantation, a sable audience assembled; every eye was fixed upon my countenance; the twilight had nearly departed, but the far perspective of the high pointed aisle of verdure was not entirely hidden with darkness; and cocuyas from time to time appeared amid its lesser arches, like stars falling from the thick shapely roof of trembling leaves.
But the vertic rains were approaching; and Dalcour had found in me, one whom he dared trust to bring to him the child of Idomen.
The summer would be long enough to suffer me to go to the St. Lawrence and return to these shades, ere the forest of the North cast aside their autumnal covering.
The most earnest entreaties had been made that the sickness and loss of his mother should not be made known to Arvon Burleigh; and recent letters from Pharamond Lloyde declared that the boy knew not yet an event so difficult to conceal from him. I was bid to win the love of the orphan, and to speak of my protector219 K2r 219 tector as one who would be to him in place of parent and kindred. When his feelings are thus prepared, I am to mention the nature of his loss, in a manner to leave upon his mind the hope of a restoration.
A vessel will sail to-morrow; I go with reluctance from this home of repose and beneficence. Heaven grant that I bring safely, a charge so dear to myself and to my own benefactor. These pages I leave behind me, to be kept in a cabinet of Porcelain, not far from the papers of Idomen.
Thus finished what appeared to be an oral narrative, written down when newly listened to; the name affixed was Herman Albrecht.— This young German left the valley of Yumuri soon after the appearance of cocuyas in the year 18271827. On the same year, when the berries of the coffee trees were beginning to be red, he returned safely with the boy Arvon Burleigh, and was retained as his tutor, by Dalcour. He had lingered at the Falls of Niagara, pursued the course of the St. Lawrence, listened to the songs of Canadian boatmen, and spoken with Pharamond and Ethelwald. The hand of the last was still sought in vain; and when told of the fate of Idomen, that white hand was raised to conceal his countenance, and he rushed suddenly from the presence of those around him. His heart was true and gentle; but the sorrows of the children of happinessK2 220 K2v 220 piness are only as transient clouds that cross lightly, in summer, a firmament of gold and azure.
The story of Idomen, with all that occurred previous to the departure of the young Lutheran, was arranged with some regularity, but a few disjointed notes were all from which a sequel could be gathered. Some of these were by the same hand as the principal narrative, while some were evidently written by another. The boy Arvon Burleigh was brought from the snows of the Ladaüanna, to be bathed in the warm rains of Cuba. Every commission of Dalcour had been faithfully performed; and every thing put in train to amuse and improve the mind of the sensitive orphan.
Of the son of Madame Burleigh Herman Albrecht became the friend, and for some time, at least, found health and contentment beneath the leafy roof of his patron; but recalled suddenly to Bavaria, by a brother who had loved and cherished him, a rough copy of his MS.manuscript was left him in Cuba, and translated for me verbally, into my own mother tongue, by the German friend of Dalcour.
Some part of the story must therefore have passed through four translations.
