CHAPTER I.—The Parentage of Alida . . . . A description of her father’s residence . . . . She is sent to the village school.
CHAPTER II.—Alida loses her mother and one of her brothers.
CHAPTER III.—Alida is removed to a female seminary in New-York to finish her education . . . . A description of her only surviving brother.
CHAPTER IV.—A war is meditated between the United States and Great Britain . . . . Causes why it was expected to take place.
CHAPTER V.—War declared in a manifesto by the President of the United States against Great Britain . . . . Causes of the war stated.
CHAPTER VI.—An indissoluble friendship . . . . Celebration of a birth-day . . . . Description of a parish minister.
CHAPTER VII.—Entrance of a gentleman on professional study with an eminent attorney in New-York.
CHAPTER VIII.—Meeting of two rivals.
CHAPTER IX.—Disappointment of the rivals.
CHAPTER X.—An unexpected meeting.
CHAPTER XI.—Unexpected misfortune.
CHAPTER XII.—A separation.
CHAPTER XIII.—A second marriage . . . . Removal to New-York for the winter . . . . A hero joins the army under Colonel Van Rensselaer . . . . The battle of Queenstown—He is taken by the British, and sent with other prisoners to England . . . . Capture of York.
CHAPTER XIV.—Melancholy reflections.
CHAPTER XV.—Battle of Lake Erie and victory of Commodore Perry . . . . Battle of Detroit and victory of General Harrison.x
CHAPTER XVI.—Passage in a steamboat from New-York to the village of * * * * . . . . A band of military music.
CHAPTER XVII.—Battle of Niagara—Colonel Miller’s achievement . . . . Description of the President . . . . Description of Mrs. Madison . . . . Battle of Bladensburgh.
CHAPTER XVIII.—Battle of New-Orleans . . . . Battle on Lake Champlain . . . . Hartford convention . . . . Conclusion of peace.
CHAPTER XIX.—The joyful celebration of peace in New-York.
CHAPTER XX.—A splendid entertainment to celebrate the event of peace.
CHAPTER XXI.—Proposal of an elopement and a clandestine marriage.
CHAPTER XXII.—Description of New-York . . . . Battery . . . . Castle Garden.
CHAPTER XXIII.—Alida’s return from the city to the country.
CHAPTER XXIV.—Alida returns to New-York and joins a party to visit the Falls of Niagara . . . . Scenery of the Hudson river . . . . Albany . . . . Schenectady . . . . Union College.
CHAPTER XXV.—Arrival at Utica . . . . Falls of Trenton . . . . Singular excavation of the rocks of these Falls . . . . Return to Utica . . . . Journey in a stage-coach . . . . Salt Lake . . . . Salt spring at Salina . . . . Arrival at Auburn . . . . Cayuga Lake . . . . Seneca Falls . . . . Geneva . . . . Canandaigua . . . . Arrival at Rochester . . . . Genessee river . . . . Arrival at Lockport . . . . Journey in a dearborn . . . . Grand Island.
CHAPTER XXVI.—Buffalo . . . . Arrival at Manchester . . . . Eagle Tavern . . . . Falls of Niagara . . . . Goat Island . . . . Camera obscura . . . . Cross from the Canada to the American side . . . . Forsyth’s Hotel.
CHAPTER XXVII.—Journey from Niagara to Lake Champlain . . . . Arrival at Caldwell . . . . Hudson or Glenn’s Falls . . . . Arrival at Saratoga . . . . Congress Hall . . . . Introduction to the Governor . . . . American character . . . . Journey from Saratoga to Albany . . . . Passage up the river to Catskill . . . . Pine Orchard . . . . Passage from Catskill to Hudson . . . . Passage from Hudson to West Point . . . . Military School at West Point . . . . Fort Putnam . . . . Passage from West Point to New-York . . . . Alida’s return to her native residence.
CHAPTER XXVIII.—Sickness and death of Alida’s father . . . . Reflections.xi
CHAPTER XXIX.—Albert, the only surviving brother of Alida, takes possession of the paternal estate.
CHAPTER XXX.—Effect of misrepresentation.
CHAPTER XXXI.—Return of a friend . . . . The joyful meeting.
CHAPTER XXXII.—Anticipated happiness.
CHAPTER XXXIII.—A candid confession.
CHAPTER XXXIV.—Restoration of former fortune.
“Rien n’est si contagieux qui l’exemple; et nous ne faisons jamais de grand biens: ni de grand maux, qui n’en produisent de semblables.”
The ancestry of Alida was of ancient date in English heraldry, some of whom emigrated to America a short time before the revolution, and settled in the southern provinces, while her father fixed his abode in the state of New-York.
In the calm retirement of the country, at a considerable distance from the bustle of the town, was situated his beautiful residence, which had every advantage in point of prospect that luxuriant nature could give when it is most lavish of its bounties.
The mind of its owner took particular delight in rural pleasures and amusements; in dissipating a part of his time in the innocent scenes of rustic life, and in attending to the cultivation of his estate, which was large and extensive.
Here he would contemplate, in all their variety, 14 the natural beauties of creation, when arrayed in its richest attire; in the inimitable splendour of the surrounding scenery; or amuse himself in attendance to diversified employments, some of which, as pastimes, served the two-fold purposes of recreation and amusement.
Thus his years glided on in the most harmonious tranquillity; where his cares were dissipated alternately in the bosom of his family, and the “tumults of life, real or imaginary, fleeted away in a mutual confidence and unreserved friendship.”
Here he would accustom himself to rise at early dawn, and dwell with particular pleasure on the morning scenery. The dappled, rosy-fingered, blushing morn, arrested his attention; those mild tints that particularly express the break of day, just awakening from repose; when the curtain of the night seems insensibly withdrawn, and the varied landscape exhibits itself by degrees, while the colours of the atmosphere yet seem doubtful, and the scene imperfect to the view; when the darkness is not entirely fled, nor the light of the new day is fully seen; when coolness sits upon the hills, and the dews hang trembling upon every leaf; when the groves begin to resound with the murmurs of warbling melody, and the valleys echo with reverberated sounds.15
How pleasing at such a time to adore in his works the wonders of the Creator. That period when the sun begins to diffuse his early rays, to tip the mountains with light, and the breezes in the air mildly prognosticate the soft blushes of the morning:
“For far beyond the pageantry of power,
He lov’d the realms of Nature to explore;
With lingering gaze Edenian spring survey’d—
Morn’s fairy splendours—Night’s gay curtain’d shade—
The heaven-embosom’d sun—the rainbow’s dye,
Where lucid forms appear to Fancy’s eye;
The vernal flower, mild Autumn’s purpling glow,
The Summer’s thunder, and the winter’s snow.”
Or, when the evening approached, he would observe the twilight hour, which for a time hangs balanced between darkness and the pale rays of the western sky, communicating a solemn pleasure to every thing around. When evening began to throw her dusky mantle over the face of nature, and the warm glow of the summer sun had departed; when the stars were glistening in the heavens, and the moon had already risen, shedding its pale lustre over the opposite islands “that appeared to float dimly among the waves, the twinkling fire-fly arose from the surrounding verdure, and illumined the meadow below with a thousand transient gems.” The rustling breezes played among the trees of the wood, while the air 16 was filled with the fragrance of various flowers, and the sound of melodious music was wafted from the neighbouring village, rendered apparently more soft and sweet by the distance.
The buildings on the estate consisted of a large mansion-house, farm-house, and an ancient stone cottage that stood on the margin of the water, shaded by willow trees, and surrounded by romantic scenery.
The charming appearance which nature threw around the place on which the mansion-house was situated, was scarcely less interesting in winter than in the more gay and verdant months of the summer season. The falling of the snow and hail, and the sparkling icicles hanging upon the woods and shrubbery, sometimes almost conveyed the idea of enchantment to the imagination of the spectator.
The view on all sides was magnificent. The bay, gently winding, glided into the river beyond, where ships, steamboats, and craft of every description, floated upon the waters, and gave interest to the appearance of several beautiful villages that were seen at a little distance in the landscape.
This villa was separated about a mile from the flourishing village of ——, where the many white buildings, some of which might be called magnificent, had a remarkably pleasing and picturesque 17 appearance, forming a lively contrast with the evergreen trees with which they were interspersed.
The house of Alida’s father was the seat of hospitality;—scenes of festivity would sometimes have place within its walls;—“music and mirth would occasionally echo through its apartments.” He was kind, generous, and benevolent; while his independence, assisted by a charitable disposition, enabled him to contribute largely to the happiness of others. His manners were highly pleasing, his conversation was interesting, humorous, and instructive; and, although at this time he was rather advanced in years, yet the glow of health still shone upon his cheek and sparkled in his eye; and his fine expressive countenance still gave lustre to a peculiar dignity and energy in his personal appearance.
It was now many years since he had made this delightful spot his residence. He had married early in life a lady of engaging manners, and captivating beauty, who was amiable, sensible, and pious, and whose mind was a pattern of every female excellence, combined with a taste and judgment that had been properly directed by a suitable education; who had been taught to esteem no farther all the acquirements and qualities of which the human mind is capable than as they might be conducive to enable us to excel in the duties of the Christian religion, 18 and cause us more fully to experience “the blessings of the truth.”
These parents had reared up all their family except Alida, their youngest child, who at this time was placed at a boarding-school, at the village of ——, where she was taught, in addition to the different studies belonging to a Christian education, the French and Italian languages.
Their elder daughters had married, and were settled at some distance from them, and their two sons were engaged in mercantile business in New-York. It was their principal endeavour, as their thoughts often revolved in anxious solicitude for the welfare and future happiness of their children, to unite their efforts to persuade them, and inculcate in their minds all that was praiseworthy, by the immediate influence of their own example, considering that the precepts which they taught them, however wise and good, would avail but little unassisted by the aid of example.
“Le mauvais usage que nous faisons de la vie, la dérègle, et la rend malheureuse.”
It was their first care to exercise the minds of their children, in all the important moral and religious duties; to be careful in due time to regulate their natural propensities; to render their dispositions mild and tractable; to inspire them with the 19 love, respect, and implicit obedience due to parents, blended with a genuine affection for relations and friends.
“To endeavour to form their first ideas on principles of rectitude, being conscious of the infinite importance of first impressions, and beginning early to adhere to a proper system of education, that was principally the result of their own reflections and particular observations.”
Their children were assembled annually to celebrate the birthday of their father, together with other social friends and acquaintances, consisting chiefly of those whose beneficent feelings were in accordance with their own, in testifying their gratitude to their Creator for daily benefits, blended with a thankful cheerfulness, which is the offspring of moral excellence.
O, Thou enthroned where perfect day,
In brightest beams of glory, play
Around thy radiant throne;
Where angels strike celestial lyres,
And seraphs glow with sacred fires,
Address’d to thee alone.
Still may thy providential care,
With blessings crown the circling year,
Each human ill restrain:
O, may thy truth inspire my tongue,
And flow through all my varying song,
And shine in every strain.20
Give me the calm, the soft serene,
Of summer, when it glads the scene,
And scatters peace around;
Bless’d image of the happy soul.
That does the heav’n-born mind control,
While conscious joys abound.
That this may be my bounteous share,
Ascends my ever constant prayer
To Thee, all-perfect Mind!
O, aid me in the gen’rous strife,
Through each inconstant scene of life,
To all thy ways resign’d.
The scenes that once so brilliant shone are past, and can return no more to cheer the pensive heart; and memory recalls them with a tear; some lowering cloud succeeds, and all the gay delusive landscape fades.
While Alida remained at the village school, surrounded by the festive scenes of childhood, and pursuing her studies with assiduous emulation, with the hope of meriting, in future time, the praises of her fond parents, an unforeseen misfortune awaited her that no human foresight could have power to arrest.
The health of her mother had been long declining, and her illness at this time increased so far as to render medical assistance useless, and baffled the skill of the ablest physicians. A trial so new, so afflicting, and so grievous to her youthful mind, to lose one of her honoured parents, and to be unexpectedly summoned to her parental home to receive the last benediction of a beloved mother, and at this early period of her life to be deprived of her kind care and protection, was unfortunate in the extreme.
Every anxious solicitude and responsibility now rested alone upon a widowed father, who mourned deeply their common bereavement, while he felt conscious that all his fatherly care and caresses could never supply to Alida all the necessary requisitions 22 that she had unhappily lost in so dear and interested a friend. When he observed her spirits languish, and the tear frequently starting in her eye, and her former sprightly countenance shaded with the deep tinges of melancholy, he saw that the cheerfulness and gaiety of her natural disposition had received a powerful check, which promised to be lasting.
From this unhappy period she remained at home a long time with her father. In kindred grief there was derived a congenial sympathy, and her society contributed in some degree to allay his sorrow, as the deep concern he felt in her welfare caused him sometimes to restrain the flow of it in her presence. Self-exertion roused him in a measure from his lethargy, and by thus assuming serenity, to become in reality something more composed. Nevertheless, he would often witness the excess of anguish which had taken place in the bosom of his child, and behold her interesting face bathed in tears, and her youthful brow clouded with a sadness that nothing seemingly could dissipate.
His situation now became more sequestered than ever; he roamed in solitude, or pleased himself in ranging through silent glens in loneliness. His thoughts were absorbed in the gloomy experience of the misery of a painful separation from a dear and beloved object; he wept for her whose mild 23 and winning graces had power to soften and illuminate the darkest shades of life, or alleviate the distressful scenes of adversity.
His mind was wholly absorbed in those gloomy reflections that scarcely admitted a ray of consolation, when the weekly newspaper arrived from the neighbouring village; he took it up, hoping to find something to amuse his thoughts; he opened it to read the news of the day; he ran his eye hastily over it, and was about to lay it aside, “when the death list arrested his attention by a display of broad black lines,” and he, who had not yet become reconciled to his present misfortune, was now about to experience another equally severe.
What could equal his bitterness, his surprise and grief, when he read the disastrous news that his youngest son (who had lately gone on a foreign expedition) had died of a fever in a distant land a few weeks previous!
The paper fell from his palsied hand,—a sudden faintness came over him,—he fell back almost senseless in his chair,—exhausted by excess of grief, he remained a long time in a stupifying anguish.
The tidings were so unlooked-for of the premature death of his unfortunate son, who about this time was expected to arrive in New-York. For 24 him an only brother was inconsolable; and Alida, who had long been accustomed to his kindness and caresses, was overcome with a dejection that time alone could alleviate.
Her father observed her affliction in with his own,—he was dejected and lonely, and the world appeared like a wilderness; nothing could lessen his present evil, or soothe his afflicted mind.
The former peaceful serenity of his life was materially clouded; and in his turn calamitous wo had overtaken him—the inalienable portion of humanity,—and the varied and shifting scenery in the great drama of time had brought with it disaster. His spirit was sunk in despondency, and his sensations became utterly absorbed in melancholy; and all the pious and philosophical reflections that he exerted himself to bring to his remembrance, could scarcely afford even a transitory consolation in this afflicting dispensation.
From foreign lands the tidings borne,
With pain to wake a parent’s anguish,
O, brother dear, beloved of all,
For thee a brother’s heart must languish.
“That eye of brightness glows no more,
That beaming glance in night is clouded;”
On Maracaibo’s distant shore,
“In death’s dark cell untimely shrouded.”25
Alas! for him no kindred near
In hopes to minister relief;
He sees no tear of pity shed,
He sees no parents’ anxious grief.
And as still evening came on,
In saddest solitude and tears,
His thoughts would turn on distant home,
On peaceful scenes and happier years.
He thought, too, what a favour’d clime
His gallant bark had left behind;
He thought how science there, sublime,
Beam’d her full radiance on the mind.
Though destined in a stranger’s land,
Detain’d from all he held most dear,
Yet one kind hand, benevolent,
Was found the gloomy hours to cheer.
O, how consoling is the eye
Of him who comes to soothe our woes;
O, what relief those cares supply
Which a kind, watchful friend bestows.
When from this hand full well he found
How much can lenient kindness do
The generous Briton strives with care
His drooping spirits to renew.
Yes, stranger, thou wast kind, humane,
With quick assistance prompt to move;
To ease the lingering hours of pain,
In pity’s kind endeavour strove.
When sickness o’er thy pallid cheek
Had stole the lustre from thine eye,
When near the doubtful crisis drew,
And life approach’d its latest sigh,—26
He moved thee to his own retreat,
In his own mansion watch’d thee there;
Around thy couch he still remained,
Thy drooping heart with hopes to cheer.
“Peace, wing’d in fairer worlds above,”
Has ta’en thy form away from this;
Has beckon’d thee to seats of glory,
To realms of everlasting bliss.
So rich in piety and worth,
Too soon, alas! lamented one,
Thou hast been call’d away from earth,
And heaven has claim’d thee for its own.
“’T is by degrees the youthful mind expands; and every day,
Soft as it rolls along, shows some new charm;
Then infant reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind hand of an assiduous care.”
“Delightful task, to rear the tender thought,
To pour the new instruction o’er the mind,
To breathe the enlivening spirit, and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.”
The period at length arrived, when it became necessary that Alida should receive further instruction in the various branches of female literature. With this view, her father thought proper to change the place of her studies from the village school to the New-York Seminary.
It was his idea that nothing afforded so pleasing a prospect as the graces of beauty, aided by wisdom and useful knowledge, and that care should be taken that the mind should first be initiated in the solid acquirements, before the embellishments of education should be allowed to take up the attention or engross the thoughts; and that the first purposes of the teacher should be directed to endeavour to cause the mental powers of the scholar to be excited, in the first place, to attain to whatever is most useful and necessary, and that suitable application and industry was the only means whereby 28 we may gain celebrity in any art or science, or therein arrive at any degree of perfection.
“His heart glowed with paternal fondness and interesting solicitude, when he beheld the countenance of his child sparkling with intelligence, or traced the progress of reason in her awakened curiosity when any new object attracted her attention or exercised her imagination.” Delightful indeed were the sensations of a parent in the contemplation of so fair a prospect, which in some degree recalled again to his bosom some transient gleams of happiness.
The season was now far advanced in autumn, and the trees were nearly stripped of their foliage; the radiant sun had in part withdrawn his enlivening rays to give place to the approaching coldness of winter, when Alida left her home, amid the innumerable regrets of her juvenile companions, to accompany her father to the city to finish her education.
They journeyed in a stage-coach from the village of ——, which, in the course of a few hours, conveyed them amid the tumultuous din of the busy metropolis. The female seminary to which Alida repaired was pleasantly situated in the western part of the town, where the refreshing and salubrious 29 breezes of the Hudson rendered it a healthy and desirable situation at all seasons of the year.
Although her father had only performed his duty in placing his child once more at school, yet it was at a greater distance from the paternal roof than formerly, and when he returned again to his residence, he felt his situation more lonely than ever, and he could scarcely reconcile himself to the loss of her society.
All was novel-like in the city to Alida, where she at once saw so many different objects to excite alternately her surprise, curiosity, and risibility, and where she experienced so many different sensations, arising from the sudden transition in being removed from scenes of uninterrupted tranquillity to those of gaiety and pleasure, of crowded streets and riotous entertainments, of obsequious beaux and dashing petits maîtres, and where all appeared to her one continued scene of business and confusion, scarcely .
In the meantime her mind became engrossed by various new occupations. Among her favourite studies was the French language, which, at this period, was considered as one of the necessary appendages to female education, when scarcely any new work could be read without a regret to those who did not understand it. Music, dancing, and 30 drawing occupied her time alternately, and while these different amusements afforded a pleasing variety, they animated her mind anew with the powers of exertion that had been excited by early impressions—that whatever she attempted to learn, to be assiduous to learn it well, and that a mere superficial knowledge, in any science or accomplishment, was by no means desirable.
All her studies and amusements had their regular arrangements, and due application gave her many advantages over those of her own age, while it expanded her mind in a greater degree, and facilitated her progress in learning, and gave more ready improvement to her understanding and native capacities.
Her only surviving brother, whose name was Albert, had been a merchant in the city a number of years, and he still continued to live amid its perplexities, (although numbers had been unfortunate around him,) with as good success as could be expected at this time, on account of the restrictions on American commerce. One probable reason may be assigned why he had been more successful in his business than many others: he was guided in the management of his affairs by vigilance and industrious perseverance, and he was not only endued with the best abilities to fulfil the duties 31 incumbent on his station in life, but was not remiss in the exercise of them. His manners, generally, were reserved, though he could be humorous and gay whenever occasion required; and when in convivial society, he could make one among the number of those who amused themselves in sallies of wit and pleasantry. He had acquired much useful and general information in his commerce with the world at large, which he employed at this time in various conversations on politics, as he could not be able to render himself serviceable to his country in any other way, being exempt from his childhood from performing military duty. His personal advantages were only surpassed by the superior qualifications of his mind, that had long been under religious influence and impressions. In his public and private life he fully answered the expectations of his numerous acquaintance and friends, as well as the most sanguine wishes of an anxious and affectionate father, who yet seemed disposed to indulge in melancholy reflections, while his friends kindly endeavoured, by many pious and philosophical discourses, to awaken him to a consideration of his former piety, and humble trust in an all-wise Providence, reminding him that our greatest consolation consists in resigned and devotional feelings of gratitude to our Maker, even in the severest 32 afflictions; who, although he may have thought fit to deprive us of some, for the many remaining blessings we may still be in possession of; and that a firm reliance on Providence, however our affections may be at variance with its dispensations, is the only consolatory source that we can have recourse to in the gloomy hours of distress; and that such dependance, though often crossed by troubles and difficulties, may at length be crowned with success in our most arduous undertakings, and we may again meet with unlooked-for and unexpected happiness.
“Afflictions all his children feel,
Affliction is the Father’s rod;
He wounds them for his mercy sake,
He wounds to heal.”
The clear, calm sunshine of a mind illumined by piety, and a firm reliance upon Supreme wisdom, crowns all other divine blessings. It irradiates the progress of life, and dispels the evils attendant on our nature; it renders the mind calm and pacific, and promotes that cheerfulness and resignation which has its foundation in a life of rectitude and charity; and in the full exercise of Christian principles we may find still increasing happiness.33
Still may the soaring eagle’s quenchless eye,
Watch o’er our favour’d country, brave and free,
Where the bright stars and stripes in honour wave,
The sacred emblems of our liberty.
Many disagreeable circumstances now combined to disturb the happy tranquillity of the American government. “A war had for some time existed between France and England. America had endeavoured to maintain a neutrality, and peacefully to continue a commerce with both nations. Jealousies, however, arose between the contending powers with respect to the conduct of America, and events occurred calculated to injure her commerce and disturb her peace.
“Decrees were first issued by the French government preventing the American flag from trading with the enemy; these were followed by the British orders in council, no less extensive than the former in design, and equally repugnant to the laws of nations. In addition to these circumstances, a cause of irritation existed sometime between the United States and Great Britain. This was the right of search claimed by Great Britain as one of her prerogatives. To take her native subjects, 34 wherever found, for her navy, and to search American vessels for that purpose. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of the American government, the officers of the British navy were not unfrequently seen seizing native British subjects who had voluntarily enlisted on board our vessels, and had also impressed into the British service some thousands of American seamen.
“In consequence of the British and French decrees, a general capture of all American property on the seas seemed almost inevitable. Congress, therefore, on the recommendation of the president, laid an embargo on all vessels within the jurisdiction of the United States.
“In a moment, the commerce of the American republic, from being, in point of extent, the second in the world, was reduced to a coasting trade between the individual states. The opposition to the act in several of the states was so great that they unanimously declared against it, and individuals throughout the whole seized every opportunity of infringement; therefore Congress thought proper to repeal the embargo law, and substituted a non-intercourse with France and England.”
It was now generally expected that the session in Congress, with the decision of the president, would eventually terminate in actual hostilities. 35 The difficulties the chief executive had to encounter were many and perplexing, being fully convinced, under existing circumstances, that the Americans must engage in combat after all. He therefore knew it to be necessary to rouse the feelings of the American people, to realize, more clearly than they did, the true situation of their country, that they might be prepared for the approaching crisis that he believed unavoidable.
This period was full of anxiety and danger. A war was deprecated by all the leading patriots of the day; they were fully persuaded that it must take place; they therefore unitedly determined to prepare for the storm in the best manner they were able. All material business was in a manner suspended in New-York; the face of things wore a dismal aspect, and the greater part of the community were in dismay. A heavy gloom hung over the inhabitants generally, while all their affairs appeared in a declining state, discouraging to the industry and best prospects of the people.
Alida’s father was no friend to political controversy, yet he passed much of his time in conversing with his friends on the present affairs of America. He knew that party spirit and animosity existed more or less at this time, and that he must consequently often meet with those of opposite 36 opinions; yet his honest and patriotic zeal for the good of his country still remained the same. He was attached to liberty from principle; he had talents to discriminate and see into the justice of the measures of government; his retirement gave him full opportunity to reflect on them seriously, and solve them in his own mind, and see their absolute necessity, in order to maintain the honour, freedom, and independence of the American nation. Would the same wisdom in the government continue that had so nobly preserved us since our independence? But he had no reason at present to suppose otherwise, and that he who now guided the helm of affairs, was one of steady and uncorrupt principles, of stable character, altogether uninfluenced by any sinister views, and was willing to sacrifice his individual repose for the noble purpose, and with the hope of settling it again on the nation, with a firmer basis, at some future period, when the expected contest should be decided.
