« PreviousContinue »
gagements to each other, which are, in truth, the essence of marriage, and all that was there and then in our power.'
The account which Youwarkee gives of her country folks, and their occasional expeditions, in the dark season, to this remote island, set finally to rest the fears which Peter had so long entertained on the subject of the voices. He inquires of her, if she did not, by some accident, fall from the top of the rock, over his habitation, upon the roof of it.
“ I'll tell you how it happened. A parcel of us, young people, were upon a merry swangean round this arkoe, which we usually divert ourselves with at set times of the year, chasing and pursuing one another, sometimes soaring to an extravagant height, and then shooting down with surprising precipitancy, till we even touch the trees; when of a sudden we mount again and away. I say, being of this party, and pursued by one of my comrades, 1 descended down to the very trees, and she after me; but as I mounted, she, over-shooting me, brushed so stiffly against the upper part of my graundee, that I lost my bearing; and being so near the branches before I could recover it again, I sunk into the tree, and rendered my graundee useless to me; so that down I came, and that with so much force, that I but just felt my fall, and lost my senses. Whether I cried out or no upon my coming to the ground, I cannot say; but if I did, my companion was too far gone by that time to hear or take notice of me; as she, probably, in so swift a flight, saw not my fall. As to the condition I was in, or what happened immediately afterwards, I must be obliged to you for a relation of that: but one thing I was quickly sensible of, and never can forget, viz. that I owe my life to your care and kindness to me.”
After the winter had once more set in, the voices were heard again in the night, when Peter, notwithstanding what his wife had told him of her "country folk's swangeans in that place-being frightened a little, waked her; and she, hearing them too, cried out, There they are ! It is ten to one but my sister, or some of our family are there. Hark! I believe I hear her voice.--I myself hearkened very attentively; and by this time understanding a great deal of their language, I not only could distinguish several speeches, but knew the meaning of several words they pronounced.” Peter would have had her call to them, but to this she objected ; being afraid that her friends should incline to force her to desert with them, against her will. “ This reason perfectly satisfying me, and endeared the loving creature to me ten times more, if possible, than
Besides having in Youwarkee a kind, consoling friend, to lighten every labour, and share in every joy; and a most endearing wife, who annually presents him with a yacom, as fair as alabaster," our hero finds her a winged minister,
“ To answer [his] best pleasure; be't to fly,
To swim, to dive into the sea, to ride
He had often regretted to her the want of that ship-load of all the necessaries of life, which was sticking on the outside of the bulk of rocks; usually ending his lamentation with the vain wish, that he had “ been born with the graundee.” On one of these occasions, she was mighty inquisitive to learn, what sort of things, in shape and appearance, those needles and other utensils were, of which he appeared so much to regret the want; and he “not then conceiving the secret purpose of her soul, answered all her questions to a scruple.”
“ About two days after this, having been out two or three hours in the morning, to cut wood, at coming home I found Pedro crying, ready to break his heart, and his little brother Tommy hanging to him, and crawling about the floor after him; the youngest pretty baby was fast asleep upon one of the beast-fish skins, in a corner of the room. I asked Pedro for his mother; but the poor infant had nothing farther to say to the matter, than Mammy run away, I cry! mammy run away, I cry! I admired where she was gone, never before missing her from our habitation. However, I waited patiently till bed-time, but, no wife. I grew very uneasy then; yet, as my children were tired and sleepy, I thought I had best go to bed with them, and make quiet; so,giving all three their suppers, we lay down together. They slept; but my mind was too full to permit the closure of my eyes. A thousand different chimeras swam in my imagination relating to my wife. One while I fancied her carried away by her kinsfolks ; then, that she was gone of her own accord to make peace with her father. But that thought would not fix, being put aside by the constant tenderness to her children, and regard to me; whom I am sure she would not have left without notice. But alas ! says I, she may even now be near me, but taken so ill she cannot get home, or she may have died suddenly in the wood."
Thus he lay tumbling and tossing in great anxiety; and not being able to sleep, or lie still, he rose, intending to search all the woods about; when on opening the door he was agreeably surprised to meet her coming in, with something in her arms. He tells her how inconsolable he and the children have been in her absence.
“ Winds murmur'd through the leaves, your long delay."
