Various.

Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, May 1849 online

. (page 5 of 15)
Online LibraryVariousGraham's Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, May 1849 → online text (page 5 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


place where she sat on deck, and at length catching her eye, with a
meaning look dropped a letter at her feet, and immediately retired. Mary
had been beset with so many dangers of late; had been so often nearly
ensnared by plots, that she at once imagined the letter to contain a
friendly warning. She therefore hastily picked it up and ran below. It
proved to be a genuine love-letter, and despite her sadness and the
anxiety of her position, she laughed outright as she read it. Her
unusual merriment drew Talbot to her side, and after exacting a promise
from him that he would in no manner notice, or betray a knowledge of its
contents, she placed the letter in his hands, saying, “Don’t be
jealous—I will be true, although the offer is a tempting one.” Verbatim
et literatim, it ran thus:

“dear Mary is a name so sweet,

“i loves to spell it as i loves to eat. i kiles the ropes to
spell it, i scratches it with a marlingspike on the rale,
charming Miss Mary i addores you when you walkes the deck so
gracefull as a swan a swimming of a Rivver, i looks down upon
you from the top as you moves backards and forrards so
musically, i wishes that I was a hauk to pounce down upon you
and carry you of like a Duv in my Arms to sum luvly ileand in
the sea. Sweetest Miss Mary i isent a Lofer, for my Parrents is
respectible and my father ones a Large factory in New Jersy,
whar he makes a Grate quontity of paper, not your common Rapping
paper, but big sheets for the Nusepapers, and sum a grate deal
Finer for Riting upon than this, which is the best i can gett. i
is unfortunit Miss Mary but i isent a imposter for my Father is
ever so Rich and will give plenty of munny if i will cum home
and help him in his bizziness, but i cant go home nor no whars
els onless you will smile upon me i offers you all my prospicts.
if you will eccept my sute if your charming buzzom feels any
pitty for a poor Retch who loves you to dispare, and you will
cast them sweet killing ise on me, as you aires the deck, you
will liten my hart of its hevvy lode and make it swim in Blis.
Yours furever until deth.

“CIRUS LAMBERT.”

Poor Lambert!

“It were all one,
That he should love a bright particular star,
And think to wed it.”

But love, like faith, comes by inspiration, and whether it be a
milk-maid or a goddess, a man has a right to worship the object of his
affections. As we have seen, the maiden’s first impulse was to
merriment; but she soon perceived that the man was in earnest, and from
motives of delicacy and compassion she remained below the remainder of
the passage. The confinement was a brief one. The next afternoon they
reached Sisal, and were hospitably welcomed by an American merchant, to
whom Talbot had letters from our consul in Havana. Mary was immediately
taken to the gentleman’s house and cordially greeted by his wife, who
insisted upon her becoming an inmate of the family during her stay. An
offer most gratefully accepted. When the merchant was told of their
contemplated adventure he became a zealous coadjutor; chartered for them
a small, fast-sailing felucca, and purchased a cargo of salt, in order
that it might be supposed she was on one of her usual trading voyages.
He also procured for Talbot and Gonzalez, dresses such as are worn by
the crews of these vessels.

Determined not to lose a moment, as soon as the arrangements were
completed our adventurers set sail, Talbot with difficulty tearing
himself from his mistress, who clung to him in all the reckless
abandonment of grief. Coasting along the shore, they passed Alvarado and
anchored the second evening under Anton Lizardo, until the moon went
down. They then lifted their anchor, and passing between Sacrificios
Island (where a Spanish corvette lay) and the main land, they entered
the port of Vera Cruz unobserved.

Although necessary for the prosecution of their plan, yet coming to Vera
Cruz, in one contingency, very much increased their difficulties. It was
indispensable that tidings of their arrival should not reach the castle,
and yet they would certainly be communicated by the first flag of truce
that passed over. They therefore determined to dispose of their small
cargo at once—lay in a return one, make their remaining preparations,
and with a telescope examine the works of the castle, to decide on which
point they could with least danger approach, until near enough to
execute the stratagem they had devised.

