VOL. XXXII. PHILADELPHIA, JUNE, 1848. NO. 6.
CAPTAIN SAMUEL WALKER.
BY FAYETTE ROBINSON.
[WITH AN ENGRAVING.]
Time and opportunity make men—and high talent in any profession or sphere of life is valueless unless called into action. This is strikingly exemplified in the career of the person with whom we now have to do.
Samuel Walker was born in the county of Prince George, Maryland, in the year 1815. His family, though respectable, had neither fortune nor influence sufficient to advance his interests; and at an early age he was thrown on the world, dependent for success only on his own exertions. Educated to no profession or business, the chances of his drawing a prize in the lottery of life seemed small indeed, yet it is probable no man of his grade in the service has, since the commencement of the Mexican war, attracted more attention. Of the early career of Walker we know little except that in 1840 he was one of the party of less than twenty men selected by Col. Harney, from the strength of the 2d Dragoons, to penetrate the great Payhaokee or everglades of Florida. The history of this expedition is peculiar.
After the battle of Okeechobee the might of the Seminoles was broken, and they took refuge in the chain of lakes and immense hamacs which extend almost from Cape Florida to the Suwannee River. Divided into small parties, they defied the pursuit of heavy columns, yet frequently left their fastnesses to commit the most fearful atrocities. During the winter of 1839 and 40 they had been peculiarly bold, and had ventured even to attack, under the guns of Fort Micanopy, a party of mounted infantry which was escorting the young and beautiful wife of an officer of the 7th Infantry to a neighboring post. This party, with the exception of two or three persons, was destroyed. It became evident that no operations could lead to a good result unless the Indians were pursued to their own retreats, and treated as they had themselves conducted the war. Col. Harney, who was in command of one of the departments of Florida, immediately organized an expedition for the purpose of entering the great everglade south of the Lake Okeechobee, in which the Seminoles were supposed to be in much strength. The country in which he was about to act seemed to be the realization of the poetic chaos. It was overgrown with trees of immense size, of kinds almost unknown in other portions of the peninsula, and grass of great highth and strength rose two or three feet above the surface of the water, which not unfrequently had a depth of several feet. Notwithstanding, however, that this was the general character of the country there were often portages, or shoal and dry places, over which it was necessary to carry their boats by main force. In this kind of country the Indians had the manifest advantage, being acquainted with sinuous pathways, which, it is said, enabled them to thread all the intricacies of the hamac almost without wetting the moccason. The party of Col. Harney, however, were picked men, inured to all the hardships of Indian warfare, and after several days of hide and seek, surprised a party of Indians, among whom was a chief of distinction. As this identical party had more than once surrendered and broken truce, Colonel Harney ordered all the men to be hung summarily, and took the women with him to the nearest post as prisoners. So important was this service that the names of all the party were mentioned in general orders, and the enlisted men advanced in grade. The effect on the Indians was great; large parties came in and surrendered, and they remained almost quiet until their last attempt was crushed by Gen. Worth in the brilliant affair of Pilaklakaha, April 17, 1842.
Previous to this time, young Walker had been discharged from the service, by reason of the expiration of his enlistment, and with some funds he had amassed while in the army, proceeded at once to Texas, then embroiled with the abrasions of the great Camanche race and the minor tribes strewn along her northern frontier. He was one of the party of the famous Jack Hays, when in 1844 that leader defeated, with fifteen men armed with Colt's pistols, then novelties in the West, a large force of Indians. In this encounter Walker was wounded by a lance, and left by his adversary pinned to the ground. After remaining in this position for a long time, he was rescued by his companions when the fight was over.
The disastrous expedition commenced under the command of Gen. Somerville, and terminated at Mier by the surrender of the whole party to Don Pedro de Ampudia, since become a person of most unenviable notoriety, is well known. One of the most conspicuous members of this foray, for it scarcely deserves another name, was Walker. He distinguished himself during the long siege the Texans maintained in the house they had seized, until forced for want of provisions and ammunition to surrender. With the rest he was marched to the castle of Perote, suffering every indignity which Mexican cruelty and ingenuity could invent. On this sad march, at Salado, Walker performed perhaps the most brilliant exploit of his life. Wearied out by cruelty, the Texans resolved to escape, and on this occasion Walker was the leader. The prisoners were placed in a strong stone building, at the door of which two sentinels were placed, while their escort bivoucked in front of the building. Walker, at a concerted signal, threw open the door, seized and disarmed one of the sentinels, while a gallant fellow named Cameron, a Highlander, was equally successful with the other. The unarmed prisoners immediately rushed through the gateway and seized the arms of the Mexican guard. No scheme was ever more daringly planned or more boldly executed. Within the course of a moment the two hundred and fourteen Texans had changed places with the numerous Mexican guard. Outside of a court-yard, in which the guard had bivoucked, was a strong cavalry force, which the Texans charged with the bayonet and routed, and immediately resumed their march back to the Rio Grande.
They deserved success and liberty, but ignorant of the country, soon became lost in the mountains, were overpowered and taken back to Salado. They found Santa Anna there, and the Mexican President decimated the party.
The Texans in their escape and conflicts had lost five men, and Santa Anna demanded the decimation of the rest. A bowl was brought, and a bean for every man was placed in it, every tenth bean being black. The bowl was covered, and the whole party were then ordered in succession to take out one bean. The twenty-one individuals who had chanced on the black beans were immediately shot. This was the famous Caravanza lottery, the mere mention of which is sufficient to make the bosom of every Texan boil with indignation, and which is the origin of the intense hatred borne by all the people of that state to Santa Anna. This worthy has during the whole war carefully avoided the Texan Rangers, and had he come in contact with them, they would doubtless have exacted a fearful retribution.
Walker with the survivors of the party were taken to Perote, whence he was lucky enough to escape, and returned to Texas, into the service of which he was at once received.
When the Mexican war began Walker was the captain of a company of Texan Rangers stationed on the Rio Grande, and immediately offered his services to General Taylor, who accepted them, and stationed him between Point Isabel and the cantonment for the purpose of keeping open the communication. On the 28th of April he discovered that the Mexican troops were in motion, and at once, with his small command of twenty-five men, set out to report the fact to the general. On his way he encountered the Mexican column, and it is not improbable that with his small party he was in contact with one wing of the force which subsequently fought at Palo Alto. The Texans were pursued to Point Isabel, on which place they fell back, having lost several men, but killed more of the enemy than their own force numbered.
In spite of the intervening force of the enemy, Walker determined to reach General Taylor on that night, and accompanied but by six of his men set out. After charging through a large body of Mexican lancers, he reached Gen. Taylor on the morning of the 30th.
On the 1st of May Gen. Taylor broke up his camp, and what followed is well known. On the 3d Walker was again employed in the perilous service of ascertaining the condition of Fort Brown, which was then being bombarded by all the batteries of the city of Matamoras. His reconnoisance was one of the boldest feats performed during the war, and though May, who had command of a hundred horse for the purpose of covering him, presuming he must have been captured returned to Gen. Taylor, Walker again returned on the 4th, having accomplished his duty alone.
At Palo Alto and La Resaca Walker again distinguished himself, and was mentioned by Gen. Taylor in the dispatch with the highest terms of commendation. For his distinguished services, on the organization of the Mounted Rifles, he was appointed a captain of cavalry in the regular service.
After sharing in all the perils of the war, Walker devoted himself to the pursuit of the Guerilleros, who infested the road from Vera Cruz to the capital, and uniformly maintained his high reputation. In the affair of La Hoya, Sept. 20, 1847, he acted independently, and was perfectly successful.
In the expedition of Gen. Lane, which terminated so gallantly at Huamantla, Walker served for the last time. The prize he had proposed to himself was great, being nothing less than the capture of Santa Anna. Walker on this occasion commanded the whole cavalry force, and led the advance. His charge into the town, from the covering of Magues, is described by old soldiers who saw it as having been terrific. Passing completely through the town, he pursued the enemy's retreating artillery. After the success was sure, Walker returned, and was treacherously shot from a house on which a white flag was hanging. Within thirty minutes he died, after a brilliant victory, in gaining which he had been an important actor. With a force of one hundred and ninety-five men he had beaten and routed five hundred picked lancers, and given the tone to the events of the day.
No man was more regretted than Capt. Walker, who had enjoyed the confidence of every officer with whom he had served. Gen. Scott and Gen. Taylor both highly estimated his good qualities, and reposed the greatest trust in him.
When the news of his death reached the United States, the people were every where loud in their regrets, and he will be remembered as one of the heroes of the Mexican war.
Captain Walker had risen by his own exertions. Brought up in a good school, "the Light Dragoons of the U. S.," his knowledge of tactics, acquired in Florida, was most useful to his first service as an officer in the army of the Texan Republic. He is spoken of as having possessed every requisite for a cavalry officer—a quick perception, a keen eye, a strong arm, perfect control of his horse, thorough knowledge of military combination, and the rarer and more valuable faculty of winning the confidence of his men. Had he not been cut off so untimely in his chosen career, he could not but have become a distinguished general.
Captain Walker died at the age of 33, in sight almost of the famous dungeon of Perote, where he had long been a prisoner. There was something like retribution in the fact that more than one other Texan, who, like himself, had been confined there, contributed to raise above its battlements the colors of the United States.
LAMARTINE TO MADAME JORELLE.
FROM THE FRENCH.
