Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

consoled me with his reflections. I shall not expatiate on our genuine, disinterested friendship. He has consecrated to it a monument in his Poem of the Wanderer. What but the heart could have dictated the following passage? “Here doom'd to pant beneath a torrid sky, And cast to happier climes a wishful eye; No friend had I my sorrows to deplore, "With whom to pass the sympathetic hour! “For many a stream, and many a waste divide, "These lonely shores from Coosohatchie's tide!”

I remember, with lively pleasure, my residence in the woods of South Carolina. En-. joying health in its plentitude, yet young enough to receive new impressions; cultivating daily my taste by the study of polite literature; blest with the friendship of a George, and living in the bosom of a family unruffled by domestic cares; how could I be otherwise than happy, and how can I refrain from the pleasure of retrospection.

Coosohatchie! thou shalt not be unknown, if, by what eloquence nature has given me, I can call forth corresponding emotions in the breast of my reader to those which my own felt when wandering silently through thy woods.

My pupils, in the woods of Coosohatchie, consisted of a boy and two young ladies. William Henry was an interesting lad of fourteen, ingenuous of disposition, and a stranger to fear.

He was fond to excess of the chase. His heart danced with joy at the mention of a deer; and he blew his horn, called together his dogs, and hooped and hallooed in the woods with an animation that would have done honour to a veteran sportsman. O! for the Muse of an Ovid, to describe the dogs of this young Actæon. There were Sweetlips, and Ringwood, and Music, and Smoker, whose barking was enough to frighten the wood nymphs to their caves. His eldest sister, Maria, though not a regular beauty, was remarkable for her dark eyes and white teeth, and, what was not less captivating, an amiable temper. She was grateful to me for my instruction, and imposed silence on her brother when I invoked the ' Muse in school. But it was difficult to controul her little sister Sally, whom in sport and wantonness they called Tibousa. This little girl was distinguished by the languish of her blue eyes, from which, however, she could dart fire when William offended her. Sally was a charming girl, whose beauty promised to equal that of her mother. That I passed many happy hours in watching and assisting the progress of the minds of these young people, feel no repugnance to acknowledge. My long residence in a country where honour and shame from no condition rise, has placed me above the ridiculous pride of disowning the situation of a Tutor.

Though the plantation of Mr. Drayton was immense, his dwelling was only a log-house; a temporary fabric built to reside in during the winter. But his table was sumptuous, and an elegance of manners presided at it that might have vied with the highest circles of polished Europe. I make the eulogium, or rather exhibit the character of Mr. Drayton, in one word, by saying he was a Gentleman; for under that portraiture I comprehend whatever there is of honour. Nor can I refrain from speaking in panegyric terms of his lady, whose beauty and elegance were her least qualities; for she was a tender mother, a sincere friend, and walked humbly with her God. She was indeed deserving the solicitude of her husband who would not suffer the winds of heaven to visit her face too roughly.

It is usual in Carolina to sit an hour at table after supper; at least it was our custom in the woods of Coosohatchie. It was then I related my adventures to Mr. and Mrs. Drayton, in the eastern section of the globe, who not only endured my tales, but were elated with my successes, and depressed by my misfortunes.

About ten I withdrew to my chamber and my books, where I found a sparkling fire of wood, and where I lucubrated, smoked segars, and was lost in my own musings. The silence of the night invited meditation; but often was I to be seen at three in the morning sitting before my chamber fire, surrounded like Magliabechi by my papers and my books. My study was Latin, and my recreation the Confessions of the eloquent Citizen of Geneva.

But I was not without company. A merry cricket in my chimney corner never failed to cheer me with his song.–A cricket is not to be contemned. It is related by Buffon that they are sold publicly in the Asiatic markets; and it is recorded of Scaliger that he kept several in a box. I remember an Ode which I consecrated to my midnight companion.

ODE TO A CRICKET.

LITTLE guest, with merry throat,

That chirpest by my taper's light,
Come, prolong thy blithsome note,

Welcome visitant of night.

Here enjoy a calm retreat,

In my chimney safely dwell,
No rude hand thy haunt shall beat,

Or chase thee from thy lonely cell.

Come, recount me all thy woes,

While around us sighs the gale;
Or rejoic'd to find repose,

Charm me with thy merry tale.

Say that passion moves thy breast:

Does some flame employ thy care?
Perhaps with love thou art opprest,

A mournful victim to despair.

Shelter'd from the wintry wind,

Live and sing and banish care;
Here protection thou shalt find,
Sympathy has brought thee here.

The country in our neighbourhood consisted of lofty forests of pine, oak, and hickory. Well might I have exclaimed in the words of my poetical friend :

Around an endless wild of forests lies,
And pines on pines forever meet the eyes ! ”

The land, as I have before suggested, was perfectly level. Not the smallest acclivity was visible, and therefore no valley rejoiced the sight with its verdure.

The staple commodity of the State is rice, but cotton is now eagerly cultivated where the soil is adapted to the purpose. The culture of indigo is nearly relinquished.* It attains more perfection in the East-Indies, which can amply supply the markets of Europe. It is to the crop of cotton that the Planter looks for the augmentation of his wealth. Of cotton there are two kinds; the sea-island and inland.

[* Swift and far-reaching changes brought in by Whitney's gin machine. Cf. Schoepf, Reise durch einige der mittlern und südlichen vereinigten nordamerikanischen Staaten. Erlangen. 1788, II, 287, 288.—“Nächst dem schon berührten Indigo, ist der Reis die vorzüglichste Stapelwaare von Südkarolina.

Auf Reis, Indigo, und in den hintern Gegenden auf Toback, haben die Einwohner von Karolina bisher ihre hauptsächlichste Aufmerksamkeit verwendet” (1784).]

« AnteriorContinuar »