Sketch of Connecticut, Forty Years Since/Chapter XVII
Death s final pang, like the last paroxysm Of some dire dream, waking the pious soul To life and transport, makes amends at once For all past suffering, in a moment all
Forgotten, in that plenitude of joy."
Age, of Benevolence
THREE weeks had elapsed since the first interview of the good clergyman with Oriana, during which period he had frequently seen her. He was one who found leisure both for duties, and for pleasures, because he systemati cally divided his time ; and in his duties, his pleasures lay. Complaints of the toil which his profession! impos ed, of the drudgery of writing sermons, and the labour of instructing the young, were never heard from him ; for he loved to be about his Master s business. Content with a stipend, which the effeminacy of modern times would pronounce insufficient for the necessaries of life, he taught his family by example the art of cheerfully sustaining privations, and of sacrificing their own wishes to the good of others. He never studied to disjoin self-denial from benevolence ; and his conduct, and even his countenance was an illustration of the inspired direction, respecting the sons of Levi " Ye shall give them no possession in Israel, I am their possession : ye shall mete out to them no inheritance, I am their inheritance." In his intercourse 21
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with Oriana, his spiritual consolations were ever mingled with solicitude for her earthly comfort. His wife, to whom he had communicated what he knew of the inter esting invalid, continually sent by him cordials, and little delicacies, which it was her pleasure to prepare for the sick. His little children, moved by kindness at once hereditary, and impressed by education, would add, what she always received with peculiar gratitude, a bouquet oi the flowers, which their own hands had cultivated. He had occasionally proposed to Oriana a removal to his residence, hoping that a change of habitation might be beneficial to her health. But the idea was painful to her. She could not think of parting from those, who had cher ished her with such undivided tenderness, and whose happiness had become interwoven with her presence. Thanking him for his fatherly solicitude, she would say " The pomp and circumstance of life, to one about to leave it, reveal their own emptiness. To have our neces sities ministered unto by hands which are never weary, our pains mitigated by hearts which are never cold, is all which a disease fatal like mine can ask. Fear not that -I am entirely burdensome to their poverty. My small stock is not yet expended, nor will it be until my animal wants are at an end. Yet more than the perishable part is pro vided for. Your prayers, your instructions, Father, strengthen my soul for her approaching flight. More than contented, grateful, and happy, she waiteth till her change come. Sometimes, while I lie sleepless, yet composed
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thoughts so serene pass over me, that I almost think 1 hear the voice of my Redeemer, saying through jtht silence of midnight, " when I sent ye forth without purse, or scrip, lacked ye any thing ? and I answer, nothing Lord."
The gentle sufferer requested of her spiritual guide, that her history might not be mentioned among his ac quaintance. Visits of curiosity, she remarked, would only interrupt the short space allotted her, which she wished to pmploy in preparations for her departure ; and those oi charity were unnecessary to a being, whose ties to the world were so broken that her dependence upon it wa? annihilated.
" It can now give me nothing," she said, " but it may ake something away."
He perceived that she wished to detach her mind fron- surrounding objects, arid cultivate a deep acquaintance with her heart ; as Cosmo de Medici, in his last sickness, closed bis eyes that he might see more clearly. Ih could understand & desire, which some would be in dan ger of mistaking for affectation, or perverseness, or enthu siasm. He could sympathize in the aspirations of a soul, desiring to be. alone with its God. He prevailed on her. however, to admit the attentions of a physician, who came, and inquired minutely into the progress of her disease, and the mode of treatment to which it had been subject ed. He approved the light nutriment of milk, and fruits, which she had adopted, examined the herbs, and plants;
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whose infusions she had used, and seemed surprized at the*r judicious adaptation to the different stages of her malady. The knowledge professed by our natives of the virtues of medicinal plants was not at that period under stood. Barton had not then given the world his research es, or enriched our Pharmacopoeia with the discoveries of the children of the forest.
The physician recommended the continuance of the re gimen which had been pursued, prescribing- only some simple additions ; and, on his return, told his reverend companion that the case of the invalid was beyond the reach of medicine.