What! offer thee the tribute of my numbers? Thou daughter of the East! whose infancy The warring desert winds rocked to its slumbers— Dost thou demand incense of Poesy?
Flower of Aleppo! whom the Bulbul choosing Would wander from his worshiped rose of May, O'er thy fair chalice her remembrance losing, To languish 'mid thy leaves his moonlight lay!
Bear odors to the balm pure sweets exhaling? Hang on the orange bough a riper load? Lend fires to Syria's East at dawn unveiling? Pave with new stars the Night's all-glittering road?
No verses here!—Verse would despair of raising Aught save an image dark and faint of thee; But gently in yon basin's mirror gazing Behold thyself! Embodied Poesy!
When through the kiosque's grated ogive straying, The sea-breeze mingles with the Moka's fume, Where softly o'er thy form the moonbeams playing Glance on thy couch, rich from Palmyra's loom—
When on the jasmine tube thy lip half closes, Veiled with its golden threads in bright array, While ruffling at thy breath, fragrant with roses, Murmur the drops within the Narquite—
When as winged perfumes rise into thy brain, In light caressing clouds around thee wreathing All love's and youth's lost visions throng again, An atmosphere of dreams thy listeners breathing—
When in thy tale the Arab steed forth starting Yields foaming to thy curb of infancy, And that triumphant glance obliquely darting Equals the summer-lightning of his eye—
When thy fair arm, of loveliest symmetry, Supports the fairer brow in thought reclining, While gleams with diamond fires thy poniard nigh In quick reflection of the torch's shining—
Naught is there in the murmured words of feeling, Naught in the Poet's ever dreaming brow, Naught in pure sighs from purest bosoms stealing, Naught redolent of Poesy as thou!
With me the age has flown when Love, life's flower, Perfumes the heart—my warmest accents falter, And beauty o'er my soul has lost her power— Cold is the light I kindle on her altar!
The harp is this chilled bosom's only queen, But how would homage from its depths have burst In gushing minstrelsy at bright sixteen, If then these eyes had rested on thee first!
How many stanzas had thy lover given To one sweet vaporous wreath that lately graced Thy meditative lip, or how had striven To stay that form by unseen artist traced!
That shadow's vague enchanting outline cast On yonder wall, to arrest with poet's finger Thy beauty's mystic image fading fast, As round thy form fond moonbeams cease to linger!
[Footnote 1: The road of heaven, star-paved. PARADISE LOST]
BY MRS. CAROLINE H. BUTLER.
It was with a feeling of regret, such as stirs one's heart at parting with a dear friend, that I turned the last page of Irving's most delightful visit to Abbotsford, which he has given us in language so beautiful from its simplicity, so graphic in its details, and so heart-deep in its sincerity, that with him we ourselves seem to be partakers also of the hospitality and kindness of the immortal Scott.
"Every night," says Irving, "I retired with my mind filled with delightful recollections of the day, and every morning I arose with the certainty of new enjoyment."
And so vividly has he painted for the imagination of his happy readers those scenes of delight, those hours of social interchange of two great minds, that we are admitted as it were into free communion with them. On the banks of the silvery Tweed we stroll delighted, or pause to view the "gray waving hills," made so dear to all the lovers of Scott and Burns, through the enchantment which romance and poetry have thrown around them. We listen for the tinkling chime of the fairy bells as we pass through the glen of Thomas the Rhymer, almost expecting to see by our side, as we muse on the banks of the goblin stream, the queen of the fairies on her "dapple gray pony." Again, through the cloisters of Melrose Abbey we wander silently and in awe, almost wishing that honest John Boyer would leave us awhile unmolested even by the praises of his master the "shirra," whom he considers "not a bit proud," notwithstanding he has such "an awfu' knowledge o' history!" Or it may be we recline amid the purple heather and listen to the deep tones of the great magician himself, as he delights our ear with some quaint tradition of the olden time, while Maida, grave and dignified as becomes the rank he holds, crouches beside his master, disdaining to share the sports of Hamlet, Hector, "both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound" frolicking so wantonly on the bonny green knowe before us!
But at length the hour of parting comes. We feel the hearty grasp, and hear the farewell words with which Scott takes leave of his American friend, and as with them our delusion wrought by the magic pen of Irving vanishes, we would fain slay the enchantment—too bright to pass away unlamented!
"The pen of a ready writer, whereunto shall it be likened?
* * * * *
Let the calm child of genius, whose name shall never die, For that the transcript of his mind hath made his thoughts immortal— Let these, let all, with no faint praise, with no light gratitude, confess The blessings poured upon the earth from the pen of a readywriter."
Closing the volume which had so enchained my senses, my mind, from dwelling upon the presence of Scott himself, as introduced through the unformal courtesy of our beloved Irving, naturally turned to the varied and wonderful productions of that master mind, and to the many characters thereby created, seeming to hold a sacred place in our thoughts and affections, as friends whom we had once known and loved!
I was suddenly aroused from my ruminations by a light tap on the shoulder. Judge of my astonishment when Meg Merrillies stood before me, clad in the same wild gipsy garb in which she had warned the Laird of Ellangowan on Ellangowan's height! In her shriveled hand it would seem she held the very sapling which for the last time she had plucked from the bonny woods which had so long waved above her bit shealing, until driven thence by the timorous and weak-minded laird. With this she again touched me, and in a half inviting, half commanding tone said:
"Gang wi' me, leddy, gang wi' me, and I will show ye a bonny company, amang whilk ye'll soon speer those ye're thinking o'."
I confess it was not without some trepidation I arose to follow my strange conductor, who, seizing my hand, rather dragged than led me through several long dark passages, until suddenly emerging from one still more gloomy than the others, my eyes were almost blinded with the glare of light and splendor that flashed upon them.
"Gang in amang them a', my leddy," cried Meg, letting go my hand and waving me toward the entrance, "and gin ye suld see bonny Harry Bertram, tell him there is ane he kens o' will meet him the night down by the cairn when the clock strikes the hour o' twal."
Obeying her mandate, I now found myself in a lofty and spacious saloon. From the ceiling, which was of azure sprinkled with golden stars, were suspended the most magnificent chandeliers, brilliant with a thousand waxen tapers. Gorgeous and life-like tapestry adorned the walls—massive mirrors reflected on every side the blaze of elegance, while the furniture, patterning the fashions of the different ages from the times of the Crusades to that of Elizabeth, was of the most choice and beautiful materials.
But of this I took little note—other and "more attractive metal" met my eye, for around me were kings and princes—peer and peasant—lords and ladies—turbaned infidel and helmeted knight—the wild roving gipsy and the wandering troubadour. In short, I found myself in the world of the immortal master of Abbotsford, and surrounded by those to whose enchanting company I had oft been indebted for dispelling many a weary hour of sickness and gloom—friends whom at my bidding I could at any moment summon to my presence—friends never weary of well-doing—friends never weighing down the heart by their unkindness, or chilling by their neglect. My heart throbbed with a delight before unknown; and I eagerly looked about me, recognizing on every side those dear familiar ones with whom, for so many years, I had been linked in love and friendship.
The first group on whom my eyes rested were our dear friends from Tully-Veolan accompanied by the McIvors.
The beautiful, high-souled Flora was leaning on the arm of the good old Baron Bradwardine, while the gentle Rose shrunk almost timidly from the support of the noble but ill-fated Fergus. They were both lovely—Flora and Rose; but while the former dazzled by her beauty and her wit, the latter, in unpretending sweetness, stole at once into our hearts. But not so thought Waverly. With "ear polite" he listened to the somewhat tedious colloquy of the old baron, yet his eloquent eyes, his heart speaking through them, were fixed upon the noble countenance of Flora McIvor.
"Come, good folks," cried a merry voice—and the bright, happy face of Julia Mannering was before me—"I am sent by my honored father, the colonel, to break up this charmed circle; and he humbly requests to be put under the spell himself, through the enchanting voice of Miss McIvor—one little Highland air, my dear Flora, is all he asks—but see, with sombre Melancholy leaning on his arm, he comes to enforce his own request."
And the gallant Colonel Mannering, supporting the fragile form of Lucy Bertram, clad in deep mourning robes, now approached, and after gracefully saluting the circle, solicited from Miss McIvor a song. Waverly eagerly brought the harp of Flora from a small recess, and as he placed it before her, whispered something in a low tone, which for a moment crimsoned the brow of the maiden, then coldly bowing to him, she drew the instrument toward her, and warbled a wild and spirited Highland air, her eyes flashing, and her bosom heaving with the exciting theme she had chosen.
"Pro-di-gious!" exclaimed a voice I thought I knew; and, sure enough, I found the dear old Dominie Sampson close at my elbow—his large, gray eyes rolling in ecstasy—his mouth open, and grasping in his hands a huge folio, while Davie Gellatly, with cap and bells, stood mincing and grimacing behind him—now rolling up the whites of his eyes—now pulling the skirts of the unconscious pedagogue—and finally, surmounting the wig of the Dominie with his own fool's cap, he clapped his hands, gayly crying, "O, braw, braw Davie!"
Julia Mannering now touched the harp to a lively air, when suddenly her voice faltered, the eloquent blood mantled her cheek, and her little fingers trembled as they swept the harp-strings.