What feelings of commotion and deep anxiety must agitate the bosom of the magnanimous hero who is labouring truly for the interest of his country, and is actuated alternately by the claims of justice and humanity, and on whom a whole community must depend for council in cases of severe emergency, when his chief satisfaction consists in 37 promoting the interest and welfare of that community. When the hour of exigency arrives, his mind, endued with the light of piety, feels its own littleness, his weighty thoughts are big with the impending danger that no human arm may be able to arrest. Impressed with religious awe, and feeling conscious of his dependence for aid on the all-wise Disposer of events, he bends in humble supplication to implore the favour of that great and beneficent Being whose power alone can save, and in whose mighty arm alone is victory.
The father of Alida received regular intelligence by the daily papers respecting the political excitement in New-York; besides, he made frequent visits to the city to see his several children, as one of his daughters had resided there since her marriage. There was every kind of conveyance at the neighbouring village suited to the accommodation of travellers, both summer and winter, and the rapid improvement of the town had long been a current topic of the inhabitants as well as visiters, while they praised the proprietor of the new pavilion, in his manner of conducting it, and his excellent accommodations; and it was the general opinion that in the course of a few years this would become a place of no small consideration.38
O, to join the scenes of war?
If heaven-born pity in thy bosom glow,
Reject the impurpled wreath; the laurel crown
Can flourish only in the scenes of wo.
At length it became the unhappy fate of America to be a second time involved in a war with Great Britain. “In a manifesto of the president, the reasons of the war were stated to be the impressment of American seamen, by the British; the blockade of the enemy’s ports, supported by no adequate force; in consequence of which the American commerce had been plundered in every sea; and the British orders in council.”
The declaration of war was a source of unavoidable regret to the good and wise president,* which affected his mind with feelings approaching to melancholy. No one possessed qualities more inclined to peace, and a wish to settle all affairs of state in a pacific manner, more than he did, if it were possible, and it could have been done without sacrificing all the dearest rights and interests of the people; and nothing but these repeated persuasions in his mind, founded on the principles of justice and 39 honour, caused him at length to be willing to yield to the stern necessity of deciding the existing differences by combat. He possessed the qualities of a statesman in an eminent degree; he had well reflected on what he considered as inevitable. He was well versed in political science, and now only saw the realization of anticipated events, of which there had been sufficient warning. Although he had to contend with innumerable difficulties, having once formed his opinion of what was to be done, his patriotism was undeviating, and his integrity inflexible.
* James Madison.
Since his country was again brought to a lamentable destiny, he now became ardently active in its cause, and was prepared to carry to the full extent such measures of defence and resistance as should be necessary to repel every invasion of the just rights and privileges of the Americans that they had long been in possession of since their dear-bought independence, and could not therefore be willing to submit to anything like oppression, even from the mother country.
This national calamity, that seemed to awaken feelings of hilarity to some few among the multitude, but those of the deepest regret to so many others, where the parties must at length become personally engaged and animated against each other with an 40 enthusiastic ardour, and with the hope to signalize themselves by their bravery—where the impetuosity of youth and the experience of age are called forth in open field to execute the decided discussions of government, and to engage with patriotic zeal in the common defence of their just rights and liberties; impelled with ambitious impulse to enlist themselves under the proud banners of their country, while the sound of martial music strikes a feeling of enthusiasm and enterprise to the bosom of the patriot.
Thus, in the name and cause of honour, the youth, generous and brave, with all those who are compelled to take arms, sally forth with the ambitious hope to bear down at once all contending opposition, and give themselves no time to reflect on the many disconsolate ones they leave behind them, that, however deeply concerned, can neither engage or assist in the shocking contest; while they go forward hastily to meet the foe, and hosts are advancing to dispute with them the victory, and they can indulge no thought concerning those who, when the battle is over, may have to lament the loss of a father, brother, or some other dear friend, and who mournfully await the decisive tidings, which perhaps is to render them for ever disconsolate; while they remain a prey to that incessant anguish which 41 naturally awaits those who have lost, in this manner, their dearest friends and relations.
Thick clouds were darkly pending
Above the battle fray,
And foemen were contending
For the fortune of the day.
And high in air the banner bright,
Waving o’er land and sea,
The potent symbol of their might,
The emblem of the free.
Brave hearts that stood amid the storm
That burst in fury round;
With many a stern and manly form,
Sunk powerless to the ground.
Deep gloom had settled round them,
And darkness veil’d the sky,
When Freedom, with her starry train,
Descended from on high.
When, at her bidding, lo, a chief
Amid the throng appear’d;
the goddess halted by his side,
And thus his spirits cheer’d:
“Oh, let not care oppress thee,
But banish far thy fears,
For, in blessing, I will bless thee,
And will wipe away thy tears;
a banner thou shalt still retain,
And a hand to lead the brave
To glory and to victory,
Or to the hero’s grave.”42
Then fear not, honoured chieftain,
For yet again shall be,
Your flag shall wave o’er every land,
And float on every sea.
What though in foreign clime it waves,
Careering on the wind,
Whatever shore the ocean laves,
A due respect will find.
And the thunders of your ships of war
Along the deep shall roll,
While the canvas of your merchantmen
Shall sweep from pole to pole.
“And now, oh gallant chief,” she cried,
fast the glorious prize;
The flag with blue and crimson dyed,
And stars that gemmed the skies,
“Have left their native spheres to shed
Their radiance o’er the field;
Then while it waves above your head,
To the foeman never yield.
“Bright forms shall hover o’er thee
In the midst of war’s alarms;
And in triumph shall restore thee
To a nation’s waiting arms.
“Then on to Freedom’s stormy height,
Go forth in valour and in might,
And bear aloft this emblem bright,
Amid the battle fray.”
Now around their chief they rally,
And with zeal their bosoms glow;
While the hoarse cannon bellows forth
Defiance to the foe.43
The battle rages loudly,
A dreadful carnage flows;
When the messenger of victory
The clarion trumpet blows.
Now clap your wings, oh Liberty,
And upward take your flight;
And let the gladsome tidings ring
Throughout the realms of light.
And bid your eagle sound her cry,
Wide o’er the land and sea;
For patriot arms have triumphed,
And the nation still is free.
Once more the song of Victory
Shall spread the earth around,
And the freemen on a thousand hills
Re-echo back the sound.
And a banner long shall wave on high,
And long your children stand,
United, with a sacred tie,
To guard their native land.
And may each day returning, with it bring
That peace that o’er the weary senses fling
A calm content; where no alloy attends
The pleasing intercourse of happy friends.
Albert, the brother of Alida, during his residence in New-York, had formed an indissoluble friendship with a young gentleman who had lately graduated at Columbia College. His name was Theodore. He was about twenty years of age: he had been esteemed an excellent student. His appearance was manly, open, and free. His eye indicated a nobleness of mind; he was naturally cheerful, although his aspect was tinged with melancholy, and his disposition was rather of the romantic cast. His father was an eminent merchant in the city, and had long been engaged in the various scenes of commerce. His son was designed for the law; but as the students were allowed some vacant time after their graduation before they entered upon their professional studies, he thought to improve this interim in mutual friendly visits, mingling sometimes with select parties in the amusements of the day, and in travelling through some parts of the United States.45
The spring was advancing, and already began to shed its cheering influences over the face of nature, when, after a long period of clouds and darkness, the sun, with his illuminating beams, was chasing away the gloomy remains of winter, and recalling again to life and animation the innumerable beauties of creation.
The day was fixed on when Alida was to return to her native residence. Albert was to attend her home, and he invited his friend Theodore to accompany him. It was evening when they arrived at the house of Albert’s father, where they found considerable company collected, as was customary on the celebration of his birth-day.
He received his children with gladness and joy, and Theodore with friendly politeness.
“This meeting must be highly pleasing to you, miss,” said Theodore to Alida, “after your long absence from home.” “It is so, indeed,” replied she, “and highly gratifying to my father, to meet here his children, and relations, on the annual occasion of celebrating his birth-day, when we are honoured with so numerous a company of uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces, that one would suppose we were connected with half the families in the state. And sometimes they do not all leave us, in several weeks afterwards, and regale themselves in 46 riding about the country and visiting the neighbours in the vicinity.”
In the course of the evening they were joined by a number from the neighbouring villages, and among the rest was the son of a gentleman who had been long acquainted with the family. He was a gay young man; his address was easy; his manners rather voluptuous than refined; confident, but not ungraceful.
He led the ton in fashionable circles, and was quite a favourite with the ladies generally. His name was Bonville. He had seen Alida long before, but her additional graces since that time appeared far to exceed his expectations.
Alida at sixteen displayed many pleasing attractions. Her height rose to the majestic. She was tall and graceful, and her expressive features were adorned with hair of light auburn, which hung about her neck in natural ringlets; while her dark blue eyes, mingled at once the rays of sprightly intelligence, and a pleasing affability.
She was arrayed on this occasion, in a dress of white muslin, richly inwrought with needle-work. A silk embroidered sash surrounded her waist, and she wore on her head a wreath of artificial flowers. Her elder sisters manifested their pleasure in beholding the artless, unadorned school-girl, metamorphosed 47 to the interesting young lady of fascinating manners and amiable deportment.
Social converse and rural amusements took up the greater part of the evening, when the general conversation of the gentlemen turned upon a topic in which they were all more or less interested, on what might be the unhappy result of the present contest, in which the American nation was engaged, which continued to engross their thoughts, and it was a late hour when the company separated.
Those who remained behind accompanied Alida on the next Sabbath to the village church, where they heard an able and sublime discourse delivered by the parish minister; highly edifying to the understanding and improving to the minds of the hearers.
This divine was fully competent in the possession of Christian principles and knowledge for his arduous calling, and had a happy talent of conveying them to others with effect, and communicating them in persuasive eloquence, for the benefit and reformation of mankind.
His powers of intellect and sentiments were no less liberal and enlarged, than they were ingenious and elegant. His aspect was serene, and his manners were cheerful, and the unruffled calmness of his mind bore the same character of exalted excellence, 48 and gave testimony of a peaceful bosom, rich in good works.
He manifested a lively interest in the welfare of his congregation, and by his genuine goodness and pious example made many proselytes.
It was his endeavour to unite the minds of the people in one interest, and excite them to be zealous in the common cause of Christianity, where each individual, acting for the benefit of the whole, would find their own happiness blended with that of society in general, and be blessed in the reciprocal communication of charity and benevolence.49
“Come, Friendship, twine a wreath for me,
And weave it with the choicest flowers,
To cheat the ling’ring steps of time,
And gladden all life’s passing hours.”
The time now arrived when Theodore was to enter upon his professional studies, and he became engaged in the office of an eminent attorney in New-York. He frequently absented himself, however, to accompany Albert to visit his father’s family, and since his acquaintance with Alida, there was a charm that attracted him thither. If he had admired the manly virtues of the brother, could he fail to adore the gentle graces of the sister? If all the sympathies of the most ardent friendship had been drawn forth toward the former, must not all the softer sensibilities of the heart be attracted by the milder and more refined excellencies of the other?
Bonville had become the admirer of Alida; of course he and Theodore sometimes met. He had made no serious pretensions, but his particularity indicated something more than fashionable politeness. His manners, his independent situation, entitled him to respect. “It is not probable, therefore, that he will be objectionable to her friends, or to 50 Alida herself,” said Theodore, with an involuntary sigh, and as his visits became more frequent, an increasing anxiety took place in his bosom. He wished her to remain single; the idea of losing her by marriage, gave him inexpressible regret. What substitute could supply to him the happy hours he had passed in her company? What charm could wing the lingering moments when she was gone?
How different would be the scene when debarred from the unreserved friendship and conversation of Alida. And unreserved it could not be, were she not exclusively mistress of herself. But was there not something of a more refined texture than friendship in his predilection for the company of Alida? If so, why not avow it? His prospects, his family, and of course his pretensions might not be inferior to those of Bonville.
But perhaps he was preferred. His opportunities: his prior acquaintance with the lady. Distance was no barrier to his addresses. His visits became more and more frequent. Was it not then highly probable that he had gained her affections?
Thus reasoned Theodore, but the reasoning tended not to allay the tempest that was gathering in his bosom. He ordered his carriage, and was in a short time at the seat of Alida’s father. It was summer, and towards evening when he arrived. 51 Alida was sitting by the window when he entered the hall. She arose and received him with a smile. I have just been thinking of an evening’s walk, said she, but had no one to attend me, and you have come just in time to perform that office. I will order tea immediately, while you rest from the fatigues of your journey.
When tea was served up, a servant entered the room with a letter which he had found in the yard. Alida received it. “’Tis a letter,” said she, which I sent by Bonville to a lady in the village, and the careless man has lost it. Turning to Theodore, I forgot to tell you, that your friend Bonville has been with us a few days; he left us this morning. “My friend,” replied Theodore, hastily. “Is he not your friend?” inquired Alida. “I beg pardon, madam,” said he “my mind was absent.” “He requested us to present his respects to his friend Theodore,” said she. Theodore bowed and turned the conversation.
They now walked out, and took a winding path which led through pleasant fields until they reached the water, and continued to pursue their way along the shore till they came to a beautiful and shady grove, where the thick foliage afforded a delightful retreat from the warm rays of the sun, and at the extremity of which was a sloping eminence, which 52 commanded an extensive prospect of the surrounding country, part of Long-Island sound and the junction of the bay with the eastern river.
A soft and silent shower had descended. A thousand transitory gems trembled upon the leafy foliage, glittering in the western ray. A bright rainbow sat upon a southern cloud; the light gales whispered among the branches, agitated the young harvest to billowy motion, and moved the tops of the deep green forest with majestic grandeur; while flocks, herds, and cottages were scattered over the resplendent landscape.
“This is a most delightful scene,” said Alida. “It is, truly,” replied Theodore, “do you think that New-York can boast of so charming a prospect?” “Yes, one,” answered she, it is the walk on the battery, the water prospect is similar to this, but the landscape is not so variegated.
See that ship, Theodore, coming down the sound, how she ploughs through the white foam, while the breezes flutter in the sails, varying with the vivid rays of the sun. “Yes,” said Theodore, it bounds with rapid motions over the waves, and ere the day has departed it will probably safely reach the wharf of the city.
They walked leisurely around the hill, and then moved slowly towards home. The sun was sinking 53 gradually behind the western horizon. Twilight arose dimly in the east, and floated along the air. Darkness began to hover around the woodlands and valleys. The beauties of the landscape slowly receded; the breezes had gone down with the sun, and a perfect calm succeeded.
“I shall never forget this charming promenade,” said Theodore, as he approached the threshold of the door, with a deep drawn sigh, “and the remembrance of the sweet pensive scenery of this delightful spot, will ever continue to haunt my memory.”54
To lull affection’s sigh,
And dry the tear of sensibility;
I’ll think of thee, in all my lonely hours,
Though thou, perhaps, may ne’er remember me.
The next day Theodore returned to his studies; but different from his former visits to Alida, instead of exhilarating his spirits, this had tended to depress them. He doubted whether she was not already engaged to Bonville. His hopes would persuade him this was not the case; but his fears declared otherwise.
It was some time before he renewed his visits again. In the interim he received a letter from a friend in the neighbourhood of Alida’s father; an extract from which follows: “We are soon to have a wedding here; you are acquainted with the parties—Alida M. and Bonville. Such at least is our opinion from appearances, as this gentleman is now there more than half his time. You will undoubtedly be invited. We had expected that you would have put in your claims, from your particular attention to the lady. She is a fine girl, Theodore.” I shall never be a guest at Alida’s wedding, said Theodore, as he hastily paced the room; but I must again 55 see her before that event takes place, when I shall lose her forever.
The ensuing day he repaired to her father’s. He inquired for Alida; she was gone with a party to the shores of the sound, attended by Bonville. At evening they returned. Bonville and Theodore addressed each other with much seeming cordiality. “You have deserted us, Theodore,” said Alida, “we concluded you had forgotten the road to this place.” “Was not that a hasty conclusion?” said Theodore. “I think not,” she answered, “if your long absence should be construed into neglect. But we will hear your excuse,” said she, smiling, “by and by, and perhaps pardon you.”
He thanked her for her condescension.
The next morning Bonville set out to go to New-York. Theodore observed that he took particular leave of Alida, telling her, in a low voice, that he should have the happiness of seeing her again, within two or three weeks certainly.
After he was gone, as Alida and Theodore were sitting in the room alone, “Well,” said she, “am I to hear your excuses, Theodore?” “For what, madam?” “For neglecting your friends.” “I hope it is not so considered, madam.” “Seriously, then, why have you stayed away so long? Has 56 this place no charms in the absence of my brother?”
“Would my presence have added to your felicity, Alida?” “You never came an unwelcome visiter here.” “Perhaps I might be sometimes intrusive when Bonville is your guest.” “I have supposed you were on friendly terms,” said she. “We are, but there are seasons when friendship must yield its pretensions to a superior claim.”
“Will you answer me one question, Alida, are you engaged to Bonville?” “He has asked me the same question concerning you,” replied she, (blushing.)
“Do you,” continued Theodore, “prefer him to any other?” Alida, (blushing deeply.) “He has made the same inquiries respecting you.”
“I beg, madam, you will deal with me candidly,” said Theodore, (taking her hand with anxiety.) “I am entitled to no claims, but you know what my heart would ask. I will bow to your decision. Bonville or Theodore must relinquish their pretensions. We cannot share the blessing.”
The cheeks of Alida were suffused with a varying glow, her lips were pale, her voice tremulous, and her eyes cast down. “My father has informed me,” she said, “that it is improper to receive the particular addresses of more than one. I am conscious 57 of my inadvertency, and that the reproof is just. One, therefore, must be dismissed.” But, (she blushed deeper,) and a considerable pause ensued.
At length Theodore arose. “I will not press you further,” said he. “I know the delicacy of your feelings; I know your sincerity; I will not therefore insist on your performing the painful task of deciding against me. Your conduct in every point of view has been discreet. I would have no just claims, or if I had, your heart must sanction them, or they would be unhallowed, and unjustifiable. I shall ever pray for your felicity. Our affections are not under our direction; our happiness depends on our obedience to their mandates. Whatever, then, may be my sufferings, you are unblameable, and irreproachable.”
He took his hat in extreme agitation, and prepared himself to take leave. Alida had recovered in some degree from her embarrassment, and collected her scattered spirits.
“Your conduct, Theodore,” said she, “is generous and noble. Will you give yourself the trouble, and do me the honour to see me once more?” “I will,” said he, “at any time you shall appoint.”
“Four weeks, then,” said she, “from this day, 58 honour me with a visit, and you shall have my decision, and receive my final answer.” “I will be punctual to the day,” he replied, and bade her adieu.
Theodore’s hours from this time winged heavily away. His wonted cheerfulness fled; he wooed the silent and solitary haunts of musing, moping melancholy. He loved to wander through lonely fields, when dewy twilight robed the evening mild, or to trace the forest glen, through which the moon darted her silvery intercepted rays. His agitated thoughts preyed upon his peace incessantly, and deeply disturbed his repose.
He looked anxiously to the hour when Alida was to make the decision. He wished, yet dreaded the event. In that he foresaw, or thought he foresaw, a withering blight to all his hopes, and a final consummation to his foreboding fears. He had pressed Alida, perhaps too urgently, to a declaration. Had her predilection been in his favour, would she have hesitated to avow it? Her father had advised her to relinquish one, and to retain the other, nor had he attempted to influence or direct her choice. Was it not evident, then, from her confused hesitation and embarrassment, when solicited to discriminate upon the subject, that her ultimate decision would be in favour of Bonville?59
While Theodore’s mind was thus in agitation, he received a second letter from his friend in the neighbourhood of Alida. He read the following clause therein with emotions more easily to be conceived than expressed: “Alida’s wedding-day is appointed. I need not tell you that Bonville is to be the happy deity of the hymenial sacrifice. I had it from his own declaration. He did not name the positive day, but it is certainly to be soon. You will undoubtedly, however, have timely notice, and receive an invitation.”
“We must pour out a liberal libation upon the mystic altar, Theodore, and twine the nuptial garland with wreaths of joy. Bonville should devote a rich offering to so valuable a prize. He has been here for a week, and departed for New-York yesterday, but is shortly to return.”
And why have I ever doubted this event? said Theodore. What infatuation hath then led me on in the pursuit of fantastic and unreal bliss? I have had, it is true, no positive assurances that Alida would be disposed to favour my addresses. But why did she ever receive them? Why did she enchantingly smile upon me? Why fascinate the soft powers of my heart by that winning mildness, and the favourable display of those complicated and superior attractions which she must have known 60 were irresistible? And now she would have me dance attendance to her decision in favour of another—insulting; let Bonville and herself make it, as they have formed this farcical decision. I absolutely will never attend it. Why did she not spurn me from her confidence, and plainly tell me that my attentions were untimely and improper?
But, I have engaged to see her at an appointed time; my honour is therefore pledged for an interview; it must take place. I shall endeavour to support it with becoming dignity, and I will convince Alida and Bonville, that I am not the dupe of their caprices. But, let me consider—What has Alida done to deserve censure or reproach? Her brother was my early friend; she has treated me as a friend to that brother. She was unconscious of the affection which her charms and mental graces had kindled in my bosom. Her evident embarrassment, on receiving my declaration, witnessed her surprise and prior attachment. What could she do to save herself the pain of a direct denial? She has appointed a day when her refusal may come in a more delicate and formal manner—and I must therefore meet it.61
The time draws near when I shall meet those eyes, that may perchance look cold on me—“but doubt is called the beacon of the wise, the to the bottom of the worst.”
On the appointed day, Theodore proceeded to the house of Alida’s father, where he arrived late in the afternoon. Alida had retired to a little summer-house at the end of the garden. A servant conducted him thither.
She was dressed in a flowing robe of white muslin, richly embroidered. Her hair was in dishevelled curls; she was contemplating a bouquet of flowers which she held in her hand. Theodore fancied she never appeared so lovely. She arose to receive him.
We have been expecting you for some time, said she; we were anxious to inform you that we have just received a letter from my brother, in which he desires us to present you his most friendly respects, and complains of your not visiting him lately so frequently as usual. Theodore thanked her for the information; said that business had prevented him; he esteemed him as his most valuable friend, and would be more particular in future.
“We have been thronged with company several 62 days,” said Alida. The last of them took their departure yesterday. And I have only to regret, that I have nearly a week been prevented from taking my favourite walk to the grove, to which place you attended me when you were last here. “We will walk there, then, if you have no objections, as no doubt it is much improved since that time,” said Theodore. They resorted thither towards evening, and seated themselves in the arbour where they sat some time contemplating the scenery.
It was the beginning of autumn, and a yellow hue was spread over the natural beauties of creation. The withering forest began to shed its decaying foliage, which the light gales pursued along the russet fields;—the low sun extended its lengthening shadows;—curling smoke ascended from the neighbouring village and the surrounding cottages;—a thick fog crept along the valleys;—a grey mist hovered over the tops of the distant hills;—the glassy surface of the water glittering to the sun’s departing ray;—the solemn herds lowed in monotonous symphony;—the autumnal insects, in sympathetic wafting, plaintively predicted their approaching fate.
The scene is changed since we last visited this place, said Alida; “the gay charms of summer are 63 beginning to decay, and must soon yield their splendours to the rude despoiling hand of winter.”
“That will be the case,” said Theodore, “before I shall have the pleasure of your company here again.” “That may probably be, though it is nearly two months yet to winter,” said Alida.
“Great changes may take place within that time,” said Theodore. Yes, changes must take place, she answered, but nothing, I hope to embitter present prospects.
As it respects yourself, I trust not, madam. “And I sincerely hope not, as it respects you, Theodore.” That wish, said he, I believe is vain.
Your feelings accord with the season, Theodore; you are melancholy. Shall we return?
“I ask your pardon, madam; I know I am unsociable. You speak of returning; you know the occasion of my being here. You cannot have forgotten your own appointment and consequent engagement?” She made no answer.
I know, Alida, that you are incapable of duplicity or evasion. I have promised and now repeat the declaration, that I will silently submit to your decision. This you have engaged to make, and this is the time you have appointed. The pain of present suspense can scarcely be surpassed by the pang of disappointment. On your part you have 64 nothing to fear. I trust you have candidly determined, and will decide explicitly.
“I am placed in an exceedingly delicate situation,” answered Alida, (sighing.) “I know you are, madam,” said Theodore, “but your own honour, your own peace, require that you should extricate yourself from the perplexing embarrassment.”
“That I am convinced of,” replied she. “I know that I have been inadvertently indiscreet. I have admitted the addresses of Bonville and yourself, without calculating or expecting the consequences. You have both treated me honourably and with respect. You are both on equal grounds as to standing in life. With Bonville I became first acquainted. As it relates to him, some new arrangements have taken place since you came here.”
Theodore interrupted her with emotion. “Of those arrangements I am acquainted, I received the intelligence from a friend in your neighbourhood. I am prepared for the event.”
Alida remained silent. “I have mentioned before,” resumed Theodore, “that whatever may be your decision, no impropriety can attach to you. I might add, indeed, from various circumstances, and from the information I possess, I perhaps should not have given you further trouble on the occasion, had it not been from your own direction. And I am 65 now willing to retire without further explanation, without giving you the pain of an express decision, if you think the measure expedient. Your declaration can only be a matter of form, the consequence of which I know, and my proposition may save your feelings.”
“No, Theodore,” replied she, “my reputation depends on my adherence to my first determination; justice to yourself and to Bonville also demand it. After what has passed, I should be considered as acting capriciously, and inconsistently, should I depart from it. Bonville will be here to-morrow, and you must consent to stay with us until that time; the matter shall then be decided.” “Yes,” said Theodore, “it shall be as you say, madam. Make your arrangements as you please.”
