« AnteriorContinuar »
water near the place, on whose dismal banks are to be found many vestiges of the Indians that once inhabited them; and in the immeasurable forests of the neighbourhood, (comprehended within the district of Coosohatchie,) are several scattered plantations of cotton and of rice, whose stubborn soil the poor negro moistens with his tears, and
Whose sore task
It was on one of these plantations that I passed the Winter of 1798, and the Spring of the following year.
I lived in the family of Mr. Drayton, of whose children I had undertaken the tuition, and enjoyed every comfort that opulence could bestow.
To form an idea of Ocean Plantation, let the reader picture to his imagination an avenue of several miles, leading from the Savannah road, through a continued forest, to a wooden house, encompassed by rice-grounds, corn and cottonfields. On the right, a kitchen and other offices : on the left, a stable and coach-house : a little further a row of negro-huts, a barn and yard : the view of the eye bounded by lofty woods of pine, oak and hickory.
The solitude of the woods I found at first rather dreary ; but the polite attention of an elegant family, a sparkling fire in my room every night, and a horse always at my command, reconciled me to my situation ; and my impulse to sacrifice to the Muses, which had been repressed by a wandering life, was once more awakened by the scenery of the woods of Carolina.
I indulged in the composition of lyric poetry, and when I had produced an Ode, transmitted it to Freneau, at Charleston, who published it in his Gazette. But planters have little disposition for poetry, and the eye of the Carolina reader was diverted from my effusions, by the more interesting advertisements for fugitive slaves; I was therefore apprehensive that my reputation would not become exterded by the Muse, when at the distance of fourteen hundred miles, I found an Eulogist in Mr. Dennie, who conducted the only literary Paper in the United States, and whose praise was the more grateful, from its being voluntary and remote. " As conductors of “the only paper on our Continent that is pro“ fessedly literary, we consider it incumbent on
the tribute of praise to certain easy poems which have appeared in the Charleston “ Gazette, and which instead of being dated “ from Parnassus, or Helicon, or at least from “ some town of our Union, appear to originate “ in an obscure hamlet, of the barbarous and “ wigwam name of Coosohatchie. Among the
many pleasing effusions of this writer, is an imi“tation of that exquisite Ode in which Horace, “ under the name of Pyrrha, depicts the wiles of “a Courtezan. Mr. D. though stunned with “ Indian names, and resident among Indian rea
« us to pay
“ ders, has a mind to comprehend the language, “ and catch the spirit of a liberal Roman. There “is, perhaps, no Ode of Horace more difficult “ to render into English than the Ode to Pyrrha ; “ and many are the versions that have been attempted without success, by writers distin
guished for their classical attainments, and “ liveliness of imagination. We, therefore, re“joice to find the task performed with felicity “ on a soil where genius sickens, and where fancy dies!"
HORACE, Book i. Ode 5, Imitated.
Dissolves away within thy glowing arms ?
Deeply enamor'd of thy witching charms ?
Thy golden locks in graceful ringlets wave ?
For whom doth now thy fragrant bosom heave?
Who, all-confiding in thy winning wiles,
And finds, too late, the treach'ry of thy smiles
Believe thee not less amiable than kind :'
And give thy vows, indignant, to the wind,
66 We would recommend this writer if he should “chuse, or be compelled to remain at Cooso
"batchie, or any other American town of bar“ barous etymology, to turn either Usurer, Spe“culator or Jew. His poetry, however happy, “will in this country experience only the fate of " being buried among the rubbish of advertise. “ments for run-away negroes. Neither Horace,
nor his imitator, will be inquired after ; but “What's the price of cotton ? and how a yoke 66 of bullocks ?"
My ardour of literary application, was increased by such spontaneous praise from a man, whose writings were held in the highest estimation, and who was considered, from prescriptive veneration, the American Arbiter Elegantiarum. I now cultivated the lighter Ode, and felicitated myself on having sacrificed to the laurelled-god in the woods of Carolina. The common names of common towns, of Boston, New-York, and Philadelphia, awaken no curiosity; because every Traveller has described them ; but Coosohatchie, which has scarce ever reached the ear of an European, cannot but possess the recommendațion of novelty from the Indian derivation of its name, and the wildness of its situation.
I, therefore, rejoice at the destiny which brought me to the spot; and I envy not other Travellers the magnificence of their cities.
The country near Coosobatchie exhibited with the coming Spring a new and enchanting prospect. The borders of the forests were covered with the blossoms of the dog-wood, of which the
white flowers caught the eye from every part ; and often was to be seen the red-bud tree, which purpled the adjacent woods with its luxuriant branches; while, not infrequently, shrubs of jessamine, intermixed with the wood-bine, lined the road for several miles. The feathered choir began to warble their strains, and from every tree was heard the song of the red-bird, of which the pauses were filled by the mocking-bird, who either imitated the note with exquisite precision, or poured forth a ravishing melody of its own.
I commonly devoted my Sundays to the pleasure of exploring the country, and cheered by a serene sky, and smiling landscape, felt
breast awakened to the most rapturous sensations. I lifted my heart to that Supreme Being, whose agency is every where confessed ; and whom I traced in the verdure of the earth, the foliage of the trees, and the water of the stream. I have ever been of opinion, that God can be as well propitiated in a field as a temple; that he is not to be conciliated hy empty protestations, but grateful feelings; and that the heart can be devout when the tongue is silent. Yet there is always something wanting to sublunary felicity, and I confess, I felt very sensibly the privation of those hills which so agreeably diversify the country of Europe. I would exclaim in the animated language of Rousseau, Jamais pays de plaine, quelque beau qu 'l fut,
'l fut, ne parut tel à mes yeux. Il me faut des torrens, des rochers, des sapins, des bois noirs,