"Ah, ha!" thought I, "there must be a cause for all this—Brown must be near!" and in a moment that handsome young soldier had joined the group. Remembering the commands of Meg Merrillies, I was striving to catch his eye, that I might do her bidding, when the gipsy herself suddenly strode into the circle and fixing her eyes upon Brown, or rather Bertram, she waved her long skinny arm, exclaiming,
"Tarry not here, Harry Bertram, of Ellangowan; there's a dark deed this night to be done amid the caverns of Derncleugh, and then
The dark shall be light, And the wrong made right, When Bertram's right, and Bertram's might, Shall meet on Ellangowan Height."
I now passed on and found myself in the vicinity of Old Mortality and Monkbarns, who were deeply engaged in some antiquarian debate—too much so to notice the shrewd smile and cunning leer which the old Bluegown, Edie Ochiltree, now and then cast upon them.
"Hear til him," he whispered to Sir Arthur Wardour—"hear til him; the poor mon's gone clean gyte with his saxpennies and his old penny bodies! odd, but it gars me laugh whiles!"
Both Sir Arthur and his lovely daughter, Isabel, smiled at the earnestness of the old man, and slipping some money into his hand, the latter bade him come up to the castle in the morning.
At this moment radiant in spirituelle beauty, glorious Die Vernon, like another Grace Greenwood, swept past me, followed by Rashleigh, and half a score of the Osbaldistons. She was, indeed, a lovely creature. The dark-green riding-dress she wore fitting so perfectly her light, elegant figure, served but to enhance the brilliancy of her complexion, blooming with health and exercise. Her long black hair, free from the little hat which hung carelessly upon her arm, fell around her in beautiful profusion, and even the golden-tipped riding-whip she held so gracefully in her little hand, seemed as a wand to draw her worshipers around her.
Turning suddenly and finding herself so closely followed by Rashleigh, her beautiful eyes flashed disdainfully, and linking her arm within that of Clara Mowbray, who, with the gay party from St. Ronan's Well, were just entering the saloon, she waved her hand to her cousin, forbidding his nearer approach, and, with the step of a deer, she was gone.
An oath whistled through the teeth of Rashleigh, and his dark features contracted into a terrible frown.
"Hout, mon—dinna be fashed! Bide a bit—bide a bit! as my father, the deacon—"
"Ah, Bailie, are you there?" cried Rashleigh, impatiently; "why I thought you were hanging from the trees around the cave of your robber kinsman, Rob."
Ere the worthy Nicol Jarvie could reply to this uncourteous address, the smiling Mr. Winterblossom approached, and in the name of the goddess, Lady Penelope Penfeather, commanded the presence of the angered Rashleigh at the shrine of her beauty. This changed the current of his thoughts, and with all that grace of manner and eloquence of lip and eye, which no one knew better how to assume, he followed to the little group of which the Lady Penelope and her rival, Lady Binks, formed the attraction. But whatever may have been the gallant things he was saying, they were soon ended in the bustle consequent upon the sudden rushing in of the brave Captain McTurk, followed by the enraged Meg Dods, with no less a weapon in her hand than a broom-stick, with which she was striving to belabor the shoulders of the unhappy McTurk.
"Hegh, sirs!" she cried, brandishing it above her head, "I'll gar ye to know ye're not coming flisking to an honest woman's house setting folks by the lugs. Keep to your ain whillying hottle here, ye ne'er-do-weel, or I'll mak' windle-strae o' your banes—and what for no?"
Happily for the gallant captain, Old Touchwood here interposed, and by dint of coaxing and threats of joining himself to the gay company at the Spring, the irascible Meg was finally marched off.
A deep sigh near me caused me to look around, and there, as pure and as lovely as the water-lily drooping from its fragile stem, sat poor Lucy Ashton. And like that beautiful flower, the lily of the wave, seemed the love of that unhappy maid:
"Quivering to the blast Through every nerve—yet rooted deep and fast Midst life's dark sea."
Her eyes were cast down, and her rich veil of golden tresses sweeping around her. At a little distance, with folded arms and bent brows, stood the Laird of Ravenswood, yet unable to approach the broken-hearted girl, as her proud, unfeeling mother, the stately Lady Ashton, kept close guard over her; and it made me shudder to behold, also, the old hag, Ailsie Gourley, crouching down by her bonny mistress, and stroking the lily-white hand which hung so listless at her side, mumbling the while what seemed to me must be some incantation to the Evil One.
"Wae's me—wae's me!" exclaimed that prince of serving-men, Caleb Balderstone, at this moment presenting himself before his master; "and is your honor, then, not ganging hame when Mysie the puir old body's in the dead thraw! Hech, sirs, but its awfu'! Ane of the big sacks o' siller—a' gowd, ye maun ken, which them gawky chields and my ain sell were lifting to your honor's chaumer, cam down on her head! Eh! but it gars me greet—ah! wull-a-wins, we maun a' dee!"
"Ah, she is a bonny thing, but ye ken she is a wee bit daft, puir lassie!" cried Madge Wildfire, smirking and bowing, to catch the eye of Jeanie Deans, who, leaning on the arm of her betrothed, Reuben Butler, stood gazing with tearful eyes upon that wreck of hope and love exhibited in the person of the ill-fated Lucy of Lammermoor.
Bless that sweet, meek face of Jeanie Deans! Many a lovelier—many a fairer were in that assemblage, yet not one more winning or truthful. The honest, pure heart shone from those mild blue eyes; one might know she could make any sacrifice for those she loved, and that guided and guarded by her own innocence and steadfast truth, neither crowns nor sceptres could daunt her from her noble purpose.
And there, too, was Effie. Not Effie, the Lily of St. Leonards, such as she was when gayly tending her little flock on St. Leonard's Craigs—not Effie, the poor, wretched criminal of the Tolbooth—but Effie, the rich and beautiful Lady Staunton, receiving with all the ease and elegance of a high-born dame the homage of the nobles surrounding her, of whom none shone more conspicuous than his grace the Duke of Argyle, on whose arm she was leaning.
With the step and bearing of a queen a noble lady now approached, and as, unattended by knight or dame, she moved gracefully through the brilliant crowd, every eye was turned on her with admiration.
Need I say it was Rebecca, the Jewess.
A rich turban of yellow silk, looped at the side by an aigrette of diamonds, and confining a beautiful ostrich plume, was folded over her polished brow, from which her long, raven tresses floated in beautiful curls around her superb neck and shoulders. A simarre of crimson silk, studded with jewels, and gathered to her slender waist by a magnificent girdle of fine gold, reached below the hips, where it was met by a flowing robe of silver tissue bordered with pearls. In queenly dignity she was about to pass from the saloon, when the noble Richard of the Lion Heart stepped hastily forward, and respectfully saluted her. He still wore his sable armor, and with his visor thrown back, had for some time been negligently reclining against one of the lofty pillars, a careless spectator of the scene around him. The lovely Jewess paused, and with graceful ease replied to the address of the monarch; but at that moment the voice of Ivanhoe, speaking to Rowena, fell on her ear—and with a hurried reverence to Coeur de Lion, she glided from the apartment.
"No, Ivanhoe," thought I, "thou hast not done wisely—beautiful as is the fair Rowena, to whom thy troth stands plighted—thou shouldst have won the peerless Rebecca for thy bride."
I was aroused from the revery into which I had unconsciously fallen by a hoarse voice at my elbow repeating a Pater Noster, and turning around, I beheld the jovial Friar of Copmanhurst, one hand grasping a huge oaken cudgel, the other swiftly running over his rosary.
Mary of Avenel next appeared, and (or it may have been fancy) near her floated the airy vision of the White Lady.
There was Sir Piercie Shafton, too, and the miller's black-eyed daughter. The voice of the knight was low and apparently his words were tender; for poor Mysie Happer, with cheeks like a fresh-blown rose, and sparkling eyes, drank in with her whole soul the honeyed accents of the Euphoist.
"Certes, O my discretion," said he, "thou shalt arise from thy never-to-be-lamented-sufficiently-lowliness; thou shalt leave the homely occupations of that rude boor unto whom it beseemeth thee to give the appellation of father, and shalt attain to the-all-to-be-desired greatness of my love, even as the resplendent sun condescends to shine down upon the earth-crawling beetle."
I now approached a deep embrasure elevated one step above the level of the apartment, over which magnificent hangings of crimson and gold swept to the floor. Not for a moment could I doubt who the splendid being might be occupying the centre of the little group on which my eyes now rested enraptured.
The most lovely, the most unfortunate Mary of Scotland was before me, and, as if spell-bound, I could not withdraw my gaze. How did all the portraits my fancy had drawn fade in comparison with the actual beauty, the indescribable loveliness of this peerless woman. How was it possible to give to fancy any thing so exquisitely graceful and beautiful as the breathing form before me. Ask me not to depict the color of her eyes; ask me not to paint that wealth of splendid hair—that complexion no artist's skill could match—that mouth so eloquent in its repose—those lips—those teeth. As well attempt to paint the strain of delicious music which reaches our ears at midnight, stealing over the moonlit wave; or to color the fragrance of the new-blown rose, or of the lily of the vale, when first plucked from its humble bed. For even thus did the unrivaled charms of Mary of Scotland blend themselves indescribably with our enraptured senses.
