Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

this lady, who is the patroness of every thing excellent and praise-worthy-distinguished for intelligence, modesty, virtue, and religion-is indeed an ornament of the American fair, and to the nicer sensibilities of the heart adds the grateful garb of humanity. Who can estimate female worth?—Who can be indifferent to the charms of female excellence ?”—Under Mr. Hastead's roof, in the woods near Perth-Amboy, I spent the most agreeable part of the last summer, in the company of this lady and the Miss Hastead's, equally amiable. To perceive them vying with each other in expressions of filial affection, smoothing the brow of declining years, and diminishing the burden accumulated by the decriptitude of age, might gratify the benevolence of an angel. To their lot (especially the youngest) had fallen no uncommon share of beauty-their tempers were sweet-- and their minds were improved by a suitable education. When at leisure we rambled through the woods; but every morning we hailed the rising sun, and our spirits were exhilarated by contemplating the beauties of nature. The mocking bird entertaining us with variety of notes—the song of joy and the laugh of mirth were heard among us—but the period of departure surprised me by its sudden arrival—and I bade the happy family adieu, not without the tenderest sentiments of regret-yes, to exchange those peaceful shades,

(For) distant climes, a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracks with fainting steps (I) go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns, that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;

E

1

Those matted woods, where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling;
Those pois’nous fields, with rank luxuriance crown'd,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around;
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,
And savage men, more murd'rous still than they;
While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravag'd landscape with the skies ;
Far different these from every former scene,
The cooling brook, the grassy vested green,
The breezy covert of the warbling grove,
That only shelter'd thefts of harmless love.

GOLDSMITH.

Miss Franks and the amiable sisters have often recurred to my mind-their private and social virtues press forcibly on my heart-may their days and nights be without a cloud-and, when they quit this troubled theatre, may they be adınitted ad patres, clothed in robes of immortal beauty, is the prayer of their grateful friend, &c.

fu)

foun

LETTER III.

Reverie continuedThe present state of the Indians of

Arima-Census of the Colony in 1797— Natural His tory of the Orange and Tamarind Trees-Of the Grape, Indian Corn, and Cocoa- Ancient and Modern method of making Chocolate, together with its Medicinal Virtues,

Head-Quarters, PUERTO DE Espanå, Feb. 1803.

DEAR SIR,

I FINISHED my last letter just as I had stretched my wearied limbs under the fragrant shade of the hospitable linden-tree, with the little volume still unopened in my hand, thinking on the many happy hours that glided away during my delightful solitude in the woods near Perth-Amboy. Why did I refuse those who wished, nay entreated me, to take up my abode with the Dryades?

But me, not destined such delights to share,
My prime of life in wandering spent and care,
Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view;
That, like the circle bounding earth and skies,
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies;
My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,
And find no spot of all the world my owo.

GOLDSMITH.

[ocr errors]

ceeded on my journey, I imagined I traced the footsteps of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was here two hundred and eight years ago, employing his genius and risking his life to enhance the dignity and splendour of his country. The reward he met with is an encouragementfor me to study Cocker. In contemplating the life of this immortal ornament, who lived for his country rather than himself, we must be fully impressed with the truth of this maxiin, “ That ambition, however “ honourably displayed, is seldom the path that leads ' “ to private felicity.” How beautifully the benign poet delineated the character of this great man* :

Who can speak
The numerous worthies of the maiden-reign?
In Raleigh mark their every glory mix’d;
Raleigh! the scourge of Spain! Whose breast, with all
The Sage, the Patriot, and the Hero burn'd;
Nor sunk his vigour when a coward-reign
The Warrior fetter'd, and at last resign'd,
To glut the vengeance of a vanquish'd fae.
Then active still, and unrestrain'd his mind,
Explor'd the vast extent of ages past,
And with his prison hours enrich'd the world;
Yet found no times, in all the long research,
So glorious or so base as those he prov'd
In which he conquer'd, and in which he bled.

THOMSON.

1

I banished these reflections with an involuntary tear to the memory of Raleigh, occasioned, in some degree, by my assimilated situation. To be brief, I arrived at Arima: here I familiarized myself with these innocent creatures : I envied their situation, and their harmless minds; yet, on the other hand, piticd the blindness of

* Mavor's Nepose

their ideas, which were so modulated as to suit the machinations of their teachers. In this, as well as in the rest of the settlements, there is a Catholic Missionary, who has the care of their souls, and stiles himself their " Moral Preceptor,"_" the immediate Agent of the "Omnipotent God,” and “the Purifier of Souls," &c. The ascendancy he has over them is astonishing. They may be truly said to be priest-ridden, for they undergo the most rigid discipline. They are encouraged in their zeal with a view of supporting a species of slavery, which facilitates the devotion of their persons (I mean the females) to the service of their religious guides. If any of them, among the tribe, violate the seventh commandment, they are excommunicated; the privilege of violating it is reserved to themselves. A number of the most comely of the females, from the age of fourteen to nineteen, are taken into the holy father's house, whom he nourishes and cherishes until some swain makes an overture of marriage to them. Should the holy father approve of the match, the ceremony is immediately performed, and he then delivers the nymph to her swain

a very woman and a very wife.” I was not surprised to find a seraglio in this corner of the world, though kept by a pecuniary retailer of absolution and a purifier of souls! But who could resist charms powerful enough to seduce even Ulysses himself from his mast, and actually subdue the apetites of Seneca, though not his reason ? Here the old goat of Piccadilly might feast forever! And here, indeed, as well as in other Roman Catholic countries, the priests endeavour to defeat human reason, and throw a dark veil over truth.

The following table will shew you the progress the Spaniards made in the population of this Colony during very near three hundred years possession :

(

« AnteriorContinua »