Edgar Allan Poe.

The gift: a Christmas and New Year's present for 1842 online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryEdgar Allan PoeThe gift: a Christmas and New Year's present for 1842 → online text (page 1 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


v(?Str. ■\v^ ■;= -^



i?iiiiii w" \rr\



tftn



^x.



4







^W>-.d,V^-^V^



Brandeis University
Library



K



The Gift of
DANIEL G. SIEGEL






s2HS:SHSZ2H&



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Boston Library Consortium IVIember Libraries



http://www.archive.org/details/giftchristmasnewOOpoee






'^




TF TFJi ©©HSrariEir (IrSIMLo



^f-. 1P\ J» ^^



>a







^ 11 H (^ S If "S"



^ ^m.mzm'^ML^m amt® m^w ^i^^i^^m



WW^^MMT



©m. a § 4i ^o






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1841, by
Carey and Hart, in the Clerk's office of the District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



C. SHERMAN AND CO. PRINTERS.



PUBLISHERS' ADVERTISEMENT.



In presenting a new volume of the Gift to the public,
we may be permitted to remark, that no exertion has been
wanting- to render it worthy the favour so liberally extended
to the previous volumes.

It likewise aifords us pleasure to state, that all the illus-
trations in the present volume are from pictures by our
own artists, and we flatter ourselves that they will be
found to compare advantageously with any similar produc-
tions from abroad.

We cannot conclude without expressing- our obligations
to Mr. Gilmore, of Baltimore, for the loan of his admirable
picture of ' The Tough Yarn,' by Mount, and to Mr. Bre-
vourt, of New York, for the loan of ' The Raffle,' by the
same meritorious artist.



Jl'llflULLI



LIST OF PLATES.

Subjects. Painters. Engravers.

The Country Girl. T. Sully. John Cheney.

Title. T. Sully. John Cheney.

Dulcinea. C. R. Leslie, R. A. John Cheney. 43

The Tough Yarn. W. S. Mount. J. I. Pease. 99

The Gipsy. T. Sully. John Cheney. 154

The Sled. J. G. Chapman. W.E.Tucker. 206

The Raffle. W. S. Mount. A. Lawson. 250

Portia. T. Sully. J. B. Forrest. 305



CONTENTS,



Autumn and the Garden, - mrs. sigournet, - - . 17

Isabel's Bridal, mrs. emma c. embury, - 21

Dulcinea, ...... miss leslie, 43

Snow, - . MRS. SIGOURNEY, ... 44

The Bee-Tree, - . . . . author of ' a new home,' 47

The Broken-Hearted, - - - miss mary e. lee, ... 72

The Wife's Appeal, . - . miss c. h. waterman, - - 78

Glimpses of Heaven, .... miss mary ann browne, - 81

Nora, MRS, sigourney, ... 83

The Recluse of the Blue

Mountain, mrs. ellet, 87

The Tough Yarn, .... seba smith, 99

Lines on the Death of two

Promising Children, . - miss mary e. lee, - . . 115

The Love of Tears, - - . lieut. g. w. patten, u. s. a. 117
Biographical Studies upon

Contemporary Singers, 119

Prayer on Bunker's Hill, - - mrs. sigourney, . . - 148

The Gipsy's Chaunt, . . . Charles west Thomson, . 151

Eleonora,^ edgar a. poe, . - - . 154

A Wreath of Riddles, . . mrs. f. s. osgood, . - - 163

Prayer for the Bride at Sea, . lieut. g, w. patten, u. s. a. 165

The Village Church, . - . mrs. sigourney, . - - 167

Early Death, miss m. miles, - ... 170

The People that did not take

Boarders, miss leslie, 172



Vm CONTENTS.

Address to Nature, - - - miss c. h. waterman, - - 204

The Sled, charles west Thomson, - 206

The French Heroine, - - - Catharine e. eeecher, - 209

Stanzas, park benjamin, . . . . 242

To-morrow, miss a. m. f. buchanan, - 243

Angel Help, - - - charles west Thomson, - 245

The Raffle, John frost, a. m. - - - 250

' Murder Will Out,' - - - w. g. simms, 262

Portia, w. J. Walter, . . - - 305

The Doom of Moniac, - - lieut. g. w. patten, u.s. a. 307

The Appeal of Maria Theresa, miss lucy hooper, - - - 310

Commencement Day, . - . , miss mary e. lee, - - . 313

The Field of Wheat, - - - miss h. f. gould, - - - 319

The Cottage where we Dwell, mrs. f. s. osgood, - - - 321



AUTUMN AND THE GARDEN.



BY MRS. SIGOURNEY.