On a low stool at the feet of Mary sat Catharine Seyton, whose fair, round arm seemed as a snow-wreath resting amid the rich folds of her royal mistress' black velvet robe. Yet not so deeply absorbed was she in devotion to her lady as to prevent her now and then casting a mischievous glance on Roland Graeme, who, with the Douglas, were also in attendance upon their unhappy queen. Drawn up on one side was the stately figure of the Lady of Lochleven, with a scowl on her face, and a bitter look of hate fastened on the unfortunate Mary.
With regret I at length moved away from this enchanting presence, my sympathies to be soon again awakened for the gentle Amy Robsart, Countess of Leicester.
She was reclining on a sofa of sea-green velvet, seeded with pearls, bearing in its centre the cypher of herself and lord, surmounted by a coronet. At her feet knelt the Earl of Leicester with all the outward semblance of a god. One little hand rested confidingly in his, the other nestled amid the dark locks clustering over his high and polished brow. Ah! little did she dream of guile in her noble lord! How could she, when with such looks of love he gazed upon her—with such words of love delighted her trembling heart.
The fawning villain, Varney, stood at a little distance behind the unconscious Amy, even then, as it seemed to me, plotting her destruction with the old arch hypocrite, Foster, with whom he was holding low and earnest conversation. Tressilian—the brave, good Tressilian—as if sworn to protect the lovely lady, leaned on his sword at her right hand, his fine eyes bent with a look of mingled admiration and pity on her ingenuous countenance.
"The queen! the queen!—room for the queen!" echoed around. Hastily rising to his feet, and imprinting a slight kiss on her fair brow, the earl left his lovely bride, and was the next moment by the side of the haughty Elizabeth—England's maiden Queen.
"Then, earl, why didst thou leave the beds Where roses and where lilies vie, To seek a prim-rose, whose pale shades Must sicken when those gauds are by?
"But Leicester (or I much am wrong) It is not beauty lures thy vows, Rather ambition's gilded crown Makes thee forget thy humble spouse.
"Last night, as sad I chanced to stray, The village death-bell smote my ear; They winked aside, and seemed to say, 'Countess, prepare—thy end is near!'"
"Thus sore and sad that lady grieved, In Cumnor Hall so lone and drear, And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved, And let fall many a bitter tear.
"And ere the dawn of day appeared In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear, Full many a piercing scream was heard, And many a cry of mortal fear.
"The death-bell thrice was heard to ring, An aerial voice was heard to call, And thrice the raven flapped his wing Around the towers of Cumnor Hall."
It was pleasant to turn from a scene of such confiding love on one part, and base hypocrisy on the other, to look upon the honest countenance of Magnus Troil, who, with his daughters on each arm—the stately, dark-eyed Minna, and the no less lovely Brenda—were now approaching me. Behind followed Norna of the Fitful-head, in earnest conversation with the Pirate Cleveland. As I looked upon her tall, majestic person, her countenance, so stern and wild, rendered more so, perhaps, by the singular head-dress she had assumed, and her long hair streaming over her face and shoulders, I could no longer wonder at the power she had obtained over the minds of the ignorant peasantry and fishermen of Jarlshof.
"Whist! whist! Triptolemus!" quoth Mistress Barbara Yelloway, pulling the sleeve of the Factor, "dinna be getting ower near the hellicat witch—wha kens but she may be asking for the horn o' siller, man."
This speech had the desired effect; and the trembling Triptolemus hastily placed the bold front of Baby between him and the object of dread.
Here, too, was Mareshal Dalgetty—and nothing but the respect due to so much beauty as was here assembled, I felt sure, could have prevented the appearance of his brave charger, Gustavus, also upon the scene. He was accompanied by Ranald of the Mist.
With her little harp poised lightly on her arm, sweet Annot Lyle tripped by the side of the moody Allan, striving by her lively sallies to break the thrall of the dark fit which was about to seize upon him.
Fair Alice Lee, and the brave old knight, Sir Harry, did not escape my notice—nor Master Wildrake, or the gay monarch, Charles, still under the disguise of Louis Kerneguy; and whose shuffling, awkward gait, and bushy red head, caused no small mirth in the assembly, as wondering to see one of so ungainly an appearance in such close attendance upon the lovely Alice.
"Old Noll" had grouped around him in one corner the "Devil-scaring-lank-legs," the "Praise-God-barebones," and the "smell-sin-long-noses" of the day; but not finding any thing very attractive in that godly company, I passed on to where Isabella of Croye and the gallant Quentin Durward were holding earnest converse—not aware, unfortunately, that the snaky eye of the Bohemian was watching all their movements.
I quickly stepped aside as I saw the miser, Trapbois, eagerly advancing toward the Lady of Croye, his eyes gloating over the rich jewels which adorned her person, and his long, skinny fingers seeming ready to tear the coveted gems from her fair neck and arms. Indeed, but for the presence of his stern daughter, Martha, I doubted whether he would not at least make the attempt.
"Father, come home! this is no place for you—come home!" she said, in deep, slow tones.
"Nay, daughter, I would but offer to serve these rich nobles for a small con-sider-ation; let me go, Martha—let me go, I say!" as placing her powerful arm within his, she drew him reluctantly toward the door.
Suddenly a flourish of warlike music swelled through the lofty apartment—peal on peal reverberated around—and while I listened with awe to notes so grand and solemn, the music as suddenly changed its character. Now only the dulcet tones of the harp were heard, sweet as the soft summer shower when the tinkling rain-drops merrily pelt the flowers—strains so sweetly harmonious as seemed too heavenly for mortal touch. And as fainter and fainter, yet still more sweet, the ravishing melody breathed around, one by one the company glided out silently and mournfully—the tapestried walls gradually assumed the appearance of my own little parlor—the rich and tasteful decorations vanished—and where was I? Seated in my own comfortable rocking-chair, reclining in the same attitude as when so suddenly summoned forth by the gipsy carline. Truly,
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio. Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
BY E. CURTISS HINE, U. S. N.
For weary years my feet had wandered On many a fair but distant shore; By Lima's crumbling walls I'd pondered And gazed upon the Andes hoar. The ocean's wild and restless billow, That rears its crested head on high, For years had been my couch and pillow, Until its sameness pained my eye.
The playmates of my joyous childhood, With whom I laughed the hours away, And wandered through the tangled wildwood Till close of sultry summer day; My aged, gray, and feeble mother, Whom most I longed to see again, My sisters, and my only brother, Were o'er the wild and faithless main.
At length the lagging days were numbered, That bound me to a foreign shore, And glorious hopes that long had slumbered Again their gilded plumage wore; Fond voices in my ear were singing The songs I loved in boyhood's day, As in my hammoc slowly swinging I mused the still night-hours away.
And sylvan scenes then came before me, The bright green fields I loved so well, Ere SORROW threw his shadow o'er me, The streamlet, mountain, wood and dell; The lonely grave-yard, sad and dreary, Which in the night I passed with dread, Where, with their sleepless vigils weary, The white stones watch above the dead;
Were spread like pictured chart around me, Where Fancy turned my gazing eye, Till slumber with his fetters bound me, And dimmed each star in memory's sky. Then came bright dreams—but all were routed When morning lit the ocean blue, And I, awaking, gayly shouted, "My last, last night in famed PERU!"
"Farewell PERU! thy shores are fading, As swift we plough the furrowed main, And clouds with drooping wings are shading The towering Andes, wood and plain. The passing breeze, thus idly singing, A sweeter, dearer voice hath found, And hope within my heart is springing, Our white-winged bark is HOMEWARD BOUND!"
* * * * *
'Twas night—at length my feet were nearing The home from which they long had strayed; No star was in the sky appearing, My boyhood's scenes were wrapped in shade. I paused beside the grave-yard dreary, And entered through its creaking gate, To find if yet my mother, weary Of this cold world, had shared the fate
Of those who in their graves were sleeping, But could not find her grass-grown bed, Though many a stranger stone was keeping Its patient watch above the dead. But HERS was not among them gleaming, And so I turned with joy away, For many a night had I been dreaming That there she pale and faded lay!
A REAL REMINISCENCE.
BY OLIVER BUCKLEY.
"I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest;—most excellent humor."
Some years ago, ere yet I had reaped the harvest of "oats" somewhat wildly sown, I resided in one of our principal western cities, and, like most juveniles within sight of the threshold of their majority, harbored a decided predilection for the stage. Not a coach and four, as is sometimes understood by that expression, but that still more lumbering vehicle, the theatre, which hurries down the rough road of life a load of passengers quite as promiscuous and impatient. The odor of the summer-fields gave me less delight than that which exhaled from the foot-lights; and the wild forest-scenes were less enchanting than those transitory views which honest John Leslie nightly presented to the audience, too often "few" if not "fit." There is something, too, in the off-hand, taking-luck-as-it-comes sort of life among actors, which to me was especially attractive; and I was not long in making the acquaintance of many. But the memory of one among the number lingers with me still, with more mingled feelings of pain and pleasure than that of any other. Poor Penn—, I will not write his name in full, lest, should he be living, it might meet his eye and give his good-natured heart a moment's discomfort. To him more than any other my nature warmed, as did his to me, until we were cemented in friendship. What pleasant rambles of summer-afternoons, after rehearsal; what delightful nights when the play was done, what songs, recitations and professional anecdotes were ours, no one but ourselves can know. The character he most loved to play was Crack, in the "Turnpike Gate." Poor Penn—! I can see him yet—"Some gentleman has left his beer—another one will drink it!" How admirably he made that point! But that is gone by, and he may ere this have made his last point and final exit. After six months of the closest intimacy, I suddenly missed my hitherto daily companion, and all inquiries at his boarding-house and the theatre proved fruitless. For days I frequented our old haunts, but in vain; he had vanished, leaving no trace to tell of the course he had taken. I seemed altogether forsaken—utterly lost—and felt as if I looked like a pump without a handle—a cart with but one wheel—a shovel without the tongs—or the second volume of a novel, which, because somebody has carried off the first, is of no interest to any one. At last a week went by, and I sauntered down to the ferry, and stepping aboard the boat suffered myself to be conveyed to the opposite shore. On the bank stood the United States barracks, and gathered about were groups of soldiers, looking as listless and unwarlike as if they had just joined the "peace-league." But their present quiet was only like that of a summer sea, which would bear unharmed the slightest shallop that ever maiden put from shore, but when battling tempests rise can hurl whole navies into wreck. Suddenly catching a glimpse of a figure at a distance which reminded me of my friend, I eagerly addressed one of the soldiers, and pointing out the object of my curiosity, inquired who he was.