Evening came on, and spread around her sombre shades;—the breeze’s rustling wing was in the tree:—the sound of the low, murmuring brooks, and the far-off waterfall, were faintly heard;—the frequent lights in the village darted their pale lustre through the gloom:—the solitary whip-poor-wills stationed themselves along the woody glens, the groves and rocky pastures, and sung a requiem to departed summer;—a dark cloud was rising in the west, across whose gloomy front the vivid lightning bent its forky spires.66
Theodore and Alida moved slowly towards home; she appeared enraptured with the melancholy splendours of the evening, but another subject engaged the mental attention of Theodore.
Bonville arrived the next day. He gave his hand to Theodore with seeming warmth of friendship. If it was reciprocated, it must have been affected. There was no alteration in the manners and conversation of Alida; her discourse, as usual, was sprightly and interesting. After dinner she retired, and her father requested Theodore and Bonville to withdraw with him to a private room. After they were seated, the old gentleman thus addressed them:
“I have called you here, gentlemen, to perform my duty as a parent to my daughter, and as a friend to you. You have both addressed Alida; while your addresses were merely formal, they were innocent; but when they became serious, they were dangerous. Your pretensions I consider equal, and between honourable pretenders, who are worthy of my daughter, I shall not attempt to influence her choice. That choice, however, can rest only on one; she has engaged to decide between you. I am come, to make in her name this decision. The following are my terms: no difficulty shall arise between you, gentlemen, in consequence of her determination; nothing shall go abroad respecting the 67 affair; it shall be settled under my roof. As soon as I have pronounced Alida’s declaration, you shall both depart, and absent my house for at least two weeks, as it would be improper for my daughter to see either of you at present; after that period I shall be happy to receive your visits.” Theodore and Bonville pledged their honour to abide implicitly by these injunctions.
He then further observed: “This, gentlemen, is all I require. I have said that I considered your pretensions equal; so has my daughter treated them. You have both made professions to her; she has appointed a time to answer you. That time has now arrived, and I now inform you—that she has decided in favour of Theodore.”
These words from Alida’s father, burst upon the mental powers of Bonville like sudden and tremendous thunder on the deep and sullen silence of night. Unaccustomed to disappointment, he had calculated on assured success. His addresses to the ladies generally had been honourably received. Alida was the first whose charms were capable of rendering them sincere. He was not ignorant of Theodore’s attentions to her; it gave him, however, but little uneasiness. He believed that his superior acquired graces would eclipse the pretensions of his rival. He considered himself a connoisseur in character, 68 especially in that of the ladies. He conformed to their taste; he flattered their foibles, and obsequiously bowed to the minutia of female volatility. He considered himself skilled in the language of the heart; and he trusted that from his pre-eminent powers in the science of affection, he had only to see, to make use of, and to conquer.
He had frankly offered his hand to Alida, and pressed her for a decisive answer. This from time to time she suspended, and finally named a day in which to give him and Theodore a determinate one, though neither knew the arrangements made with the other. Alida finding, however, the dilemma in which she was placed, and she had previously consulted her father. He had no objections to her choosing between two persons of equal claims to affluence and respectability. This choice she had made, and her father was considered the most proper person to pronounce it.
When Bonville had urged Alida to answer him decidedly, he supposed that her hesitation, delay and suspensions, were only the effect of diffidence. He had no suspicion of her ultimate conclusion, and when she finally named the day to decide, he was confident her voice would be in his favour. These sentiments he had communicated to the person who had written to Theodore, intimating that Alida had 69 fixed a time which was to crown his sanguine wishes. He had listened, therefore, attentively to the words of her father, momentarily expecting to hear himself declared the favourite choice of the fair. What then must have been his disappointment when the name of Theodore was pronounced instead of his own! The highly-finished scene of pleasure and future happy prospects which his ardent imagination had depicted, now vanished in a moment. The bright sun of his early hopes was veiled in darkness at this unexpected decision.
Very different were the sensations which inspired the bosom of Theodore. He had not even calculated on a decision in his favour; he believed that Bonville would be the choice of Alida. She had told him, that the form of deciding was necessary to save appearances; with this form he complied, because she desired it, not because he expected the result would be in his favour. He had not, therefore, attended to the words of Alida’s father with that eagerness which favourable anticipations commonly produce.
But when his name was mentioned; when he found that he was the choice, the happy favourite of Alida’s affection, every ardent feeling of his soul became interested, and was suddenly aroused to the 70 refinements of sensibility. Like an electric shock it re-animated his existence, and the bright morning of joy quickly dissipated the gloom which hung over his mind.71
“Dark gathering clouds involve the threat’ning skies,
The billows heave with the impending gloom;
Deep hollow murmurs from the cliffs arise,
Ride on the blast, and urge the howling storm.”
Several weeks passed away, and Theodore felt all that anxiety and impatience which a separation from a beloved object can produce. He framed a thousand excuses to visit Alida, yet he feared a visit might be premature. He was, however, necessitated to make a journey to a distant part of the country, after which he resolved to see her.
He performed the business he went on, and was returning. It was toward evening, and the day had been uncommonly sultry for the autumnal season. A rising shower blackened the western hemisphere; the dark vapours ascended in folding ridges, and the thunder rolled at a distance.
Theodore saw he should be overtaken by the rain. He discovered an elegant seat about a hundred yards distant from the road; thither he hastened to gain shelter from the approaching storm.
The owner of the mansion met him at the door, and politely invited him in, while a servant stood ready to take his horse.72
He was ushered into a large apartment, genteelly furnished, where the family and several young ladies were sitting. As he glanced his eye hastily around the room, he thought he recognized a familiar countenance. A hurried succession of confused ideas for a moment crossed his recollection. In a moment he discovered that it was Alida.
By this unexpected meeting they were both completely embarrassed. Alida, however, arose, and, in rather a confused manner, introduced Theodore to the company as the friend of her brother.
The rain continued most part of the afternoon. Theodore was urged by the family, and consented to stay the night. A moonlight evening succeeded the shower, which invited the young people to walk in an adjoining garden. Alida informed Theodore that the owner of the mansion was a distant relative of her father, who had two amiable daughters, not far from her own age. She had been invited there to pass a week, and expected to return within two days. “And,” she added, smiling, “perhaps, Theodore, we may have an opportunity once more to visit our favourite grove, before winter entirely destroys the remaining beauties of the summer.”
Theodore felt all the force of the remark. He recollected the conversation when they were last at 73 the place she mentioned; and he well remembered his feelings on that occasion.
“Great changes, indeed,” he replied, “have taken place since we were last there;—that they are productive of unexpected and unexampled happiness to me, is due, Alida, to yourself alone.”
Theodore departed next morning, appointing the next week to visit Alida at her father’s house. Thus were the obstacles removed which had presented a barrier to their united wishes. They had not, it is true, been separated by wide seas, unfeeling parents, nor, as yet, by the rigorous laws of war; but vexations, doubts, and difficulties had thus far attended them, which had now happily disappeared, and they calculated on no unpropitious event which might thwart their future happiness.
All the hours that Theodore could spare from his studies were devoted to Alida; and their parents began to calculate on joining their hands as soon as his professional term of study was completed.
Hostilities that had previously commenced with England had been followed by several battles. “The panic and general bustle which prevailed at this time, will yet be remembered by many.” These circumstances were not calculated to impress the mind of Alida with the most pleasant sensations. She foresaw that the burden of the war must rest 74 on the American youth, and she trembled in anticipation for the fate of Theodore. He, with others, should it continue, must take the field in defence of his country. The effects of such a separation were dubious and gloomy. Theodore and herself frequently discoursed on the subject, and they agreed to form the mystic union previous to any wide separation. One event tended to hasten this resolution: The attorney in whose office Theodore was engaged received a commission in the new-raised American army, and marched to the lines near Boston. His business was therefore suspended, and Theodore returned to the house of his father. He considered that he could not remain long a mere spectator of the contest, and that it might soon become his duty to take the field, therefore concluded to hasten his marriage with Alida. She consented to the proposition, and their parents made the necessary arrangements for the event. The place was fixed upon which was to be their future residence. It was a pleasantly situated eminence, commanding an extensive prospect. On the west, forests unevenly lifted their rude heads, with here and there a solitary field, newly cleared, and thinly scattered with cottages. To the east, the eye extended over a soil at one time swelling into woody elevations, and at another spreading itself into vales of the most enchanting 75 verdure. To the north it extended to the palisades, wooded to their summits, and throwing their shadows over intervals of equal wilderness, till at length the eye, wandering far beyond, was arrested in its excursions by the blue mist which hovered over the distant mountains, more grand, majestic, and lofty. The inhabitants around were mild, sociable, moral, and diligent. The produce of their own fields gave them the most of what was necessary, and they were happily free from all dissipation and luxury.
Such was the site marked out for the residence of Theodore and Alida. They visited the spot, and were enraptured with its pensive, romantic beauties.
“Here,” said Theodore, “we will one day pass our time in all the felicity of mind which the chequered scenes of life will admit. In the spring, we will roam among the flowers; in summer, we will gather strawberries in yonder fields, or raspberries from the adjacent shrubbery. The breezes of fragrant morning and the sighs of the evening gale will be mingled with the songs of the various birds which frequent the surrounding groves. We will gather the bending fruits of autumn, and will listen with pleasure to the hoarse, murmuring voice of winter—its whistling winds, its driving snow and rattling hail—with delight.”76
The bright gems of joy glistened in the eyes of Alida as Theodore described this pleasing scene of anticipation.
Winter came on; it rapidly passed away. Spring advanced, and the marriage day was appointed. Preparations for the hymenial ceremony were making, and invitations had already gone abroad. Albert was particularly sent for, and all was approaching to readiness for this happy event.
Theodore and Alida again promenaded to the spot which had been chosen for their habitation; they projected the structure of the buildings, planned the gardens, the artificial groves, the walks, and the green retreat of the summer-house; and already they realized in imagination the various domestic blessings and felicities with which they were to be surrounded.
Nature was adorned with the bridal ornaments of spring; the radiant sun was sinking behind the groves, casting his sable shades over the valley, while the retiring beams of day adorned the distant eastern eminences with yellow lustre; the birds sung melodiously in the grove; the air was freshened by light western breezes, bearing upon their wings all the entrancing odours of the season; while around the horizon clouds raised their brazen summits, based in the black vapour of approaching 77 night; and as its darkening shades were advancing, Theodore and Alida returned home. They seated themselves awhile on the piazza, to contemplate the splendours of the evening, and to witness the beauties of one of the most picturesque draperies painted in the landscape of nature.78
The dreadful din of war is heard
Wide spreading o’er the land and sea;
The battle’s shout and cannon’s roar
Proclaim the nation shall be free.
The nodding plumes, like waving pines,
Are shaken by the morning breeze;
The gilded armour brightly shines,
And patriots sigh for victories.
The tumults of a second war with Great Britain still increased, and was not only exhausting the finances of the country, but called for a still greater sacrifice—all the bravest American youth. A large army of reinforcements was shortly expected from England to land on our shores, and the confused noise of the warriors, with more vigorous and intrepid combat, were already anticipated.
Theodore had received a commission in a regiment of militia, and was pressed by several young gentlemen of his acquaintance, who had enlisted in the army, to join it also. He had an excuse: his father was a man in extensive business, was considerably past the prime of life, had a number of agents and clerks under him, but began to feel himself unable to attend to the various and burthensome duties and demands of a mercantile life. 79 Theodore was his only son; his assistance, therefore, became necessary, until, at least, his father could bring his business to a close, which he was now about to effect.
Theodore stated these facts to his friends; told them that on every occasion he should be ready to fly to the post of danger when his country was invaded, and that as soon as his father’s affairs became settled, he would, if necessary, join the army.
The president was now active in making every exertion in his power, to rouse the feelings of his countrymen to act their parts with honour in the scene that was now before them. He knew that much of the responsibility rested on himself. The capacity he was in with regard to the nation, caused the most material and important business—of directing and superintending the weighty affairs of government—to fall upon his hands; and such was the situation of the country, that it not only called for the exertion, the wisdom, sound judgment, and policy of the presidential chair, but likewise of every patriotic bosom to participate in their endeavours to oppose the depredations against it. The chief executive was entered on a theatre in which he was to act a conspicuous part in this war of America with Great Britain, and to occupy a station in the page of history, where the interesting 80 detail will reach the ear of remotest ages in the dates of time.
In the mean time, the father of Theodore had been absent for three or four days to one of the commercial seaports, on business with some merchants with whom he was connected in trade. He returned the next day after Theodore had got home; his aspect and his conversation were marked with an assumed and unmeaning cheerfulness. At supper he ate nothing, discoursed much, but in an unconnected and hurried manner, interrupted by long pauses, in which he appeared to be buried in contemplation. After supper he asked Theodore “if it were not possible that his union with Alida could be concluded within a few days?” Theodore, startled at so unexpected a question, replied, that such a proposal would be considered extraordinary, perhaps improper; besides, when Alida had named the day, she mentioned that she had an uncle who lived at a distance, whose daughter was to pass the summer with her, and was expected to arrive before the appointed time. It would, he said, be a delicate thing for him to anticipate the nuptials, unless he could give some cogent reason for so doing, and at present he was not apprised that any such existed. His father, after a few moments’ hesitation, answered, “I have reasons which, when 81 told,”—here he stopped, suddenly arose, hastily walked the room in much visible agony of mind, and then retired to his chamber.
Theodore and his mother were much amazed at so strange a proceeding. They could form no conjecture of its cause, or its consequence. Theodore passed a sleepless night. His father’s slumbers were interrupted; he was restless and uneasy: his sleep was broken and disturbed by incoherent mutterings and plaintive moans. In the morning when he appeared at breakfast, his countenance wore the marks of dejection and anguish. He scarcely spoke a word; and after the cloth was removed, he ordered all to withdraw except Theodore and his mother; when, with emotions that spoke the painful feelings of his bosom, he thus addressed them:
“For more than thirty years I have been engaged in commerce, in order to acquire independence for myself and my family. To accomplish this, I became connected with some English importing merchants, in a seaport town, and went largely into the English trade. Success crowned our endeavours. On balancing our accounts, two years ago, we found that our expectations were answered, and that we were sufficiently wealthy to close business, which some proposed to do; it was, however, agreed to make one effort more, as some 82 favourable circumstances appeared to offer, in which we adventured very largely, on a fair calculation of liberal and extensive proceeds. Before returns could be made, the war came on, embarrassments ensued, and by indubitable intelligence lately received, we find that our property in England has been sequestered; five of our ships, laden with English goods, lying in English harbours, and just ready to sail for America, have been seized as lawful prizes; added to this, three vessels from the Indies, laden with island produce, have been taken on their homeward bound voyage, and one lost on her return from Holland.
“This wreck of fortune I might have survived, had I to sustain only my equal dividend of the loss; but of the merchants with whom I have been connected, not one remains to share the fate of the event—all have absconded or secreted themselves. To attempt to compound with my creditors would be of little avail, so that the consequence to me is inevitable ruin.
“To abscond would not secure me, as most of my remaining property is vested in real estate; and even if it would, I could not consent to it. I could not consent to banish myself from my country, with the view to defraud my creditors. No: I have lived honestly, and honestly will I die. By 83 fair application and industry my wealth has been obtained, and it shall never justly be said that the reputation of my latter days were sullied with acts of meanness. I have notified and procured a meeting of the creditors, and have laid the matter before them. Some appeared favourable to me, others insinuated that we were all connected in fraudulent designs to swindle our creditors. To this I replied with becoming spirit, and was in consequence threatened with immediate prosecution. Whatever may be the event, I had some hopes that your happiness, Theodore, might yet be secured. Hence I proposed your union with Alida before our misfortunes should be promulgated. Your parents are old, a little will serve the residue of their days. With your acquirements you may make your way in life. I shall now have no property to give you; but I would still wish you to ensure to yourself that which you prize far above, and without which, both honours and emoluments would be unimportant and worthless.”
At this moment a loud rap at the door interrupted the discourse, and three men were ushered in, which proved to be the sheriff and his attendants, sent by the more inexorable creditors of Theodore’s father and company, to levy on the property of the former, which orders they faithfully executed by 84 seizing the lands, tenements, and furniture. We will not stop the reader to moralize on this disastrous event—the feelings of the family can better be conceived than described.
Hurled, in a moment, from the lofty summit of affluence to the low vale of indigence, Christian philosophy after a while came to the aid of the parents, but who can realize the feelings of the son? Thus suddenly cut short, not only of his prospects of future independence, but even present support, what would be the event of his suit to Alida, and stipulated marriage? Was it not probable that her father would now cancel the contract? Could she consent to become his in his present penurious situation? and could he himself be willing to make her miserable?
In this agitated frame of mind he received a letter from a friend in the neighbourhood of Alida, requesting him to come immediately to his house, whither he repaired the following day.
This person had ever been the unchanging friend of Theodore; he had heard of the misfortunes of his family, and he deeply sympathized in his distress. He had lately married and settled near the residence of Alida’s father. His name was Raymond. When Theodore arrived at the house of his friend, he was received with the same disinterested 85 ardour he had ever been before, in the day of his most unbounded prosperity. After being seated, Raymond told him the occasion of his sending for him was to propose the adoption of certain measures which he doubted not might be considered highly beneficial, as it respected his future peace and happiness. “Your family misfortunes,” continued he, “have reached the ear of Alida’s father. I know old people, generally speaking, too well to believe he will now consent to receive you as his son-in-law under your present embarrassments. The case is difficult, but not insurmountable. You must first see Alida; she is now in the next room; I will introduce you in; converse with her, after which I will lay my plan before you.”
Theodore entered the room. Alida was sitting by a window which looked into a pleasant garden, and over verdant meadows where tall grass waved to the evening breeze; further on, low valleys spread their umbrageous thickets where the dusky shadows of night had began to assemble. On the high hills beyond, the tops of lofty forests, majestically moved by the billowy gales, caught the sun’s last ray. Fleecy summer clouds hovered around the verge of the western horizon, spangled with silvery tints or fringed with the gold of evening. A mournfully murmuring rivulet purled at a little distance 86 from the garden, on the borders of a small grove, from whence the American wild dove wafted her sympathetic moaning to the ear of Alida. She was leaning on a small table as she sat by the window, which was thrown up. Her attention was fixed. She did not perceive Raymond and Theodore as they entered. They advanced towards her; she turned, started, and arose. With a melancholy smile she said she supposed it was Mrs. Raymond who was approaching, as she had just left the room. Her countenance was dejected, which, on seeing Theodore, lighted up into a languid sprightliness. It was evident she had been weeping. Raymond retired, and Theodore and Alida seated themselves.
“I have broken in upon your solitude, perhaps too unseasonably,” said Theodore. It is however the fault of Raymond; he invited me to walk into the room, but did not inform me that you were alone.
“Your presence was sudden and unexpected, but not unseasonable,” replied Alida. I hope that you did not consider any formality necessary in your visits, Theodore?
“I once did not think so,” answered Theodore; now I know not what to think—I know not how to act. You have heard of the misfortunes of my father’s family, Alida?87
“Yes, I have heard the circumstances attending that event,” said she; an event in which no one could be more deeply interested, except the immediate sufferers, than myself.
“Your father is also acquainted with my present situation,” said Theodore; and how did he receive the intelligence?
“With deep regret,” replied Alida.
Has he forbidden you to admit my addresses any longer? if even in an unqualified or indirect manner, it is proper I should know it.
“It certainly is,” said Alida. Soon after we received the intelligence of your family misfortunes, my father came into the room where I was sitting: ‘Alida,’ said he, ‘your conduct has ever been that of a dutiful child,—mine, of an indulgent parent. My ultimate wish is to see my children, when settled in life, happy and honourably respected. For this purpose I have bestowed on them a proper education, and design suitably to apportion my property among them. On their part, it is expected they will act prudently and discreetly, especially in those things which concern materially their future peace and welfare: the principal requisite to insure this is a proper connexion in marriage.’ Here my father paused a considerable time, and then continued: ‘I know, my child, that your situation 88 is a very delicate one. Your marriage-day is appointed; it was named under the fairest prospects. By the failure of Theodore’s father, those prospects have become deeply darkened, if not totally obliterated. To commit your fortune through life to a person in his present circumstances, would be hazardous in the extreme. The day named can at least be suspended; perhaps something more favourable may appear. At any rate, I have too much confidence in your discretion to suppose that you will, by any rash act, bring reproach either upon yourself or your connexions.’ Thus spake my father, and immediately withdrew.
“In our present dilemma,” said Theodore, “what is proper to be done?”
“It is difficult to determine,” answered Alida. “Should my father expressly forbid our union, or to see each other at present, it is probable he will carry his commands into effect. I would advise you to call on him to-morrow with your usual freedom. Whatever may be the event, I shall deal sincerely with you. Mrs. Raymond has been my friend and associate from my earliest years—Raymond you know. In them we can place the utmost confidence. From them you will be enabled to obtain information should I be prevented from seeing you. My reliance on Providence, I trust, will 89 never be shaken, but my future prospects, at present, are dark and gloomy.”
“Let us not despair,” said Theodore; “perhaps those gloomy clouds which now hover around us, may yet be dissipated by the bright beams of joy. Worth and innocence are the care of Heaven,—there rests my hope. To-morrow, as you propose, I will call at your father’s. If I should be debarred in future from seeing you, I will write as formerly, and direct the letters to Raymond.”
Alida now returned home, attended by Theodore. A whip-poor-will tuned its nightly song at a distance; but the sound which had so late appeared to them cheerful and sprightly, now passed heavily over their hearts.90
“O, happiness, deceitful in thy dream,”
Though wreaths all blooming hang upon thy brow,
And quick dissolves the visionary gleam,
Succeeded soon by various scenes of wo.
When Theodore returned to the house of his friend, he unfolded the plan he had projected.
“No sooner,” said Raymond, “was I informed of your misfortunes, than I was convinced that Alida’s father (whom I have known for many years) would endeavour to dissolve your intended union with his daughter. And however he may doat on his children, or value their happiness, he will not hesitate to sacrifice his better feelings to the accomplishment of his wishes to see them independent. It appears that you have but one resource left. You and Alida are now engaged by the most solemn ties, by every rite except those which are ceremonial; these I would advise you to enter into, and trust to the consequences. Mrs. Raymond has proposed the scheme to Alida, but implicitly accustomed to filial obedience, she shudders at the idea of a clandestine marriage; but when her father will proceed to rigorous measures, she will, I think, consent to the alternative. The world is before 91 you, Theodore,” continued he; “you have friends, you have acquirements which will not fail you. In a country like this you can scarcely help obtaining a competency, which, with the other requisites you have in your power, will not fail to insure your independence and felicity.”
“But the times have changed,” said Theodore, since the commencement of the war, and probably I may yet have to join the army. After I have made my visit on the morrow to Alida’s father, we will discourse further on the subject.
In the meantime, Theodore proceeded on the morrow, to make his intended visit. As he approached the house, he saw Alida sitting in a shady recess at one end of the garden, near which the road passed. She was leaning with her head upon her hand in a pensive posture; a deep dejection was depicted upon her features, which enlivened into a transient glow as soon as she saw Theodore. She arose, met him, and invited him into the house.
Theodore was received with a cool reserve by all except Alida. Her father saluted him with a distant retiring bow, as he passed with her to the parlour. As soon as they were seated, a lady who had lately come to reside some time in the family, (who was a relative of her father’s,) entered the room and seated herself by the window, alternately humming 92 a tune and staring at Theodore, without speaking a word.
This interruption was not of long continuance. Alida’s father entered, and requested the two ladies to withdraw, which was instantly done; he then addressed Theodore as follows:
“When I gave consent for your union with my daughter, it was on the conviction that your future resources would be adequate to support her honourably and independently. Circumstances have since taken place which render this point extremely doubtful.” He paused for a reply, but Theodore was silent. He continued, “You, perhaps, may say that your acquirements, your prudence, and your industry, will procure you a handsome income; but to depend on these altogether for your future exigencies is hazarding peace, honour, and reputation, at a single game of chance. If, therefore, you have no resources or expectations but such as these, your own judgment will teach you the necessity of immediately relinquishing all pretensions to the hand of Alida, and from this time to break off all communication with my daughter.” He then immediately left the room.
Why was Theodore speechless through the whole of this discourse? What reply could he have made? What were the prospects before him but misery and 93 wo? Where, indeed, were the means by which Alida was to be shielded from indigence, if connected with his fortunes?
The idea was not new, but it came upon him at this time with redoubled anguish. He arose and looked around for Alida, but she was not to be seen. He left the house and walked slowly towards Raymond’s. At a little distance he met Alida who had been strolling in an adjoining avenue. He informed her of all that had passed; it was no more than they both expected, yet it was a shock their fortitude could scarcely sustain. Disappointment seldom finds her votaries prepared to receive her.
Alida told Theodore that she knew her father’s determinations were altogether unchangeable at present. Her brother, she said, would be at home in a few days; how he would act on this occasion, she was unable to say; but were he ever so far their friend, he would have but feeble influence with her father. “What is to be the end of these troubles,” continued she, it is impossible to foresee. Let us trust in the mercy of Heaven, and submit to its dispensations.
Theodore and Alida, in their happier days, had, when absent from each other, corresponded. This method it was now thought best to resume. It was agreed, besides, that Theodore should frequently 94 visit Raymond’s, and Alida would resort there also, as she should find opportunity. Having concluded on this, Alida returned home, and Theodore to the house of his friend.
