Page:The Southern Literary Messenger volume 1.djvu/463
SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER.
her eloquent and mild and holy face, and pored orer her maturing form, did I discover new points of resemblance in the child to her mother—the melancholy, and the dead. And hourly grew darker these shadows, as it were, of similitude, and became more full, and more definite, and more perplexing, and to me more terrible in their aspect. For that her smile was like her mother's I could bear—but then I shuddered at its too perfect identity: that her eyes were Morella's own I could endure—but then they looked down too often into the depths of my soul with Morella's intense and bewildering meaning. And in the contour of the high forehead, and in the ringlets of the silken hair, and in the wan fingers which buried themselves therein, and in the musical tones of her speech, and above all—oh! above all, in the phrases and expressions of the dead on the lips of the loved and the living, I found food for consuming thought and horror—for a worm that would not die.
Thus passed away two lustrums of her life, yet my daughter remained nameless upon the earth. 'My child' and 'my love' were the designations usually prompted by a father's affection, and the rigid seclusion of her days precluded all other intercourse. Morella's name died with her at her death. Of the mother I had never spoken to the daughter—it was impossible to speak. Indeed during the brief period of her existence the latter had received no impressions from the outward world but such as might have been afforded by the narrow limits of her privacy. But at length the ceremony of baptism presented to my mind in its unnerved and agitated condition, a present deliverance from the horrors of my destiny. And at the baptismal font I hesitated for a name. And many titles of the wise and beautiful, of antique and modern times, of my own and foreign lands, came thronging to my lips—and many, many fair titles of the gentle, and the happy and the good. What prompted me then to disturb the memory of the buried dead? What demon urged me to breathe that sound, which, in its very recollection, was wont to make ebb and flow the purple blood in tides from the temples to the heart? What fiend spoke from the recesses of my soul, when amid those dim aisles, and in the silence of the night, I shrieked within the ears of the holy man the syllables, Morella? What more than fiend convulsed the features of my child and overspread them with the hues of death, as, starting at that sound, she turned her glassy eyes from the Earth to Heaven, and falling prostrate upon the black slabs of her ancestral vault, responded 'I am here!'
Distinct, coldly, calmly distinct—like a knell of death—horrible, horrible death, sank the eternal sounds within my soul. Years—years may roll away, but the memory of that epoch—never! Now was I indeed ignorant of the flowers and the vine—but the hemlock and the cypress overshadowed me night and day. And I kept no reckoning of time or place, and the stars of my Fate faded from Heaven, and, therefore, my spirit grew dark, and the figures of the earth passed by me like flitting shadows, and among them all I beheld only—Morella. The winds of the firmament breathed but one sound within my ears, and the ripples upon the sea murmured evermore—Morella. But she died, and with my own hands I bore her to the tomb, and I laughed, with a long and bitter laugh as I found no traces of the firat in the charnel where I laid the second—Morella.
For the Southern Literary Messenger.
A VERITABLE HISTORY.
BY PERTINAX PLACID, ESQUIRE.
Content once dwelt in humble cot
Beside a stream with music flowing,
Embower'd in shade—a verdant spot—
Woodbines and wild flowers round it growing.
There Nature lavish of her store
Breath'd fragrance over plain and mountain;
A soil entrancing aspect wore,
And sang sweet strains by brook and fountain.
Within the cot where dwelt the maid
Peace ever reign'd, with mild dominion,
And Love, reform'd, no longer stray'd.
But loos'd his bow, and furl'd his pinion.
There Plenty crown'd each savory meal
With simple food from Nature's bounty;
And Health contemn'd the boasted skill
Of all the Doctors in the county.
One morning Pride, a city belle,
In Fashion's gaudiest trappings glaring,
The fragrant meads for once to smell,
That way had driven to take an airing.
By chance, a vagrant cloud sent down
A shower to cool the sultry weather,
When Pride protested with a frown,
'Twould spoil her riding-hat and feather.
Content's snug dwelling stood hard by,
And thither Pride her car directed:
Welcomed with homely courtesy,
She smiled to find her dress protected.
The first brief salutations o'er,
Pride view'd with scorn the humble cottage,
Its narrow rooms, its sanded floor—
And turn'd her nose up at the pottage.
Then thus, to meek Content she spoke:
"I wonder so genteel a maiden
Should dwell in this secluded nook,
As dull as ever hermit pray'd in.
'Tis shameful such a form and face
Should hide themselves in this mean hovel:
That so much loveliness and grace
Should with such stupid people grovel.
How would you grace those splendid halls
Where I and Pleasure lead the million!
There you would shine at routes and balls,
Queen of the waltz and gay cotillion.
These humdrum folks you live with now
Are cut by all who aim at fashion:
To see you so beset, I vow,
It puts me quite into a passion.
Here's Peace, a tiresome, dowdy thing.
Fit only for the chimney corner,
To listen while the crickets sing.
And teach the brats their Jacky Horner.
Plenty is well enough 'tis true,
Where hungry peasants gorge their rations;
But her rude fare would never do,
For Fashion's delicate collations.
And Love,—who once was all the rage,
And turn'd the heads of half the city,