My flowers ! my precious garden-flowers

What evil hath been here 1
Came the fierce frost-king- forth at night,

So secret and severe 1
I saw ye last, with diamond dew

Fresh on each beauteous head.
And little dream'd to find you thus,

All sickening, pale, and dead.

Alas, my brave Chrysanthemum,

How crisp thou art, and sere, —
Too lightly prized, perchance, thou wert

When fairer friends were near, —
Yet, like a hero, didst thou rise

To meet the spoiler's dart,
And struggle, till the pure life-blood

Ran curdling to thy heart.

O fair and graceful Poppy,

Whose petals' feathery grace
So oft in snowy globes have deck'd

My simple parlour vase, —
Thy pierced buds disclose the gum

Which swells Hygeia's store ;
But the sleep of death is on thee.

Thou wilt soothe our rest no more.
2



18 THE GIFT.

My poor Sweet-Pea, my constant friend,

V\^hene'er I've sought in vain
To make a full bouquet for one

Who press'd the couch of pain ;
Or v/hen my narrow border fail'd

The mantel-piece to dress,
Thou always gav'st a hoarded gem

To help me in distress.

But thou, dear lonely Violet,

Thus smiling in my path,
I marvel much, how thou hast scaped

The tyrant's deadly wrath, —
Say, did'st thou 'neath thy withering leaves

Thy gentle head decline.
To bid one sad good-morning more 1 —

Come press thy lips to mine.

Good-bye, my pretty flowering Bean,

That with a right good-will
O'er casement, arch, and trellis white

Went climbing, climbing still.
Till the stern destroyer mark'd thee,

And in his bitter ire.
Trod out thy many scarlet spikes

That glow'd like living fire.

Pale, pale Wax-Berry, — all is gone ! —

I would it were not so ;
Methinks the Woodbine near thee

Hath felt a lighter wo ;
Lean, lean, upon its friendly arm

Thy latest pang to take,
And yield to Winter's stormy will

Till happier seasons wake.



AUTUMNANDTHEGARDEN. 19

Coarse, yellow Marigold, I once

Despised thy tawny face,
Yet since my plants so few have grown

I've given thee welcome place.
Tall London Pride ! my little son

From weeds preserved thy stem ;
And for his sake, I sigh to see

Thy fallen diadem.

I have no stately Dahlias,

Nor green-house flowers to weep,
But I pass'd the rich man's garden.

And the mourning there was deep ;
For the crownless queens all drooping hung

Amid the wasted sod,
Like Boadicea, bent with shame

Beneath the Roman rod.

'Tis hard to say farewell, my flowers, —

'Tis hard to say farewell, —
The florist's eye might scan your robes,

Yet your worth I cannot tell,
For at rising sun, or eventide,

In sorrow, or in glee,
Your fragrant lips have ever oped

To speak kind words to me.

And dear ye were to him who died

When Summer round ye play'd,
That good old man, who look'd with love

On all that God had made, —
Who when his fond, familiar friends

Had gone to dreamless rest.
Took Nature's green and living things

More closely to his breast.



20 THE GIFT.

My blessed sire, — we bore his chair

At bright and dewy morn,
That he might sit amid your bowers,

And see your blossoms born,
While meek and placid smiles around

His reverend features play'd,
The language of that better clime

"Where you no more shall fade.

Shall I see you once again, sweet jQowers,

When Spring returneth fair,
To strew her breathing incense

Upon the balmy air ]
Will you lift to me your infant heads 1

For me, with fragrance swell 1
Alas ! why should I ask you thus

What is not yours to tell 1

I know full well, that ere your buds

Shall hail the vernal sky,
That many a younger, brighter head

Beneath the clods must lie ;
And if my pillow should be there,

Still come in beauty free,
And show my little ones the love

That you have borne to me.

Yea, come in all your glorious pomp,

Ambassadors to show
The truth of those eternal words

Which on God's pages glow, —
The bursting of the icy tomb,

The rising of the just,
In robes of beauty and of light,

All stainless from the dust.



21



ISABEL'S BRIDAL.



BY MRS. EMMA C. EMBURY.