The next morning Theodore repaired to the dwelling where his aged parents now resided. His bosom throbbed with keen anguish when he arrived there: . His father was absent when he first reached home, but returned soon after. A beam of joy gleamed upon his countenance as he entered the house. “Were it not, Theodore, for your unhappy situation,” said he, “we should once more be restored to peace and happiness. A few persons who were indebted to me, finding that I was to be sacrificed by my unfeeling creditors, reserved those debts in their hands, and have now paid me, amounting to something more than five thousand pounds. With this I can live as well and conveniently as I could wish, and can spare some for your present exigencies, Theodore.”
Theodore thanked his father for his kindness, but told him that from his former liberality, he had yet sufficient for all his wants. “But your affair with Alida,” asked his father, “how is that likely to terminate?” “Favourably, I hope, sir,” answered Theodore.95
He could not consent to disturb the happy tranquillity of his parents by reciting his own wretchedness. He passed a week with them. He saw them once more comfortably seated at a calm retreat in the country; he saw them serenely blest in the pleasures of returning peace, and a ray of joy illumined his troubled bosom.
“Again the youth his wonted life regain’d,
A transient sparkle in his eye obtain’d,
A bright, impassion’d, cheering glow express’d
The pleas’d sensation of his tender breast:
But soon dark gloom the feeble smiles o’erspread;
Like morn’s gay hues, the fading splendours fled;
Returning anguish froze his feeling soul;
Deep sighs burst forth, and tears began to roll!”
His memory dwelt on Alida, from whom he had heard nothing since he had last seen her. He thought of the difficulties with which he was surrounded. He thought of the barriers which were now opposed to their happiness; and he immediately set out for the house of Raymond. He arrived at his residence near the close of the day. Raymond and his lady were at tea, with several young ladies that had passed the afternoon there. Theodore cast an active glance at the company, in hopes to see Alida among them, but she was not there. He was invited, and took a seat at table.
After tea was over, Raymond led Theodore into 96 an adjoining room. “You have come in good time,” said he. “Something speedily must be done, or you lose Alida forever. The day after you were here, her father received a letter from Bonville, in which, after mentioning the circumstances of your father’s insolvency, he hinted that the consequence would probably be a failure of her proposed marriage with you, which might essentially injure the reputation of a lady of her standing in life; to prevent which, and to place her beyond the reach of calumny, he offered to marry her at any appointed day, provided he had her free consent. As Bonville, by the recent death of his father, had been put in possession of a splendid fortune, the proposition might possibly allure the father of Alida, to use his endeavour to bring his daughter to yield implicit obedience to his wishes. Were he to command her to live single, it might be endured; but if he should endeavour to persuade her to discard you from her thoughts entirely, and to give her hand to a person she could have no esteem for, would be to perjure those principles of truth and justice, which he himself had ever taught her to hold most inviolable. To add to Alida’s distress, Bonville arrived there yesterday, and, I hope in some measure to alleviate it, Albert, her brother, came this morning. Mrs. Raymond has despatched a message to inform 97 Alida of your arrival, and to desire her to come here immediately. She will undoubtedly comply with the invitation, if not prevented by something extraordinary.”
Mrs. Raymond now came to the door of the room, and beckoned to her husband, who went out, but soon returned, leading in Alida, after which he retired. “Oh, Theodore,” was all she could say, her further utterance was interrupted by her tears. Theodore led her to a seat, and overcome by sadness was unable to speak. Recovering at length, he begged her to moderate her grief.
“Where,” said he, “is your fortitude, and your firmness, Alida, which I have so often seen triumphing over affliction?” Her extreme anguish prevented a reply. Theodore endeavoured to console her, though consolation was a stranger to his own breast.
“Let us not,” said he, “increase our flood of affliction by a tide of useless sorrow. Perhaps more prosperous days are yet in reserve for us; happiness may yet be ours. Heaven cannot desert Alida,” said Theodore; “as well might it desert its angels. This thorny path may lead to fair fields of light and verdure. Tempests are succeeded by calms; wars end in peace; the splendours of the brightest morning arise on the wings of blackest midnight. Troubles will not always last.”98
The grief which had almost overwhelmed Alida, now began to subside, as the waves of the ocean gradually cease their tumultuous commotion after the turbulent winds are laid asleep. Deep and long drawn sighs succeeded. The irritation of her feelings had caused a more than usual glow upon her cheek which faded away as she became composed, until a livid paleness spread itself over her features.
Raymond and his lady now came into the room. They strenuously urged the propriety and necessity for Theodore and Alida to enter into the bands of matrimony.
“The measure would be hazardous,” remarked Alida. “My circumstances,” said Theodore. “Not on that account,” interrupted Alida, “but the displeasure of my father.”
“Come here, Alida, to-morrow evening,” said Mrs. Raymond. “In the mean time you will consider the matter and then determine.” To this Alida assented and prepared to return home.
Theodore attended her as far as the gate which opened into the yard surrounding the dwelling. It was dangerous for him to go further, lest he should be discovered even by a domestic of the family. He stood here awhile looking anxiously after Alida as she walked up the avenue, her white robes now invisible, now dimly seen, until they were totally 99 obscured, mingling with the gloom and darkness of the night, ere she reached the door of her father’s mansion.
“Thus,” said Theodore, “fades the angel of peace from the visionary eyes of the war-worn soldier, when it ascends in the dusky clouds of early morning, while he slumbers on the field of recent battle.” With mournful forebodings he returned to the house of his friend. After passing a sleepless night, he arose and walked out into an adjoining field; he stood for some time, leaning, in deep contemplation, against a tree, when he heard quick footsteps behind him. He turned around, and saw Albert approaching. In a moment they were in each other’s arms, and mingled tears. They soon returned to Raymond’s where they conversed largely on present affairs.
“I have discoursed with my father on the subject,” said Albert; “I have urged him with every possible argument, to relinquish his determination to keep you and Alida separate. I fear, however, he is inflexible.”
“To endeavour to assuage the grief which rent Alida’s bosom was my next object, and in this I trust I have not been unsuccessful. You will see her this evening, and will find her more calm and resigned. You, Theodore, must exert your fortitude. 100 The ways of Heaven are inscrutable, but they are right. We must acquiesce in its dealings; we cannot alter its decrees. Resignation to its will, whether merciful or afflictive, is one of those eminent virtues which adorn the good man’s character, and will ever find a brilliant reward in the regions of unsullied happiness.”
Albert told Theodore that circumstances compelled him that day to return to the city. “I would advise you,” said he, remain here until your affair comes to some final issue. It must, I think, ere long, be terminated. Perhaps you and my sister may yet be happy
Theodore feelingly expressed his gratitude to Albert. He found in him that disinterested friendship which his early youth had experienced. Albert the same day departed for New-York.
The shades of night came on almost insensibly, as Theodore was anxiously expecting Alida. He anticipated the consolation her presence would bestow. Albert had told him she was more composed. The evening passed on, but she came not.
Raymond assured him she would soon be there. He paced the room, and then walked out on the way whither she was expected to come. He hesitated some time whether to advance or return. It was possible, though not probable, that she might 101 have come some other way. He hastened back to the house of his friend; she had not arrived.
“Something extraordinary,” said Raymond, “has undoubtedly prevented her coming. Perhaps she is ill.” Theodore shuddered at the suggestion. He looked at his watch: it was past twelve o’clock. Again he hastily sallied out and took the road to her father’s. The night was exceedingly dark, being illuminated only by the feeble glimmering of the twinkling stars. When he came within sight of the house, and as he drew near, no lights were visible, all was still and silent. He entered the yard, walked up the avenue, and approached the door. A solemn stillness prevailed around, interrupted only by the discordance of nightly insects. The dwelling was shrouded in darkness. In Alida’s room no gleam of light appeared.
“They are all buried in sleep,” said Theodore, deeply sighing, and I have only to return in disappointment.
Theodore now withdrew slowly from the place, and repassed the way he came. As he went back through the garden, he found a person standing at the foot of it, near the road. After a moment’s scrutiny, he perceived it to be Bonville.
“What, my chevalier, why are you here?” said he to Theodore. “Hast thou, then, eluded the 102 watchful eyes of Argus, and the vigilance of the dragon?”
“Unfeeling and impertinent intruder!” retorted Theodore, “dost thou add impudence to thy interference? Go,” said he, “you are unworthy of my anger. Pursue thy grovelling schemes. Strive to win to your arms a lady who must ever continue to despise you.”
“Theodore,” replied Bonville, “You and I were rivals in the pursuit for the hand of Alida. Whether from freak or fortune the preference was given to you, I know not; and I retired in silence. From coincidence of circumstances, I think she will now be induced to give the preference to me, especially after her prospects of connecting with you are cut off by the events which ruined your fortune. You, Theodore, have yet, I find, to learn the character of woman. It has been my particular study. Alida, now ardently impassioned by first impressions, irritated by recent disappointment, her feelings delicate and vivid, her affections animated, it would be strange if she could suddenly relinquish premature attachments founded on such premises. But remove her from your presence one year, with only distant and uncertain prospects of seeing you again, admit me as the substitute in your absence, and she accepts my hand 103 as freely as she would now receive yours. I had no design. It never was my wish to marry her without her free consent;—that I believe I shall yet obtain. Under existing circumstances it is impossible but that you must be separated. Then, when cool deliberation succeeds to the wild vagaries of fancy, she will discover the dangerous precipice to which her present inclinations lead. She will prefer indifference and splendour to love and a cottage. At present I relinquish all further pursuit; to-morrow I shall return home. When Alida, from calm deliberation, and the advice of friends, shall freely consent to yield me her hand, I shall return to receive it. I came from my lodgings this evening to declare these intentions to her father; but it being later than I was aware of, the family had gone to rest. I was about to return, but, looking back again at the house, to see if I could descry a light, I stood a moment by the garden gate, when you approached and discovered me.” So saying, he bade Theodore good night, and walked hastily away.
“I find he knows not the character of Alida,” said Theodore, as he pursued his way to Raymond’s. When he arrived at the house of his friend, he related all that had passed between himself and Bonville; and from what he related, the Raymonds concluded that Alida must be watched and guarded.104
Friendship! thou sovereign balm of every care.
When all serene and placidly appear;
Domestic happiness! of that possessed,
Then may we leave to Providence the rest.
The father of Alida now thought proper to enter into a second marriage. A lady of worth and understanding had wrought upon his fancy, and won his particular regards. Her elegance of manner and dignified deportment engaged general attention; and although she was rather advanced in life, yet “the remains of former beauty were still visible in her appearance.”
She was honourably descended from English parents, who had resided in New-York since the revolution. Her father had been actively engaged in business there, which had been ultimately crowned with the successful gifts of fortune.
Her education had been governed by the strictness of the English discipline. A foundation laid in early piety continued to influence her mind with unaffected ardour, blended with a generous benevolence, the genuine effects of the inexhaustible goodness of her heart. She was one who manifested to the world that a “doer of good” is far preferable 105 to any other character, and in a superlative degree above those who maintain high principles in theory, without ever once reducing them to practice.
This lady had an only sister, who married a native of Ireland, and after the course of a few years went to reside there, where she had recently died. The children returned to this country, having lost their father long before, and several of her nephews now resided in the city. Having been always accustomed to reside in town herself, where her many excellent qualities had endeared her to numerous friends and acquaintances, who would now feel themselves lost without her society, therefore the parents of Alida formed the conclusion to pass their winters in the city, and return to the country in the summer season.
In the mean time, Alida’s father thought the event fortunate, and was pleased at this time to remove his daughter from the place where the late scenes appeared so trying and afflictive, with the hope that in mingling her with the gay world she would in a while forget Theodore, while he in his turn would be induced to leave the neighbourhood.
It was now at that season when weary summer had lapsed into the fallow arms of autumn, and was approaching to the chilly breezes of winter. The morning was clear, and the light gales bore invigorating 106 coolness on their wings as they tremulously agitated the foliage of the western forest, or fluttered among the branches of the trees that surrounded the mansion. The green splendours of the lawn had faded into a yellow lustre; the flowery verdure of the fields was changed to a russet hue.
A robin chirped in a favourite tree in the yard; a wren chattered beneath, while some few solitary birds still continued to warble their notes among the leaves of the aspen.
The surrounding groves partially rung with melody; while deep in the adjacent wilderness the woodpecker, hammering on some dry and blasted trees, filled the woods with reverberant echoes.
The face of the Sound was ruffled by the lingering breezes, as they idly wandered over its surface. Long Island was thinly enveloped in smoky vapour; scattered along its shores lay the numerous small craft, with larger ships, of the hostile fleet. A few skiffs were passing and re-passing the Sound. Several American war-sloops lay on a point which jutted out from the mainland into the river.
Alida walked leisurely around the yard, contemplating the various beauties of the scene, the images of departed joys (that she was now about to leave). The days when Theodore participated with her in admiring the splendours of rural prospect, raised in 107 her bosom the sigh of deep regret. She entered the garden, and traced the walks, now overgrown with weeds and tufted grass. The flower-beds were choked with the low running brambles, and tall rushes and daisies had usurped the empire of the kitchen garden. The viny arbour was principally gone to decay, and the eglantine blushed mournfully along the fences.
Alida continued to walk the garden until the servant informed her that the carriage was waiting to take her to the city.
Although they set out rather late in the day, they arrived in town some hours before sunset. They drove immediately to their dwelling, which was situated in a pleasant part of Greenwich-street, near the Battery.
Alida, after she had thrown off her travelling apparel, seated herself by the window in silence. Her mind was absorbed in deep reflection and thoughtfulness. She watched the slow declining sun, as it was sinking beneath the horizon. Pensive twilight spread her misty mantle over the landscape. The western sky glowed with the spangles of evening; deepening glooms advanced. The last beam of day faded from the view, and all was enveloped in night. Innumerable stars glittered in the firmament, intermingling 108 their quivering lustre with the pale splendours of the milky way.
When Alida was summoned to tea, her parents made various observations to endeavour to amuse her thoughts, and draw her from her taciturnity. After tea she again returned to the window, where she sat till a late hour, apparently in deep meditation, till at length growing weary and restless, she retired to her room.
As she had for several nights in succession slept but little, she soon fell into a slumber, and did not awake till near the dawn of day. She did not close her eyes again to sleep. Daylight soon appeared, and the cheerful sun darting his enlivening rays through the windows of this antique mansion, recovered her exhausted spirits, and dissipated, in some measure, the cheerless reflections that still continued to hover about her imagination.
She arose, and went down to breakfast with spirits somewhat revived, and changed to a temporary resignation to past events and recent occurrences. A thought impressed her mind which gave her new consolation.
“Who knows,” said she, “but that the sun of peace may yet dispel the glooms of these distressful hours, and restore this throbbing bosom to its former serenity?”109
In the meantime, Theodore remained in the neighbourhood of Alida until he heard the family had left and gone to the city. He then prepared himself to set out early the next day for the habitation of his parents.
He informed Raymond of his promise to write to Alida, and to transmit letters through his agency for her inspection every convenient opportunity.
After passing a weary watchful night, he arose at the first dawning of day, and proceeded on his journey with a heavy heart and painful reflections.
After he had passed through the neighbouring village, and gained the bridge, he looked over and bade the residence of Alida a mournful farewell. Fearful forebodings crossed his mind that they were separated forever; then again those more consolatory, that, perhaps, after a long delay, he and Alida might yet again meet and be happy.
Traits of glory had painted the eastern skies. The glittering day-star, having unbarred the portals of light, began to transmit its retrocessive lustre. Thin scuds flew swiftly over the moon’s decrescent form. Low, hollow winds murmured among the bushes, or brushed the limpid drops from the intermingling foliage.
The dusky shadows of night fled to the deep glens and rocky caverns of the wilderness. The 110 American lark soared high in the air, consecrating its matin lay to morn’s approaching splendours.
The woodlands and forest tops on the high hills caught the sun’s first ray, which, widening and extending, soon gemmed the landscape with a varying brightness.
It was late in the afternoon before Theodore arrived at his father’s. He found his parents contented and happy at their present residence, which was extremely pleasant, and afforded them many accommodations.
“You have been long gone, my son,” said his father: “I scarcely knew what had become of you. Since I have become a farmer, I know little of what is going on in the world, and we were never happier in our lives. We live as independently as we could desire, and realize the blessings of health and contentment. Our only disquietude is on your account, Theodore. Your affair with Alida, I suppose, is not so favourable as you could wish. But despair not, my son; hope is the harbinger of fairer prospects; rely on Providence, which never deserts those who submissively bow to its dispensations. Place entire confidence and dependence on the Supreme Being,” said his father, “and the triumph of fortitude and resignation will be yours.” His father paused. His reasonings, however they convinced the understanding, 111 could not heal the wounds of Theodore’s bosom. In Alida he had looked for as much happiness as earth could afford, nor could he see any prospect in life which could repair to him her loss.
Unwilling to disturb the serenity of his parents, he did not wish to acquaint them with the whole affair of his troubles. He answered, that perhaps all might yet be well; that, however, in the present state of his mind, he thought a change of place and scene might be of advantage. He said, moreover, that he no longer had an excuse, and that circumstances now compelled him to join the army.
A sorrow unknown before seized upon the minds of his parents as Theodore repeated these words. Sad and dreadful ideas crowded their imagination at this gloomy period, when in the war’s dread emergency they must risk the life of an only son, to march to the field of battle. ’Tis true, he might be again restored to them, but were there not a thousand chances to one? They were overwhelmed with sorrow at these thoughts, till at length they finally felt themselves obliged to consent to what they considered his inevitable destiny, leaving the result of their united wishes and prayers for his safe preservation to an over-ruling Providence.
His father then offered him money he had on hand to defray his expenses. Theodore refused, 112 saying, his resources had not yet left him. He then disposed of his horses and carriages, the insignia of his better days, but now useless appendages.
After taking an affectionate leave of his parents, he set out the ensuing day to join his companions on their route to meet the army, which was far distant. When hostilities first commenced, Theodore had said, that when it became actually necessary, and his father’s affairs were settled, he would enlist in the service of his country. Nevertheless, he journeyed with a heavy heart and an enfeebled frame of spirits, through disappointment, vexation, and fatigue. The scenes he had so lately experienced moved in melancholy succession over his mind, and his despondency had not abated, even in a small degree, when he reached the army.
He now joined the forces under Colonel Van , “who, with a detachment of about one thousand men, crossed the river Niagara, and attacked the British on Queenstown heights. This detachment succeeded in dislodging the enemy, but not being reinforced by the militia from the American side, as was expected, they were ultimately repulsed, and obliged to surrender. Eight hundred British soldiers now came to the aid of the others, and pressed on to renew the attack. The Americans for a time continued to struggle against this force, 113 but were finally obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war.”
The fate of war was hard for Theodore, on his first expedition. He was taken, and carried among the rest on board a prison-ship, and sent with a number of others to England.
This disastrous event, however, was shortly followed by one more fortunate for the Americans. “General Dearborn embarked at Sackett’s Harbour, with sixteen hundred men, on an expedition against York, and succeeded in the capture of that place.
“York was the seat of government for Upper Canada, and the principal depot for the Niagara frontier. More naval stores were taken by the Americans than could be carried away. The government hall was burned, contrary to the orders of the American general.”114
“See, winter comes,” and boisterous on its way,
See darkening clouds obscure the cheerful day;
Its hollow voice is muttering in the gale,
While chilling hail and snow the earth assail.
Some length of time had elapsed since the family had been settled in the city, and the cool breezes of autumn had changed to the hoarse murmuring gales of winter. No sound scarcely was heard except blustering winds, or their whistling murmurs around the angles of the mansion, blended with the more slow, monotonous cadence of the advancing waves of the Hudson.
The evenings were cold, dark, and gloomy, except when the resplendent rays of the moon’s mild lustre was seen dispensing its light and cheering influence, dissipating, in a material degree, the dreariness of the evenings of this inclement season. Winter had commenced, “sullen and sad, with all his rising train.” “Vapours, and clouds, and storms,” succeeded each other. Instead of copious showers of rain, snow and ice were spread over the pavement in heavy masses.
One evening as a storm was approaching, and the winds blew tremendously, and the snow began to 115 fall in abundance, Where now, thought Alida, is Theodore? though the cold may pierce and storms molest him, yet there is no friend to sympathise with him in his distress, or to mitigate the heaviness of his cheerless hours, and shed the rays of gladness over his troubled mind.
How great the contrast is now with his former fortunes, how severe his afflictions! He feels not so much the loss of wealth, but he sighs for the smiles of former associates and friends. She looked upon her finger, there was the ring he had given her in happier days. This she vowed to keep and cherish, through every trial and affliction. It was Theodore’s last gift. Where was he now? What dangers he may have encountered, and what hardships endured! and what might he not yet have to suffer, ere she should behold him again, if indeed she ever should.
She had not heard from him in a long time. He had promised to write—why was he not faithful to his promise?
Thus meditated Alida. At length she articulated in a calmer tone, and her feelings became more composed.
Infinite Ruler of events! Great Sovereign of this ever-changing world! Omnipotent Controller of vicissitudes! Dispenser of destinies! 116 In thy hands are all things terrestrial, and the condition of our lives are at thy disposal. The beginning, the progression, and the end is thine. Unsearchable are thy purposes!—mysterious thy movements!—inscrutable thy operations! Thy will must be done. To bow in submission to thy decrees, is right:—for we are unable to scrutinize the past, and incompetent to explore the future.
Alida had lived retired since she had been in town, although in the midst of gay scenes of every description. The acquaintance she had made were few. Her second mother had no relatives there, except her sister’s children, which formed a principal part of her society.
Her oldest nephew was about twenty-five years of age. The personal appearance of Mr. Bolton was highly prepossessing. He was particularly distinguished for his genuine politeness, affability, and witticism.
He inherited a considerable patrimony from his grandfather, which proved to be a disadvantage, as it prevented him from applying himself to any particular occupation. Since his aunt’s marriage, and his acquaintance with Alida, his visits had become frequent, accompanied with partial attention; though on her part, indifference was visible, as his earnest 117 assiduities, were altogether unexpected, and implied a thing she had not thought of.
No one had as yet observed his growing fondness and predilection for Alida, except her father, to whom it was by no means pleasing. The habitual idleness of this young gentleman, caused him in a great measure to pass over the consideration of his many excellent qualities.
Among those, with whom Alida had become acquainted during her residence in the city, was the son of an old friend of her father’s. This gentleman had place among the merchants in Broadway, and who, by a long course of industrious trading had amassed a handsome competency. There was something peculiar in his air and manner, which distinguished him among the men of business.
Speak of a person of commanding aspect, tall, slender, and majestic; quick in step, fluent in speech, with large light blue eyes, and light hair, approaching a little to the yellow. That was Mr. More. There was a neatness and uniformity in his appearance and dress. He might have been known by his blue suit, white vest, and cambric handkerchief. He was polite and agreeable, and by his associates, he was much esteemed as an acquaintance. His judgment was mature in regard to his business. He managed his affairs with prudence 118 and economy, and still stood firm amid the shock of failures around him.
Though his means were ample, his expenditures were not extravagant; every thing about him partook of the convenient and useful. Suitably free from the fashion young people like an epidemic, he preferred rational pleasures, and the company of a few young men of liberal views and sentiments, to the empty display and unsubstantial show, which wins the smile of moneyed plebians.
His general deportment, his countenance and manner, discovered a mind and disposition, that had always been accustomed to unremitting indulgence. He was ardent in friendship; possessing a heart of the keenest sensibility, with a scrupulous regard for the feelings of others. He had been much in female society—in company with the amiable and intelligent. Still he had never seen any one that he thought was possessed of congenial feelings, or whose mind would assimilate with his own.
When he became acquainted with Alida, his sensations were awakened to a new influence;—that he did not attempt to banish from his mind. He never before had seen any one he thought so worthy of esteem, or so calculated to inspire him 119 with lasting friendship. “The kindness, and sincerity of her heart, speaks in her artless manner,” said he, (as he was one evening returning home from her father’s.) “She delights the old and captivates the young. Yet her beauty is not so dazzling at first glance, but every day that she is seen, the more her features charm, the more her manners please. Innocence dwells in the silvery curls of her light auburn hair, that waves over her shoulders in simple elegance. She has been reared with proper care and attention, and educated not to shine in a ball-room, but with a soft soothing friendship, to dissipate ennui and gloom, and make the happiness of the domestic circle.”120
Come, Contemplation, with thy boundless gaze.
Inspire my song, while I his merits praise,
A true description of his greatness name,
And fame’s bright annals, shall record the same.
Many were at this time risking their lives in defence of American liberty, and privileges;—nor were there at present any prospects of conciliatory measures between the contending powers. It became necessary for the people in the meantime, to call forth all their energies and patriotism, with the utmost exertion on their parts—in support of their country, in order to maintain the burden of the arduous conflict in which it was engaged, and sustain the present contest with honour to themselves, and with the hope that its final settlement might be to the satisfaction of America, and the future prosperity of the nation.
Many heroes ventured forth to the field of battle, with the ardent endeavour, still to preserve their independence; while at the same time the hearts of many were failing them with fear. It was a time for the patriot to use his influence to animate others anew to bravery, and persuade them to be zealous, in a just cause; at this season of general 121 excitement, in which the feelings of the whole community had become strongly interested. Party spirit, and the conflicting interests of the different states were found to operate injuriously on many in their commercial transactions. The people were impoverished by the expenses of the war. Some were in debt. Creditors resorted to legal measures to enforce a collection of their demands, which involved many families in deep embarrassment. Peace was sighed for by the multitude, but there were yet no signs of its realization. An engagement had just taken place on Lake Erie. The American fleet was commanded by Commodore Perry, a young officer; that of the British under Com. Barclay, an old and experienced officer, who had served under Nelson. After a contest of three hours the Americans gained a complete victory, and captured every vessel of the enemy. Commodore Perry announced this victory in the following laconic style: “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The Americans took six hundred prisoners, which exceeded their whole number engaged in the action. This battle was succeeded, several weeks afterwards, by another that was alike fortunate, between the American army under General Harrison, and the British under Gen. Proctor, in which they were defeated, 122 and Detroit fell into the hands of the Americans. The success of this action may be entirely attributed, (under the favour of heaven,) to the abilities and military skill of General Harrison.