"That's our sergeant," replied the man.
"Oh!" I ejaculated in my disappointment, feeling assured that a week would not have raised Penn—to that honor, and I sat down on the green bank and watched the steamboats as they passed up and down between me and the city. And as I gazed, many a sad reflection and strange conjecture passed and re-passed along the silent current of my mind. How alone I felt! Even the groups of soldiers standing about were but as so many stacks of muskets. My eyes wandered listlessly from object to object, and rested at last on a pair of boots at my side, such as had been moving about me for the last half hour, and they, that is my eyes, not the boots, naturally, but slowly, followed up the military stripe on the side of the pantaloons, then took a squirrel leap to the Uncle Sam buttons on the breast of the coat, and passed leisurely from one to another upward, until they lit at last full in the owner's face! That quizzical look—that Roman nose! There was no mistaking Penn—, Sergeant Penn—, of the United States Army! My surprise may easily be imagined. However, a few minutes explained all.
Alas! for poor humanity, Its weakness and its vanity, Its sorrow and insanity, Alas!
My friend in an evil hour had been led astray—had imbibed one "cobbler" too many for his leather; and like most men in similar circumstances, grew profoundly patriotic, and in a glorious burst of enthusiasm, enlisted! His fine figure, with a dash of the theatrical air, promoted him at once to the dignity of sergeant; and never did soldier wear his honors "thrust upon him" with a better grace than did Poor Penn—. Whether in his sober moments he regretted the rash act, I do not know; he was too proud to acknowledge it if he did. Taking me by the arm, he conducted the way to the barracks, and with an air of indescribable importance, exhibited and explained the whole internal arrangements. On the first floor, which was paved with brick, there was an immense fire-place, built in the very centre of the great room, and steaming and bubbling over the fire hung a big kettle, capable of holding at least thirty gallons. Over it, or rather beside it, stood the soldier-cook, stirring the contents, which was bean-soup, with an iron ladle. In the room above were long rows of bunks, stacks of muskets, with other warlike implements and equipage. A number of men were lounging on the berths, some reading, some boasting, and others telling long yarns. There was one stout, moon-faced gentleman laying on his broad back "spouting" Shakspeare. This individual, to whom I was introduced, turned out to be Sergeant Smith, another son of Thespis, who had left the boards for a more permanent engagement, not with the enemy, for those were days of peace, but with that stern old manager, Uncle Sam. Sergeant Smith was, perhaps, the most important person in his own estimation, on the banks, not even excepting the captain. There can be no doubt but that the stage suffered a great loss when he left it, for, indeed, he told us so himself. In a little while the call sounded, the roll was called, and all hands turned in to dinner. Penn— had provided me a seat by his side; and, for the first time in my life, I sat down to soldier fare. There was a square block of bread at the side of each pewter plate, a tin cup of cold water, and very soon a ladle-full of the steaming bean-soup was dealt round to each. It was a plain but a substantial dinner. Poor Penn—, as he helped me to an extra ladle of soup, observed, with the most solemn face imaginable, that the man who hadn't dined with soldiers "didn't know beans;" an expression more apt than elegant. During the space of three months I made weekly visits to the barracks, and was gratified to find that my friend Penn—, in spite of his formidable rival, Sergeant Smith, was fast rising in the confidence of the commanding officer and the estimation of the men. Smith, too, was judicious enough to hide any jealousy he might have felt, and like a true soldier, imitated his superior, and treated Penn— with marked distinction.
Such having been the state of affairs for so long a time, my surprise and indignation may easily be imagined, when upon calling, as usual, to see my friend, Sergeant Smith, with a most pompous air, informed me that he was not acquainted with the person for whom I inquired.
"Not acquainted with Penn—?" cried I, with the most unbounded astonishment.
"No, sir," proudly replied the imperturbable sergeant, assuming the strictest military attitude, looking like a very stiff figure-head, seeming as if it would crack his eyelids to wink.
"No, sir," cried he, with great determination, before I could finish the word. "Do you suppose an officer of the United States army, an unimpeached soldier, capable of being acquainted with a deserter?"
"A deserter!" echoed I; "Penn— a deserter!" and the truth flashed across my brain, writing that terrible word in letters of fire, as did the hand on the walls of Belshazzar. The next moment, by permission of the guard, who knew me, I passed down into the long damp basement of the barracks, where the offenders were imprisoned. At the farther end, among a number of fellow-culprits, my eager eye soon discovered the object of its search. He was sitting with folded arms, perched on a carpenter's bench, and with the most wo-begone countenance imaginable, whistling a favorite air, and beating time against the side of the bench with his long, pendulous legs. I can hear the tune yet, "Nix my Dolly;" and who that has ever seen "Jack Shepherd" has forgotten it?
"Hallo!" cried I, "Penn—, how is this?"
He looked at me a moment with surprise, and after exclaiming, "How are you, my boy?" gave the bench a salutary kick, and whistled more vigorously than ever "Nix my Dolly;" and having gone through the stave, he turned to me and exclaimed,
"Look you, my boy, be chaste as snow, you shall not escape calumny—and to this complexion you may come at last." Again he took sight at the blank stone wall, whistled, and beat time.
"But, come," said I, "how did you get here?"
"Get here?" echoed he, "the easiest way in the world! Sergeant Penn— crossed the river on a three hours' leave of absence—took a glass too many—stayed over the time, and his friend, Sergeant Smith, feeling anxious for Penn—'s welfare, went after him and had him arrested as a deserter—and here he is! 'Nix my Dolly,'" etc. etc.; and he settled again into his musical reverie.
"Well, what will be the upshot of it?" said I.
"The down-shot of me, maybe!"—Nix my Doll—"at least, I shall be shipped off with these fine fellows to the west; and if the court-martial happen to sit on my case after dinner, I may get off with merely having my head shaved, and being drummed out!" Poor Penn—, at the thought of this, kicked the bench furiously, and whistled with all the vigor he could muster.
"When do you go?" asked I, eagerly.
"Next Sunday," he replied, and added, "Look here, my boy, let me bid you good-by now, for the last time"—and he pressed my hand warmly—"for the last time, I say, for it would unman me to see you on that day, and Penn— would fain be himself, proud and unshaken even in his disgrace. There—there—go, my dear boy, let this be the last visit of your life to the barracks. God bless you!" and after giving his hand a hearty grasp, I turned hurriedly away, to hide my feeling. In passing the door I gave a hasty glance back, and saw Penn— sitting as before, his arms folded, his heels beating the bench, but so slowly, that their strokes seemed like the dying vibrations of a pendulum; and the whistle was so low that it was scarcely audible. With a heavy heart I passed away, much preferring to acknowledge the acquaintance of a "deserter" like Poor Penn— than to continue that of the unimpeachable Sergeant Smith. Another week brought around the day of my friend's departure, and I found it impossible to resist the temptation to take a farewell look at my old companion. Accordingly I crossed the river, and taking my station behind a large tree on the bank of the river, so that I could see Penn—without letting him see me, I awaited with melancholy patience the moment when the deserters should be led out. The steamboat was puffing and groaning at the wharf, and in a few moments the heavy door of the guard-room swung open; there was a sudden clanking of irons, and soon I saw prisoner after prisoner emerge, dragging long heavy chains, which were attached to their ankles. I counted them as they came out—counted a dozen—but yet no Penn—; counted eighteen—nineteen—but the twentieth, and last, proved to be him. No language can describe the solemn majesty with which he brought up the rear of that dishonored line. No chain clanked as he stepped to tell of his disgrace; and the spectators, instead of suspecting him as being a culprit, may easily have imagined him to be one of the sergeants who had the rest in charge. This, to me, was a matter of much surprise, and turning to an old soldier at my side, I inquired,
"What does this mean, isn't Penn— one of them?"
"Of course he is," was the reply.
"But why doesn't he wear a chain like the rest?"
"Wear a chain," said the soldier, "you don't know Penn—, Sergeant Penn— that was. He wear a chain! Why, bless your heart, he carries as heavy a chain as any of them, but he's got it twisted around his leg, under his pantaloons, clear above his knee! He's too proud to drag it—he'd die first!"
Poor Penn—! I could have embraced him for that touch of pride; and felt assured that whatever the penalty might be which he was doomed to suffer, that he had "a heart for any fate!" What that fate was I have had no means of knowing, for I have never since heard of poor Penn—.