" She probably has derived from her parents the poison which feeds on her vitals. Nature cannot long cope with an enemy, who has already entered her citadel. But, ii* I mistake not, there will be no struggle of the soul, when its tabernacle is dissolved."
" No," answered his friend, " she has long been con vinced, that to depart, and to be with Christ is far better. It would seem as if this must always be the effect of mor tal disease upon the Christian. Yet such is the weakness of faith, such the infirmity of man at his best estate, that sometimes fear predominates most, when hope is about to be changed into glory. I have supposed that your pro fession, which familiarizes man at once with the mystery of his own construction, and the indefinite varieties of suf fering to which it is liable, would have a strong affinity with that piety, which points the mortal part to its $a
FOKTV YEAKS SltfCL* 246
ker, and the immortairto its home. Why is it then that, among our many healers of the body, we find so few qualified .to act as physicians to the soul ?"
The disciple of Esculapius, who was also a follower of Christ, replied
Whoever penetrates into the secret springs of his frame, must be constrained to acknowledge that he is
- tearfully and wonderfully made." Anatomy, like As-
vronomy, points the eye to an infinite Architect. But sim- nly to acknowledge the existence of a God is far from being the Whole of Christianity. Thus far the devils believe, while they tremble. You have thought, Sir, that a con stant view of the pains } and infirmities of our race ought to awaken piety. Thus the most eloquent apostle assert ed, that the goodness of God ought to lead men to repent ance. But the perverseness, which in one case produces ingratitude, in the other generates pride. He boasts that his science can arrest the ravages of disease, and tear the victory from death. So that "Him, in whose hand is his breath, hath he not glorified." Besides, our familiarity with all the modifications of distress blunts that sensibili ty, through which alone it can convey a lesson to the heart. Our danger is of materialism, of resting in natural reli gion, or of elevating the pride of science into the place of God. From all these His Spirit can deliver us."
This excellent man, who happily blended piety with professional skill, resided in the northern part of the town, and was the writer of that epitaph on a son of the depart- 21*
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ed royalty of Mohegan, which appeared at the close of the third chapter. His memory is still revered, and the celebrity which he acquired in the science of medicine, is still enjoyed by his descendants. Soon after the con versation which has been related, he stopped on a visit of charity, to which he was so much accustomed, that it was, said his horse turned involuntarily towards the abodes of poverty. The divine, thanking him for his attention to the mysterious invalid, pursued his homeward journey. . Exhausted in body, but confirmed in faith, Oriana wait ed her dissolution. Such was the wasting of her frame, that she seemed reduced to a spiritual essence, trembling, and ready to be exhaled. Every pure morning, she de sired the casement to be thrown open, that the fresh air might visit her. But at length, this from an occasional gratification became an object of frequent necessity, to aid laborious respiration. The couch, which she had been resolctte in leaving while her strength permitted, was now her constant refuge. The febrile symptoms of that terri ble disease, which delights to prey on the most fair and excellent, gradually disappeared ; but debility increased to an almost insupportable degree. Smiles now constant ly sat upon her face, and seemed to indicate that the bit terness of death had already passed. The irritation of pain, which had marked her features, subsided into a tran quil loveliness, which sometimes brightened into joy, as one who felt that " redemption draweth nigh." One night, sleep had not visited her eyes > for, whenever her sense
FORTY YEARS SINCE, 24tf
began to be lulled into transient repose, the spirit in its extasy seemed to revolt against such oppression, desirous to escape to that region, where it should slumber no more, through fullness of bliss.
Calling to her bedside, at the dawn of morning, the old warriour, for her mother for several nights had watched beside her, she said
" Knowest thou, Father, that I am now about to leave thee ?"
Fixing his keen glance upon her for a moment, and kneeling at her side, he answered
" I know it, my daughter. Thy blue eye hath already the light of that sky to which thou art ascending. Thy brow hath the smile of the angels who wait for thee."