After General Hull had tamely surrendered to the British this important post, with the gallant force that composed the garrison, an event which spread consternation far and wide throughout the western country, and greatly increased the difficulty and arduous nature of Gen. Harrison’s duties, he immediately organized the brave troops under his command, and commenced a course of rigid discipline, and military , with the confident hope of retrieving the consequent disasters of this proceeding.
The American army advanced in order of battle, and were in the immediate neighbourhood of the enemy; the reconnoitering parties brought in intelligence of the dispositions Proctor had made, wherein he had committed an irretrievable error in ranging his regular soldiers in order, and extending his line by placing the files at a distance of three or four feet from each other. Harrison, with the rapid decision of an able general, instantly availed himself of the error of his opponent. The extended and weakened line of the enemy, could offer but a feeble resistance to the charge of his gallant 123 troops, who dashed forward at the earnest solicitation of the people of the territory,—and with the public expression of the most flattering approbation, on the part of the chief executive;—till at length they gained a complete victory.
The various and arduous duties of the governor of Indiana, required, for this office, a man of very superior abilities—one possessed of stern integrity and prudent moderation, accompanied by the most unwavering firmness. Such a man Governor Harrison, in the long course of his administration, fully proved himself to be. And in acting his part as a general he merits no less the applauses of his countrymen, in training and leading their armies to victory. The nervous and impassioned eloquence, and classical felicity of illustration, with which he enforced his arguments, gained him much applause and influence,—and discovered his abilities to be of the highest order, blended with the truest republican principles;—in which were manifested an ardent zeal for the good of his country, and an earnest desire to serve her best interests. Though vested with unusual powers, both as governor and general, he was never known during the whole of his command, to exercise his authority in an unjust or oppressive manner. His measures were energetic but always qualified by his characteristic 124 moderation and humanity, joined with integrity, prudence, and capacity for civil government. Many high encomiums were lavished upon him by those whose friends and neighbours had participated in this campaign, and who were consequently familiar with its details, and with the merits of their commander.
And Detroit is destined to be remembered, as the place of the battle ground of one of the most remarkable and decisive actions that took place during the late war.
Shortly after this action was over, Bonville, who was one among the soldiers, returned to New-York. He furnished plausible reason, and obtained a furlough from his commanding officer, for leave of absence. In the meantime, he thought again to visit Alida; he had at present a double motive again to address her,—and if he should prove successful, her expected fortune would make him ample amends for what he had squandered away in scenes of folly. And if the father of Theodore had become a bankrupt by misfortune, he had now almost become one by dissipation and extravagance.
Albert had been extremely busy through the day, and was just returning home from his store in Pearl-street one evening, when he met Bonville in Broadway on his way to his father’s. He accosted 125 him in a very friendly manner, and then interrogated him by numerous questions concerning the family,—and very inquisitively with regard to his sister. Albert made no reply that gave him any particular satisfaction. When they arrived at the house, they found no company except Mr. More. Alida was truly shocked and surprised at this unexpected visit from Bonville, who she had no idea was in town. After making to her his compliments, and expressing his pleasure at finding her well, he by degrees drew her into a conversation which lasted the greater part of the evening. He offered an ill-timed consolation for the absence of Theodore, and affected much regret,—although he said his case was not as deplorable as that of many others, as he was still among the living. That though he was a person he could not esteem, still he had felt so far interested in his welfare, as to make particular inquiries how the British were accustomed to treat their prisoners. He then gave some dark intimations against his general character, which could not fail to throw over the mind of Alida a deep dejection.
She was now apprised of the fate of Theodore:—She was unable to suppress the feelings of sorrow, that these words of Bonville had excited. She remained silent; wholly engrossed by the confused thoughts and sad ideas, that arose in succession in 126 her mind, till at length she became regardless of all around her.
The penetrating eyes of Mr. More were fixed upon her during this conversation. He seemed wholly insensible to every other object. He was apprehensive that her heart was insensible to the strong affection that pervaded his own,—and he thought should she prove incapable of loving like himself, and should become devoted to another, thoughts he could scarcely endure,—though they sometimes impressed the idea that she might never be interested in his favour. Hope would again flatter him with the pleasing thought, that her bosom may have been fraught with congenial feelings, and her heart beat with sensations even more fervent than his own. Her image filled his waking thoughts, and disturbed with visionary happiness his sleeping hours,—yet it seemed to his devoted mind the love of merit alone; and he imagined that while she was happy, he could never be altogether otherwise.
After Mr. More and Bonville had taken leave, and her parents had retired to rest, Alida remained by the fire-side till a late hour. She was meditating on recent circumstances, on the many late trying events which had crowded so rapidly that they could scarcely be said to succeed each other, and which had given so great variety to her life, that for years had 127 rolled on in the same peaceful, unvaried course. She felt displeased at Bonville for his insinuations concerning Theodore, which were ungenerous and ill-natured,—while he seemed to flatter himself with the idea that she would become forgetful of him. He had hitherto yielded to every selfish propensity, without once seriously reflecting on its consequences to himself or others. His understanding, warped by prejudice, and without control, often misled him, and the superiority an elevated station gave him caused him to neglect to practice those better principles of which his nature might have been capable. His pride would suffer to see Alida united to another, therefore he was determined not to relinquish her. He concluded that finally she would look upon Theodore with indifference, and become favourably disposed towards himself; while his regard for her should prove unchangeable. That, unacquainted as she was with the world, she would at length be brought to accede to his wishes. That his rhetoric operating on her inexperience would ultimately influence her in his favour.128
“Dejection pales thy rosy cheek,
And steals the lustre from thine eye;
The minutes of each tedious hour,
Are mark’d by sad anxiety:
“And all thy soft, endearing smiles,
That spoke with such expressive grace,
Alas! are fled, and only care
Is seen upon that pensive face.”
The sublime works of nature had shed abroad their cheering influences, and the mild and salubrious breezes of spring had succeeded the blustering gales of winter. The parents of Alida made preparation to return to the country. Alida’s father was declining in health. He had imparted to his son his wish for him to close and settle his mercantile affairs in the city, (as the times were dreary,) and return to the paternal estate. In the meantime, Albert’s assistance was necessary to alleviate his father, as he was now advanced in years, and had principally relinquished all public business, except attending to its calls only when requested in cases of emergency.
Mr. Bolton had been with the family several days, and attended them on board the steamboat. One would scarcely suppose that so interesting an 129 exterior as his, blended with highly polished manners, should not have made some impression on the mind of Alida if her heart had been disengaged. Besides, he was a person too amiable not to be esteemed. His ideas with regard to Alida were altogether sanguine. He believed, as soon as he should ask the consent of her parents, he would easily obtain his wishes. He considered his own fortune already sufficient, without seeking more in the din of business. And he possessed many other advantages which pleaded in his favour. With these hopes of assured success, he made proposals to her father. The manner in which her father replied to him was altogether discouraging, which excluded the hope of his ever gaining the hand of his daughter by his consent. This denial was a sensible cause of chagrin to Mr. Bolton, but yet it did not discourage him.
The impatience sometimes of obtaining a thing which is refused to us, renders it still more desirable, and the heart is never in a greater flutter than when it is agitated with the fear of losing the object it most wishes to gain. Moreover, he believed that Alida was already interested in his favour, and he determined to suggest to her, the first opportunity, the plan to elope with him, and thus put it out of the power of her father to impede their happiness.130
was calm and serene, and the air invigorating. The steam-boat floated slowly upon the waters in monotonous movement. There was music on board. A company of militia were going to the village of ——, where they usually paraded the town for several hours, took dinner at the hotel, and then returned again to the city.
Alida remained on deck nearly the whole way, to be a spectator of the various, beautiful landscapes that presented themselves on the river, particularly at this season of the year. A gentle breeze sprung up as they passed the little islands at the entrance of the bay, on whose glassy surface the sun shone with meridian splendour, illustrating the peculiar beauty of the diversified scenery. In the course of a few hours they arrived at the village of ——, where they obtained a conveyance to take them on to their family residence, where they arrived some time in the afternoon.
Although all nature was smiling around, and the variegated landscape never appeared more enchanting, birds of every description were seen chirping on the spray, and the trees resounded with their sportive melody, and Alida might still have been happy if she had never become acquainted with Theodore; yet while she had the appearance of serenity, she still cherished a secret uneasiness. 131 She had never received any intelligence concerning him since they had last parted. She imagined herself altogether forgotten, as Bonville had frequently suggested. Besides, he had represented Theodore as worthless. Harrassed and oppressed by a thousand different conjectures, she could scarcely support herself under them with any degree of resignation.
In this frame of mind, in serious meditation, she took a seat by the window. The sun was declining slowly beneath the horizon to gladden other regions. The spire of the village church was tipped with gold, and the resplendent rays reflected from the window dazzled the eye. Above was the azure vault variegated with fleecy clouds; beneath was nature’s verdant carpet. The little songsters of the adjoining grove were paying their tribute of praise in melodious strains. The bleating of the lambs, and the lowing of the milky train, re-echoed from the fields and valleys; while the gentle murmuring of the water-fall at the mill, with its rumbling cadence over the dam, was heard at a little distance. “How still is nature,” said Alida. “The sun has withdrawn his radiance, yet the gleam from yonder western sky bespeaks him still at hand, promising to return with his reviving warmth when nature is refreshed with darkness. The bay is already beginning 132 to be silvered over by the mild rays of the queen of night. Gently she steals on the world, while she bestows on us her borrowed splendour. She lights the wandering traveller, she warms the earth with gentle heat. She dazzles not the eye of the philosopher, but invites him to contemplate and admire. Scarcely a breeze is stirring; the shadow of each tree remains undisturbed; the unruffled bay and river glide smoothly on, reflecting nature’s face. Again the attention is drawn, and the eye wanders to yon vast concave, where the mind follows in silent wonder, wandering among the planets, till, struck with beauty of the whole, it acknowledges ‘the Hand that made it is divine.’
“Surely,” said Alida, “all nature conspires to calm the mind, to restore tranquillity, to soften every care and corroding thought. But what can ease the troubled mind, which, like the angry sea, after agitation by blustering winds, ’tis still tumultuous?” Where now, thought she, is Theodore? What sadness and difficulty may not his noble and generous spirit have had to encounter! His tender sensibility, his serene and pacific disposition, may have had numerous trials; and how unhappy he may be, who was ever ardent in his endeavours to communicate peace and happiness to others! When she reflected upon all his goodness, his zealous piety, his religious 133 sentiments the same as her own, and recalled to her memory happier days, when she had listened with pleasure to the powerful eloquence of a corresponding spirit. And her esteem for him rose higher, while he commented on religious truths, and bade her place a firm dependence on Divine Providence. Amid these uneasy sensations, which filled the bosom of Alida with anxiety and grief, and left her mind in a state of despondency, the period arrived for the celebration of her father’s birth-day, which brought with it, as usual, much company from the city, from the neighbouring village, with the parish minister and his family.
After her several sisters had arrived, and nearly all the company had collected, Alida entered the drawing-room with spirits somewhat re-animated. Bonville was already there. He arose and handed her to a seat. He accompanied the first salutations with many flattering compliments, but with all his endeavours to win her favour, he could not awaken even a temporary regard in the bosom of Alida. In the meantime, she had full leisure to observe his singular behaviour, to listen to his insinuating address, to hear him mention the name of Theodore, and when he observed her feelings were excited, to hear him suddenly change the subject. He sometimes appeared to regard her with an eye of pity, 134 but it arose from a consciousness of his own errors, bordering on baseness. He felt unhappy at his own want of integrity, and his heart reproached him with injustice and treachery.135
A polished mien, with elegance of mind,
A winning grace, with taste and sense refined,
A kindly, sympathizing heart, sincere,
The gloomy scene, the pensive thought to cheer.
In a series of events, a period at length arrived, which manifested to mankind, in a more melancholy degree, the shocking consequences and devastation of war, the overwhelming sorrow that is brought on families for the loss of friends, with the discouraging embarrassments attending all kinds of business.
A severe engagement had recently taken place within half a mile of the Niagara cataract. General Scott, on his arrival at Niagara Falls, learned that the British were in force directly in his front, separated only by a narrow piece of wood. He soon pressed through the wood, and engaged the British on the Queenstown road. He advanced upon the enemy, and the action commenced at six o’clock in the afternoon, and continued with little intermission until twelve at night. The thunder of the cannon, the roaring of the falls, the incessant discharge of artillery during the six hours in which the parties were in combat, heightened by the circumstance of its being night, afforded such a scene as is rarely to 136 be met with in the history of the wars of nations. The evening was calm, and the moon shone with lustre when not enveloped in clouds of smoke from the firing of the contending armies. Taking into consideration the numbers engaged, few contests have ever been more sanguinary. The battle was one of the most severe that had been fought during the war. The British troops engaged in this action amounted to 5000 men; many of them were selected from the flower of Lord Wellington’s army. Colonel Miller’s achievement, in storming the battery, was of the most brilliant and hazardous nature, and entitled him to the highest applause among the Americans.
The measures of the president relative to the war were of such a nature as greatly to draw upon him the approbation and gratitude of the nation. He early began to turn his mind to a contemplation of the general politics of his country. He, therefore, became advanced in the requisite qualifications to assume and maintain the important station he held over it. He had imbibed an attachment for civil liberty almost from his infancy, which influenced his every action. He was of a pacific temperament, and pursued those measures as long as they would answer. But when it became actually necessary for him to recommend to congress 137 to pursue a different course, it was then that the benefactor of his country endeavoured to concert measures still to preserve America as an asylum for civil and religious liberty. He possessed qualities well calculated to fulfil the duties of his high station with honour to himself and justice to the community. He was dignified in his deportment, kind, generous, and condescending; a patron to science; a uniform promoter of honourable enterprise, but an enemy to every thing dishonest, hypocritical, and disingenuous. And, as a Christian, he firmly adhered to the gospel, and regulated his life by its precepts and injunctions, in a consistent and exemplary manner. This illustrious president had the good fortune to be blessed with a consort whose qualifications in her particular capacity were no less adequate to fill with dignity her elevated station. The parents of Mrs. Madison were natives of Virginia. Their daughter was educated in Philadelphia among the Friends. She was, therefore, little indebted to acquired graces and accomplishments for the admiration and regard which followed her wherever she was known. To much personal beauty she added a warm heart and a benevolent disposition—charms and attractions which won for her not only admirers but friends, and exalted her to high eminence 138 in the public estimation. Her natural acquired endowments she carried into society with such pleasing manners and graceful demeanour, as produced almost universally an impression highly favourable to herself among the citizens of Washington. Her society was much esteemed in all the companies she frequented. Her mental powers were of a superior grade, and the effects of genuine piety and Christian benevolence distinguished all her actions. To these she added an amiability of temper, the polished address of a lady, with a conversation both pleasing and instructive. Her deportment to all was prepossessing, by the affectionate manner in which she addressed them separately, and the interest she manifested in their welfare. In these she showed no difference between the rich and the poor, and devoted much of her time to the cause of charity. She was eminently distinguished for her amiable qualities, and a peculiar versatility of talent in her conversation and manners. She entertained the numerous friends and guests of the president with cordial hospitality. She treated her husband’s relatives with regard and kindness; and in the president’s house, whenever there were female guests, Mrs. Madison always presided.
After the president’s, the house of the secretary 139 of state was the resort of most company. The frank and cordial manners of its mistress gave a peculiar charm to the frequent parties there assembled. All foreigners who visited the seat of government, strangers from the different states of the Union, the heads of departments, the diplomatic corps, senators, representatives, and citizens, mingled with an ease and freedom, a sociability and gaiety to be met with in no other society. Even party spirit, virulent and embittered as it then was, by her gentleness, was disarmed of its asperity.
Individuals who never visited the president’s dwelling, nor met at the other ministerial houses, could not resist the softening influences of her conciliatory disposition, with her frank and generous manners. She was constantly receiving and reciprocating civilities in the most kind and friendly manner with the inhabitants of Washington. The president, being wholly absorbed in public business, left to Mrs. Madison the discharge of the duties of social intercourse. And never was woman better calculated for the task. Exposed as she necessarily was, in so conspicuous a situation, to envy, jealousy, and misconstruction, she so managed as to conciliate the good-will of all, without offending the self-love of any of the numerous competitors for her favour and attention. Every visiter left her 140 with the pleasing impression of being an especial favourite, of having been the object of peculiar attention. She never forgot a name she had once heard, nor a face she had once seen, nor the personal circumstances connected with every individual of her acquaintance. Her quick recognition of persons, her recurrence to their peculiar interests produced the gratifying impression in each and all of those who conversed with her that they were especial objects of regard. The house was very plainly furnished, and her dress in no way extravagant; and it was only in hospitality and charity that her profusion was unlimited. The amiable and engaging qualities which have been here described, characterized Mrs. Madison in her husband’s public life. In the midst of the bitterness of party spirit, and the violence of political animosity, she was mild and courteous to all. The political assailants of her husband she treated with a kindness which disarmed their hostility of its individual rancour, and sometimes even converted political enemies into personal friends, and still oftener succeeded in neutralizing the bitterness of opposition.
At this period her courage and firmness were put to a severe test. In August, 1814, the British troops landed forty miles below Washington, and 141 approached that city. The president left the city to hold a council of war. Before his departure he anxiously inquired if she had courage or firmness to remain in their house until his return on the morrow, or succeeding day. She assured him she had no fear but for him and the success of the army. When the president reached Bladensburgh he unexpectedly found the two armies engaged. Meanwhile terror spread over the city—all who could obtain conveyances fled to the adjoining towns. The sound of the cannon was distinctly heard, and universal confusion and dismay prevailed. Some personal friends who remained with Mrs. Madison, strongly urged her to leave the city. They had her carriage brought to the door, but could not persuade her to enter it till her husband should return, and accompany her. And she did not finally depart till several messengers had been despatched to bid her fly. Much as she graced her public station, she was not less admirable in domestic life. Neighbourly and among her country friends, as if she had never lived in a city, delighting in the society of the young, and never better pleased than when promoting every youthful pleasure by her participation;—she still proved herself the affectionate consort, without neglecting the duties of a kind hostess, and a faithful 142 friend and relation. She smoothed and enlivened, occupied and appeased, each varying scene of life. Her husband knew, appreciated, and acknowledged the blessing which heaven had bestowed on him, in giving him such a companion.143
And many an aching heart at rising morn,
A sad memento of the day that’s past,
From long protracted slumbers, slowly drawn;
From wearied spirits—with a gloom o’ercast.
All business of importance, at this time, was in a manner suspended in New-York; the face of things wore a dismal aspect, and the greater part of the community were in dismay; occasioned by the continuance of hostilities with Great Britain. All appeared in a declining state, discouraging to the industry and best prospects of the inhabitants;—and although there had been some rumours of peace, it was not yet concluded.
A severe battle had lately taken place at New-Orleans, in which the Americans were victorious. Another was fought some little time afterwards on Lake Champlain. The British fleet, with 1050 men approached Plattsburgh, while the American fleet were lying off that place. The British fleet bore down upon them in order of battle, commanded by George Prevost, Governor General of Canada. Commodore Macdonough, the American commander, ordered his vessels to be cleared for action, and gallantly received the enemy. The 144 engagement was exceedingly obstinate. After a contest of two hours, the British ships and several sloops of war fell into the hands of the Americans. Before sunset the temporary batteries of the enemy were all silenced, and every attempt to cross from Plattsburgh to the American works was repelled. At nine o’clock the object was abandoned, and the British general hastily drew off his forces. Large quantities of military stores were left behind, and fell into the hands of the Americans.
The people of the United States were at this time divided into two political parties; one party condemned the war as unwise and unnecessary; the other contending that the war was just, and necessary, for the maintenance of national honour. The opposition to the war was the greatest in the New England states, and during its continuance this opposition was confirmed. Enlistments of troops were in some instances discouraged, and dissentions arose between the general and state governments, respecting the command of the militia, called out by order of the former, to defend the sea-board. Accordingly the legislature of Massachusetts appointed delegates to meet and confer with the delegates from the states of New England, or any of them, upon the subject of their public grievances and concerns. The delegates 145 met at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1815, and sat nearly three weeks with closed doors. This convention consisted of delegates from the state of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island; two members from New Hampshire, and one from Vermont. After their adjournment, the convention published an address, charging the nation with pursuing measures hostile to the interest of New England, and recommended amendments to the Federal Constitution. The report of the Hartford Convention concluded with the resolution providing for the calling of another convention, should the United States refuse their consent to some arrangementswhereby the New England States, separately, or in concert, might be empowered to assume upon themselves the defence of their territory against the enemy. The committee appointed to communicate these resolutions to Congress, met at Washington the news of peace: and owing to this event, another Convention was not called. And may it never be the fate of America, to be again involved in hostilities with her mother country, from whence is derived her revered religion;—each nation possessing towards the other reciprocal fellow-feelings, becoming Christian brethren.146
How shall we to his memory raise
A theme that’s worthy to record;
The tribute of a nation’s praise
In grateful accents sent abroad.
Let eloquence his deeds proclaim.
From sea-beat strand to mountain goal;
Let hist’ry write his peaceful name.
High on her truth-illumin’d scroll.
Let poetry and art through earth,
The page inspire, the canvass warm,
In glowing words record his worth.
In living marble mould his form.
A fame so bright will never fade,
A name so dear will deathless be;
For on our country’s shrine he laid
The charter of her liberty.
Praise be to God: his love bestowed
The chief, the patriot, and the sage;
Praise God! to him our father owed
This fair and goodly heritage.
The sacred gift time shall not mar.
But wisdom guard what valour won,
While beams serene her guiding star,
And glory points to Madison.
O, glorious prospect, see the smile benign,
Of heav’n-born peace, refulgent spread its rays;
To peace and concord, may the world incline,
And these our later be our happier days.
Some length of time had elapsed since the parents of Alida had taken up their residence in the city for the winter, when the news of peace reached New-York. The cries of peace resounded throughout the city at these joyful tidings,—and the evening of this day was celebrated by a splendid illumination. Transparencies, emblematical of the liberties of the country, were exhibited at all the public edifices. The fine and melodious music in the Park, drew the people together in crowds within the inclosure, till scarcely another could enter,—and although the snow had fallen profusely, and the walking was extremely bad, yet it seemed as if all the inhabitants, generally, were out, parading on foot, to witness the general rejoicing.
In the mean time, a visible change for the better took place almost immediately, and these happy effects shed their benign influence throughout all ranks of society, and among all classes of 148 the people. Those who had been in despair on account of the times, had now the charming prospect before them of returning happiness and prosperity, when the active scenes of life would again impel the multitude to the exercise of laudable industry, whereby they might ultimately realize the success and proceeds attending on an honest perseverance in business.
The country that had been unwillingly drawn into combat had been victorious, and its inhabitants left in peaceful possession of the warrior’s field. An honourable peace had been concluded, and happy tranquillity was once more the fate of the American nation.
The miseries and unhappy grievances occasioned by war, were again at an end, and happily terminated. The cheering consequences of peace again communicated their happy effects among the people, awakening to their imagination new hopes and prospects, filling their minds with exultation, and anticipations the most sanguine.
The painful, unpleasant effects of discord, animosity, and contention, were now changed to the exercise of those better qualities and dispositions, more pacific and praiseworthy. The scenes of fury, terror, and confusion, were succeeded by those of placid serenity. The hours but a short 149 time before spent in moping melancholy and sadness, in individual discouragement and wo, were now passed in listening to musical serenades, in scenes of mirth and festivity. The people whose independence had been gloriously won, nearly half a century before, by the superior prowess of a renowned hero,* who, as a general, marshalled the peasant into a veteran, and supplied by discipline the absence of experience, and through the vicissitudes of a protracted conflict displayed a magnanimity that defied misfortune, and a moderation that ornamented victory.
America, already revered in the annals of fame, now saw her rights again secured to her by the charter of her liberties. With the view before her of witnessing again the subsequent advantages of free trade and commerce; while her swelling canvass shall be spread over the seas of distant nations, and her star-spangled banner shall proclaim to them her liberty—glory and honour shall kindle in the bosom of the patriot at the name of her Madison. While the wealth of her commerce, the renown of her arms, the fame of her philosophy, the eloquence of her senate, and the inspiration of her bards, shall cause her to emerge 150 from her horizon, and shine with splendour over the vast expanse of the universe, claiming from remotest regions the respect due to her superiority. Happy America! thy freedom is once more ensured to thee, and thy hero has turned upon the vanquished only the retribution of his mercy.151
Charmed by returning pleasure’s gentle voice,
Each waken’d sense with new-born rapture beats;
The adverse heart the welcome stranger greets,
And bids each trembling nerve again rejoice.
The patriotic feelings of Alida’s father partook in the general joy and satisfaction of the community, and he soon turned his attention to celebrate the event of the late peace with tokens of rejoicing. Numerous were the company that collected at his house on the day set apart for this purpose. The dwelling was illuminated, and the guests assembled at an early hour in the evening on this joyful occasion.