BY THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
Bring me the juice of the honey fruit, The large translucent, amber-hued, Rare grapes of southern isles, to suit The luxury that fills my mood.
And bring me only such as grew Where rarest maidens tent the bowers, And only fed by rain and dew Which first had bathed a bank of flowers.
They must have hung on spicy trees In airs of far enchanted vales, And all night heard the ecstasies Of noble-throated nightingales:
So that the virtues which belong To flowers may therein tasted be— And that which hath been thrilled with song May give a thrill of song to me.
For I would wake that string for thee Which hath too long in silence hung, And sweeter than all else should be The song which in thy praise is sung.
THE ENCHANTED ISLE.
BY MRS. LYDIA JANE PEIRSON.
Far in the ocean of the Night There lyeth an Enchanted Isle, Within a veil of mellow light, That blesseth like affection's smile.
It tingeth with a rosy hue All objects in that country fair, Like summer twilight, when the dew Is trembling in the fragrant air.
And there is music evermore, That seemeth sleeping on the breeze. Like sound of sweet bells from the shore Lingering along the summer seas.
And there are rivers, bowers, and groves, And fountains fringed with blossomed weeds, And all sweet birds that sing their loves 'Mid stately flowers or tasseled reeds.
All that is beautiful of earth, All that is valued, all that's dear, All that is pure of mortal birth, Lives in immortal beauty here.
All tender buds that ever grew For us on Hope's ephemeral tree, All loves, all joys, that e'er we knew, Bloom in that country gloriously.
There is no parting there, no change, No death, no fading, no decay; No hand is cold, no voice is strange, No eye is dark—or turned away.
To us, who daily toil and weep, How welcome is Night's starry smile, When in the fairy barge of Sleep We visit the Enchanted Isle.
All holy hearts that worship Truth, Though bleak their daily pathway seems, Find treasure and immortal youth In that fair isle of happy dreams.
But, if the soul have dwelt with sin, It landeth on that isle no more, Though it would give its life to win One glimpse but of the pleasant shore.
Their joys, which have been thrown away, Or stained with guilt, can bloom no more, And o'er the night their vessels stray Where pale shades weep, and surges roar.
BY J. BAYARD TAYLOR.
I had a vision in that solemn hour, Last of the year sublime, Whose wave sweeps downward, with its dying power Rippling the shores of Time! On the lone margin of that hoary sea My spirit stood alone, Watching the gleams of phantom History Which through the darkness shone:
Then, when the bell of midnight, ghostly hands Tolled for the dead year's doom, I saw the spirits of Earth's ancient lands Stand up amid the gloom! The crowned deities, whose reign began In the forgotten Past, When first the glad world gave to sovereign Man Her empires green and vast!
First queenly ASIA, from the fallen thrones Of twice three thousand years, Came with the wo a grieving goddess owns Who longs for mortal tears: The dust of ruin to her mantle clung, And dimmed her crown of gold, While the majestic sorrows of her tongue From Tyre to Indus rolled:
"Mourn with me, sisters, in my realm of wo, Whose only glory streams From its lost childhood, like the artic glow Which sunless Winter dreams! In the red desert moulders Babylon, And the wild serpent's hiss Echoes in Petra's palaces of stone And waste Persepolis!
Gone are the deities who ruled enshrined In Elephanta's caves, And Brahma's wailings fill the odorous wind That stirs Amboyna's waves! The ancient gods amid their temples fall, And shapes of some near doom, Trembling and waving on the Future's wall, More fearful make my gloom!"
Then from her seat, amid the palms embowered That shade the Lion-land, Swart AFRICA in dusky aspect towered— The fetters on her hand! Backward she saw, from out her drear eclipse, The mighty Theban years, And the deep anguish of her mournful lips Interpreted her tears.
"Wo for my children, whom your gyves have bound Through centuries of toil; The bitter wailings of whose bondage sound From many a stranger-soil! Leave me but free, though the eternal sand Be all my kingdom now— Though the rude splendors of barbaric land But mock my crownless brow!"
There was a sound, like sudden trumpets blown, A ringing, as of arms, When EUROPE rose, a stately Amazon, Stern in her mailed charms. She brooded long beneath the weary bars That chafed her soul of flame, And like a seer, who reads the awful stars, Her words prophetic came:
"I hear new sounds along the ancient shore, Whose dull old monotone Of tides, that broke on many a system hoar, Wailed through the ages lone! I see a gleaming, like the crimson morn Beneath a stormy sky, And warning throes, my bosom long has borne, Proclaim the struggle nigh!
"The spirit of a hundred races mounts To glorious life in one; New prophet-wands unseal the hidden founts That leap to meet the sun! And thunder-voices, answering Freedom's prayer, In far-off echoes fail, As some loud trumpet, startling all the air, Peals down an Alpine vale!"
O radiant-browed, the latest born of Time! How waned thy sisters old Before the splendors of thine eye sublime, And mien, erect and bold! Pure, as the winds of thine own forests are, Thy brow beamed lofty cheer, And Day's bright oriflamme, the Morning Star, Flashed on thy lifted spear.
"I bear no weight," so rang thy jubilant tones, "Of memories weird and vast— No crushing heritage of iron thrones, Bequeathed by some dead Past; But mighty hopes, that learned to tower and soar, From my own hills of snow— Whose prophecies in wave and woodland roar, When the free tempests blow!
"Like spectral lamps, that burn before a tomb, The ancient lights expire; I wave a torch, that floods the lessening gloom With everlasting fire! Crowned with my constellated stars, I stand Beside the foaming sea, And from the Future, with a victor's hand Claim empire for the Free!"
BY MARY SPENCER PEASE.
What unlucky star it was that presided over the destiny of my cousin Jehoiakim Johnson I am not astrologer enough to divine. Certain only am I that it could have been neither Saturn, Mercury, Mars, nor Venus; for he was far from being either wise, witty, warlike, or beautiful.
Cowper says every one falls "just in the niche he was ordained to fill." Cowper was mistaken in one instance, for Cousin Jehoiakim had no niche to fall into, but went wandering about the world, (our world,) without any thing apparently to do, or any where apparently to stay: And just the moment you wished him safe in Botany Bay, just that very moment was he standing before you with his—but never mind a description of his face and person. All cannot be handsome; folks unfortunately do not make themselves—and precisely the moment you became indifferent as to his presence, or if—a very rare thing—you wished it, that very instant he was no where to be found.
"Our world" was situated in good old New England, around and about Boston; and we, "our folks," were of the better class of farmers, and lived within a day's ride of the city.
Never in my life have I been happier than in that free, green country, with the broad, bright sky above me, and the clear, heaven-wide air around me; and bird and beast frolicking in freedom and gladness near and about me. I loved them all, and all their various noises, even to the unearthly scream of our bright, proud peacock. I shut my eyes and see them still; the world of gay-plumaged birds, with their sweet, wild songs, the little white-faced lambs, the wee, roly-poly pigs, the verdant ducks, the soft, yellow goslins, and the dignified old cows stalking about. Well do I remember each of their kind old faces. There was the spotted heifer, with an up-turned nose, and eyes with corners pointing toward the stars. If ever a cow is admitted into heaven for goodness, it will surely be Daisy. Then there was the black Alderny, and the—but leaving beef revenons a nos moutons—Cousin Jehoiakim. Still the place of all others to enjoy life, life unconstrained by city forms, life free, free as heaven's wind, is on a New England farm. My heart bounds within me as I look back at the dear old homestead. Just there it lies in the bend of the time-worn road that winds its interminable length through dark elms—the gothic ivy-clad elms—and through black giant pines, and the bright-leaved, sugar-giving maple, and golden fields, hedged in by ragged fences, formed of the roots and stumps of leviathan trees.
You see that picket-gate? open it, and a path bordered on each side by currant bushes, and gooseberry bushes, and the tall cyranga, and the purple lilac, will lead you through an arbor of fine Isabella's and Catawba's to the dear old homestead, now in possession of Brother Dick and little Fanny, his better half.
I could describe every nook of that darling old house, and every thing surrounding it, from its old-fashioned chimneys—wherein the domestic swallows have sung their little ones to sleep each successive summer, time out of mind—to the unseemly nail that projected its Judas-point from one of the crosspieces of that same little gate, and which always contrived to give a triangular tear to my flying robes every time they fluttered through that dear little gate. Just imagine the happy moments I spent under the great old willow by the well, darning those same triangular rents. Still has all this nothing to do with Cousin Jehoiakim Johnson. You have probably seen folks that were often in your way; now, he was never any where else. Always in the way, and always ungraceful. He was not ungraceful for lack of desire to please: bless his kind, officious heart! Oh, no! Was there a cup of coffee to be handed, and were there a half dozen waiters ready to hand it, he was sure to thrust forth at least ten huge digits, and if he chanced to get it in his grasp, wo to the coffee! and wo to the snow-white damask table-cloth! or worse, wo to one's "best Sunday-go-to-meetin'" silk dress. Nature uses strange materials in concocting some of her children—most uncouth was the fabric of which she constructed Jehoiakim Johnson.
Poor fellow! he is dead now—peace to his soul. Do you know I fancy it lies hid in the breast of my dog Jehu—the most ungainly, the best-natured creature alive. My baby rides his back, and pulls his ears. I never heard him growl. Oh! he is a jewel of a dog.