The south front of the castle, facing the city, was 223 varas, or four
hundred and forty yards, including the south-west and south-east
bastions. Along this front were 34 guns mounted en barbette, i. e.,
without embrasures. The south-west curtain was the nearest, directly
facing, and half a mile distant from the town. Toward the north east,
protecting the sea front, was a tower bastion, which mounted a heavy gun
on a pivot. This tower bastion, nearly triangular in shape, was
completely isolated—its base line being fifty yards distant from the
north-east, or outside curtain of the castle, with the water flowing
between them—as also between the north-east and north-west faces of the
tower bastion and the outwork—in a space forty-two feet in width. The
outwork itself was very strongly fortified—indeed the strongest part of
the fortification, as defending the point which, at the time of its
construction, was deemed most likely to be attacked—as the engineer had
not foreseen that before an attack, the castle and the town might be
separately held by belligerents. The adventurers determined to make
direct for a postern in the south-east front, where there was a landing
of 2 or 3 steps, leading to a narrow platform, also of stone, which
opened into a covered way. Along the wall, between the south-west
bastion and the postern, were three or four rings inserted, to which, in
time of peace, vessels were ordinarily made fast, to ride under the lee
of the castle during the terrific gales so prevalent in the winter
months.

At an early hour the next morning they started, and a number of the
inhabitants who had heard of their intention to sail, were gathered on
the sea-wall to see if they could escape both the fire from the castle
and the pursuit of the corvette, then getting under way from her
anchorage at Sacrificios. They cheered the boat as she left the harbor,
and the loud vivas being heard by the garrison of the castle, several
shot were fired from the south-west bastion, which dispersed the
assemblage. A moment after the little felucca was seen standing boldly
out, and a signal was made from the castle to the corvette, while
several guns were brought to bear upon the daring little vessel—for
hitherto all attempts to pass had been made at night. The gunner stood
by one of the guns on the ramparts, and was about to apply the lighted
match, when his movement was arrested by an officer calling out, “Hold!
it is a friend.”

As soon as the felucca was well outside the pier, she hoisted the
Spanish ensign, and with a loud hurra from Talbot and Gonzalez, stood
directly for the castle. From the ramparts of the town were instantly
heard shouts of execration, and several muskets were discharged, but
without effect, and before one of the heavy guns could be prepared and
trained, the felucca was close under the walls of the castle. As
supposed deserters, they were received with apparent cordiality mingled
with distrust, and were conducted forthwith before the commandant, who
interrogated them long and closely. They represented themselves, Talbot
as a merchant whose property had been confiscated in consequence of his
inability to meet his portion of a forced loan, and subsequently sent to
Xalapa for some remarks he had made on the tyrannical course of the
government. Gonzalez professed to have been a resident of the latter
town, and that he had long been placed in surveillance for his political
opinions. That with his companion he had concerted and carried into
execution their plan of escape. The tale seemed plausible, but the
commandant was not thoroughly satisfied, and although he let them go at
large, directed that they should be strictly watched.

The boat was made fast to one of the ring-bolts secured in the wall in
the south-east face of the castle near the postern, and kept in her
position by a line fastened to a light kedge astern. Her bow was about
two fathoms or twelve feet from the landing. From the surface of the
water to the summit-level of the parapet was about thirty-five feet.

The two friends had feigned to be anxious to get away, but the
commandant withheld his consent, intending first more thoroughly to
satisfy himself of their character. They rejoiced at the delay, even
while they knew that it exposed them to increased hazard of detection.

Availing themselves of the privilege to wander about the works, they
looked anxiously in every direction for Frank. In every direction but
one they had looked in vain, and at last, almost in despair, Talbot
approached the quarters of the commandant. Here, in the last place to
have been expected, he found the object of his search in a kind of open
office, employed in converting into intelligible English some documents
written by an illiterate translator. At the sight of him Frank started
up, and was about to rush toward him, but resumed his seat when he saw
Talbot place his finger on his lip, and by a gesture indicated that the
sentry who stood near by, was observing them. On a small shelf just
within the door, stood a can of water, with a drinking-cup beside it.
Talbot stepping quickly within the door-way, asked the youth in Spanish
for a drink of water. The latter, understanding him, handed the cup, at
the same time closely watching every movement of his friend. The sentry
had in the meantime advanced to the door, and stood looking in. Talbot
drank with seeming thirst, and returning the cup with a simple
“_gratias_,” contrived to slip a bit of paper, unseen, into the hands of
Frank.