When I was a very little girl I was frequently taken by
a maiden aunt to visit an old lady who lived in a tall
narrow house in Pearl Street, long- since swallowed up
in an enormous counting-house. Young as I was, the
many weary hours I was obliged to spend in Miss Rachel
Maybe's small back parlour have impressed every object
upon my memory, and doubtless the dark tints in which
all things were necessarily painted have contributed to
their preservation in my mind, since the remembrance of
dull scenes will long outlast that of gay ones, even as
sombre colours will adhere to the canvass, while bright
ones fade beneath the touch of time. Miss Rachel was
a maiden lady of small but independent fortune. She
inhabited the house in which her parents had lived and
died, and antiquity was stamped upon every article of
furniture. I can almost fancy that I see now the fantastic
Turkey carpet which, eked out with a border of green
baize, covered the floor; the straight-backed mahogany
chairs, with their white chintz covers, the thin-legged
tables, the bright brass fire-irons, the square japan cabinet,
curiously inlaid with mother-of-pearl, the tall, perpendicu-
lar firescreen worked in worsted, the device, an enormous



22 THE GIFT.

cat with a mouse in her paw ; and I am sure I shall never
forget the quaintly carved ivory hand, with its curved
fingers and long slender handle, which always hung at
the side of that firescreen. I am afiraid the old lady's
ghost would rise and reproach me if I were to tell the
uses of that fairy hand, but many a time have I seen her
take it from its place and carefully insert it between her
well-starched kerchief and the back of her neck.

Miss Rachel was not one who pined in single blessed-
ness. Her complexion still bore some traces of the roses
and lilies which had once adorned it, and her rotund figure
had gained in dignity what it had lost in youthful grace.
Her attire was characterized by extreme neatness. Her
dark silk dress always looked as glossy as if just fi:om
the hands of the mantuamaker, her book-muslin necker-
chiefs, though starched as stiff" as buckram, were as trans-
parent as glass, and as for her caps — we see none such
now-a-days. They were not manufactured of trashy bob-
binet or worthless blonde lace ; no — they were handsome
round-eared caps with high crowns, made of rare India
muslin and bordered with costly thread lace, plaited as if
by rule and compass, and finished by a broad white satin
riband which encircled her head, terminating in a bow
directly in front. Even the tie of that riband was charac-
teristic of the old lady's precise habits, for the loops of the
bow were exactly alike, the ends of just the same length,
and always pointed (as I then thought) due east and west.

A pleasant cheerful body was Miss Rachel Maybe.
Seated in her high-backed rocking-chair, with the tall
screen protecting her good-humoured face from the heat of
a blazing wood fire ; her knitting-needles in her hand and
an embroidered satin bag hanging on the arm of her chair,
out of which she continually drew the well-spun thread of
her discourses, she was a perfect picture of contentment.



Isabel's bridal. 23

Every body liked her, and she was a very useful woman
in her way. She was an old-fashioned Christian, whose
genuine piety and unostentatious benevolence were visible
in her daily life, but never emblazoned in newspaper
paragraphs. To the poor who could work she gave
employment, and thus kept alive the feeling of indepen-
dence which is the last treasure left the unfortunate. To
the sick and infirm she rendered effectual aid, not by
bestowing money only, which their very necessities would
prevent them from using to advantage, but by appro-
priating her time as well as her means; by making
comfortable garments and preparing wholesome food with
her own hands; by visiting them in their wretched homes;
by teaching them lessons of gratitude and contentment
which pensioners on the world's bounty can never learn
from the almoners of associated charities.

I have said that in my childhood I spent many a weary
hour in the old lady's company. Miss Rachel and my
aunt would sit discussing the merits of the last sermon,
talking over the frailties of the congregation to which they
were attached, or debating points of theological differ-
ences, while poor little I was left to amuse myself as I
best could. I used to set the mandarins on the chimney-
piece nodding, and watch them until T almost dropped
asleep from sympathy. Then I would try to count the
birds of Paradise which dropped their long tails over the
paper on the wall, until ' thought was lost in calculation's
maze.' Sometimes I resorted to the books which lay on
the table, but alas ! ' Baxter's Call,' and ' Taylor's Holy
Living and Dying,' had but little attractions to a merry
child, who was content to enjoy existence, even as the
birds and butterflies, without thinking at all about it. I
remember, however, a few pleasant scenes which I enjoyed
through Miss Rachel's kindness and mirthful spirit. Once



24



THE GIFT.