Poor Cousin Jehoiakim! Among his other plaisanteries he came near losing for me a noble husband. Patience, and I will relate how it came to pass.
Sister Anna and myself—that sister of mine, by the way, was a complete witch; all dimples and fun, with blue eyes that darted here and there, dancing in her head for very gladness; with a mouth on which the bright red rose sat like a queen on her throne. Her words I can liken to nothing but to so many little silver bells, ringing out into the clear air in joy and sweetness. And never have I heard those musical bells jingle one harsh or unharmonious sound. She is married now—poor thing—and the mother of three "little curly-headed, good-for-nothing, mischief-making monkeys."
Notwithstanding her exceeding loveliness, Cousin Jehoiakim preferred me, and actually offered me his great broad hand, as you shall see. She was a perfect Hebe, while my style of beauty was more of the—though to confess the "righty-dighty" truth, as little folks say, my beauty was of that order which took the keenest of eyes to discover. There were a pair, however, dark, and full of soul, that dwelt with as much delight on me as though I were Venus herself.
Oh! those were dear, darling eyes, and were in the possession of the best, yes, the very best specimen of Nature's modeling that New England contained; Nature wrought him from the finest of her clay, after her divinest image, and his parents named him Edgar Elliott.
Sister Anna and myself had been making our usual Christmas visit to Aunt Charity, or Aunt "Charty," as we used to call her, in good old Yankee language. Aunt Charity dwelt in Boston; and was the wife of a very excellent man, in very excellent circumstances; and the mother of seven dear, excellent boys, of whom Cousin Jehoiakim Johnson was not one.
How delightfully flew our days on this particular Christmas visit. I felt myself in a new world. A world of brighter flowers, and brighter sunshine; for, although I was eighteen, never until then had I been any thing but a wild, thoughtless, giddy child. And then?—the truth is a new star had burst upon my horoscope, bright and beautiful, that so bewildered my eyes to look upon, I was forced to awake my heart from its long sleep, to supply the place of eyes. Steadfast it gazed into that bright star's heaven-lighted depths, until I recognized it as my guiding star—my Destiny!
Oh, Love! thou angel! thou devil! thou blissful madness, thou wise folly! Thou that comest clad in rainbow garments, with words more full of hope than was the first arch that spanned high heaven, stouter hearts than mine have been compelled to own thee master. Prouder hearts than mine have listened to the witcheries of thy satin-smooth tongue until they forgot their pride. More ice-cold ones than mine have been consumed in the immortal fire thou buildest—the heart thine altar, Love, thou monarch of the universe!
Every thing has an end—a consolation oftentimes—rhapsody, as well as love, and so had that happy Christmas-time, when we were so merry, when I first saw that master-piece of nature—my Destiny—Edgar Elliott.
Anna and myself had been home but three weeks—three dreary years of weeks, Anna said—when we received a letter containing the joyful intelligence that Edgar Elliott, his aristocratic sister Jane, his unaristocratic sister little Fanny, and Herbert Allen—a young lieutenant, by the way, and, by the way, the red-hot flame of my harem-scarem sister—would all four honor Dough-nut Hall, the name we had playfully given our old homestead, with a speedy and long visit.
Joy and hope danced in our hearts when, clear and sunny, the promised day at length had come, the snow five and a half feet deep—the greatest depth of snow within the memory of the "oldest inhabitant"—the mercury full ten degrees below zero. I had just changed my dress for the fifth time, and sister Anna was offering me this consolation, "I must say, Clara, that that is the most unbecoming dress you have, you look like a perfect scare-crow," when the sound of sleigh-bells coming up the avenue, sent my heart up in my throat, and myself quicker than lightning down to the "hall-door," there to welcome—not my darling Edgar and his proud, beautiful sister, and Anna's Adonis lieutenant, and Brother Dick's pretty little Fanny—no, none of these, oh, no! who but my long-visaged, good-for-nothing cousin Jehoiakim Johnson.
"Fiddle-de-dee!" exclaimed a voice at my elbow; and my disappointed sister skipped, with chattering teeth, back into the house.
The stage drove off, after depositing cousin Jehoiakim and a Noah's-ark of a trunk.
"Wall, Cousin Clarry!" exclaimed he, springing toward me with one of his own peculiar bear-like bounds. "How du you du? I guess you didn't expect me this time, no how."
"I can't say that I did," said I; "but do come in, this air is enough to freeze one."
"Wall, here I am again," said he, rubbing his great hands together before the blazing hickory. "But if that wasn't a tarnel cold drive; and if this isn't a nation good fire, then I don't know. But how are uncle and aunt, and Cousin Anna, and Dick, and little Harry?"
"All quite well. Where have you been since you left here, cousin?"
"Why I went right to Cousin Hezekiah's; but I did not stay there quite two months, because little Prudence caught the brain fever, and I was obliged to keep so still that it was very unpleasant. I went from there to Cousin Ebenezer's. Wall, I stayed to Cousin Eb's four months or so; then I went to stay a couple of months with Cousin Pildash and Axy, (Achsa.) So this morning I came from Uncle Abimelech's. I only stayed there a few weeks, because—But, Cousin Clarry, du look! if there isn't a sleigh-load of folks coming."
I did look, and saw coming through the great open gate, and up the avenue, a sleigh, all covered with gold and brown, glittering in the sun's setting rays. I saw the long, white manes of the ponies, and the heavy plumes of my beautiful friend, Jane, streaming far in the wind; and then I saw little Fanny's bright, happy face, and the fierce moustache of Anna's lieutenant; and then I saw a pair of dark, earnest eyes, full of devotion, gazing into mine as though at the shrine of their soul's ideal. Never shall I forget the look they wore, so inexpressibly full of affection was it.
What a pity stars should set. What a pity that eyes, once overflowing with the light of wildest, truest love, should grow cold and dim. A pity, too, that love cannot always be love—that it should find its grave so often in hate, or indifference, or in sober friendship. Still that it does not always, let us bless Love, and think that the fault lies in us, and not in Love, that we are grown so like the clay of which our bodies are made, that Love, the spirit, cannot find an abiding-place within us; and, as years come over us, we are content more and more to harden our hearts, and bask, like butterflies, in the external sunshine of this beautiful world, until the world within—the world of thought and feeling—is a weary one, gladdened only with a few flowers of transcendent sweetness and brightness—rewards of merit from this work-day, lesson-learning earth.
Meantime were those warm eyes looking love upon me; and meantime, from out a world of buffalo-robes and furs, were our merry friends emerging; and then a fervent pressure of a soft, warm hand sent the bright blood burning to my very temples. Then came numerous other shakes of the hand, and question sounded upon question, and laugh pealed upon laugh; a gayer, merrier, madder party never met together. Sister Anna, and Brother Dick's little love of a Fanny, were a host of mirth in themselves. The accession of so many merry faces seemed to act on the uncouth spirits of my Cousin Jehoiakim like so much exhilarating gas; for scarcely were we housed, when he suddenly caught me up in his windmill arms, and twirling me around as though I had been a feather, exclaimed, "Bless us! Cousin Clarry, I have scarcely had a chance to say how du you du, and to tell you how glad I am to be here once more. Arn't you tickled to death to see me?"
Indignant and breathless, I sprang from him, saying, "Really, Cousin Jehoiakim, I should be much more delighted to see you if you would be kind enough to manifest a less rude way of expressing your joy."
"Oh! beg pardon, Cousin Clarry. I forgot you had grown up into a young woman; another word for touch-me-not—ha! ha! ha! I guess you are all dressed up, tu; you look like a daisy, anyhow."
With that he threw himself back in a perfect roar of ha! ha's! and he! he's! My eyes glanced around to see the effect produced on my friends by my gauche cousin. The great blue eyes of the aristocratic Jane opened themselves wider and more wide, while the merry black ones of little Fanny seemed to enjoy the sport. The lieutenant's moustache curled itself a little more decidedly, as he surveyed Jehoiakim Johnson; looking upon him, probably, as on some savage monster. I thought I perceived a darker shade in Edgar's eyes. It soon passed over, and we all became quiet and chatty. The twilight deepened around us, meantime, and the shadows formed by the blazing hearth grew more and more opaque, and more and more fitful, lengthening themselves over carpet, chairs, and sofas, to the very farthest corner of the room, darting all manner of fantastic forms upon Sister Anna and her handsome lieutenant, as they sat over by the window, in earnest conversation. Yes, Sister Anna, for once wert thou earnest. Upon our group on the sofa, before the hearth, fell also those strange fire-light shadows. Sweet little Fanny! how like a little fairy didst thou look in that flickering fire-light; thy graceful form, half reclining, thrown carelessly on the sofa; thy long, curling hair flowing in dark clouds over thy snow-white dress, and nearly hiding thy happy, child-like face, and bright eyes, that glanced out on Brother Dick, who, entranced, was devoutly bending over thee, gazing on thy sunny face—what he could see of it. Sweet little Fanny! And thy proud, beautiful sister, Jane—sitting beside me, and near thee; well did that gleaming light reveal her noble outline of face and form contrasting so finely with thine. Nor did those wayward shadows spare our dear mother, but daguerreotyped all manner of merry-andrews on her sober satin dress, as she sat over on a lounge, quietly talking with my dear, sweet Edgar, who employed his leisure moments in throwing sundry loving glances over at me. Nor did these weird shadows spare our Cousin Jehoiakim Johnson in the great old-fashioned arm-chair, where he had flung himself, seemingly wrapped in meditation most profound. They frolicked over his broad, square shoulders like the Liliputs upon Gulliver, dancing all sorts of fantastic dances, pulling at his ears, and tweaking his substantial nose, when a snore of most immense magnitude broke on our quiet ears. Then another and another, each louder than the last. Ah! Cousin Jehoiakim, most profound was thy meditation.