Martha covered her face with her hands, and hid it OQ the couch, fearful lest she might see agony in one so be loved. Yet she fixed on that pallid
long, tender gaze, as the expiring voice said
" I go, where is no shade of complexion no trace of sorrow. I go to meet my parents, who died in faith ; my Edward, whose trust was in his Redeemer. I shall see thy daughter, and she will be my sister, where all is love. Father ! Mother ! that God, whom you have learned to worship, whose spirit dwells in your hearts, guide you thither also."
Extending to each a hand, cold as marble, she said " I was a stranger, and ye took me in : sick, and ye
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ministered unto me. And now go I unto Him, who hath said " the merciful shall obtain mercy."
They felt that the chilling clasp of her fingers relaxed and saw that her lips moved inaudibly. They knew that she was addressing Him, who was taking her unto himself. A smile not to be described passed, like a gleam of sun shine, over her countenance ; and they heard the words 1 joy unspeakable, and full of glory." Something more was breathed in the faintest utterance, but she closed not the sentence it was finished in Heaven.
There was long silence in the apartment, save the sobs of the bereaved Martha, and at long intervals a deep sigh, as if bursting from the bottom of the breast of the aged warriour. Then he rose from the earth where he bad stooped his forehead, and took the hand of his companion.
" We have heard," he said, " before we were Chris tians, that too much grief is displeasing to the Great Spirit Let us pray to that God, to whom she has returned. She hath taught us to call Him Father, who was once terrible io our thought. She was as the sun in our path. But she hath set behind the dark mountains. Hath set did I say ? No. She hath risen to a brighter sky, and beams of her light will sometimes visit us. Thou hast wept for two daughters, Martha. One, thou didst nurse upon thy breast. But was she dearer than this ? Did not the child of our adoption lie as near to our heart, as she to whom we gave life ? Henceforth, we shall be made childless no more. Let us dry up the fountain of our sorrows. Let us pray
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together to Him who maketh the heart soft, and bindeth it up."
The day seemed of interminable length to the aged mourners, who, long accustomed to measure time by the varieties of solicitude, felt that the loss of the sole object of their care had given to the hours a weight, under which they heavily moved.
In the afternoon, the clergyman, who for several days had not visited their habitation, was seen to approach it. Zachary went to meet him. The agitation, which had so long marked the manner of the grief-stricken warriour, had subsided ; and he moved with the calm dignity which was natural to him. His deportment seemed an illustra tion of the words of the king of Israel, when his child was smitten : -
- She is dead. Wherefore should I mourn ? Can I
bring her back again ? I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me."
Bowing to the clergyman, he said " She, whom you seek, is not here. She arose ere the sun looked upon the morning. Come, see the place where she lay."
Departing from the distant respect bordering upon awe, which he had been accustomed to testify towards the guide of Oriana, he led him by the hand to the apartment, as if he felt that in the house of death all distinctions were lev elled, and all men made equal.
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Martha lifted up a white sheet, and discovered the life less form clad in a robe and cap of the purest cambrick. which those beautiful hands had prepared, and preserved for the occasion. Rich, and profuse curls still clustered round an oval forehead, which bore no furrow of care, or trace of pain. Long, silken eye-lashes fringed the iov moveable lids, which concealed, in their marble caskets, gems forever sealed from the gaze of man. But whoever has beheld beauty, which Death has blanched but not destroyed ; or has hung over the ruins of the Creator s fairest workmanship, deserted by life, but not by love ; may have realized that moment of thrilling tenderness, of speechless awe, which we should in vain attempt to dc scribe.
- It is finished !" said the divinCi lowering his head .
but no tear stole over his placid countenance. He be lieved that if there is joy among the angels in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, there ought at least to be resignation on earth, when a saint is admitted to their glo rious company. Kneeling down he prayed with the mourners, and after the orison, said
" Great is the blessing which has been lent to you, my friends. Her prayers, her instructions, her example, how precious were they all to you ! May they, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, lead you where she has gone."
" My heart is sorrowful," said old Martha, " because my ears hear no more the sound of her voice. Every
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place, in which she has sat, speaks the name of Oriana. I goto it, but she is not there."