Madame Burleigh, as it appears made her confessions in English; Dalcour wrote them down in his beloved native French; and Herman Albrecht has given the whole story, in 221 K3r 221 the language of his country. My own version must be far inferior to the rest, but the genuine expressions of the heart are the same in every idiom.K3 222 K3v
Notes.Many of the most opulent inhabitants of the island of Cuba send their children to Germany, for the purposes of education. This cavern, at a very short distance from the flourishing town of Matanzas, is seldom visited, because those in its neighborhood are intent only on their mercantile avocations. Though it has never been entirely explored, many apartments of it have already been entered. An intelligent geologist would find, in it, much to admire. On my first visit to the island of Cuba (in 18231823), I was struck with the beauty of these hedges: they seemed, as it were, a wall of verdure, at least five feet in thickness. The plantations where I saw them, were then new, and they were impervious even to light, by reason of leaves and blossoms. They were cut perfectly smooth at the height of about five feet, except that some trees, at equa-distances, were suffered to shoot to their natural height. This plant makes a pretty border for flower beds; the stocks, of a light green, are very succulent, entirely destitute of leaves, and surmounted by blossoms of a deep red colour, which particularly attract the humming bird. The health of many foreigners would be preserved, if they knew a little more of physiology, or the nature of their own systems. By taking a little necessary repose, even the amount of their industry would be rather increasedK4 224 K4v 224 creased than diminished. None but dogs and foreigners are up at this hour, is a common adage among the Spanish inhabitants of Cuba, while retiring, after their principal meal, for the purpose of a refreshing siesta. The virtue of hospitality still exists, in a great degree, among the plantations of Cuba. A party of travellers, though unknown to the proprietor, are often received and refreshed. In those oysters which I have seen, the pearl was not perfectly white; but, perhaps, might be bleached by some chemical preparation. I cannot forbear dwelling, for a moment, on the extreme beauty of the plaintain leaf. When newly formed, it is so carefully rolled, by nature, so as to present the form of a spear. During the rainy season of 18401840, a negress unrolled one in my presence; it was full five feet in length, and two and half feet in breadth, and resembled silk of a beautiful green, striped with different shades of the same colour; while the central stem or supporter, rather less than three quarters of an inch in diameter, appeared like a slender wand of the finest polished ivory. When perfectly grown, however, these leaves unfold of themselves, and soon after break into strips. On a new plantation in Cuba, a man of taste may do almost every thing he chooses, in the way of natural or rural embellishments. In this particularly the French stand pre-eminent. Those who toil for gold only, usually die either before or soon after it is obtained; while their quarrelling survivors seldom reflect enough on past benefits, to allow them even a tombstone. Nothing can be more curious and beautiful, than the natural caverns and grottos of Cuba. A Frenchman, near the Cafetal Hermila, (where the writer of this 225 K5r 225 note lately resided,) lived for many months in one of these natural shelters, which situated, far up, on the side of a precipitous hill, was almost an elegant dwelling. A projection of the rock formed the place for his bed; and a little way from the entrance, which was protected by a door of wild vines, stood a hand-mill for grinding his maize or Indian corn. In this place lived the planter, till his coffee trees were set; his negroes, afterwards, had time, under his direction, to make another domicile. I saw the cave, while the stain of the smoke of his fire was still visible; but it was afterwards destroyed, for the lime and limestone at its base. A grotto, not far from the same place, formed a perfect Chapel of Nature; a concretion, shaped like a baptismal font, and always full of pure drops, was kept supplied by another concretion, which depended from the roof, and looked like an angel’s head rudely sculptured. This last existed but two years ago, and probably still remains; being on the side of a rocky hill, in the midst of a tangled wood. I once visited a grotto in the same neighbourhood, but probably (as I recollect going one afternoon with a party on horseback,) about three miles distant from the one last mentioned. This little natural abode, contained three apartments; some columns in it were so complete, as to seem made by art; while others were about half- formed; a slender cone or pyramid arose from the floor or base, while another of the same shape depended from the roof, with a drop as pure as dew at its extremity. An entire column was formed by the meeting of these two points. In one of the apartments was a soft soil, and a natural tank filled with the clearest filtered water. High pointed arches were filled with innumerable bats, which flew about with a humming sound as we entered with waxen tapers, because of the declining sun. We could not have found our way, either to or from this grotto, (through the thick woods tangled with innumerable vines,) except for the assistance of an intrepid