Unaffected pleasure enlivened the scene, and presided throughout the assembly; light-hearted wit broke forth in a thousand brilliant sallies, while unfeigned joy heightened the flush on the cheek of youth, and smoothed the furrows on the brow of age. Nor did the sprightly fair ones, with the gay young gentlemen, fail to exert themselves to enhance the present felicity of the company. The gaiety of the scene, the flow of general joy, the sight of so many happy people, the countenances of the happy parents in witnessing the innocent 152 mirth of their children, with the benevolent looks of the noble bestower of the entertainment, formed altogether a scene which failed not to fill the heart with sensations the most pleasing and satisfactory.
Mr. Bolton was occupied in attending the ladies generally, while a genuine witticism occasionally mingling with his discourse, gave one no mean opinion of his understanding, and increased their admiration of his talents. He was well calculated to please; there was something remarkably graceful in his exterior, and he exerted himself this evening particularly to assist Alida to entertain the numerous visiters.
Bonville endeavoured in various ways to attract attention. He was extremely humorous and gay, and the whole party was enlivened by his vivacity. He described the folly of some of the prevailing fashions of the town with sarcastic pleasantry, and related many anecdotes of the gay world and fashionable life, interesting to those who had lived in retirement. Alida could not but listen with some degree of pleasure to his amusing conversation, and the pleasing allusions he frequently made gradually drew the attention of the whole company.
Albert selected from the rest an interesting young lady, to whom he directed the most of his 153 attention, while she, pleased with his politeness, exerted all her conversational powers to entertain him. His father was much pleased to see his son endeavour to make himself agreeable in ladies’ society; he thought it augured a good sign, and would be conducive to meliorate and refine his manners. He had long wished him to close his affairs of business in the city, and settle himself on the paternal estate. He was anxious that he should seek out an amiable companion, of pious principles and exemplary manners, of genuine goodness and benevolence, in whose deportment was mingled the rays of mildness, amiability, and cheerfulness; well-meaning towards all, blended with an unaffected ease and politeness, joined with the usual accomplishments to complete the character of a lady.
An unusual degree of innocent amusement prevailed throughout the circle on this evening of general joy, and all were more or less enlivened and cheered by its salutary effects, except Mr. More, who, in the midst of music and mirth, remained sad and melancholy; despondent reflections at times deeply disturbed his tranquillity. In the midst of these scenes of festivity, he was serious and thoughtful; gloomy ideas would in spite of himself cloud his imagination, whenever his thoughts 154 foreboded the fear of losing the only object of his affection.
The elderly gentlemen had a long consolatory conversation on the present affairs of the country, and their happy termination; the wisdom of the government and its coinciding regulations, concluding that the late peace, founded on principles of justice and honour, promised to be lasting.
These festive scenes of gladness were concluded by a variety of music, both vocal and instrumental; the powerful influence of which all must acknowledge; which is alike visible in all places, and in every stage of society. And while it flings its spell over the gay abodes of pleasure, it produces likewise its sweet enchantment in the domestic dwelling. The ladies alternately played the piano, while the gentlemen assisted in singing, forming altogether a concert of melodious harmony that wakened the mind to the softest raptures, and threw its bewitching influences over the imagination, calming all former corroding sensations, and animating anew all the soft and sympathetic emotions.
Music! wake thy heavenly numbers,
Queen of every moving measure,
When at thy voice all sorrow slumber,
Sweetest source of purest pleasure!155
Who listens to thy varying strains,
Will find their bosoms gently sooth’d,
Lulled to repose all cares and pains,
And waked to sympathy and love,
That calms with soft persuasive air
The heart to harmony and peace.
If any grief yet linger there,
But touch thy chords and it will cease.
Who does not feel their bosoms glow,
When the full choir their voices raise,
To the Supreme of all below,
Pour forth their song of ardent praise?
Each heart by sacred impulse driven,
To high exalt his glorious name,
Loud hallelujahs raise to heaven,
And with one voice His praise proclaim.
Then music, queen of every art,
O still thy matchless powers employ;
Since none like thee can peace impart,
And none like thee awaken joy.
’Tis true indeed, there’s danger in delay,
Then let us speed, and hasten far away;
For what of fear, or what of doubts molest,
When deep affection reigns within the breast.
Several weeks now passed away without any material occurrence, and the season of the year came round when the winter’s snow was passing from the face of nature, succeeded by heavy showers of rain, and the days had become more pleasant, because they were something longer. The air was more salubrious, and invited the citizens to inhale its healthful draught without their dwellings, where they had been several months in a manner shut up from the inclemencies of the cold season.
One morning after the family had taken breakfast, they sat talking over late events and recent occurrences that had varied so materially within the last three months. In this conversation, they were unmindful of the hour, until Mr. Bolton, without ceremony, (as was his custom,) entered the breakfast parlour. After the usual salutations to her parents, and conversing some time with his aunt, he addressed Alida with his native pleasantry, 157 relating to her some stories of the satirical order as the current news of the city. He afterwards informed her of the conversation between himself and her father, and in what manner the latter had replied. Alida remained silent, with her eyes fixed upon the floor, as if revolving in her mind what to say. In the meantime, he did not await her reply, but entreated her in the most pathetic language to consent to elope with him, and at all events to unite her destiny with his; at the same time telling her that implicit obedience to a parent’s will, in an affair that so materially concerned her happiness, could not be expected, and that her father was much to blame in attempting to control her liberty of choice; saying, moreover, that after their views should be accomplished, that he had no doubt whatever of his reconciliation. He had lately received intelligence of the death of an uncle in Savannah, who had bequeathed to him his fortune. He was preparing for his departure . He would not, therefore, give up his former project, and thought to avail himself of this opportunity, (by all the rhetoric he was master of,) to urge Alida to accept him and accompany him on his journey. He even proposed whither they should escape from the eye of her father for the performance of the marriage ceremony.158
Alida was truly shocked and surprised at a proposition so unexpected from Mr. Bolton, after he had known her father’s decision. She had never considered him in any other light than as a brother; and being a connexion in the family, they had always been on terms of friendly intercourse. She, therefore, would have avoided this meeting if she could have had previously an idea of the result.
After he had made to her these several propositions, her displeasure held her for some time silent, while it affected her mind sensibly. Nevertheless, she endeavoured to recover herself to answer him in a decided, and, at the same time, in a manner compatible with her present feelings. She commenced urging him to endeavour to forget her in any other light than as a friend. “Can you suppose, Mr. Bolton,” said she, “that I would set a parent’s will at defiance, by committing so unwary an action as to dispose of myself in a clandestine manner, nor could you again imagine that I would give my hand where my heart has no particular regard.” She scarcely uttered this, and could say no more ere he conjured her not to shut her heart against him for ever, and entreated her to permit him still to hope that after a while her compassion might become awakened to the remembrance 159 of a sincere, true, and constant heart, which would cause her to heave the sympathetic sigh for one who could never eradicate her from his memory, even for a moment, or chase from his bosom the esteem and love that time could neither weaken nor extinguish. He was extremely sorrowful in taking leave of Alida and the family, and set out the ensuing day on his journey.
Alida felt unhappy at the earnest importunities of a person she could not but have some esteem for. She could not fail to admire the superior powers of his mind. In his conversation, he was all that was agreeable, entertaining, and improving, which abounded with sallies of wit and humour, joined to a fund of erudition acquired by a collegiate education. He was particular to associate only with young men of merit, talents, and genius. He possessed a native vein of satire, which he sometimes indulged with much effect; though, however, he had this dangerous weapon under such thorough discipline, that he rarely made use of it in a way which gave offence to any. He never accumulated any wealth by his own exertion, as he thought what he already inherited was more than sufficient for all his wants. He seemed not to seek for an abundance, like many others, as necessary to his happiness, thinking that, with contentment, the peasant 160 is greater than the prince destitute of this benign blessing, and that a competency, rather than a superfluity, could convey real happiness to man. He thought, that to the improper pursuit after happiness could be attributed much of the misery of mankind; daily he saw dread examples of this serious truth, that many, in grasping at the shadow, had lost the substance. A near relative had now been bountiful to leave him a fortune. That, however, he was thankful for, as it increased his fund for charitable purposes. His intention was to get possession of this and return to the city of New-York, to make it his permanent residence.161
Behold the beauteous scene, to fill the mind with wonder and delight;—the varied land and water prospect;—from whence the arm of Commerce sends her store, to nations far remote;—adjacent to a city, that’s wealthy, large, and flourishing.
The genial warmth of the air had now animated anew the magnificence of nature’s works, and the verdant scenery of spring decked the landscape with all its resplendent colouring and variety. As the season advanced, all classes of people had recourse to their favourite walk on the Battery, either for pleasure, or as an alleviation from the toils and cares of business. This healthy promenade drew together a number of the citizens in the morning, but many more resorted there in the evening, and a numerous throng here regaled themselves, and rested from the busy, bustling occupations of the day;—and at the same time were spectators of the most splendid scene imaginable. When the sun had gone down beneath a clear horizon, and the moon had risen in silent majesty, dispensing her light over the unruffled face of the Hudson, decorated with a numerous sail, representing an inimitable landscape, sublime and beautiful.162
Alida walked out one evening, and repaired thither, attended by Mr. More. It was six o’clock when they reached the Battery, and a numerous concourse of people had already collected there. The mild rays of the setting sun were just visible above the horizon, and cast a soft lustre over the adjacent landscape, when they entered Castle-Garden to contemplate more nearly the surrounding scenery.
They seated themselves here, while they discoursed on the beauties of nature, and the wonders of creation,—descanting on the goodness and bounty of that ineffable Being, from whom all our blessings flow;—the continual succession of so many various objects, to fill the mind with rapture and enthusiasm, and strike us with veneration and awe.
The beauty and mildness of the present season, the copious showers, that caused the earth to abound with teeming verdure; all of which drew the contemplative genius insensibly to consider the benevolent purposes, for which all these varieties are called forth in such abundance, to excite the gratitude of man, and furnish a perpetual source of pleasure and delight. “And can we,” said Alida, “who are conscious of deriving our existence from a Being of such infinite 163 goodness and power, properly entertain other prospects than those of happiness, when we experience so many blessings daily, to excite our thankfulness.”
Mr. More expatiated on the pleasure there must be in passing a tranquil life with a beloved object, turning his eyes towards Alida as he spoke; he seemed to say, that she was the being, with whom he could be able to realize all the exalted ideas he entertained of such a life; and to point out beauties, and furnish amusement, to a refined taste like hers, would be to him one of the highest pleasures he could possibly experience. When he declared to her his esteem and affection, with his native sincerity, he seemed to be convinced, at the same time, that she was favourably disposed towards him.
On the contrary, she was evidently much embarrassed at this declaration. She remained silent, and looked upon him with a degree of pity mingled with regret; then casting down her eyes, she appeared greatly confused. She could not make any returns in his favour, and the amiable Alida felt extremely sorry to give pain or uneasiness to the friend and school companion of an only brother. She had received him with complacency on that account, which had served to increase his ill-fated 164 partiality. She felt that she could not give one word of encouragement, yet she did not wish to drive him to despair.
The band of music now began to play in the garden. They commenced with the celebrated air of the Star-Spangled Banner, and continued playing different pieces for the space of several hours.
As soon as the music ceased, they left the garden to return home, and all the people now apparently thronged out of the gates with as much avidity as they had entered them some hours before. When they arrived at the dwelling of Alida, they found that the time had whiled away, and that the evening had progressed to a late hour.
On his way home the mind of Mr. More was absorbed in the following reflections. “When I told her my affection, the blush was diffused over her cheek—and the tear of sensibility started in her eye. She evinced her regard by silent expressions, which she has shown repeatedly in many proofs of interested friendship, accompanied by the softness of her winning manners, and the engaging mildness of her disposition. Bonville is her declared admirer—but he may not be a favoured one. Should he meet with her approbation 165 at any future time, would not his own fate be wretched, and the universe would become a blank deprived of the society of Alida, shaded over with the deepest tints of darkness and melancholy.”166
O let me view, in annual succession, my children, friends, and relatives. Those that in friendship’s bonds are linked together by ties of dear remembrance.
The scene was highly animated, and the days were delightfully pleasant, when Alida returned with her parents to the country. The showers of April had cleared the atmosphere and revived earth with a lively gaiety. The ice in the bay and river had melted away, and the steamboat had again began its course. The rumbling water-fall was again heard at the mill, the pensive stream stole its way through the forest, reflecting from its lucid bosom the light cloud which dwelt in the air—floating on the gentlest zephyrs. The hills and mountains teemed with verdure, and the serpentine valleys were shaded by a friendly foliage. All nature flourished, grew, and expanded, calling forth ejaculations of gratitude and piety, and boldly declaring that a celestial Being overshadows us with his providence.
As soon as the family were settled in the country, the parents of Alida made preparation to call the children together in commemoration of their father’s birthday. When the time arrived for the 167 celebration of this festive scene, the morning arose with every beauty that could bid fair for a cheerful day, and the company assembled at an early hour. Bonville was among those who arrived from the village. He appeared in excellent spirits, as if some new thought had entered his mind, which had given him new hopes of success. He informed Alida, in the course of the afternoon, that he had received intimation from a friend in England, that Theodore was now living in London. After hazarding many conjectures respecting him, he then ventured to add that he hoped he had not met there any new object, to cause him to become forgetful of former friends. Displeasure was manifest in the countenance of Alida, at this suspicion, although she feared it might be true. Theodore had promised to be faithful in a correspondence, and he certainly might have found opportunities, since the happy change of affairs in the country, to make some communications to his friends, if he had been so disposed. Again she thought, as they had been separated by parental authority, that it might have its influence to cause him to become altogether forgetful; and her spirits now sunk under the idea of Theodore’s inconstancy. Bonville continued to speak of him with indifference, observing attentively how Alida was affected. He inquired earnestly if she had ever received any 168 intelligence from him, during his absence, (as he thought he might have written to her brother.) She answered him in the negative. He expressed his surprise, and after giving many dark intimations of his perfidy, he changed the subject.
Alida was before this extremely pensive and thoughtful, and these injurious insinuations of Theodore, increased her dejection. She once firmly believed she had a friend she could lean upon under all circumstances, and his falsity appeared to her now confirmed. A kind of gloomy superstition pervaded her mind, an anxious foreboding of future evil, which all her pious reflections and reasoning powers could not wholly control. She endeavoured to repress these painful sensations, when in the presence of her parents; but the eyes of her father frequently rested on her in filial anxiety. Her brother likewise would often observe her innate sadness, and whatever his thoughts might be as to the cause, he was still reserved, and forebore to name any thing to his sister.
Although Bonville was sometimes conscious of his injustice towards Theodore, and felt ashamed of his conduct, he was still determined to proceed with reiterated calumnies, to the ear of Alida, with the hope to ensure to himself her hand before Theodore would probably return to America.169
L’ innocenza a e costretta a sofferire, talvolta le più crudeli persecuzioni; ma, con vergogna e con danno della calumnia e della malvagità, alla fine pur ne trionfa.
The appearance of Bonville was imposing to look upon, his countenance illumined by seeming sincerity and candour, no one could retain an idea for any length of time, that was altogether detrimental. To a treacherous heart, he joined a frankness of manner which amused and interested every one in his favour. Though no one was ever more careless of his veracity, yet he carried the appearance of authenticity in all he said. He had never been used to restraint or disappointment, by the silly indulgence of his parents, and seemed confident that he should succeed in all his particular wishes, and thought that all obstacles could be surmounted by his own machinations and management.
The evening was drawing near its close by a round of innocent amusements, when a letter was handed Alida from her father, that he had received from a friend in the city. It contained the unwelcome and unexpected news of the death of Mr. Bolton, who arrived at Savannah at an unfavourable season of the year, at a period when an epidemic fever prevailed. He caught the infection, and a few days terminated the existence of this amiable and accomplished youth. He was pious, benevolent 170 and charitable. He possessed a wisdom firm and unchangeable, strictly adhering to the principles of the church and the Christian religion, and was steadfast in his opinions against all opposition. He was deeply regretted by a numerous acquaintance. His aunt mourned the loss of her favourite nephew, and Alida’s father likewise deplored his premature death, although he had thought proper to oppose his wishes.171
There she might read in nature’s page the wonders of Creation, almighty power, infinite wisdom and unbounded might. There truths that entertain, reward the searching mind, and onward lead inquiring thought. The curious wonders still unfold, and rise upon the view. The mind rejoicing, comments as she reads, and raises still to the Almighty Power increasing homage.
The summer was past its meridian, and had shed abroad its warmest influences, and enriched the various scenes of nature with the luxuriance and beauty of its foliage. In the meantime, Alida departed again from her father’s house for the city, to join a party composed of gentlemen and matrons, Albert her brother, with several young ladies, who all left the port of New-York for the Falls of Niagara. Her pensive mind became cheered and animated as the gallant steamer left the shores of the city and moved majestically over the smooth face of the Hudson. The morning was extremely beautiful, and she surveyed with a new and alleviating pleasure, the various and extensive prospect of the surrounding country. The scenery on the river at this season surpassed all description, and exhibited a landscape worthy to relate in history. The borders of the river beautifully interspersed with cottages, villages, and large flourishing towns, elegant country-seats, 172 with grounds tastefully laid out, which afforded to the eye of the traveller a novel and enchanting appearance. They arrived about sunset at the city of Albany, and took lodgings at Cruttenden’s boarding-house, on an eminence near the Capitol or State-house.
This city, which is situated on the right bank of the Hudson, and stands westward upon a rising ground, received its name, when in possession of the English, in honour of James II., who was the duke of York and Albany. On the following morning they took a walk through the city. In consequence of its vicinity to the Ballston, Saratoga, and New Lebanon Springs, in the fashionable season the hotel was so full of strangers that no more could be accommodated.
Albany has received a new impulse, an increase of commerce, and expects to reap the most happy results from the Erie canal, which commences here, and runs a distance of three hundred and sixty-two miles to Lake Erie. The company took a walk to the new basin, into which the canal empties. It is separated from the Hudson by a dam which runs parallel with the river.
On the morning of the 14th of August they took passage on board of the Albany, one of the canal packet-boats, for Lake Erie. This canal, which is three hundred and sixty-two miles in length, with 173 eighty-three locks between the Hudson river and Lake Erie, which lies six hundred and eighty-eight feet above the level of the former river. The packet-boat took them from thence to Schenectady. It was covered, and contained a spacious cabin. On account of the great number of the locks, the progress of their journey was but slow. The boat was drawn by three horses, that walked upon a narrow path leading along the canal, and beneath the numerous bridges which are thrown over it.
The distance from Albany to Schenectady by land is only fifteen miles, and persons are enabled to travel it in a very short time in a stage coach, but as they were anxious to see the canal, they preferred going by water twenty-eight miles.
The city of Troy, five miles and a half above Albany, is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the river, at the foot of several tolerably high mountains, one of which is called Mount Ida. There is a branch canal, which has two locks, and establishes a communication with Troy. They soon arrived at a place where there were no less than nine locks, with an ascent of seventy-eight feet. In front, and to the right of this, is another canal, which unites with the Hudson and the canal from Lake Champlain. At this place they left the Hudson, and directed their course along the 174 Mohawk river. During their ride, they observed a covered wooden bridge, which extends over the latter river, a short distance from its mouth, and is about six hundred feet in length, supported by fifteen wooden piers. There was a fine view of the famous Cohoes Falls of the Mohawk river, seventy-eight feet in height, and about four hundred feet wide. In the spring, when these falls extend over the entire bed of the Mohawk, they are said to be extremely magnificent. During this season of dry weather, they presented a handsome appearance, though they were very small, the river being almost completely dried up. Finding great difficulty in continuing the canal on the right bank of the Mohawk, they were obliged here to carry it to the opposite side of the river by means of an aqueduct bridge one thousand one hundred and eighty-eight feet in length. This bridge is supported by twenty-six stone columns, on which account they have placed a chevaux-de- to keep off the ice in the river. The canal is cut through the rocks almost the whole distance, where it runs along the left bank of the Mohawk, and presents a very handsome appearance. Twelve miles further on, it returns again to the right bank of the river, by a similar aqueduct, supported by sixteen piers. Four miles farther on is Schenectady, where they arrived 175 after sunset. Between this town and Albany they passed no less than twenty-seven locks. At this place they left the packet-boat, and found excellent lodgings at Given’s hotel, which, after the great heat they had endured during the day, was exceedingly agreeable. Early on the next morning they walked through the town, and visited Union College, which consists of two large buildings situated at a short distance from the town, upon a little eminence. From this building there is a beautiful view of the town and of the Mohawk valley. They left Schenectady early in the morning on board the packet-boat, which had engaged to take them to Utica, eighty miles distant, by an early hour the next day. The canal again ran along the well cultivated valley of the Mohawk, and the prospect of the country, on account of the foliage of the trees upon the heights, was beautiful.
The village of Amsterdam consists of a few neat houses. The canal is carried over two rivers, called Schoharie, Canajoharie, from which it receives the most of its water. At this place the horses were conveyed to the opposite side of the two rivers by means of a ferry-boat. At the first ferry is a small village, called Fort Hunter, where at the time of the revolution there had been a fort, or rather a redoubt of the same name. Towards 176 evening they passed through a valley, which is formed by two rocky mountains. There are twenty locks between Schenectady and Utica. The day was intolerably warm, and the company very much oppressed by the heat, but in the evening fortunately there was a thunder-shower, which cooled the air. They passed over an aqueduct bridge during the night, which stands over a solace called Little Falls. Towards morning they passed through a well-cultivated region called German Flats, which was settled by some Germans during the time of Queen Anne. At about ten o’clock they arrived at Utica, which is intersected by the canal, and is a large, flourishing town. In fact it is only here that a person begins to admire the great improvements in cultivation, and gets perfectly new ideas of the works of man and of his enterprising genius. Utica, on the right bank of the Mohawk, has two banks and four churches. It has also several taverns,the largest of which called Shepherd’s hotel, they found excellent accommodations. There were besides many large and convenient stores, a bookstore, and printing office. The number of travellers this summer were unusually great, especially from the southern states.177
When first beside the lake thy turrets rose,
Extending far around in simple pride,
A novel beauty o’er the landscape throws,
Where gentle waters softly murmuring glide.
At Utica the gentlemen hired a stage to visit the Falls of Trenton, distant fourteen miles. They were accompanied in this route by a number of passengers from New-York and North Carolina. They crossed the Mohawk upon a covered wooden bridge. After this the road gradually ascended to a forest, which was in part cleared for new fields. At a little distance from the falls is a tavern, where they left the carriage, and went on foot through thick woods, from which a pair of stairs conducted to the falls. The beautiful mass of green around, the azure sky, the large and variegated rocks, and the three falls, produce a most happy effect. The rocks of these falls are so excavated by the water, that they have the form of a common kettle. The upper falls, which are about ninety feet high, are the grandest. They dined at the tavern, and towards evening returned to Utica.
The day was fine and pleasant. They regretted that it was too late, upon their return thither, to visit 178 a hydrostatic lock designed to weigh the boats which pass on the canal. Having seen enough of the canal, and being anxious to see the newly-settled country between this place and Niagara, they continued their journey the next day in the stage coach. With this intention they left Utica at four o’clock in the morning, and the same day arrived at Auburn, distant seventy-three miles. They passed through twelve villages on their route from Utica to Auburn. Between Manchester and Vernon day dawned, and they found themselves in a rather wild country, in the midst of a wilderness. Behind the village of Oneida, the road led along a considerable hill, from which they had a beautiful view of Oneida lake, which presented the appearance of a large stream. Here there were a number of extensive prospects, which, however, as there was but little cultivated land and few houses, were rather uniform. Something further on, after they had left Oneida, they came to a small lake, called Salt Lake, which is in the midst of a forest, and has on its banks three picturesquely situated towns, Liverpool, Salina, and Syracuse. At Salina are rich salt springs, the water of which is collected in reservoirs, and it is evaporated by the heat of the sun to procure the salt. Beyond Sullivan they passed through the village of Chitteningo. A branch of the Erie canal 179 forms a kind of harbour at this place. They dined at Manlius, a new village. From the canal, which forms an angle here, they drove in a southerly direction in order to keep on the plains. The two Onondago villages are pleasant places.
Beyond Marcellus the night unfortunately closed in, which prevented their seeing Skaneateles Lake, as well as the town of the same name. About nine o’clock in the evening they arrived at Auburn, and found good accommodations at one of the public houses.
At four o’clock next morning they again set out in the stage coach for Rochester, distant sixty-nine miles. It was just day-light when they arrived in the vicinity of Cayuga, on the lake of the same name. This lake empties into the Seneca river, which afterwards unites with the Mohawk. They crossed the lake, not far from its mouth, on a wooden bridge one mile in length. On the opposite side of the lake is a large toll-house. At a short distance from this they arrived at Seneca Falls, so called in consequence of the little falls of the Seneca river, which are close by, and are chiefly formed by a mill-dam. Beyond Waterloo the road in some places was made of logs, so that the passengers were very disagreeably jolted. Geneva is situated at the north point of Seneca Lake. The town 180 derives its name from its similarity of situation to Geneva in Switzerland. The Franklin hotel, situated on the bank of the lake, is both spacious and beautiful.