The clergyman spoke kind words of comfort to them? as to his brethren ; andere he departed, made arrange ments for the. funeral solemnities, that the bones of the stranger might rest in consecrated earth. Two days elaps ed, and the scene changed to the burial ground of the re ligious community, to which he ministered. An open grave was seen there, and a few forms flitting among the Shades which environed the spot, as if watching for some funeral train. The passing-bell, echoing from rock to rock, fell with its solemn, measured sound upon their ear, as they roved amid the mouldering remains of their fellow creatures. There were here but few monuments, and none whose splendour could attract the attention of the traveller. It might seem as if those, who here slumber ed, had realized the fallacy of those arts, by which man strives to adhere to the remembrance of his kind.
Perhaps, among this group, were some recent mourn ers, who felt their wounds bleed afresh at the sight of an open grave. Perhaps some parent might there be seen, bowing in agony over the newly covered bed of his child ; some daughter, kneeling to kiss the green turf upon the breast of her mother ; some lover, weeping amid the ru ins of his hope, or casting an unopened rose bud on the gr. .eof her who had perished in beauty. Alas! how many varieties of grief had that narrow spot witnessed, since it cast a heavy mantle over the head of its first ten-
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ant. Hovr many hearts had there laid the ido! of their worship , and withered over the broken altar. How many sad spirits had there buried the roses that adorned thei r bower ; and passed the remainder of their pilgrimage un der the cloud.
Here too, with the sigh of mourning perhaps mingled the pang of compunction : for how few can say, when the earth covers their beloved ones, between us, nothing has transpired at which memory should blush nothing been omitted, on which regret can feed -nothing done, which tenderness would wish to alter nothing left undone, which duty, or religion could supply ? Perhaps some, amid that group, might realize that the thorn in the conscience can rankle, long after the wound of God s visitation had been healed. Others might there have wandered, in whose hearts Time had blunted the arrow of Grief. The shrine, once empty in the sanctuary of their soul, filled by some other image ; and were it possible that the tomb should restore to their arms that tenant whom they once thought to lament with eternal tears, might there not be some barrier to joy, some change in love, wrought by the silent mutation of years ? Yet of whatever nature were the reflections of the group, who circled with light footstep, the " cold turf-altar of the dead," they were soon interrupted by the approach of a procession. It was first seen indistinctly through treesthen winding over the bridge then pacing, with solemn step, and slow, the base of one of the principal streets. Then turning obliquely,
FORTY YEARS SINCE. 253
it entered the western road, which, skirting the banks of the river, led directly to that narrow house, where the pale assembly slumbered. As they pursued their course, the rough, broken rocks, towering on their right hand, and in their rear the bustle of the town, might seem an emblem of the paths and pursuits of the worldling : while, on their left, the pure, placid current, reflecting the brightness of a sun already approaching the horizon, typified the re pose of the saint, when he * resteth from his labours, and his works follow him."
Next to the bier, walked the aged warriour, and his wife ; like the patriarch, who would go down to the grave to his son mourning. The Chieftain Robert, and John Cooper followed, with heads declined ; as those who had testified friendship for the deceased, without having been acquainted with her history. Many of the natives of Mo- began, two and two, in decent dresses, next appeared, wishing to shew respect to old Zachary, whom they all loved. A number of the inhabitants of the town were seen to close the procession. They had heard, from the benevolent clergyman, some notice of the departed; and had walked out a mile to meet those who came to discharge the last offices of respect to the mysterious stranger. He, ascending the steps, where he had so often preceded the trains of sorrow, uncovered a head where care had already begun to shed its snows. The peculiar meJody of his voice was never more apparent, than when its soothing, and impressive tones poured forth on the silence of the
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funeral scene, " I am the resurrection, and the life, saitk the Lord." The attention of the natives to this solemn service was almost breathless. It seemed as if their hum
bled, dejected countenances were an illustration of that pathetic portion of it, " Man that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of misery." Tears rolled over the face of old Martha at the words, " He cometh up and is cut down like a flower, he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay." The hollow sound of the clods falling upon the lid of the coffin, arid the voice, " earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," drew a deep groan from the hoary warriour. John Cooper, who, strongly attached to the customs of Mr. Occom, had list ened with some touch of sectarian feeling, was so much affected at the introduction of the passage, " write ! bless ed are the dead, who die in the Lord," that, forgetting he was in a burying place of the Church of England, he re sponded fervently, Amen. At the close of the service , the divine approached old Zachary, and took him by the hand. He stood like some tall tree in the forest firm at the root, but whose boughs are marked by a winter which can know no spring. His few silver locks waved in the light breeze that was rising ; and his eyes, bent upon the grave, were tearless. Bowing down at the salutation of the clergyman, he said in a calm tone" I look for the resurrection from the dead, for the life of the world to come." Martha, whose erect and dignified form, had nev er yielded to. time, now be^nt with sorrow. Clasping tV
FORTY YEARS SINCE. 266
offered hand between both hers, she put into it a packet, saying, " she left this for you, and she blessed you, when the cold dew was on her forehead like rain-drops. * John Cooper bowed reverently, and the chief, stalking with his majestic port toward him who had officiated, said " Father ! thou hast spoken well. The Great Spirit is pleased with words like these, and with a life like thine."