Now I am not going to weary your patience by telling you how just then our "help" entered, one bearing a tray-full of tall sperm candles, another an immense waiter, crowned with the thick-gilt, untarnished china, that had been handed down in our family by four successive generations—we had begged our dear mother to let the tea, the tea only, be handed around as it was done in Boston; she in an evil hour consenting. Nor how Cousin Jehoiakim, aroused from his meditation by the glare of light, starting up, cast his eyes upon Mercy, the stout serving maiden, and bearer of that same precious porcelain—for which my dear mother's reverence was as great, every whit, as that of Charles Lamb's for old China; and how the next moment the waiter was in the hands of my six feet seven and a-half cousin, with "Du let me help you, young woman!" and how the next instant the six feet seven and a-half formed a horizontal line with the floor, instead of a perpendicular one; and how the glittering fragments of gold and white glistened from under every chair, and from the hearth, and out from among the ashes, like unto so many evil eyes glaring upon him for his stupidity and carelessness; and how little Fanny unwound from one foot of the prostrate six feet seven and a-half several yards of snow-white muslin—the innocent cause of the disaster; and how, light as a bird, she sprung, merrily laughing, from the room, with the fluttering fragments of her cobweb dress gathered in an impromptu drapery around her graceful little form.
No; I will not fatigue you with the history of that unlucky adventure; nor how, but a short time after, when we had taken tea from less costly China, and had fallen into a witty, merry uttering of each other's thoughts, we were interrupted by screams the most—but never mind what kind, seeing I have said you shall not be fatigued with a description of what was nothing but an immense kettle of boiling lard flowing quietly and river-like over the long length of the before so spotless kitchen floor, with many a cluster of dough-nut islands interspersed, by way of relieving the said river of monotony. Our dear mother was famed for miles around for the profusion and superiority of her dough-nuts, hence our soubriquet—"Dough-nut Hall." And, seeing that Mercy was only scalded half to death, the guilty culprit, who insisted that the kettle was "too heavy for a woman to lift," escaping unhurt, that is bodily—his remorse of conscience being truly pitiable. No; none of all this, with long, ugly sentences, shall you have; no, nor a detail of his many daily, hourly, and almost momently, misadventures; how once, when we were sitting in Miss Elliott's room, in he bolted with, "Bless my soul! what a lot of industrious women-folk! 'How doth the busy bee;'" that new and elegant little poem was, word for word, recited. Little Fanny he found making a bead purse for Brother Dick, and examining her box with every conceivable shade of bead duly assorted, and separated from each other by innumerable partitions. No matter what he said about them, only the beads were spilled, and the purse could not be finished; and then were Miss Jane's delicate brushes passed through his wondering red hair before a saving hand could arrest them; then was Miss Jane's beautiful inlaid dressing-box broken irreparably; and then—but I will tell you what I will relate you—all about our sleigh-ride and country ball. Yes! that you must know; not because it is worth telling, but because I should like you to hear it—all about how I nearly lost my darling. But to commence.
Rumors were afloat of this said ball, the countriest kind of a country ball, to take place in Squire Brown's barn, the largest, best built barn for miles around. Our city friends entered into the spirit exactly, and determined on going. "Cousin Jehoiakim? Oh, he need know nothing about it," said Sister Anna; "or we can easily deceive him as to the day, without telling him very much of a lie." Ah! Sister Anna. The important day arrived. In one great bandbox reposed various satins, laces, and ribbons too numerous to mention; the owners thereof were standing cloaked, hooded, and muffed, ready to start. The distance was ten miles. We had cast lots for the sleighs, and had agreed on exclusiveness, though not exactly the exclusiveness that Sister Anna wickedly proposed, viz., that each brother should take his respective sisters in due decorum. The new "cutter" of my brother's was drawn by himself; and he had already started with his little Fanny by his side. The proud, beautiful Jane—I really believe I had forgotten to mention that, while Cousin Jehoiakim was upsetting chairs, and spilling pitchers of water, and breaking glasses, and treading on people's toes, and the cat's tail, a distant cousin of ours arrived—rather a guess cousin than Cousin Jehoiakim; tall as the last named, to be sure, but bearing about the same resemblance to him as a vigorous, graceful young willow does to an overgrown mullen stalk. This new cousin—by cognomen Clarence Spencer—the family name our own, by the way—proud and beautiful as the haughty Jane herself—had seen fit to fall most gracefully in love with her. These two, therefore, were just started on their way to the ball, in Clarence's own incomparable turn-out. Lieutenant Allen had drawn the Elliott's beautiful gold and brown sleigh. He was holding the impatient ponies, and Sister Anna was arranging the cushions when Cousin Jehoiakim hove in sight. Sister Anna sprung like a doe to the front seat, threw the heavy buffalo-robes about, making them and the great bandbox fill up the back seat, and seating herself by the lieutenant—all this quicker than lightning—and giving the ponies a touch of the whip, on they dashed to the imminent peril of their necks as well as her own. A saucy toss of the head was all she vouchsafed me. All, then, were on their way save Edgar and myself, who were expecting a quiet, loving talk in the comfortable old-fashioned "pung," with a gig top, that papa used in his frequent drives to Boston.
"Wall, now, Cousin Clarry, I reckon you thought I didn't snuff what was going on."
Poor fellow! he looked so good-natured, truly my heart smote me.
"There is another cutter in the barn, cousin," replied I, "and you can take your pick of the horses."
"You are very kind, Cousin Clarry, but there ain't no occasion of calling any more of the poor dumb critters out into the cold. I guess you can make room for me; I will ride on top until we catch up to some of the two-seated sleighs."
Time was too precious to waste in words, and as Cousin Jehoiakim good naturedly persisted that he should be very comfortable on the top, on the top he seated himself. I saw that Edgar did not like the arrangement, but he was too polite, or too proud to interfere. "Let us overtake the others," said he. A bright smile passed over his face. I saw he meditated some mischief. I knew it could not be very mischievous mischief, for a kinder, nobler heart never beat more warmly in any human breast. Forward dashed the horses, throwing the white, sparkling snow before and around them into the bright sunshine. Faster and faster sped the spirited horses, until we passed, first—yes, it was no illusion, his lips were actually pressing her little rosy mouth. Then, Lieutenant Allen, you are not the first man that has done the like; it is a way they all have, ever since Adam gave Mother Eve her first love-kiss. What man would not part with some years of his life for the privilege of pressing to his own a pretty little soft mouth?
Ah, Sister Anna! the question was actually popped; and on that memorable day of the ball, thy giddy heart was actually caged. We came so noiselessly and swift through the soft snow that we actually took thee by surprise. Thy blushes were beautiful; but on we sped, and our next tableaux presented Cousin Clarence gazing most intensely and earnestly into the great deep-blue eyes of the beautiful Jane Elliott, as though he were pouring forth a question from his soul to hers. Her delicate hand lay in his, and her stately, graceful head inclined gently toward him. They were so earnestly occupied, he in talking, and she in listening, that they did not see us until we had passed them; and after we passed them we were not long in overtaking Dick and his little Fanny. Bless the lovers! Her curly-headed little head started, quick as lightning, from its warm resting place, though not so quick but that my practiced eye saw it take leave of Brother Dick's manly shoulder. Her fun-loving spirit could not resist the ludicrous appearance of Cousin Jehoiakim, perched upon the top of our pung like some immense bird of prey. Brother Dick joined in her pealing, merry laughter, and the old woods rang again. The stump of a tree grew at the road-side, near an immense snow-bank. Edgar, as though he had been on the look-out for such a fine opportunity, speedily and dexterously ran one runner of our pung over the stump, and over went the pung. By a skillful movement he righted it instantly. The friendly side preserved me from the snow; but Cousin Jehoiakim—alas! for gravity on a gig-top. In this deep bank of snow, his heels high in air, stood my inverted cousin. As soon as I could speak from convulsive laughter, I implored Edgar to go back to my cousin's assistance.
"As you please," said he. Now you must know that I was the only one that treated Cousin Jehoiakim kindly. Sister Anna and Brother Dick made a complete butt of him; the rest did not treat him at all, except to an occasional shrug of the shoulder from Anna's lieutenant, or a gay laugh from little Fanny. And, forsooth, because I was civil to him, and talked to him, and excused his awkwardness, why Edgar saw fit, in his wisdom, to be jealous of him. Was there ever any thing more absurd? Yes, since time out of mind have men, the wisest and the best of them, been just so absurd; and unto all eternity will they, the wisest and best of them, be just so absurd again.
By the time we had reached again the spot, the others had come up, and were engaged in disentombing the imbedded unfortunate.
"That was a cold bed, any how," said he, shaking himself from head to foot like a huge Newfoundland dog, and smiling upon us with his imperturbable good-nature; "but why, in the name of all that is good, did you not help a feller out sooner? If it had been feathers instead of snow, I should surely have been suffocated."