Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

About three in the afternoon, our journey being suspended by the heat of the weather, we stopped to eat a cold dinner, in a kind of lodge that had been erected by some hunters on the roadside, and which now hospitably accommodated a family travelling through the woods.

Here we took possession of the benches round the table to enjoy our repast ; turning the horses loose to seek the shade ; and cooling our wine in a spring that murmured near the spot. William Henry, having snatched a morsel, got ready his fowling-piece, to penetrate the woods in search of wild turkies; and while we were rallying him on his passion for shooting, the cry from a negro of a rattlesnake ! disturbed our tranquillity. The snake was soon visible to every eye, dragging its slow length along the root of a large tree, and directing its attention to a bird, which chattered and fluttered from above, and seemed irresistibly disposed to fall into his distended jaws. London, a negro-servant, had snatched up a log, and was advancing to strike the monster a blow in the head, when a black snake, hastening furiously to the spot, immediately gave battle to the rattlesnake, and suspended, by his unexpected appearance,


power of the negro's arm. We now thought we had got into a nest of snakes, and the girls were screaming with fright, when, William Henry, taking an unerring aim with his gun, shot the rattlesnake, in the act of repulsing his enemy. The black snake, without a moment's

[ocr errors]

procrastination, returned into the woods, and profiting by his example, we all pursued our jour-? ney, except William Henry, who stopped with a negro to take out the rattles of the monster he had killed. My pupil presented me with these rattles, which I carried for three years in

my pocket, and finally gave them to the son of a Mr. Andrews, of Warminster, who had emigrated to Baltimore, and had been to me singularly obliging. *

We stopped a few days at Stono, where we were kindly received by Mr. Wilson, my late travelling companion into Georgia. I expected that William Henry would receive the applauses of his friends for the presence of mind he had displayed in killing the rattlesnake; but when the youngest sister recited the story to the family,

* Much has been said by Travellers of the fascinating power of snakes in America. Credat Judæus Apella, non Ego ! Things are best illustrated by comparison. It is known almost to every man who has not passed his days in the smoke of London, Salisbury, or Bristol, but, incited by the desire of knowledge, has made a Tour into the country ; I maintain it could not escape the observation of such a Tourist, that birds will flutter their wings, and exhibit the utmost agitation, at the approach of a fox near a tree on which they are perched. Filled with the same dread, a bird in America cannot refrain from fluttering over a snake; and the American snakes, however inferior in cunning to the English foxes, being endued with more perseverance ; fear deprives the bird of motion, and it falls into his jaws. It is by thus tracing effects to their causes that truth is promulgated ; and hence I am enabled to detect and expose the fallaciousness of the opinion, that there is any charm, or fascination in the eye of a snake.

my in

they heard her without emotion, and only smiled at it as a trifling incident.

In the venerable mansion at Ashley River, I again directed the intellectual progress of teresting pupils, and, enlarged the imagination of William, hy putting Pope's version of the Odyssey into his hands, which I found among other books that composed the family library. He had before read the Iliad ; but neither Patroclus slain by Hector, nor Hector falling beneath the avenging arm of Achilles, imparted half the rapture which Ulysses inspired with his companions in the cave of Polyphemus. I am of the opinion of Warton, that the great variety of events and scenes exhibited in the Odyssey, cannot fail to excite a more lively interest than the martial uniformity of the Iliad.

The garden of Mr. Drayton's mansion led to the banks of Ashley River, which, after a rapid course of twenty miles, discharged itself into the Atlantic. The river was not wanting in picturesqueness, and, once, while stretched at my ease on its banks, I meditated an Ode.


ON gentle Ashley's winding flood,

Enjoying philosophic rest;
I court the calm, umbrageous wood,

No more with baleful care opprest.


Or, on its banks supinely laid,

The distant mead and field survey,
Where branching laurels form a shade

To keep me from the solar ray.
While flows the limpi: stream along,

With quick meanders through the grove,
And from each bird is heard the

Of careless gaiety and love.

And when the moon, with lustre bright,

Around me throws her silver beam,
I catch new transport from the sight,

And view her shadow in the stream.

While Whip-poor-will repeats his tale,

That echoes from the boundless plain ;
And blithsome to the passing gale,

The Mocking-bird pours out his strain.

Hence with a calm, contented mind,

Sweet pleasure comes without alloy ;
Our own felicity we find

'Tis from the heart springs genuine joy.

An elder brother of Mr. Drayton was our neighbour' on the river ; he occupied, perhaps, the largest house and gardens in the United States of America. Indeed I was now breathing the politest atmosphere in America ; for our constant visitants were the highest people in the State, and possessed of more house-servants than there are inhabitants at Occoquan. These people never moved but in a carriage, lolled on sophas instead of sitting on chairs, and were always attended by their negroes to fan them with a peacock's feather. Such manners were ill-suited to an

[ocr errors]

Englishman loved his ease; and who, whenever their carriages were announced, I always took my gun, and went into the woods. Oh ! for a freedom from the restraint imposed by well-bred inanity.

From Ashley River, after a short residence, we removed to Charleston, which was full of visitors from the woods, and exhibited a motley


Here was to be perceived a Coachee, without a glass to exclude the dust, driven by a black fellow, not less proud of the livery of luxury, than the people within the vehicle were of a suit made in the fashion. There was to be discovered a Carolinian huck, who had left off essences and powder, and, in what related to his hair, resembled an ancient Roman ; but in the distribution of his dress, was just introducing that fashion in Charleston, which was giving way in succession to another in London. But he had an advantage over his transatlantic rival; he not only owned the horse he rode, but the servant who followed. To be brief, such is the pride of the people of Charleston, that no person is seen on foot unless it be a mechanic, or some mechanical Tutor. He who is without horses and slaves, incurs always contempt. The consideration of property has such an empire over the mind, that poverty and riches are contemplated through the medium of infamy and virtue. Even negroes are infected with this idea ; and

« AnteriorContinuar »