" Pure Love is indestructible, Its holy flame forever burneth, From heaven it came, to heaven returneth ; Too oft on earth a troubled guest, At times deceiv d, at times opprest, It here is tried, and purified, Then hath in heaven its perfect rest." f Southey.
THE clergyman, after his return from performing the last pious offices for Oriana, read the following letter, which had been presented to him at her grave.
You have expressed a wish, my dear and reverend benefactor, to possess a more particular acquaintance with my history, than my weakness has yet permitted me to impart. I will, as God may give me strength, recount =ome of its circumstances, to meet your eye when mine is closed in dust. It will then be time enough to lift the veil of mystery, when 1 shall no longer be pained at the curi osity of strangers, or affected by their opinion. You, Sir> have without suspicion reposed confidence in the imper- r ect narrative, which has been entrusted to you. You have not, as the cold-hearted multitude might have done, wounded with the cruelty of distrust a heart long sinking beneath the visitation of God. You will not now believe ?hat a spirit, nurtured in the love of truth, could use guile, 22*
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when on the threshold of His presence, who " hateth every false way."
" I was born in Blackburn> in the county of Lancashire, in England, and descended of obscure, but virtuous ances tors. My father, whose name was Selden, was devoted to the pursuits of agriculture. He married rather late in life, and died while I was yet a child. With the profits of his industry, my mother purchased a neat cottage in a retired spot, where she devoted herself to my welfare. Her education had been supcriour to what is usually found among those of her rank ; and the few books which she possessed, aided by the force of her example, excited in me an early taste for reading, f can scarcely imagine a lot more congenial with happiness than ours. Our income ivas adequate to our wants ; and that industry, which pre served our health, gave us the power of administering t- the necessities of others. When my daily share of labour was completed, my recreations were to tend my llowers, to read, to converse with my mother while we were both employed with our needles, or to join my voice to that of ihe birds who surrounded our habitation. I was inn.ic, the pastoral charge of the Rev. Mr. Owen, of the Estab lished Church, a man of the most ardent piety, and inde fatigable zeal in the instruction of his flock. By him I was baptized in infancy, and weekly catechized in my knowledge of those doctrines, which be explained with simplicity, and illustrated by example. 1 have often re flected with gratitude that by him 1 was prepared for the
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vows of confirmation, and by his hand led to that holy sacrament which our Saviour has instituted for the peni tent believer. It was impossible to attend to his injunc tions without cultivating that close acquaintance with the heart, that scrutiny into its springs of action, which in duce deep humility, and a renunciation of merit, save through the mediation of Him, " who offered himself without spot to God." To the blessing of the Holy Spirit on the instructions of this beloved guide do ! im- \ pute, that the foundation of my faith was laid even in childhood so strong, that it does not fail me now, in my hour of trial. Mingled also with the pursuits of piety, was a thirst for knowlege. But to this my lot afforded on ly ,1 limited gratification. Edward Merlon, the son of a family of distinction in the vicinity, became interested to h me what wealth afforded him the means of acquir- i i. His noble mind, enlarged by the circle of the sci ences, took pleasure in imparting to others its own riches. Most of his evenings were passed at our cottage, in reading to us the works of authors, which we had no other means
- .blaming. That joy seemed to animate him, with
which the benevolent mind gives food to the hungry, or opens a fountain to the thirsty soul. To my simple mind, }( -ccmc-d as a pure spirit bowing from the skies to ele- v-.iic an inferiour race. At length it became evident that he loved the mind which he had himself adorned ; like him who, imparting fire from heaven to an inert mass, became its adorer. Authorized in cherishing a virtuous attach-