she took us to an upper room, and, unlocking- a hug-e trunk,
amused my aunt very much by displaying innumerable
suits of baby-linen, — the frocks of fine cambric, with long
pointed stomachers, stitched full of whalebone, — the caps
worked in lace-stitch but without borders, — which Miss
Rachel's mother, out of a kind regard to the welfare of
posterity, had made for her future grandchildren when her
only daughter was but a romping girl. The old lady little
thought, that the lapse of more than half a century would
find her daughter fading in single blessedness, and the
neatly-made garments untouched save by the hand of
time. On another occasion Miss Rachel opened her India
cabinet, to display some antique love-tokens, and I was
wild with delight at being allowed to rummage among
the paste shoe-buckles and the gold sleeve-buttons which
had belonged to her father and brothers, the mourning
rings and jet lockets which were all that remained of
the loved of earlier days, the broken ornaments and
antique jewelry which had formerly shone in many a
brilliant scene of gaiety. Once too I found Fox's Book of
Martyrs lymg on the deep window-seat, and so long as it
was allowed to remain there, I lacked not occupation, I
revelled in its horrors even as I had done in the super-
natural scenes of the Mysteries of Udolpho, and there was
something in the atmosphere of that gloomy room, from
which a neighbouring wall shut out the cheerful sunlight,
and in the drowsy ticking of the old clock, peculiarly cal-
culated to produce the frame of mind best suited to enjoy
that most harrowing of all terrible books. I am not sure
that the ' time, place, and circumstance' which I have just
recorded did not give a sombre colouring to my young
imagination which will last me through life ; for although
in my daily walk and conversation I am one of the most
cheerful beings on earth, yet the 'children of my brain' are



Isabel's bridal. 25

very apt to assume a mourning' garb ere I have finished
their attire.

Notwithstanding the gloom and uneasiness which I so
often encountered, I never declined an invitation to visit
Miss Rachel. This readiness arose partly from the love of
visiting so inherent in children, partly from the conscious-
ness that I was a great favourite with the old lady, and
partly from the certainty of getting good entertainment
for the body if not for the mind. Miss Rachel's tea-table
would shame the scanty board of many a fashionable dame
in modern times. What transparent preserves ! what rich
plumcake ! what delicate warm biscuits have I seen on
that little round table. And then her cordials, quince, and
peach, and lemon, and cinnamon, clear as amber, and all
made by her own hands ! — oh ! there were some pleasant
things to be enjoyed in Miss Rachel's gloomy room.

As I grew older my visits to the good old lady became
far more agreeable to me. Her condiments continued
equally inviting, and her conversation became far more
interesting. Age had come upon her ' frosty but kindly,'
and while she looked back upon her past life, even as
the traveller pauses upon an eminence to review the road
he has just trodden, she cherished a fellow-feeling with
those who were just entering the rugged and dusty path.
She had learned to judge of the present by the expe-
rience of the past, and while she had not forgotten the
errors and follies which belong to the season of youth, she
could bestow instruction and sympathy together. Many
a lesson of life have I learnt from her lips, and if they
profited me little the fault was not in the sower, but in the
soil of the heart which allowed weeds to spring up and
choke the good seed. One of her reminiscences now
occurs to me, which, as it exhibits a most singular retribu-
tion of a fault usually considered venial in society, I will



26 THE GIFT.

record. I will give it as nearly as I can in the old lady's
words, but alas ! the tone, and look, and manner, which
gave expression to every word, are lost for ever.

Isabel Athelstan was a beauty and an heiress. The
close intimacy which subsisted between our families first
led to our friendship, and though she was several years my
senior, we were almost inseparable. I have since thought,
— perhaps I wronged her, — that Isabel made me her chosen
companion less for my good qualities than for my defects.
I certainly must have been an admirable foil to her, for
nothing could be in greater contrast than my dumpy figure,
my deep-red cheeks and my gray eyes, with her stately
form, her pale rich cream-like tinted complexion, her
perfect regularity of feature, and her raven black eyes
and hair. Nor was the disparity in our dispositions less
striking. Educated in retirement, I was merely a simple-
hearted, affectionate girl, with the hoidenish spirit of child-
hood softened down into the buoyant mirth of uninter-
rupted cheerfulness, and actuated by impulse rather than
reflection or calculation. But Isabel was as calm and cold
as some exquisite piece of sculpture. Rarely excited
either to pleasure or pain, her brow was always as placid
as a summer lake, and the bland smile which sate on her
beautifiil lip was as unchanging as if carved in stone. I
think I never saw her angry, but they who deemed this
placid demeanour the effect of an amiable temper were
amazingly mistaken. I have often heard her express her
surprise that any one should ' take the trouble' to get in
a passion, and yet I have listened to the most biting sar-
casms fi-om her lips, while her countenance wore as gentle
an expression as ever visited the face of a sleeping child.
The characteristic of Isabel's temper was inertness ; she
hated the exertion of arousing herself either to evince



Isabel's bridal. 27

satisfaction or displeasure, and but for the one master pas-
sion which ruled her heart, she would probably have gone
through life as one of those amiable, gentle creatures, who
are all sweetness in their outward demeanour, and who
reserve their hidden bitterness for the privacy of domestic
life.