That night, Frank, complaining of the heat, obtained permission of the
officer of the day to sleep on the south-east bastion, or bastion of St.
Crispin, upon which the land-breeze blew, provided that he did so under
the eye of the sentinel posted there.

Gonzalez laid himself down at the foot of the stone stairway or ramp,
which led from the court of the castle below to the parapet above.

Between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning, shortly after the sentinels had
been relieved, when the moon had set, and the light of the stars was
intercepted by masses of clouds wafted over from the land, Talbot, with
his cloak thrown around him, and a cap on his head, such as were worn by
the officers, ascended the stairway, mounted the parapet, and advanced
directly toward the sentinel near whom Frank had laid down.

The sentinel, taking it for granted that it was the officer of the day
who approached, (for Talbot had observed, and now closely imitated his
gait,) did not challenge until the latter was almost within the point of
his bayonet. As he brought his musket to a charge, demanding the
watchword, Talbot pushed the point of the weapon suddenly aside, and
rushing upon, threw over and fell upon the sentinel. Frank now sprung
up, and found that Talbot held the soldier by the throat with so much
force that he was nearly strangled. Together they soon securely tied and
gagged him. At a motion from Talbot, who, putting on the soldier’s cap,
and shouldering his musket, resumed the round, Frank fastened a cord
(which the former threw to him) to one of the barbette-guns, and let
himself down the face of the wall, landing upon the narrow stone ledge a
short distance from the boat. While he was doing this, Gonzalez had
stealthily crawled up the ramp or stairway, and creeping along the
parapet, in like manner, lowered himself down beside the youth. Talbot
then placing the musket by the gun, with the soldier’s cap upon, and his
cloak around it, followed their example, and reached his companions in
safety. One of them then swam out and cut the rope which held the boat
by the stern, but, on his return, found his companions in consternation.
A padlock had been put upon the chain, and in vain they strove to part
the bolt. At this moment the clouds had swept by, and they were thrown
into despair by hearing the sentinel on the south-west bastion call out,
“_Qui viv_.” In desperation they all sprung into the boat as the
sentinel discharged his musket, and gave the alarm. With the strength
which despair alone can give, they seized the chain, and with one mighty
effort tore the bolt from the stern of the boat with a crash. The alarm
was now general, and there was not an instant to be lost. Pushing boldly
from the landing, they hoisted their sail with expedition, and stood
diagonally across toward the main land, carefully keeping themselves in
a line with the angle of the south-east bastion. There was great
confusion in the garrison, several of the large guns were discharged,
and volleys of musketry were fired in the direction they pursued. The
balls flew wide of the mark, and as the felucca was now under rapid
headway, they began to congratulate themselves that they were out of
danger, when, by a discharge of the heavy pivot-gun on the
tower-bastion, loaded with grape, Gonzalez was struck down, mortally
wounded.

The felucca reached Sisal in safety, but Talbot and Mary deeply and
unceasingly mourned the loss of their true and invaluable friend. And
Frank bitterly grieved that his freedom should have been purchased at
such a sacrifice. He was, indeed, worthy of all regret—but a cloud had
overshadowed his sun of life. He would have brooded over his sister’s
shame until existence had become a burthen, and his impulsive nature
might by unlawful means have sought relief in the cold embrace of death.
He perished in a work of charity, and it is to be hoped that He who,

“When all our souls were forfeit,
Could the advantage best have took,
Found out the remedy,”

in His abounding mercy, forgave one act of passion for the redeeming
merits of the cause wherein the unhappy Gonzalez met his death.