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ment, it increased every day, and every night I thanked my Creator with exuberant gratitude, for the fullness of my joy. Yet my heart too much exulted, too exclusively trusted to the earth, and at the moment when I thought my sky the brightest, it was involved in a cloud of woe- Edward s only surviving parent was a father, a proud, and mercenary man. Two sons were his sole offspring, and the idea that one should marry a cottager was insupporta ble. With the threat of disinheritance, he commanded him to relinquish the design ; and I, educated with high ideas of filial obedience, entreated him to submit, though my heart felt that it must break at his desertion. Nothing, however, was able to destroy the inviolable affection of that exalted being. To me, a novice in the school of sor row, this trial appeared too much for endurance, until it was appointed to be swallowed up in a greater affliction. My mother, whose health had been delicate from her youth, and who had long been subject to symptoms of dis ease, which she laboured to conceal from me, now rapid ly declined. I watched in agony, day and night, the struggles of a gentle spirit, disengaging itself from clay, Her resignation to the divine will was scarcely shaded by maternal anxiety ; for she trusted to leave her orphan to the protection of one, who loved the orphan s God, Sometimes she would join our hands, as we kneeled to gether by her couch, saying with a smile, " My children, you will be happy, though I am gone. Yet forget not to seek greater happiness ; for ah ! if you come not to me.
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at last , there will be mourning in Heaven. I had forborne to communicate to her the opposition of Edward s father to our union, lest it might embitter her parting moments. But as her sickness approached its fatal termination, he was himself summoned to his last account. He had been Tor some time absent, superintending an estate in Ireland, and encountering a storm in the Channel, was drowned on his homeward passage. He gave by will all his pos sessions to his eldest son, to whom he was partial, and who resembled him in character. Edward came to us depressed at the depth of his poverty. But my heart with deep gratitude thanked the Eternal Sire, that I might? now return his affection without the imputation of merce nary motives, and relieved from the dread of a father s malediction. He departed for a few days to seek some prospect of maintenance, and returned only in time to support me to my mother s grave. The fatal disease, which has set its seal upon me, triumphed over both my parents. The bitterness of my orphanage was consoled by the voice of love as pure, as ardent, as holy, as ever dwelt in the breast of man. So firmly was it returned, that I heard, without repining, that the only resource which remained was to join the army, then about to em bark for America, under Earl Cornwallis.
" We were married, and my little patrimony, which in consequence of my mother s sicknsss had become some what encumbered with debt, was sold. Hand in hand, we parted from that sweet cottage, to encounter the peril?
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of ocean, and war in a foreign land. Methought that little retreat never looked so beautifully as when we were leav ing it. Its roses, and woodbines breathed fragrantly, and the smooth-shorn grass before it was like the richest vel vet. With the warmth of seventeen, I was attached to every spot which
had ministered to the joy of a childhood
whose traces were yet recent in my memory. 1 gazed on the white roof of the home, hallowed by the last breath oi my mother, until the trees hid it from my view. Yet all the attractions of my native country vanished, as shadows, before my vow d affection to him, for whose sake I was willi ng to become a wanderer. He was my all, and the idolatry of my soul was perfect. Therefore its altar of earth was removed, and the image to which it offered ia cense was broken.