K5 226 K5v 226 overseer, or administrador, who had been a soldier under Napoleon; he, (with a sabre, such as were generally worn in Cuba at that time,) cut a path through the tendrils hanging from the branches above, and the luxuriant foliage beneath, which had almost shut up the narrow path. Our horses were obliged to proceed, with their riders bending closely over their necks. The moon being at that time invisible, we were compelled to be very careful in thus making our way back to our retreat. This last-mentioned grotto was seen by the writer in the year 18241824; the other very recently. It is unpleasant to observe the indifference with which death is regarded, among the commercial inhabitants of this warm island. In the midst, however, of their blind indifference, events frequently occur, which, in pathos, might baffle the most romantic description. Nothing can be more luxuriant than the blossom of this vine or creeper. It bears a close resemblance to the passion flower, passa cerulea, except that it is three times as large. The leaf of the plant is, however, entirely different, being broad and curled. A fruit, resembling the musk melon, is the product of these splendid flowers. See life of Petrarch, by a lady. Hobhouse, in his notes to one of the cantos of Childe Harold, is a little offensive in doubting the Platonism of Laura and her lover; but situated as both of them were, no other kind of attachment was possible. A contemporary said to Plato, who was conversing on ideas, I can see a table, but not the idea of a table. Some there are, however, who can see the idea, no less than the material. Le Sage makes even Gil Blas understand the nature of such love as that of Petrarch; as evinced by a passage in his account of Donna Aurora de Guzman. A most beautiful conception of the power of soul over sense, exists in the Atala of M. de Chateaubriand. 227 K6r 227 See note the seventh of this work. A bath with an infusion of malva, is held in great esteem by the Cubanas. It is said, by them, to allay fever, and to heal the system after bruises or fatigue. Continuation of a note at page 60. The seed or germ of this curious plant, is said to be deposited by birds among the branches of some lofty tree. However that may be, filaments resembling a small brown cord are seen pendant from an immense height, growing where they take root. Other shoots, springing up, meet other depending filaments, and interlace themselves about the tree whence they sprung, until at last they entirely conceal and destroy it, forming of themselves, by means of its support, an immense tree in its place; when full grown, a dead trunk may generally be seen through interstices near its root; when half formed about the other tree, which is still alive, I have heard it called, in derision, a Scotchman embracing a Creole. Many beautiful doves are natives of the woods of Cuba. I have seen them of the size of a fieldfare or robin; and the delicate little creatures utter the most plaintive moan that it is possible to conceive of. The tameness of the small lizard is very surprising. When approached by a human being it never attempts to move, but continues lapping the dew or standing perfectly still, with a certain expression in its eyes which might seem to indicate reason. There was once, 228 K6v 228 I am told, a superstition, which taught that the lizard was on certain occasions sent to warn persons of danger. The degree of heat that the negro can endure, is very astonishing. I have seen women take their little children to the secaderos, or coffee dryers, at the hottest season and hottest hours of the day, where they would sit and luxuriate in the sunbeams, though eggs might almost have been cooked on the plaster beneath them. I have never, in Cuba, seen the slightest frost; but there are some days in winter, when a little fire is grateful, although very few indulge in it except the negroes. Great pains must be taken in order to preserve papers in the West Indies: letters, engravings, and even books bound in boards, are soon devoured by the insects. In the year 18311831, (I know not what may have been done since,) one might stand on a rampart of Quebec, and see plainly the last dwelling of civilized man intervening between himself and the North pole. Huts of the savages, were, of course, scattered beyond. My attention to this circumstance was directed by a gentleman in the profession and practice of law, who had lived in Canada fifty years in matrimony with the same lady. Tin is a common covering for house tops and spires of church in Canada, where it neither rusts nor corrodes. See note 20. The snow in Canada is often so deep, as to cover the walls and fences of every common inclosure. On such occasions, the roads are marked out by branches of evergreen. 