Isabel's calm exterior afforded the best of all conceal-
ments for her real character. She seemed rather to await
than to seek admiration, and it was scarcely possible to
believe that the cold and passionless beauty was in heart
a consummate coquette. Even as the dark tide flows on
unceasingly, though the icy fetter of winter have stilled
its surface, so beneath her calm indifference was hidden
a restless and insatiable desire for admiration. But the
adulation and homage which a young beauty can always
command in society were not enough for Isabel. Her
vanity was not to be satisfied by any ordinary sacrifice.
She required her admirers to become lovers, and an offer
of marriage could alone be received as a sufficient evi-
dence of her power. Descended from an ancient English
family, (of which, by the way, she was excessively proud,)
possessed of wealth and gifled with beauty, you may easily
suppose she had no reason to complain of neglect, and she
put in practice every art which female ingenuity could
devise, to secure those whom her charms had attracted.

At the time I first entered society she had already re-
jected many suitors, and it was one of her favourite pas-
times to gather a few of her young friends around her,
while she carelessly tossed over for our inspection copies
of verses, billet-doux, letters and other testimonials to the
power of her beauty.

If there be any thing which ought to expose a woman
to lasting contempt, it is such an unpardonable breach of
confidence as that in which Isabel indulged. The trust



28 THE GIFT.

reposed in her by a suitor for her hand, whether his offer
be rejected or accepted, should be held most sacred. If
accepted, it is enough that her nearest friends are made
aware of it ; if rejected, none — not even the sister of her
childhood, should be informed of it. If counsel be required
by the young- heart, let it be sought from the mother who
has watched over the expanding- bud of her daughter's
affections, even as she once kept her vigil beside the
cradle of her infancy. But when a man unlocks the
secret chambers of his breast, and lays open his dearest
affections to the gaze of her whom he loves, no careless
eye should be allowed to behold the treasure, even though
she value it not. It has always seemed to me that one of
the strongest proofs of a woman's heartlessness is afforded
by a long list of rejected suitors. Women are quick in
discerning their own power, and she who professes correct
principles and kindly feelings, will endeavour to prevent
an offer which she does not mean to accept, rather than
wait to reject it as a homage to her vanity. Men are
seldom disposed to make an actual proffer of their hand
without some prospect of success, and any woman pos-
sessed of our sex's tact can delicately hold out encourage-
ment to him whom she prefers, while she opposes the
barrier of friendship to the advances of others. It is true
that men are not always acute enough to take advantage
of our consideration, but I know of no circumstance which
can excuse a breach of confidence towards the unsuccess-
ful lover.

Isabel's tact in ' playing her victim' was unequalled.
While she never departed from her quiet manner, she yet
managed to adapt herself so well to the peculiar character
of her admirers, that each believed her to be studying his
tastes and moulding herself to his standard of perfection.
Then she was a matchless manoeuvrer in the arrange-



Isabel's bridal. 29

ment of time and place for securing her prize. In the gay
party and amid the excitements of mirth the snare was
laid for the frivolous, — the moonlight walk and the fasci-
nations of sentiment were lures for the enthusiastic, — the
quiet household circle, and the rational pleasures of home
were traps for her more practical admirers. I have some-
times, in later days, tried to analyze the secret of her
influence. It was not alone the spell of beauty, for I have
seen others equal to her in personal attractions, who were
yet completely overlooked in her presence, — it was not
genius, for though intelligent, she was by no means gifted
with superior intellect, — it was not the variety of her
accomplishments, for in all the higher attainments of the
mind she was very deficient, and her knowledge of mere
feminine accomplishments was very superficial. What
was it then which bowed down the aspiring intellect, sub-
jugated the pride of self-love, and compelled the homage
of the wise and the ignorant, the warm-hearted and the
selfish, the ardent boy and the calculating bachelor ] The
talisman by which all this was efiected was tact. Tact
in studying character, — tact in adapting herself to its
peculiarities, — tact in discerning and flattering the self-
love which lurks in the hearts of all men. This was the
spell she used, — a spell to be purchased only, as was the
fabled elixir of life, by the sacrifice of all the good which
belongs to our nature.

Isabel had reached her twenty-foUrth year, without
having formed any attachment likely to end soberly and
rationally in marriage, when she became engaged in a
flirtation which proved more serious in the end than she
had designed. Somebody, I have forgotten who, intro-
duced to our acquaintance a young man who bore the
name of Ernest Leclerc, and was said to be the son of a
rich West Indian. His delicate health, which had been



30 THE GIFT.

seriously injured by grief for the recent loss of his mother,
had induced his father, who doted on him with a love
almost approaching- to idolatry, to send him to our city, in
the hope that change of scene, and the bracing air of a


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryEdgar Allan PoeThe gift: a Christmas and New Year's present for 1842 → online text (page 1 of 21)