Canandaigua, which lies on the north point of the lake of the same name, is an extremely pleasant town. The court was sitting here, and there was a large collection of people, so that the town exhibited a very lively appearance. At this place the road separates, the left goes through Batavia and several small villages to Buffalo on Lake Erie; the right to Rochester, and thence to Lake Ontario and the Falls of Niagara. And as this road again approaches the Erie canal, it was said to be the most interesting; on this account it was given the preference, though the longest route. They left Canandaigua in the afternoon, and rode through Victor, Mendon, and Pittsford, to Rochester. They arrived at Rochester at half-past eight o’clock in the evening, and took lodgings at the Eagle tavern. They crossed the Genessee river, which divides Rochester into two parts, on a wooden bridge built firmly and properly, and the next morning walked through the town. Several hundred yards below the bridge the Genessee river is about two hundred yards wide, and has a fall of ninety-five feet. Above the falls is a race which conducts the water to several mills, 181 and it again flows up into the river below the falls, where it forms three beautiful cascades.
Rochester is one of the most flourishing towns in the state of New-York. At this place the Erie canal is carried over the Genessee river by a stone aqueduct bridge. This aqueduct, which is about one hundred yards above the Genessee Falls, rests upon a slate rock, and is seven hundred and eighty feet long.
The party now left Rochester at nine o’clock, and went on board the canal packet-boat Ohio. The canal, between Lockport and Rochester, runs the distance of sixty-three miles through a tolerably level country, and north of the Rochester ridge. This ridge consists of a series of rocks, which form the chain of mountains which commences north of Lake Erie, stretches eastward to the Niagara river, confines it, and forms its falls; then continues its course, and forms the different falls which are north of Lake Ontario, and is at length lost in the neighbourhood of the Hudson. The canal runs a distance through sombre forests, when they reached Lockport on the 20th of August, about seven o’clock in the morning. At this place the canal is carried over the ridge by five large locks, through which the water is raised to the height of seventy-six feet. The locks are ten in number, being arranged in two 182 parallel rows, so that while the boats ascend in one row, they may descend at the same time in the other.
Lockport is an extremely pleasant place, and is situated just above the locks. At Lockport they took a dearborn for Buffalo, where they were anxious to go, in order to see the union of the canal with Lake Erie. Though a good stage runs between Lockport and the Falls of Niagara, they went in this bad vehicle five miles to the navigable part of the canal. They then took passage in a boat at Cottensburgh. At this place also, the canal is cut through a rock to the depth of about thirty feet. About two or three miles farther on it terminates in the Tonawanta creek, which serves as a canal for twelve miles. The creek is about fifty yards wide, and runs through a dense and beautiful forest. At the new town of Tonawanta, the creek unites with the Niagara river, where the sluice leads off. At this place also Alida and her company had the first view of the Niagara river, which conveys the waters of Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, from the other extremity of which flows the St. Lawrence. In this river they observed Grand Island. During the late war, the Niagara, it is well known, formed the boundary line between the United States and the British provinces in Upper Canada, and this island bore testimony of the conflict.183
From war’s dread ravages again is seen,
A spacious town, and Buffalo the name,
Now rising from its ashes, spreads around.
Various new structures fill the empty ground.
From Tonawanta to Buffalo is eight miles, five of which they travelled on the canal which runs along the bank of the Niagara river as far as Black Rock.
Buffalo was burnt during the late war by the British, but it appeared to be already rising from its ashes with increased beauty.
This town will soon become an important place, in consequence of its situation near the mouth of the canal, and its harbour. At the entrance of the harbour is a light-house, and on the lake were seen a number of well-built vessels. A steam-boat called the Superior was ready to run with fifty passengers to Erie, and thence to Detroit. There was an amusing military spectacle. It consisted of a military parade, consisting of thirty men, including seven officers and two cornets. They were formed like a into six divisions and performed a number of manoeuvres.
On the following day, 21st August, the company 184 left Buffalo for the small village of Manchester, twenty-three miles distant, and situated on the right bank of the Niagara, near the falls. As far as the village of Tonawanta, the road passes along the canal. It was in a very bad condition, cut through the forest, and the trees thrown on the road side. On the left they had a view of the river and Grand Island. The river is more than a mile wide below the island. On the Canada side is the village of Chippewa. From this place, a distance of three miles, they could already see the rising vapours of the falls. The water, however, indicated no signs of the approach to the precipice. It is only a short distance from Manchester, where you perceive the lofty trees on Goat Island, with its heights situated in the midst of the falls, that the river becomes rocky, and the rapids commence; these form a number of small falls, which are nearly a mile long and the same in breadth, running as far as where the two great falls are separated by Goat Island.
At Manchester they took lodgings at the Eagle Tavern, and hastened immediately to the Falls; their steps were guided by the mighty roaring. In a few minutes Alida and her company stood near the precipice, and saw before them the immense mass of water which rushes with a tremendous noise into the frightful abyss below. It is impossible 185 to describe the scene, and the pen is too feeble to delineate the simultaneous feelings of our insignificance on the one hand, with those of grandeur and sublimity on the other, which agitate the human breast at the sight of this stupendous work of nature, which rivals that of all other countries, in grandeur, beauty and magnificence. We can only gaze, admire and adore. The rocks on both sides are perpendicular, but there is a wooden staircase which leads to the bed of the river. They descended, but in consequence of the drizzly rain which is produced by the foam of the water, they had by no means so fine a prospect from below as they anticipated. On this account, therefore, they soon again ascended and satisfied themselves by looking from above upon this sublime and majestic sight. As they returned, full of these mighty impressions, to the Eagle Tavern, they found to their great joy a fine opportunity to speak of the grandeur and magnificence they had just beheld. There was another party just arrived from New-York, to render homage to this great natural curiosity.
In company with these gentlemen and ladies, they took a walk to Goat-Island, by a convenient wooden bridge, thrown over the rapids about seven years since. The first bridge leads to a small island called Bath-Island, which contains a bath-house; 186 the second to Goat-Island, which is about one mile in circumference, and overgrown with old and beautiful trees.
On Bath-Island a person may approach so near the American falls as to look into the abyss below. From the foot of the falls you can see nothing of the abyss, inasmuch as every thing is concealed by the smoke and vapour. On Goat-Island a person may in the same manner approach the Canadian falls in the centre of which is a semi-circular hollow, called the Horse-shoe, and here the noise is still more tremendous than on the other side. The vapour which rises from the Horse-shoe, forms a thick mist, which may be seen at a great distance. To look into the Horse-shoe is awful and horrible. Nor can this be done but at the instant when the vapour is somewhat dissipated. You stand like a petrified being. The level of Lake Erie is said to be five hundred and sixty-four feet above that of the sea, and three hundred and thirty-four feet above the waters of Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is consequently two hundred and thirty feet above the level of the sea. From Lake Erie to the rapids the water has a fall of fifteen feet, in the rapids fifty-seven feet, and according to a recent measurement, the falls on the American side are one-hundred and sixty-two feet high. From this place to 187 Lewistown the river has a fall of one hundred and four feet, and thence to Lake Ontario, of two feet.
The next morning they made another visit to Goat Island. They afterwards descended the stairs to the river, which they crossed in a small boat, at a short distance from both falls. The bed of the river is said to be here two hundred and forty-six feet deep. The current passes beneath the surface of the water, and does not again become visible till after a distance of three miles. On the Canada side you have a much better view of the falls than on the American, for you see both falls at the same time. There is on the Canada side a covered wooden staircase, which they ascended, and approached the falls, amidst a constant drizzling caused by the falling water. The sun threw his rays upon the thick mist and formed a beautiful rainbow. Another winding stair-case leads down the rocks near the falls, under which you may walk to the distance of one hundred and twenty feet; several of the gentlemen went in, but according to their report, they could not see any thing. They were contented, therefore, to behold the falls from Table rock, which almost overhangs them. A part of this rock gave way several years ago and fell down the precipice, and the remaining part is so much undermined by the water, that it will probably soon follow. The whole distance 188 from the American to the British shore is fourteen hundred yards, of which three hundred and eighty belong to the American falls, three hundred and thirty to Goat-Island, and seven hundred to the Canada or Horse-shoe falls. On the British side, opposite to the falls, are two taverns, in the larger of which, Forsyth’s Hotel, they took lodgings until the next day. During the late war a bridge was thrown over the river about one mile above this tavern, which, together with a mill, was burnt by the Americans on their retreat from the battle of Lundy’s Lane. A few years ago a burning spring was discovered here. It is surrounded by a cask, and contains cold water of a blackish appearance, and of a sulphurous taste. Within this cask is a small vessel which has a pipe at the upper end. If a lighted candle be held within a foot of the mouth of this pipe, it will instantly produce a strong flame, similar to a gas-light. In the neighbourhood of Forsyth’s Hotel is the only point from which you have a full view of both falls at the same time, which, however, is often interrupted by the ascending vapour.
On their return to the American shore, they examined a camera obscura, which is situated at the head of the American stair-case, and was built by a Swiss. This gives a tolerably good view of the 189 falls. Afterwards they took a ride to the Whirlpool, which is three miles down the Niagara, and is formed by a kind of rocky basin where the river runs between narrow rocky banks. It is singular to see this confusion of water, whose appearance cannot be better described than by comparing it with the flowing of melted lead. The lofty rocks which form the banks of the river, are beautifully covered with wood, and present a stately, majestic appearance. In the evening they again went to Goat-Island in order to view the falls by bright moonlight; in this light they produce a peculiarly beautiful effect, which is greatly heightened by a moon-rainbow.
The following day both parties went to the other side of the river, and took lodgings at Forsyth’s Hotel.
High on Hyria’s rock my muse repose,
While I wild nature’s direful scenes disclose,
Nor let wing’d Fancy’s bold creative aid,
Paint beyond truth what nature’s God has made;
Inspir’d by him let every flowing line,
Describ’d correctly, through the numbers shine.
Fed by a thousand springs and purling rills,
Ocean’s internal, the wild torrent fills.
Lakes Michigan, Superior, there we see,
Concent’ring Huron’s flood with proud Erie:
The awful stream its wond’rous course began,
Roll’d the rich flood before the date of man.190
From Buffalo to Chippewa bends its course,
Full eighteen miles, with calm and rapid force,
By Grand Isle passes, where its stream divides,
Whose circling course, majestic, downward glides.
Meets then again a verdant island long,
Gathers the weeping brook, and swells more strong,
Widening the swift high-mounted torrent flies
Like lightning bursting from the thund’ring skies.
The time-worn cliffs, retiring to their source,
Shews countless ages it has run its course.
The Schlosser fall eight hundred ninety-two
Will count the feet how broad this current grew.
Two thousand with two hundred crescent line
Will the full breadth of Horse-Shoe Fall define.
The little fall, with width of seventy-three,
Will tell whence Neptune feeds his hungry sea.
Tumbling one hundred sixty feet, they all
Make one loud groaning in Niagara Fall.
Thick hov’ring mists in mountain vapours rise,
Bright colour’d rainbows gild the azure skies.
The dazzled eye, fill’d with the novel blaze
Beholds, astonished, their refracted rays.
Nor ends the awful scene, till down the view,
Through the dark gulf, these boiling floods pursue.
Their course ’tween mountain rocks, which form the shore,
Through which, tremendous raging billows roar.
Until they form a bay, where tide-worn trees,
In conflicts wild rage round the whirlpool seas:
Huge splintered logs here twisting round and round,
With many a turn before they quit the ground;
At length escaping from the circling tide,
Side-long slide off, and with a bouncing glide,
Head-long adown through rapid streams are toss’d,
Until in wide Ontario’s lake are lost.
Neptune thus roused leaves now the wat’ry plain,
To seek the source from whence he holds his reign.191
Full in the view of this tremendous scene,
Adjacent here, a table rock is seen;
Where love-sick swains in clambering groups repair,
Conducting tim’rous nymphs with anxious care:
’Dew’d with the spray, the wild’red eye surveys,
The rushing waters shout their Maker’s praise.
Revolving years have since rolled on apace,
Since patriots here, convened to form we’re told,
The school to train the military band,
And Putnam’s fortress still we may behold.
The season was now far advanced. Alida and her brother felt uneasy at being so long separated from their father. The rest of the party were anxious again to see their friends in the city. After tarrying a few days at Forsyth’s Hotel, they determined to proceed on their way back again to New-York without delay.
They therefore concluded to travel soon, and visit Lake Champlain to its southern extremity, then to Saratoga, Albany, taking the Catskill mountains by the way, and inspecting the famous military school of West Point.
The greatest breadth of Lake Champlain, which contains several large islands, is six miles. The shore on the right, belonging to the state of New-York, is low and covered with trees; the other belongs to Vermont, and is more mountainous. As night approached, they were prevented from beholding this beautiful part of the country; and were also, with regret, prevented from seeing the battle-ground 193 of Plattsburgh, at which town the vessel made a short stay during the night, and then proceeded to Burlington, in Vermont, and towards morning passed by the ruins of Fort Crown Point, which lie on a hill.
At this place the Lake is very narrow, and resembles a river. The shores are generally covered with bushes and pine trees, are hilly, and afford a pleasing prospect. They now pursued their journey as far as Lake George, and arrived at the village of Caldwell. The shores of the Lake are very hilly, the heights are all covered with trees, and are not above eight hundred feet high. There are several islands in the lake, generally covered with wood, and the scenery around is very handsome. The level of the lake is about three hundred feet higher than that of Lake Champlain. The stream which flows from the former into the latter lake, forms, in its course, a succession of small cascades.
They left Caldwell at eight o’clock the next day, in two inconvenient carriages, and passed through a very uninteresting, deep, sandy road, in a hilly part of the country, covered with thorny trees, on their route to Saratoga Springs, to which the whole fashionable world of the United States repair in summer, and the fashionables have here the same 194 mania which prevails in other countries, to visit the baths in summer, whether sick or well. The distance is twenty-seven miles. On their passage was seen but one interesting object, the Hudson falls, which river they had left at Albany, and reached again nine miles from Caldwell, coming from the west.
These falls are, however, under the name of Glenn’s Falls. A village of the same name is built in their vicinity, on the rocky shores of the river. The principal fall is forty feet high. These falls are not to be numbered among the largest, but among the handsomest in the United States. A constant mist arises from them, and, as the sun shone very brilliantly, several rainbows were seen at the same time. In the rock, as at Niagara, were some remarkable and deep cavities. At the base of the small island which divides the chief fall into two parts, a remarkable cave appears below the falls, leading to the other side of the rock. The Hudson is partly navigable above Glenn’s Falls, and two miles farther up, feeds a navigable canal, with thirteen locks, which runs seven miles north of the Hudson, and there joins Champlain canal.
The party arrived at Saratoga at two o’clock in the afternoon, and stopped at Congress Hall. The greater part of the company had already departed, 195 among those who remained was the governor of the state of New-York. They were introduced to his Excellency. The gentlemen conversed with him freely, and found him intelligible and refined, and scientific in his conversation.
In the evening the company assemble in the large hall in the lower story, and pass away the time in music, dancing or conversation, where they witness all the politeness, refinement, and hospitality that characterize the Americans.
The waters of the different springs are generally drank, but baths are also erected. High Rock spring flows from a white conical lime-stone rock, five feet high. The water is seen in this spring in constant agitation. So much fixed air escapes from it, that an animal held over it, as in the Grotto del Cane, near Naples, cannot live above half a minute.
In a few days they left Saratoga Springs, in a convenient stage, to go to Albany, thirty-six miles distant. They passed through a disagreeable and sandy country. The uniformity was, however, very pleasingly interrupted by Saratoga Lake, which is eight miles long.
At the small town of Waterford they passed along the left shore of the Hudson on a long wooden bridge, to avoid a bad bridge over the Mohawk. They proceeded on their route in the night on a 196 very good road, and passed through Lansingburgh and Troy. The latter is very handsomely built, and many stores were very well lighted up in the evening. Here they returned to the right shore of the Hudson, and reached Albany at ten o’clock at night.
At eight o’clock next morning they took passage on board the steam-boat, to go down the river as far as the town of Catskill, at the foot of Pine Orchard. The company ascended the mountain, which is twelve miles high, in stages. They reached Pine Orchard a little before sunset. The building on the mountain for the accommodation of visiters, is a splendid establishment. Alida was truly delighted with the landscape it presented in miniature; where large farms appeared like garden spots, and the Hudson a rivulet, and where sometimes the clouds were seen floating beneath the eye of the spectator.
The next morning they again took the steam-boat at Catskill to go to Hudson, twenty-seven and a half miles from Albany, which they reached about noon. This city appears very handsome and lively. On the opposite side of the river is Athens, between which and Hudson there seems to be much communication kept up by a team-boat. A very low island in the middle of the stream between the two places, rendered this communication somewhat difficult 197 at first, as vessels were obliged to make a great circuit. To avoid this inconvenience, a canal was cut through the island, through which the team-boat now passes with ease and rapidity.
This place affords a very fine view of the lofty Catskill mountains. They left the city of Hudson in the afternoon, and arrived at West Point at eleven o’clock at night, on the right side of the Hudson, and landed at a wharf furnished with a sentry-box. An artillerist stood sentinel. They were obliged to ascend a somewhat steep road in order to reach the house which is prepared for the reception of strangers. The building belongs to the government, and is designed for the mess-room of the officers and cadets. The purveyor for this table is bound by contract with the government to keep several chambers with beds in order for the reception of the relations of the cadets.
The morning after their arrival, the gentlemen paid an early visit to lieutenant-colonel Thayer, superintendent of the military school, and were received in a very friendly manner. He had presided over this school several years. Colonel Thayer has entirely remodelled this institution, and very much improved it.
The cadets, whose number may amount to two hundred and fifty, are divided into four classes for 198 the purposes of instruction. They are received between the ages of fourteen and twenty, and must undergo an examination before they enter.
Instruction is communicated gratuitously to the cadets, each of whom receives monthly eight dollars from government as wages.
A public examination of the cadets takes place every year at the end of June, by a commission appointed by the Secretary of War. This commission consists of staff officers from the army and navy, members of Congress, governors of states, learned men and other distinguished citizens. After this examination, the best among those who have finished their course are appointed as officers in the army.
The cadets live in two large massive buildings, three stories high, and are divided into four companies. The institution possesses four principal buildings. The two largest serve as barracks for the cadets, a third contains the mess-room, and the fourth the church. A large level space, consisting of several acres, lies in front of the buildings, forming a peninsula, and commanding the navigation of the Hudson, above which it is elevated one hundred and eighty-eight feet. Towards the river it is surrounded by steep rocks, so that it is difficult to ascend, unless by the usual way.199
The party now ascended the rocky mountain on which are to be seen the ruins of Fort Putnam. The way led through a handsome forest of oak, beech, chestnut and walnut trees. The fort occupying the summit of the mountain, was erected in an indented form, of strong granite, and is altogether inaccessible on the side next the enemy. It had but a single entrance, with very strong casemates. It was built on private property during the revolution; the owner of the ground claimed it, and government were obliged to restore it. The government afterwards acquired the ground on which West Point stands, as well as the adjoining heights.
A very fine view one may have from Fort Putnam of the plains of West Point and of the Hudson river. The view to the north is particularly handsome, in which direction Newburgh, lying on the river, is seen in the back ground.
A band of music, paid by the government, belongs exclusively to the cadets, and is said to afford the best military music in the United States.
The party generally regretted leaving this agreeable place, where they had been highly gratified during their short stay. They took passage on board the steamboat Constitution, bound to New-York, sixty miles distant.
They were now again on their way to one of the 200 most flourishing cities in the United States, which attracts a great part of the commerce of the American nation. They came into the vicinity about sunset, and at eight o’clock in the evening they landed in New-York. Leaving their friends in the city, Albert and his sister took passage in a stage coach next morning, and journeyed in a short time as far as the village of ——, and from thence proceeded on to the residence of their father.201
Ah! now again all my sensations move to see a parent, and I sigh once more to meet the kind caresses of a father—and weeks seem ages in this separation.
The feelings of Alida were those of boundless joy to meet again her parents, after an absence from them which appeared long to her.
She was grieved to find her father had suffered much from indisposition during her absence. She endeavoured in vain, by every soothing attention, to recall him again to health and happiness. His malady increased daily, and he became a prey to infirmities, which at length confined him to his room.
The gladsome sensations of Albert were changed soon to those of melancholy, when he saw that his father was affected with a serious illness, and dejection supplied the place of more happy and animated feelings.
Alida, for several weeks, scarce left the apartment. One morning she perceived that he had altered very materially for the worse. It was only at intervals he could converse with her, and then his conversation was calculated to give her fortitude and resignation, and prepare her mind for an 202 approaching melancholy event, which, whenever she received the least hint of, her grief was inexpressible.
Her father observed her emotion. “Alida, my dear child,” said he, “do not be alarmed, as I appear much worse than I am in reality at present;” but she had drawn these words from the physician that morning, that his malady had increased greatly since the day before. Perceiving a visible change in his appearance, she scarcely left the room of her father till a late hour, when he, perceiving her almost fainting with fatigue, requested her to retire to rest. Albert supplied the place of his sister, and remained with his father, while the affectionate care of his only surviving son was grateful to the bosom of a fond parent.
The slumbers of Alida were broken, and fearing to leave her father too long, she arose very early next morning to attend him. He was evidently much worse next day, which was Sunday, and intimated that he wished all the family sent for. He then requested Alida to read some passages in the bible, as was his daily custom.
“‘Leave thy fatherless children to me and I will be their father,’ what words of consolation are these,” said he, “what transport do they convey to the heart of a parent, burthened with anxiety. Yes, divine 203 Disposer,” he exclaimed, “I will, with grateful joy, commit my children to thy kind care and protection.”
When the physician made his morning visit, as he was going to take leave, Alida asked his opinion. He shook his head, and seemed to give no hopes of recovery.
Her father requested her to be seated by the bedside. “My child,” said he, “I wish to discourse a little with you. And could I again see Theodore, how gladly would I now receive him. I have deeply injured him,” said he, “and my child too; and have inflicted a wound still deeper in my own bosom. I have often considered his piety and worth. His moral character was all that it should be. Superfluous wealth is not necessary to ensure earthly felicity, but a competency and contentment therewith, is all that is necessary to happiness.”
“Do not renew your sorrows, dear father,” said Alida, “what is past is beyond recall. Let us confide in a just over-ruling Providence, that disposes all material events for the wisest purposes.” Her tears flowed in abundance, as her looks rested upon the visage of her father, and deep distress was depicted in her countenance.
“My dear child,” said her father, “weep not for me, think that rest must now be acceptable to the weary traveller, whose hopes are centred in the 204 Redeemer, (as the only name under Heaven, whereby we can be saved,) and can leave the world in the joyful anticipation of receiving those inestimable blessings, in a life to come, which the Gospel promises to every true believer.”
He had scarcely uttered these words, when he sunk almost senseless upon his pillow. The greater part of the family now assembled round him. The physician came and gave no hopes of recovery. He faithfully watched over him the whole evening and a part of the night, and about twelve o’clock his family had the sorrow and misfortune to witness the distressful and trying scene. Their father was no more.
The distress, fatigue and agitation of Alida, could no longer be borne with, and for many weeks she was confined to her room. The loss of her parent and the terminating scene, had left her in deep affliction: all repose seemed fled forever, and bitter anguish had succeeded, and taken up its residence in her bosom. Reflections rose in her mind continually, that her situation had been heretofore comparatively happy, to what it at present afforded. An illness of short duration had suddenly deprived her of a very dear father, and she now felt herself a lonely, dejected orphan.205
Could I trace back the time, a distant date, since my ancestors traversed these fields, and held possession of this wide domain.
The melancholy event had taken place, and Albert had lost his father. His heavy and heartfelt affliction could not at this time be alleviated, and his mind was involved in gloom and sadness, which he endeavoured in vain to dissipate.
He was now deprived of the kind hand of a parent, who had used his endeavours to lead him in the way he should go, from his infancy: and assisted him with a kindly advice, and supplied him with a timely experience, and in the wisdom of whose salutary council, he could now no longer repose.
He felt himself deprived of this kind assistant, whose precepts had been his guide ever since the first dawning irradiations of reason had began to appear, to enlighten his mind, and with the eye of vigilance watched over him, endeavouring to trace out his good or evil propensities, and to point to the particular advantages on the one hand, and the baneful effects on the other, and to train his ideas to whatever was most commendable, and praiseworthy.
Albert had ever evinced a disposition pleasing to 206 parental hopes and wishes, and flattering to a fond father’s most sanguine anticipations. He was ever cheerful in complying with whatever he considered his duty, and conformable to the will of his interested parent.
He now revolved in his mind, and reflected what had heretofore been his particular wishes. It had long been the wish of his parent, that he should close his business in New-York, and settle himself on the paternal estate. He, therefore, was diligent in his endeavours to do this, as soon as his spirits would in any wise allow him to attend to these affairs, and at the commencement of the ensuing spring, he happily terminated his business in the city, and returned to the country.
The remembrance of his father for a long interval of time was in every object around and about the mansion, in which he was established, and reminded him of his bereavement, and he was affected with sorrowful meditations, and a borrowed serenity was manifested in his appearance.
He reflected on his present condition,—he would say, how desultory is the happiness of man, he lays plans of permanent felicity, when the whirlwind of affliction arrives, and destroys the towering edifice of creative hope, and his schemes of contentment are changed to disappointment and wo.207
He had taken possession of the paternal estate, which had for some years been the wish of his father. Like him he was fond of rural pleasures and amusements, and to dissipate care amid the diversified scenes of rustic life, afforded him satisfaction and pleasure.
To contemplate the inimitable works of Creation, was to him no less pleasing than instructive. Where so many objects arrest the attention, and afford abundance of entertainment, equally calculated to raise in the human breast the most unfeigned offerings of wonder, gratitude and praise to the great Dispenser of benefits to mankind, and the Author of universal existence.