229 K7r 229 No beings on earth can possibly lead lives more blameless, than the Catholic fathers in Canada. The didirector of the seminary alluded to, was accustomed to pronounce weekly homilies to the youth under his care, together with a large assemblage of neighbouring villagers, and tears would often stream from his eyes while endeavouring to impress upon them the truths of his religion. The Roman church is truly said to be, above all others, favourable to taste. Even in this remote place, the chapel was adorned with many pictures, some of them very beautiful. The superior, however, was an accomplished man, who had fled from France during the massacres of the revolution. Children from Protestant families were admitted at this seminary for the purpose of education; where the severest punishment they ever received was that of being, after a fault, compelled to kiss the earth. In moments like the one depicted, there is something very inexplicable. When parting from a country, with a strong probability of never returning, I have felt so happy in the immediate presence of esteemed persons, as to make it impossible to realise that we haply might never meet again, and surely never again under the same circumstances. The many things which ought to be said are banished by the vague illusion of another meeting; but when the parting is over, and the fair opportunity past, then comes the torment: we think of what might have been, and could almost tear ourselves to pieces for our own folly and forgetfulness. In the whole extent of the Western hemisphere, there is, perhaps, no place where can be found grades of civilization more entirely opposite to each other. Three daughters of the Duke of Richmond were once seen, in the height of their beauty and refinement, looking from the window of their own drawing room upon the female savage who crossed the St. Lawrence in a canoe of bark, as small as to be tied about her waist. By this contrivance230 K7v 230 vance the Indian girls can right their frail vessels when upset. See direction to the end of the volume at page 195. If I should trust my fascinated eye,—the attention of the reader is also called to the meaning of this line. It is said, that at the brink of any great precipice, there is a certain mysterious influence, which tempts to a nearer and nearer approach, till death is inevitable. I know not whether this belief be or be not founded in truth: as for myself, I never, when near such places, could stand at all, and have always been obliged to resort to a kneeling or sitting posture. Page 202. See the description of groups in a steamboat from Havana to Matanzas, in the year 18261826. An Irish gentleman, who was present at the scene depicted, said it was happiness in heaps. In the New World, however, the passion for change is so intense that nothing remains very long. The steamboats on the north of Cuba have now lost the oriental character of their appearance, and assimilate to those of the northern republic. Those who go to the island of Cuba for health, can only preserve it by living in a manner similar to that of Dalcour. Excess, either in toil, exercise, or diet, are dangerous in every climate; and in the tropics, they are very soon fatal. Imprudence, impatience for gain, and a want of that knowledge of his own system which is necessary to every human being, are the causes of more deaths than even the fever of the country. Page 215. The description of the cocuya, as found here, is by no means exaggerated; its account of their qualities and manners, (if I may use the expression,) is mere matter of fact. Persons, however, may remain many months in the island, without seeing one of these insects, as they appear only at the beginning of the rainy season. I once succeeded in bringing twenty of them 231 K8r 231 alive to the north of America, where they lived three weeks after my arrival; the voyage, also, was twenty- one days long. During these six weeks the insects devoured large quantities of tender sugar cane, cut fresh from the field for their support. At sea, they lay in a sort of sleep or torpor; but when immersed, every day, in a vase of blood-warm water, (as is necessary, always, for their preservation,) they became, for a time, resuscitated and active, and would emit a brilliant phosphoric light. When sleeping, however, the sailors thought of them merely as ugly black bugs, with two dim yellow eyes. They have, however, black eyes, besides two yellow spots on each side of the head, which are not organs of sight, but which emit an astonishing brilliancy when the creature takes its evening excursions. The principal light, however, is emitted from their breast, which they open with a snapping noise while flying.— Forty of them died on the voyage, and twenty lived, as has been said, three weeks after, when the sugar cane upon which they fed became sour. Honey and common sugar was presented in its place, but they died one by one. Their warmth, tameness, and apparent love of human beings, are things worthy of remark. I cannot close this volume without noting some of my personal observations on the most useful tree of the country, of the scene of the story of Idomen. The palm tree of Cuba is not like the date or the Guinea palm, neither, probably, like that palm tree to which Herodotus ascribes three hundred and sixty-five different uses; it is, however, a great natural curiosity. One large leaf, or branch, falls regularly every month of the year, leaving a ring around the trunk of the tree, by which its age may be computed. I have never studied the botany of the tropics, and speak only of what particularly arrested my attention during walks, for more than a year, in a long avenue planted alternately with palm and orange trees, with shrubs and flowers planted bewteen. 