There was only one vessel at Sisal, bound at an early day to the United
States, and her destination was New Orleans. Frank, his sister and
Talbot, accordingly took passage in her, and reached the south-west pass
of the Mississippi just as a gale was coming on. The country above had
been overflowed by recent heavy rains, and what between the current from
within, and the swell without, they were greeted with a magnificent
spectacle. The waves of the gulf, driven before the gale, which had soon
become terrific, encountered the onward sweep of the waters of the
mighty river. The sight forcibly reminded them of Rebecca’s exclamation
in Ivanhoe, “God of Jacob! it is like the meeting of two oceans moved by
adverse tides!”

Nearly the whole period of their stay was embraced in one uninterrupted
storm, but the magnificence of the scenery compensated for the
inclemency of the weather. Vegetation was still in full luxuriance, and
the moss, pendent from the trees, and saturated with incessant rain,
like dripping garments swayed to and fro in the wind, while low, rugged
clouds trailed along but a short distance overhead, and a gray
semi-transparent mist floated above the surface of the ground. The
“Mississippi,” unusually turbid, and swollen to the utmost capacity of
its banks, with its mighty whirls and eddies, rushed impetuously on,
bearing on its surface many a vestige of the devastation it had caused.
Nor were the works of art, clumsy and unsymmetrical though they were,
wanting to the scene, spreading no sail to the breeze, but drifting idly
with the current, the arks and the broad-horns were whirled by with a
rapidity that seemed to defy management. Wafted over the water
frequently came the wild and not unmelodious sound of the bugle, while
in the stillness of the night were heard the manly and sonorous voices
of the boatmen singing,

“The boatman dance, the boatman sing,
The boatman up to every thing.
When the boatman gets on shore,
He spends his money and works for more.
Dance, boatman, dance—
Dance, boatman, dance—dance all night till broad daylight,
And go home with the girls in the morning.”

Steam was just beginning to be introduced, and the soothing solitudes of
nature to be disturbed by the monotonous clank of machinery. Our party
availed themselves of an upward-bound steamboat, and slowly ascended the
Mississippi, whose turbid and swollen waters rolled far and wide beyond
their usual boundaries. The river was filled with broken rafts, drift
logs, and half-sunken and floating trees. The danger of running upon a
snag, or encountering a sawyer, was great and impending. The current was
so strong that their boat, although striving to keep in shore, would
frequently be caught by a whirl or an eddy, and like a stray leaf upon a
rivulet, would be turned round and round until striking against a tree,
it would be sent into the mid current and again be carried for miles
among the trees, from whose verdant tops the birds that had remained
undisturbed by the rush and the roar beneath, flew at the boat’s
approach, as if aware that their only enemy was man. They also ascended
the Ohio, whose limpid waters, gliding with a strong but not impetuous
current, have won for it the name of beautiful. When they stood upon the
crest of the Alleghany, and saw mountains, “hills and plains as graceful
in their sweep as the arrested billows of a mighty sea, and recollected
that more boundless than the view, that verdant sweep is uninterrupted
until the one extreme is locked in the fast embrace of thick-ribbed ice,
and the other is washed by the phosphorescent ripple of the tropic,
while on either side is heard the murmuring surge of a widespread and
magnificent ocean,”[2] their hearts bounded with exultation as they
thought of the unrivaled destinies of their country. As if on the high
altar of the land of his nativity, Talbot, who had wandered far and
wide, could not withhold his pledge of devotion, and the heartfelt
exclamation escaped him,

“By travel taught, I can attest
I love my native land the best.”

The commissioned officer, not unknown to fame, met with none of the
obstacles which the friendless orphan had encountered, and Talbot’s
estate was settled without difficulty.

When the chastening hand of time had hallowed the memories of the dead,
and substituted a Christian resignation for the bitterness of early
grief, Edward and Mary were united, and through a since much checkered
life, neither time nor circumstance, nor prosperity, nor distress, has
for one instant abated a feeling which is fixed and unalterable as their
future destinies.

- - -

[2] From a speech of the author’s, 1844.