The magnificence of the celestial, and the curiosity and variety of the vegetable world, that have properties which, if accurately seen, yield inconceivable astonishment to the eye of the beholder, and confess alike the happy influence of the Deity. It charms in all the genial warmth and softness of spring, when the earth teems with a matchless splendour, when its green hues and universal verdure come forth in all their pristine elegance and enchanting attractions, which constantly afforded the contemplative mind of Albert, an inexhaustible variety of entertaining and useful lessons.
In the meantime his new station in life called him 208 to new responsibilities, and a new field of action, unknown to him before, presented itself, wherein he must act in many different capacities. He was naturally of a domestic turn of mind, and had always declined entering into the constant routine of engagements, to which the most part of the fashionable world, more or less, subject themselves. He avoided all excess and extravagance, in every respect, in which people of this description lose the greater part of their time. He was extremely fond of walking, as he considered gentle exercise the best medicine of life, and he passed much of his time in strolling over the fields or in the forest glen, amid the green wood shade, wrapped up in solitary reflection.
When the sun was the western hemisphere, and the day shone in all the mildness of the season, enveloped in serious thought and reverie, Albert walked forth among the surrounding shades. “Happy, ye freeborn sons of Columbia,” said he, “liberty and plenty now bless your domestic retirements,—War, devastation and wide-wasting rapine have fled your peaceful shores. No dread of destruction to disturb your uninterrupted tranquillity; the exercise of laudable industry can again bring home to each family competency and repose.” The clear cerulean sky added a soft beauty to the adjacent 209 landscapes, as he listlessly wandered along the beach. The idle murmuring of the waves upon the sandy shore, the confused gabbling of the waterfowl, and the near view of the full-spread vessel majestically advancing over the white-capped billows, that advanced and receded in gentle monotony, tended to soothe the lone bosom to calmness and quietude.
The day ended, and calm evening drew on. The silver rays of the full-orbed moon shed a majesty on each surrounding object. The scene appeared in solemn grandeur; the dusky forest reflected a yellow radiance; and the rolling wonders of the heavens glittered over the head, while awful stillness reigned, interrupted only by the strains of the night-bird, whose melodious notes served to soothe the heart to harmony.
Albert returned home with a leisurely step, his feelings were raised in devotional gratitude to that beneficent Being, on whom we depend for every present and future felicity, and who had surrounded us with so many blessings, that conspire to compose the mind to calmness and serenity.210
Ceux qui ne sont gens de bien qu’en apparence—sont obligés de se contraindre, beaucoup, et de garder de grandes mesures, afin de passer pour se qu’ils ne sont pas.
Alida ruminated on her lonely situation. She reflected on former days, and the many happy hours that had gone by for ever, when the roses of health had arrayed her cheeks, and gay thought had filled her fancy, and every object was decked with the charms of fascination, when her heart was unacquainted with sorrow, and experienced serenity and happiness without alloy. She deplored the loss of a kind father; in him she was deprived of a friend, who could never be again supplied to her, and in whose society her mind was in a constant progressive state of improvement. His filial affection, his kindness, his watchful endeavours for her welfare, were evinced by a careful anxiety and pains to enlighten her mind with those qualities and acquirements, that would be most conducive to enlarge her sphere of usefulness in life, and furnish her with the means of rational pleasure, and to blend with her personal appearance the more fascinating charms of a well-improved understanding.211
She mourned his loss at a residence where every object recalled him continually to her remembrance. She was wholly absorbed in melancholy, and amid these sad ideas that agitated her bosom alternately, Bonville arrived from the neighbouring village, and her attention was for a time diverted, and she was relieved from a train of painful reflections. Her brother had a long conversation with him respecting Theodore, and wondered how it happened that his friend Raymond had never received any intelligence from him.
Bonville seemed much embarrassed at these observations of Albert, and it was some length of time before he made any reply. Then biting his lips, and putting on an air of displeasure, he said that he had actually thought of going to England himself, to trace him out, and ascertain the cause of his strange conduct. Then assuming a look of insignificance, accompanied with several speeches in double entendre, he remained in sullen silence.
The conduct of Theodore certainly, thought Alida, is mysterious and singular, and his long silence is truly unaccountable, and the idea of ever meeting him again with these different impressions, that at present bore sway over her mind, agitated her greatly. In happier days, when her 212 hopes had rested on him in full confidence, she thought herself sufficiently strong to bear every other evil; but to be assured of his inconstancy, was an idea she could scarcely endure.
Although Albert might decidedly be called a person of discernment, still he had not yet fully discovered the deceptive powers of Bonville, whose many evil propensities were in a manner concealed, by a condescending courtesy and affability; though his mind inherited ill-nature and sarcasm in the extreme.
The sprightliness of his manners, mingled with a certain degree of humour and generous sentiments, occasionally mingling with his discourse, threw a veil over his imperfections, and excited one’s admiration.
Albert thought him ungenerous for many scandalous assertions concerning Theodore, and he still hoped he might again arrive on his native shores, and be able to answer all suggestions to his disadvantage.
Alida had never discerned his real character, therefore she reposed full confidence in all he said. His behaviour to her was respectful, and his exterior extremely prepossessing. He appeared all goodness and benevolence, and ever expressed the 213 most generous sentiments towards those he pretended to censure.
These deceitful appearances were joined with a semblance of piety; and he could at any time make himself appear to advantage, by the display of a variety of superficial knowledge. He was proud to excess, as if he really possessed qualities to be proud of. One would scarcely suppose that such a person could be capable of true attachment, but so it certainly was; that knowing the many imperfections of his own nature, caused him more deeply to revere the opposite qualities in Alida, and the idea of shortly gaining her hand, carried his senses to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that it would not be thought strange to suppose, that the disappointment of his pride would overwhelm him with lasting dismay.
The superior excellence of Theodore furnished a mark for the calumny of Bonville, supposing his own success depended on the disparagement of the other. Thus envy is usually led to asperse what it cannot imitate; and the little mind scandalizes the pre-eminence of its neighbour, and endeavours to depreciate the good qualities that it cannot attain to.
Thus the distempered eye is impatient of prevailing brightness, and by attempting to observe 214 the lucid object, inadvertently betrays its own weakness; and persons of their unhappy complexion, regard all praises conferred upon another, as derogatory from their own value. And a person without merit may live without envy; but who would wish to escape it on these terms!215
May he again return, and with him bring
A soft serenity on pleasure’s wing;
While anxious fears, and doubt, shall disappear,
The heavy mists of gloomy thought to clear.
The scenes of solitude were now more pleasing to Alida than ever. She loved to wander through the shady grove and lonely valley, and adapt their retirement to her own particular situation. She would often stray as far as the cottage or the farmhouse, at a little distance, and would sometimes take the winding path through a beautiful piece of wood which led to Raymond’s, where the thick foliage formed a grateful shade.
There she would indulge herself in solitary thought. “How changeable are all things terrestrial,” said she, “the varied year has its seasons, and winter and summer are constantly in pursuit of each other. The elements are frequently disturbed by storms and tempests, so, in like manner, is the human breast at intervals troubled and discomposed, and often remains overshadowed with pensive sadness and cheerless reverie; and these desponding ideas must continue to have influence over the mind, till the sunshine of reason 216 and religion kindly dispels the gloom, and awakens anew the feelings of the heart to the rays of hope and more enlivening sensations.” She had just returned home one afternoon from Raymond’s, when her brother, who had been absent on business to the city, drove up the avenue, accompanied by Mr. More.
Albert informed his sister of the arrival of Theodore. She almost fainted at the intelligence, so unexpected: and although she wished of all things, to learn all the circumstances attending his absence, yet she dreaded the event, to behold him again, fearing the truth of Bonville’s suggestions.
In the midst of these thoughts and fears, Theodore alighted at the house, and was shown by the servant into the drawing-room.
Theodore, regardless of all around him, as soon as he beheld Alida, he grasped her hand, exclaiming with rapture, “Has the period at length arrived, and am I indeed once more so happy as to meet again my much-esteemed and long-lost friend.”
Alida gazed on him in silence. He saw her extreme agitation, and after they were seated, he observed more particularly her altered appearance. What surprise and grief was manifest in his countenance, when he saw the paleness of her cheek, and the roses that once spread their healthy hue 217 over them, now seemed fled for ever. In a length of time, she became somewhat more composed; but in what light to consider Theodore, she yet did not know, and former ideas still clouded her imagination.
At length she assumed sufficient courage, to ask him, why he had not thought proper to inform any of his friends of the circumstances attending his absence.
Theodore could scarcely remain silent while Alida was speaking; he was surprised beyond all description at what he heard. “Can it be possible,” said he, “that you have missed of information concerning me, when I delayed not to inform you of all my movements, every opportunity I had to convey intelligence.” He then informed her that the letters had been sent to Raymond, and those for herself were enclosed, and committed to his care; and through this channel, he had related minutely all the various trials and circumstances attending his unexpected journey, and the cause of his protracted stay. Alida was evidently convinced, and appeared again assured of the truth of her lover. The energy with which he spoke, his agitated feelings, joined to the distress visible in his countenance, convinced her of his sincerity, at least caused her to doubt, what a few moments before appeared so 218 incontestible: and her present happiness fully compensated for the lengthy period of distress and anxiety she had experienced.
Albert was delighted at the return of Theodore, and highly gratified in his hopes, to find in his early friend, still the man of honour he had ever considered him. He had never once mentioned his name to Alida during their separation; although his thoughts often revolved on the unhappy result of their acquaintance, and the future welfare of his sister.
Mr. More was a silent spectator of this joyful meeting. He now beheld the person who had been so happy as to win the esteem and affections of Alida, a person that he had heard spoken of, though it had appeared that he never expected to see.
He witnessed the happy meeting. Sighs and tears from this time were his only companions, while his aspect pourtrayed nought but anguish and utter despair. He looked upon this happy pair as already united. He shed tears of evident anguish, when he took leave of Alida, and his looks told her it must now be forever.
The evening was not far advanced, when Bonville, who was altogether ignorant of Theodore’s arrival, unexpectedly made his appearance. Struck with the utmost consternation at seeing him, he involuntarily 219 receded a few paces, then suddenly advancing, as if recollecting himself, he gave him his hand with seeming cordiality.
The natural politeness and civility of the other supplied the place of a more cordial reception.
Ten thousand fears at once agitated the bosom of Bonville, while he appeared half frantic with grief and apprehension. Dismay threw a sudden cloud over his understanding; he was confused in the extreme. He had intercepted all the letters of Theodore; he secretly reproached himself for his treacherous conduct.
He now saw the termination of all his hopes. Disappointment he could not brook, his pride could never submit to it with any degree of resignation, and the bitterness that pervaded his mind, almost bordered on phrenzy.
His conscience reproved him for reiterated misrepresentations and calumnies of Theodore, with which he had harrassed the mind of Alida. He knew that a discovery must now be made of his perfidy, and on his return home to the village, he was confined to his room with a sudden illness, succeeded by a dangerous fever.220
O, time! roll on thy wheels, and bring around the period, when social joy shall smile before me; when in the vernal day of life, or evening serene, I grow of one dear object more and more enamoured; while my remembrance swells with many a proof of interested friendship.
The present situation of Albert was happily independent. The prolific soil of the estate, on which he lived, furnished him with an ample abundance. The prospect that surrounded him was inimitably beautiful, and the peculiar advantages of his eligible situation, was the admiration of the stranger who frequented the vicinity, or resorted in the summer season to the neighbouring village.
Albert had descended from an ancient family, he had an estate to preserve, but not an entailed one, as was the case with many of his family, at this time in England.
He was a gentleman, placid, humane and generous; altogether unacquainted with that ambition which sacrifices every thing to the desire of fortune, and the superfluous splendour that follows in her train. He was unacquainted with love too, the supreme power of which absorbs and concentrates all our faculties upon one sole object. That age of innocent pleasure, and of confident credulity, when 221 the heart is yet a novice and follows the impulse of youthful sensibility, and bestows itself unreservedly upon the object of disinterested affection; then, surely, friendship is not a name. Albert, during his abode in the city, had associated with ladies of rank, beauty and accomplishments. He was a general favourite among them; he had been flattered, courted and caressed, but none had the power to fix his attention. Since his return to the country, he had been frequently invited to assemble among the artless villagers, decorated in their own native beauty, assisted sometimes for ornament with the spoils of Flora. Health, pleasure and , was in the air of these charmers, and all that was pleasing to win his regard and esteem. These scenes of rural pleasure, these social parties, were adapted to his taste. In comparison of which the gay assemblages of the city had been formerly uninteresting; and he had been heard to say, that whenever his mind should become fixed, his choice would be some lady who resided in the country.
Although Albert experienced a degree of happiness and contentment unknown to many, in his present situation, yet he sometimes felt himself very lonely.
Alida was anxious that her brother should look out for a suitable companion; if he could be fortunate 222 enough to find one that was amiable and sensible, and whose actions should be under the influence of genuine piety; one who would be ambitious to preserve domestic sunshine, by the goodness and equanimity of her disposition; who would have a tear for distress, a heart for friendship and love, exerted in benevolence and charity, and in the mean time have a care to the good order and arrangement of domestic duties and economy.
Albert often descanted in conversation with his friends, on the general neglect of female education, which consisted of a few trifling embellishments, while those of the more substantial order were left out of the question. He thought that young ladies generally were not sufficiently learned in the solid branches, to exercise their mental powers to advantage, or to be agreeable, intelligent companions.
“If it be true,” said he, “that our pleasures are chiefly of a comparative or reflected kind, how supreme must be theirs, who continually reflect on each other the portraitures of happiness, whose amusements
“Though varied still, are still the same
In infinite progression.”
“How tranquil must be the state of that bosom, which has, as it were, a door perpetually open to the 223 reception of joy or departure of pain, by uninterrupted confidence in, and sympathy with, the object of its affectionI know of no part of the single life,” said Albert, “more irksome than the privation we feel by it, of any friendly breast wherein to pour our delights, or from whence to extract an antidote for whatever may chance to distress us.”
“The mind of a good man is rather communicative than torpid. If so, how often may a person of even the best principles, expose himself to very disagreeable sensations, from sentiments inadvertently dropped, or a confidence improperly reposed. What but silence can be recommended, since, in breaking it, so much danger is incurred among those who are little interested in our welfare? A good heart, it is true, need not fear the exposition of its amiable contents. But, is it always a security for us, that we mean well, when our expressions are liable to be misconstrued by such as appear to in wait only to pervert them to some ungenerous purpose?”
“The charms, then, of social life, and the sweets of domestic conversation, are pre-eminent. What more agreeable than the converse of an intelligent, amiable, interesting friend; and who more intelligent than a well educated female? What more engaging than gentleness and sensibility itself? Or 224 what friend more interesting, than one we have selected from the whole world, as a companion in every vicissitude of life?”
“If either party be versed in music, what a tide of innocent pleasure must it prove, to be able to soothe in adversity, to humanize in prosperity, to compose in jargon, and to command serenity in every situation? How charming a relaxation from the necessary avocations of business on the one hand, and the employments at home, in domestic affairs, on the other! And as a finale, to chant the praises of the Almighty in hymns of praise and thanksgiving.”
Albert had lately made several visits at some distance from home, where he had told his sister, were several young ladies, who were very agreeable. Alida did not think this of any importance, as she knew her brother heretofore had been difficult to please. She was one day rather surprised, when he wished her to accompany him thither. She declined the invitation, however, not thinking he wished it for any particular reason.
In the course of a few days he pressed her again to go with him. Alida now thought she would accompany him, if it was only out of curiosity. When they arrived at the house of Albert’s new acquaintance, several ladies were introduced one after the 225 other, and Alida soon found, that one of them had arrested the attention of her brother particularly. She, however, thought him rather premature, as he had so recently become acquainted with the family. On their return home, he gave her to understand, that his affections were engaged, and in the course of a few months, she was called on to attend their nuptials.
The appearance of Eliza was interesting; she was tall and graceful. Her large dark hazel eyes sparkled beneath a beautiful arched eyebrow, and her transparent complexion was shaded and adorned by profuse locks of dark brown hair.
In the meantime Albert appeared perfectly happy, that he had at length found a fair one to please him, and shortly after he returned home with his bride, with sanguine expectations before him, anticipating much future happiness.226
“On punit plus severement un ennemi par le mepris et par l’oubli, que par les chatimens les plus rigorieux: c’est, pour ainsi dire, le reduire au néant.”
The disagreeable facts so long in detail, had now taken a new turn for the better, and Theodore and Alida were again in possession of more than former felicity, after their long separation. Alida soon began to recover in some degree her native cheerfulness, soothing the bosom of her lover with her grief-dispersing smile. The unpleasant fears that had such a length of time harrassed her mind, were now happily terminated by the return of Theodore and the clearing up of all doubts and suspicions concerning him, to the utter confusion of Bonville. All her corroding anxieties were now removed, and recent events had made her happy in comparison to what she was a few weeks before, and her present consolation fully compensated for all the preceding months of unhappiness.
Theodore was again happy in the society of Alida, the pensive sweetness of her manner, her innate goodness, and amiability, which had attracted and secured the early affections of his heart, and made 227 impressions that could never be obliterated. He gave a minute account of all that had happened, from the time they had parted until they had met again.
He had visited the merchants in England with whom his father had been concerned in business, and he found as he expected, that he had been overreached by swindlers and sharpers. The pretended failure of the merchants with whom he was in company, was all a sham, as, also, the reported loss of the ships in their employ. The merchants had fled to England; he had them arrested, and they had given up their effects to much more than the amount of their debts. He therefore procured a reversion of his father’s losses, with costs, damages and interests, when legally stated.
Theodore then made his next visit to Raymond’s. His friends were joyfully surprised at his arrival. He stayed the night and related a long narrative to his friend. Early next day he proceeded from thence to his father’s house, where he arrived after a considerable journey. Theodore found his parents more happy than he expected. With abundant joy they welcomed him whom they had given up for lost.
Theodore then related to his father all the incidents that had happened in England, minutely 228 particularizing his conduct with regard to the merchants with whom his father had been connected, and then presented him with the reversion of the estate.
The old gentleman fell on his knees, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, offered devout thanks to the great Dispenser of all mercies.
In the meantime, the illness of Bonville had increased to an alarming degree. He sent for Theodore. He thought it his duty to attend the summons. When he arrived at the house of Bonville he was shown immediately into his apartment. He was surprised to see him stretched on a mattrass, his visage pale and emaciated, his countenance haggard, his eyes inexpressive and glaring. He held out his hand and feebly beckoned to Theodore, who immediately approached the bed-side.
“You behold me, Theodore,” said he, “on the verge of eternity. I have but a short time to continue in this world.” He evidently appeared to have suffered much from the remembrance of his ungenerous conduct towards Theodore.
“I have caused much unhappiness between you and your Alida,” said Bonville, “to which you will scarcely think it possible that I was designedly accessory.” He then confessed to Theodore that he had intercepted his letters, and begged his forgiveness. 229 “I could say much more on the subject would my strength admit,” said he, “but it is needless.” Here Bonville ceased. Theodore found he wanted rest; medical aid had been applied, but without effect. Theodore then left him, promising to call again next morning.
He was startled at the confession of Bonville; he felt at first indignant, and meditated what course to pursue. After due reflection, he at length made the decision.
His devotions to Alida he did not wonder at. The pride of parental attachment and nature had graced her with every charm and accomplishment. He at length determined to cast a veil of pity over the actions of Bonville, and not to upbraid him, but to treat his past conduct with silent contempt, and endeavour as far as possible, to bury the remembrance of his errors in oblivion. He called to see him next morning; he perceived an alarming alteration in his appearance. He was cold—a chilling sweat stood upon his face, his respiration was short and interrupted, his pulse weak and intermitting. He took the hand of Theodore and feebly pressed it. He soon fell into a stupor; sensation became suspended. Sometimes a partial revival would take place, when he would fall into incoherent muttering, calling on the names of his deceased father, 230 mother, and Alida. Towards night he lay silent, and only continued to breathe with difficulty, when a slight convulsion gave his freed spirit to the unknown regions of existence. Theodore attended his funeral, and then journeyed on to the dwelling of Albert. He informed Alida of the death of Bonville, and of his confession.
At the mention of Bonville’s fate, she sighed deeply. “It is true,” said she, “he has perplexed me with many vain fears, by misrepresentation, but could he have lived, I would freely have forgiven him.”
He evidently fell a victim to disappointed pride and remorse at the remembrance of his own baseness.231
In the Almighty Power he placed his trust,
Through all the changing scenes of deep distress;
His fortune now is better than before;
Again the Omniscient Hand has deigned to bless.
Theodore’s father was soon in complete re-possession of his former property. The premises from which he had been driven by his creditors, were yielded up without difficulty, to which he immediately removed. He not only recovered the principal of the fortune he had lost, but the damages, with the interest; so that, although like Job, he had seen affliction, like him, his latter days were better than the beginning. Like him, he reposed faith and confidence in his Maker, who had secretly supported him in his misfortunes; and who now, like a cheering sun dispersing the surrounding gloom, again gladdened his heart with returning peace and prosperity. Wearied of the business of life, he did not again enter into its affairs, but placing his money at interest in safe hands, he lived retired on his estate.
It was also the decided choice of Theodore and Alida to reside in the country. The calm and serene pleasures of retirement were particularly interesting 232 to both, and they were now supremely blest in each other’s society.
The parents of Theodore rejoiced at their present happiness, and took upon themselves the necessary preparations for their nuptials, which were to take place as soon as all was in readiness for this happy event.
No cross purposes stood ready to intervene, to disturb their repose or interrupt their tranquillity. It was at that season when nature was arrayed in her richest ornaments, and adorned with her sweetest fragrance. Silk-winged breezes played amidst the flowers, and birds of every description carolled their song in varying strains. The air was clear and salubrious, and the scene enchanting.
And now, reader of sensibility, indulge the pleasing sensations of thy bosom, at the approaching union of Theodore and Alida. To our hero and heroine, the rural charms of the country furnished a source of pleasing variety. Spring, with its verdant fields and flowery meads—summer, with its embowering shades—the fertility of autumn, with its yellow foliage—winter, with its hollow blasts and snowy mantle, all tended to fill their bosoms with sensations of pleasing transition.
Their religious principles were the same. They were a constant assistance to each other in the fulfilment 233 of their pious duties, truly endeavouring to follow the life of the Redeemer, who taught by his example and practice, what he required of us. Assiduously cultivating those innate Christian principles and perfections, best calculated to promote the praise and glory of God, and whereby we may obtain the everlasting favour of that ineffable Disposer of all things, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
But soon a mournful shade was thrown over their peaceful tranquillity and happy anticipations; and manifest was their grief, when they received the dreadful intelligence that Mr. More had committed suicide. At the news of this rash and sinful action, they were thrown into an abyss of sorrow, the painful remembrance of which, for a long time, threw a dark and melancholy cloud over their felicity.
It is to be regretted that a spirit of religion and philosophy had not been more duly exercised in the mind of Mr. More, that at length by patience and resignation, he might have been brought to see how vain and transitory are all these things; and thereby have been led to look for permanent happiness to a nobler source.
In deciding whether to correct an apparent error, or leave it as printed, I used a highly scientific and scholarly criterion: If the mistake made the typesetter look stupid, I corrected it. If it made the author look stupid, I left it.
Her father observed her affliction in commisseration with his own
business and confusion, scarcely reconcileable.
text unchanged; word may be contamination from “reconcile himself” at end of previous paragraph
O, who that sighs to join the scenes of war?
When, the goddess halted by his side
comma in original
“And a banner thou shalt still retain
open quote printed before 4th line of stanza (this is the 1st)
“Hold fast the glorious prize;
open quote missing
the test that reaches to the bottom of the worst
text unchanged; the standard reading (from Troilus and Cressida) is the tent that searches
his own fate unconnected with that of Alida
text unchanged: see parallel version
“to remain here until your affair comes to some final issue
open quote missing
Perhaps you and my sister may yet be happy.”
close quote missing
“Something extraordinary,” said Mrs. Raymond
text has Mr. Raymond
He now joined the forces under Colonel Van Renssalaer
Omnipotent Controller of vicissitudes! Omniscient Dispenser of destinies!
text has Omiscient
free from the fashion mania which sometimes attack young people like an epidemic
commenced a course of rigid discipline, and military trainings
plural “trainings” unchanged
the mild and salubrious breezes of
spring had succeeded to the blustering gales of winter
text unchanged; word “to” may be an error
The day was calm and serene
paragraph break (at new page) added by transcriber
Her natural and acquired endowments she
carried into society
word “and” missing: see parallel version
Neighbourly and companionable among her country friends
text has companiable
commanded by sir George Prevost, Governor General of Canada
should the United States refuse their consent to some arrangements,—whereby the New England States, separately, or in concert
He was preparing for his departure thence.
text unchanged: error for “thither” (i.e. Savannah)?
turning his insidious eyes towards Alida as he spoke
text has insiduous
The showers of April had cleared the atmosphere and revived the earth
text has the / the earth at line break
they have placed a chevaux-de-frieze to keep off the ice
spelling unchanged; source has frise
It has also several taverns, the largest of which called Shepherd’s hotel, they found excellent accommodations
missing word “at”; see parallel version
They were formed like a battalion into six divisions
text has battallion
When the sun was gilding the western hemisphere
text has “gliding”; see parallel version
Health, pleasure and naivette, was in the air of these charmers
by uninterrupted confidence in, and sympathy with, the object of its affection!” “I know of no part
quotation marks unchanged; same speaker continues
when our expressions are liable to
be misconstrued by such as appear to lay in wait
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.