This, for the instant, blanks her smiling countenance,-but recovering, and kissing him and them ;—“Don't you remember what delight I took the other day, to hear you talk of your ship ?-Yes, says I, you did so, but what of that? Nay, pray says she, forgive me, for I have been to see it.” And, indeed, the faithful creature had been ; and brought a collection of
those very things, which she had questioned him so particularly about. Peter afterwards instructs her how to find the gull, down which he himself had been precipitated, “which she could not mistake by reason of the noise the fall of the water made," and, having filled the chests on board with all sorts of goods, to draw them by means of a line, into the draught, which of itself would suck them under the rock down the gulf. He hoped that the subterranean stream would carry them down into the lake, in like manner as it had conveyed him. This project is put successfully in execution, but had like to have terminated fatally. The chests inade their appearance succes. sively in the lake in due course of time, bringing with them all that the ship contained in any way serviceable to a domestic life. On the evening of the day on which they came to hand, as they were sitting together, after supper, in the grotto, Youwarkee looked very earnestly at him, with tears just glittering in her eyes,-then," setting free a sigh," broke out into these words:
“ What should you have thought, Peter, to have seen me come sailing, drowned, through the cavern, tied to one of your chests? Heaven forbid such a thought, my charmer! says I. But, as you know I must have been rendered the most miserable of all living creatures by such a sight, or any thing else that would deprive me of you, pray tell me how you could possibly have such a thought in your head? -She saw she had raised my concern, and was very sorry for what she had said. Nothing, nothing, says she, my dear! it was only a fancy just come into my head.--My dear Youwee, says I, you must let me know what you mean: I am in great pain till you explain yourself; for I am sure there is something more in what you say than fancy: therefore, pray, if you love me, keep me on the rack no longer. -Ah, Peter! says she, there was but a span between me and death not many days ago; and when I saw the live of the last chest we took up just now, it gave me so much horror I could scarce keep upon my feet-My dear Youwee, proceed, says I; for I cannot bear my torment till I have heard the worst.-Why, Peter, says she, now the danger is over, I shall tell you my escape with as much pleasure as I guess you will take in hearing it. You must know, my life, says she, that having cast that chest into the sea, as I was tugging it along by that very line, it being one of the heaviest, and moving but slowly, I twisted the string several times round my hand, one fold upon another, the easier to tow it; when, drawing it rather too quick into the eddy, it pulled so hard against me, towards the gulph, and so quick, that I could no way loosen or disengage the cord from my fingers, but was dragged thereby to the very rock, against which the chest struck violently. My last thought, as I supposed it, was of you, my dear, (on which she clasped me round the neck, in sense of her passed agony;) when taking myself for lost, I forbore farther resistance; at which instaut the line, slackening by the rebound of the chest, fell from my
hand of itself, and the chest returning to the rock, went down the current.
VOL. VII. PART I.
I took a turn or two round on my graundee to recollect my past danger, and went back to the ship, fully resolved to avoid the like spare for the future.”
" O Heav'ns ; did ever woman yet attempt
An enterprise like mine?”_ Well, indeed, might“ the colour forsake” our hero's lips, and his eyes“ grow languid," and himself drop almost fainting into her arms !
“ But heaven, which, moulding beauty, takes such care,
Spins all their fortunes in a silken twine." The reader, who, from this imperfect sketch of a small portion of the work, may be haply led to make himself better acquainted with these deserving and beautiful volumes, will find the winged heroine of our tale, a creature of the imagination, only so long as she hovers in the air over her companion with expanded wings, or drifts with the light cloud that scuds before the gale along the face of heaven. In all other respects she is a very woman,-beautiful, winning, tender, and devoted, but still a woman. And, indeed, we would not, if we might, , have had her otherwise. Man, in his fancy, may vary, modify, combine, or augment, to infinity, the qualities and powers with which his Maker has endowed man; but, though he stretch his invention to the utmost, he is unable to imagine or conceive a new one. The elements, of which his own being is composed, are the only materials his imagination has to work upon; and out of these must he form whatever creature of the fancy he may amuse himself with pourtraying. Fatigued, indeed, in the manufacture of human character, and in the wantonness of an imagination, which space could not confine, nor matter content, the mighty bard once said, let there be “spirits of air,” and
earthly goblins," and spirits and goblins came to do his great command.” But this was in the plenitude of powers, if not more than mortal, at least greater than were ever conferred on any other man ;' yet, even these creations of a most unbounded fancy are neither so etherialized, nor yet so brutalized, but that you detect the passions and workings of the human breast, in the spirituality of the one, and the earthy composition of the other. What Shakespeare tasked his genius to perform and hardly accomplished, our author has wisely not attempted at all; but in giving his heroine the fidelity and entire devotedness—the meekness of spirit, and purity of mindthe shrinking sensitiveness joined to a noble fortitude of soulthe docility and playfulness of temper, united with a capacity
for deep and sound reflection-light spirits,-light air,-graceful motion and elastic step, which distinguish the “ favourites of nature" among our own countrywomen, he has given her virtues and charms sufficient to raise her on the wings of the wind, and enable her to soar into her native element,—the purified and serene profundity of heaven. In the construction of material forms the author's invention is great, and his fancy beautiful ; but the wings when formed, (the readers of the Curse of Kehama will have already seen the description of them,) he has presented to some one of his countrywomen,-it may be some fair favourite—a Patty, whom he himself knew and loved; but the feminine charms, with which he has endowed her,-and we have no doubt he drew upon experience for them—will entitle her to the enjoyment of aërial excursion, the most exhilarating and refined sensation, which the most luxurious fancy could conceive, or the most aspiring heart pant to enjoy. On earth, as we have said, stepping along the banks of the lake, or skimming over its surface, a self-moving boat; sharing in the labours of her companion and friend, or lightening his hands of half their toil, and his heart of all its cares, by cloud-dispelling smiles, and gay conversation, in the absence of that sun he never sees, she is the sun to him, and the light of his countenance. For his sake, content to leave father and mother, friends and countrymen, house and home; and gifted with a power almost equal to ubiquity, yet bound by the golden tie of conjugal affection to one solitary spot of earth; she is the very woman whom an unhappy poet, in some soft moment of repose from the workings of a crazed imagination, has conceived to be born to
.“ act the little part that nature gave her, On the green carpet of some guiltless grove,
And having finish'd it, forsake the world.” The facility with which she gives up home and kindred, for the sake of one with whom accident alone had brought her acquainted, may chance to strike some readers as implying too much lightness of mind, or shallowness of affection. "But if he lay any considerable stress upon this, it will be clear that he, at least, knows not the force of passion in young hearts, or what deep gratitude, conjoined with a tender and devoted regard, can do in the breast of woman. If he argue that the novelist has done ill to introduce her with the breach of a solemn moral obligation, she might be supposed to reply in the beautiful words of the poet, which infinitely better become her mouth than those of the original speaker.
“ What right have parents over children, more