* * * * *




THE RUSTIC SHRINE.


BY GEO. W. DEWEY.


Their names were found cut upon a rural bench, overgrown with
vines, which proved to be at once Love’s shrine and
cenotaph. _Legends of the Rhine._

A shadow of the cypress bough
Lies on my path to-day—
A melancholy—which in vain
I strive to chase away.

The angel Memory hath flown
To old and cherished things,
To bring the light of early years
Around me on her wings;

And where the love-lorn birds complain
Within their green abode,
Between two elms, a rustic seat
Invites her from the road.

There shall she sit, as oft before,
And sigh as oft again,
O’er names engraved, which long have braved
The sunshine and the rain.

And one—it is the dearest name
On Love’s unnumbered shrines:—
So dear, that even envious Time
Hath guarded it with vines;

And wreathed it with his choicest flowers.
As if the bridal claim,
Which Fate denied unto her brow,
Should still adorn her name!

Ah, well do I remember yet
The day I carved that name!
The rattle of the locusts’ drum
Thrills o’er me now the same;

Adown the lane the wayward breeze
Comes with a stealthy pace,
And brings the perfume of the fields
To this deserted place:—

Unto her blushing cheek again
It comes—the blessèd air!
Caressing, like a lover’s hand,
The tresses of her hair.

The brook runs laughing at her feet,
O’erhead the wild-bird sings,
The air is filled with butterflies,
As though the flowers had wings:—

But this is Fancy’s pilgrimage,
And lures me back in vain!
The brook, the bench, the flowers and vines
I ne’er may see again;

For this is but an idle dream
That mocks me evermore—
And memory only fills the place
My loved one filled of yore!

* * * * *

[Illustration:
J. Dill, Sc.

TORTOSA, FROM THE ISLAND OF RUAD.]

* * * * *




LUNA.—AN ODE.


BY H. T. TUCKERMAN.


_Casta Diva, che inargenti_
_Questi sacri antiqui piante_
_A noi volge il bel sembianti_
_Senza nube e senza vel!_ NORMA.

The south wind hath its balm, the sea its cheer,
And autumn woods their bright and myriad hues;
Thine is a joy that love and faith endear,
And awe subdues:
The wave-tost seamen and the harvest crew,
When on their golden sheaves the quivering dew
Hangs like pure tears—all fear beguile,
In glancing from their task to thy maternal smile!
The mist of hill-tops undulating wreathes,
At thy enchanting touch, a magic woof,
And curling incense fainter odor breathes,
And, in transparent clouds, hangs round the vaulted roof.
Huge icebergs, with their crystal spires
Slow heaving from the northern main,
Like frozen monuments of high desires
Destined to melt in nothingness again,—
Float in thy mystic beams,
As piles aerial down the tide of dreams!
A sacred greeting falls
With thy mild presence on the ruined fane,
Columns time-stained, dim frieze, and ivied walls,
As if a fond delight thou didst attain
To mingle with the Past,
And o’er her trophies lone a holy mantle cast!
Along the billow’s snowy crest
Thy beams a moment rest,
And then in sparkling mirth dissolve away;
Through forest boughs, amid the withered leaves,
Thy light a tracery weaves,
And on the mossy clumps its rays fantastic play.
With thee, ethereal guide,
What reverent joy to pace the temple floor,
And watch thy silver tide
O’er statue, tomb and arch its solemn radiance pour!
Like a celestial magnet thou dost sway
The untamed waters in their ebb and flow,
The maniac raves beneath thy pallid ray.
And poet’s visions glow;
Madonna of the stars! through the cold prison-grate
Thou stealest, like a nun on mercy bent.
To cheer the desolate,
And usher in grief’s tears when her mute pang is spent!
I marvel not that once thy altars rose
Sacred to human woes,
And nations deemed thee arbitress of Fate,
To whom enamored virgins made their prayer,
Or widows in their first despair,
And wistful gazed upon thy queenly state,
As, with a meek assurance, gliding by,


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryVariousGraham's Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, May 1849 → online text (page 5 of 15)