« PreviousContinue »
LINES TO MY CHILDREN.
Written under the influence of great depression of spirits, 11th June 1819.
Heu! quam minus est reliquis versari, quam vestrorum meminisse.
MY babes, no more I'll behold ye,
With all that a parent e'er proved.
How with many a pang he is saddened,
None knows what a fond parent smothers,
Who once more, in his daughters, their mother's,
And who-Can I finish my story?
Has seen them all shrink from his grasp;
No wife, and no children to clasp !—
By all the dear names I have utter'd,
By the kisses so fond I have given,
By the plump little arm's cleaving twine,
By its warmth that seemed pregnant with spirit ;-
The place of the one thus embracing;
By the breast that with pleasure was troubled,
As in smiles on the lips 'twas exhaling;
By the girl, who, to sleep when consign'd,
Who asked me, when infancy's terrors
Assail'd her, to sit by her bed; And for the past day's little errors
On my cheek tears of penitence shed.
By those innocent tears of repentance,
More pure e'en than smiles without sin, Since they mark with what delicate sentence Childhood's conscience pronounces within.
By the dear little forms, one by one,
Some in beds closely coupled half-sleeping, While the cribb'd infant nestled alone
Whose heads at my coming all peeping,
Betrayed that the pulse of each heart
Of my feet's stealing fall knew the speech; While all would not let me depart,
Till the kiss was bestowed upon cach;
By the boy, who, when walking and musing,
(Joy more welcome because unexpected,
Were never sufficient for crushing
A churl so malign and hard-hearted) But by the warm tears that are gushing,
As I think of the joys that are parted;
Were ye not as the rays that are twinkling
On the waves of some clear haunted stream, Were ye not as the stars that are sprinkling
Night's firmament dark without them?
My forebodings then hear!-By each one
Of the dear dreams through which I have travell❜d
The cup of enjoyment from none
Which have wither'd ye all, be unravell'd.
THE CAVERN OF HOONGA.
From "Mariner's Tonga Islands."
THERE is a spacious cavern in the island of Hoonga, one of the Tonga islands in the south Pacific Ocean, which can only be entered by diving into the sea, and has no other light than what is reflected from the bottom of the water. A young chief discovered it accidentally, while diving after a turtle, and the use which he made of his discovery will probably be sung in more than one European language,-so beautifully is it adapted for a tale in verse. Mariner, during his residence among these islands, visited the cavern, and gives the following romantic story connected with it, as an authentic tradition.
In former times there lived a tooi (governor) of Vavaoo, who exercised a very tyrannical deportment towards his people; at length, when it was no longer to be borne, a certain chief meditated a plan of insurrection, and was resolved to free his countrymen from such odious slavery, or to be sacrificed himself in the attempt: being, however, treacherously deceived by one of his own party, the tyrant became acquainted with his plan, and immediately had him arrested. He was condemned to be taken out to sea and drowned, and all his family and relations were ordered to be massacred, that none of his race might remain. One of his daughters, a beautiful girl, young and interesting, had been reserved to be the wife of a chief of considerable rank, and she also would have sunk, the victim of the merciless destroyer, had it not been for the generous exertions of another young chief, who a short time before had discovered the cavern of Hoonga. This discovery he had kept within his breast a profound secret, reserving it as a place of retreat for himself, in case he should be unsuccessful in a plan of revolt which he also had in view. He had long been enamoured of this beautiful young maiden, but had never dared to make her acquainted with the soft emotions of his heart, knowing she was betrothed to a chief of higher rank, and greater power. But now the dreadful moment arrived when she was about to be cruelly sacrificed to the rancour of a man to whom he was a most deadly enemy. No time was to be lost; he flew to her abode, communicated in a few short words the decree of the tyrant, declared himself her deliverer if she would trust to his honour, and, with eyes speaking the most tender affections, he waited with breathless expectation for an answer. Soon her consenting hand was clasped in his; the shades of evening favoured their escape, whilst the wood, the covert, or the grove, afforded her concealment, till her lover had brought a small canoe to a lonely part of the beach. In this they speedily embarked, and as he paddled her across the smooth wave, he related his discovery of the cavern destined to be her asylum, till an oppor
