Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/164

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The Southern muse has had few harps that have awakened a warmer echo than that of Mrs. Mary S. B. Dana, now Mrs. Shindler. Born and nurtured upon Southern soil, her fame has been cherished with peculiar affection in the region of her birth, while her name has been no unfamiliar or unwelcome guest in Northern hearts and homes.

Mrs. Shindler was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, February 15, 1810. Her maiden name was Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer. She was the daughter of the Rev. Benjamin M. Palmer, D. D., who at the time of her birth was pastor of the Independent or Congregational church in Beaufort. In 1814 her parents removed to Charleston, her father having been called to the charge of the Independent church in that city. Her father’s congregation consisted principally of planters of the neighbourhood, who spent their summers in the city, and their winters upon their plantations.

In reference to this period of her life, Mrs. Shindler remarks, “I well remember the delight with which we children used to anticipate our spring and Christmas holidays, which we were sure to spend upon some neighbouring plantation, released from all our city trammels, running perfectly wild, as all city children were expected to do, contracting sudden and violent intimacies in all the negro houses about Easter and Christmas times, that we might have a store of eggs for sundry purposes, for which we gave in exchange the most gaudy cotton handkerchiefs that could be bought in Charleston. It was during these delightful rural visits that what little poetry I have in my nature was fostered and developed, and at an early age I became sensible of a something within me which often brought tears into my eyes when I could not, for the life of me, express my feelings. The darkness and loneliness of our vast forests filled me with indescribable emotions, and above all other sounds, the music of the thousand Eolian