232 K8v 232 To the leaf or branch which falls monthly, is attached a slip of bark, or something like it, of a vivid green without, within as white as unsoiled satin. This slip, being five or six feet in length and three or four in breadth, is useful for many purposes. Tacked together with some of the strong fibres of the parent tree, they make an excellent carpet for the floor of a grotto or any other rude dwelling; they also make a very good mat. The negroes, when they sleep upon the ground, often envelope themselves in these natural coverings; they also sometimes cut them into sandals, and bind them on their feet, after the manner of the ancient nations. When a number of these trees are planted together, they do not all blossom at the same time. I have observed them during the whole rainy season, and seen a few in flower at different intervals. Two or three large clusters of small blossoms appear just beneath the tuft of leaves or branches, and generally, where I lived, were covered with wild bees. A heap of fallen petals lay at the foot of the trees in blossom, and the murmur of the insects getting honey, called one’s attention to the summit. The palm trees of the avenue already mentioned, had gained a height of forty feet from the ground to the tuft of foliage, and every month added a ring of four or five inches to their altitude. The number of leaves or branches corresponds to that of the months of the year; one must not, however, count the leaf ready to fall, nor the two new ones which are always seen springing out. The leaf or branch which falls every month, seems a natural provision for the covering of the roofs of cottages; the berries produced from the blossoms serve as food for many domestic animals; and the stems of these clusters of berries are used, without any preparation, as brooms for the purpose of cleanliness. Except my own apartments, these brooms were used throughout the house where I lived. 233 K9r 233 The trunk of the palm tree being hollow, the woodpecker delights to make his nest in it. I have been pleased with seeing the pretty head of this bird through a little aperture, as he threw out chaff from the dwelling he had shaped within. After peeling off the leaves or branches of a palm tree, as is sometimes done, one by one, there appears a substance formed of incipient leaves, but as white as ivory cut for miniature pictures; this, at table, is considered a great delicacy, when dressed with milk in the manner of artichokes. It is a luxury, however, which can only be had in wild places; for after taking away this heart of its foliage, the whole tree is said to die. Palm leaf hats are known as an article of commerce; and many creoles, both white and black, are taught in their infancy to make them. Page 195. An eagle rests upon the wind’s sweet breath! Feels he the charm? woos he the scene beneath? Those travellers who saw the falls of Niagara while the country about them was still a perfect wilderness, have said that many birds, and sometimes even eagles, would sail, as it were, upon the current of air, until retreat was impossible. Since the falls have become a fashionable resort, wild animals, of course, have most of them deserted the place; water fowl, however, are now not very unfrequently deceived by the smoothness of the current, and perish in the manner of the swan described on the page mentioned. With solitary birds of the air, it also might once have been the case. Dr. Goldsmith observes, that on some of the stupendous cliffs of Norway, the numerous birds are so unaccustomed to the sight of man, that they know not his power to hurt them, and suffer themselves to be taken with the hand; even birds, however, are soon taught by experience to fly from danger. M. de Chateaubriand’s K6 234 K9v 234 description of the cataract of Niagara, and of the river Mississippi or Mechacebe, while both were untouched by any hand save that of Nature, is fine, perhaps, as any thing of the kind ever written.
- Page 11, line 6 from top, for flower and leaves, read flowers and leaves.
- Page 14, line 8 from bottom, for letres read lettres.
- Page 20, line 8 from top, for To a German, read In a German.
- Page 20, line 10 from top, for thire, &c. read this retreat.
- Page 25, line 6 from top, for and disclosed, read disclosing.
- Page 25, line 8 from top, for oyster, read shell.
- Page 25, line 7 from bottom, for the evening was finished, read the evening was soon finished.
- Page 27, line 13 from top, for or tranquility, read or her tranquillity.
- Page 44, line 14 from bottom, for pleasure, read leisure.
- Page 46, line 16 from top, for pending, read impending.
- Page 47, line 2 from bottom, for shrunk, read shrank.
- Page 56, line 15 from bottom, for dispersed, read dispensed.
- Page 56, line 12 from bottom, for circumstances, read cir-cumstance.
- Page 68, lines 1 and 2 from bottom, for In the twilight, read At the decline of the sun.
- Page 75, line 16 from top, for one small silken, &c. read one silken, &c.
- Page 78, line 6 from bottom, for LaunanaueLauanaui, read Zauanaui.
- Page 80, line 8 from top, for awakened to me, read awakened in me.
- Page 88, line 3 from top, for his seminary, read the seminary.
- Page 97, line 12 from top, for who crossed, read who had crossed. 236 K10v 236
- Page 157, line 1 from bottom, for chic, read chief.
- Page 1579, line 8 from bottom, for in world, read in a world.
- Page 183, line 2 from bottom, for steamed, read stormed. We regret extremely this mistake, as it spoils a passage which had been commended by persons of taste.
- Page 185, line 9 from bottom, for fruits of flowers, read fruits and flowers.
- Page 185, line 7 from bottom, for viewest, read view’st.
- Page 195, line 9 from bottom, for all the world, read half the world.
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