tunity offered of conveying her to the Fiji islands. She who had entrusted her personal safety entirely to his care, hesitated not to consent to whatever. plan he might think promotive of their ultimate escape: her heart being full of gratitude, love, and confidence, found an easy access. They soon arrived at the rock; he lept into the water, and she (for the Tonga women swim like mermaids) instructed by him, followed close after: they rose into the cavern, and rested from their fears and their fatigue, partaking of some refreshment which he had brought there for himself, little thinking, at the time, of the happiness that was in store for him. Early in the morning he returned to Vavaoo to avoid suspicion; but did not fail in the course of the day, to repair again to the place which held all that was dear to him: he brought her mats to lie on, the finest gnatoo for a change of dress, the best of food for her support, sandal wood, oil, cocoa nuts, and every thing he could think of to render her life as comfortable as possible. He gave her as much of his company as prudence would allow, and at the most appropriate times, lest the prying eye of curiosity should find out his retreat. He pleaded his tale of love with the most impassioned eloquence, half of which would have been sufficient to have won her warmest affections, for she owed her life to his prompt and generous exertions at the risk of his own and how much was he delighted when he heard the confession from her own lips, that she had long regarded him with a favourable eye, but a sense of duty had caused her to smother the growing fondness, till the late sad misfortune of her family, and the circumstances attending her escape, had revived all her latent affections, to bestow them wholly upon a man to whom they were so justly due. How happy were they in this solitary retreat! tyrannic power now no longer reached them ;-shut out from the world and all its cares and perplexities;-secure from all the eventful changes attendant upon greatness, cruelty, and ambition ;-themselves were the only powers they served, and they were infinitely delighted with this simple form of government. But although this asylum was their great security in their happiest moments, they could not always enjoy each others company, it was equally necessary to their safety that he should be often absent from her, and frequently for a length of time together, lest his conduct should be watched. The young chief therefore panted for an opportunity to convey her to happier scenes, where his ardent imagination pictured to him the means of procuring for her every enjoyment and comfort which her amiable qualifications so well entitled her to: nor was it a great while before an opportunity offering, he devised the means of restoring her with safety to the cheerful light of day. He signified to his inferior chiefs and matabooles, that it was his intention to go to the Fiji islands, and he wished them to accompany them with their wives and female attendants; but he desired them on no account to mention to the latter the place of their destination, lest they should inadvertently betray their intention, and the governing chief prevent their departure. A large canoe was soon got ready, and every necessary preparation made for the voyage. As they were on the point of departure, they asked him if he would not take a Tonga wife with him. He replied, no! but he should probably
find one by the way: this they thought a joke, but in obedience to his orders they said no more; and every body being on board, they put to sea. As they approached the shores of Hoonga, he directed them to steer to a certain point, and having come close to a rock, according to his orders, he got up, and desired them to wait there while he went into the sea to fetch his wife; and without staying to be asked any questions, he sprang into the water from that side of the canoe farthest from the rock, swam under the canoe, and proceeded forward into the sanctuary which had so well concealed his greatest and dearest treasure. Every body on board was exceedingly surprised at his strange conduct, and began to think him insane: and after a little lapse of time, not seeing him come up, they were greatly alarmed for his safety, imagining a shark must have seized him. Whilst they were all in the utmost concern, debating what was best to be done, whether they ought to dive down after him, or wait according to his orders, for that perhaps he had only swum round and was come up in some niche of the rock, intending to surprise them, their wonder was increased beyond all powers of expression, on seeing him rise to the surface of the water, and come into the canoe with a beautiful female. At first they mistook her for a goddess, and their astonishment was not lessened when they recognised her countenance, and found her to be a person, whom they had no doubt was killed in the general massacre of her family; and this they thought must be her apparition. But how agreeably was their wonder softened down into the most interesting feelings, when the young chief related to them the discovery of the cavern and the whole circumstance of her escape. All the young men on board could not refrain envying him his happiness, in the possession of so lovely and interesting a creature. They arrived safe at one of the Fiji islands, and resided with a certain chief during two years: at the end of which time, hearing of the death of the tyrant of Vavaoo, the young chief returned with his wife to the last-mentioned island, and lived long in peace and happiness.
TOO-EARLY OPENING FLOWER.
From "Bowring's Batavian Anthology."
NOT yet, frail flower! thy charms unclose;
The northern wind may reach thee still,