" I will not detain you, Reverend Sir, with the dangers of our voyage, or the hardships of a life in camps. Like the servitude of Jacob, they seemed to me as nothing " for the love I bare him." But in time of battle, my wretchedness was extreme. It was then that, imploring protection for my husband, I first learned what was mean* by " the agony of prayer." Of a daring, and invincible spirit, he was ambitious to stand foremost in the ranks of danger. His intrepidity gained the attention of his offi cers, and led to his promotion. This stimulated his mili tary enthusiasm, and when 1 entreated him to be careful of his life for my sake, he would answer firmly, but with tenderness, ".In the scenes to which my duty sails me
FORTY YEARS SINCE. &>3
there can be no protector but the God of battles. Is he not also a God of the widow ?"
But from the details of war I have ever shrunk, and now my trembling hand, and fluttering heart admonish me to be brief. Seldom has one, who possessed such native aversion from all the varieties of strife, such an instinctive horrour at the sight of blood-shed, been appointed to share the fortunes of a soldier. During the investment of York- town, in the autumn of 1781, he was almost constantly divided from me, either on some post of fatigue, or expos ure. The minute scenes of that eventful period are en graved on my memory, as with the point of a diamond. Often have I retraced the circumstances of the last night which I passed in that fatal spot. The atmosphere was faintly lighted by stars, shedding that dim, doubtful beam, which disposes the mind to melancholy contemplation. I was alone, and the heaviness of my solitude in a strange land oppressed my heart like a physical weight. The works of the allied French and Americans were every day brought more nearly to us. In the form of a crescent they spread themselves before us, cutting off our communica tion with the neighbouring country. The ships of France., anchored at the mouth of York River, prevented our re ceiving supplies from thence, or aid from Sir Henry Clin ton, who in New- York awaited our fate with anxiety. A fixed gloom might be sees on the countenance of Cora- wallis ; and Tarleton, who had hitherto poured his bold into the enterprise, was suffering pain., and dejection
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from a wound. The prospects of our army were dark in the extreme, and I was continually agitated with fears for my sole earthly stay. To dissipate the melancholy im pressions which thronged my soul, I ascended to the top of the house to take a view of that glorious firmament, which had so often led my thoughts from the woes of earth to the tranquillity of heaven. But the thunder of a terrible cannonade drew my attention to the surrounding scene . The whole peninsula seemed to tremble beneath the en gines of war. Bombs, from the batteries of both parties, were continually crossing each others path. Like blazing meteors their luminous trains traversed each other, with awful sublimity. Sometimes I heard that hissing sound, when in their fall they excavate the earth, and rend in atoms whatever opposes them. Once I saw the severed, mangled limbs of several British soldiers thrown into the air, by their explosion. I fancied that I heard a groan of agony in the voice that I loved, and listened till sensation almost forsook me. Suddenly, a flame sprang forth from the bosom of the river. It was a column of ineffable brightness. The waters seemed to feed it, and every mo ment it rose higher, and extended wider, as if uncertain whether first to enfold the earth, or the heavens. Then two smaller furnaces burst forth near it, breathing intense fires in spiral forms, beautiful and dreadful. I gazed, till the waters glowed in one dazzling expanse, and I knew not but the Almighty in anger at the crimes of man, was kindling around.him an ocean of flame ; as He once pour-
FORTY YEARS SINCE. 265
cd over him a deluge of waters. But nothing could hush the incessant roar of these engines of death ; and I thought that man would continue to pursue his brother with hatred, even to the conflagration of the day of doom. When the influence of an excited imagination had subsided, I found that this splendid and fearful pageant was the burning of the Charon, one of our ships of war, with two smaller vessels at anchor in the river, which had been set on fire by a heated shell from the French battery. Chilled with the e damps of evening, I descended, and threw myself upon my sleepless couch. My health had for some time suffer ed for want of exercise in the open air, from which I was precluded by the impossibility of enjoying the company, and protection of my husband. On the afternoon of the following day, he entered his apartment. It was Sunday, October 14th, for misery stamped the date indelibly on my soul. He told me that he was to remain with me, until evening should call him forth to his watch upon the ram parts. He requested me to read the service for the day from the Prayer-book ; for vye had endeavoured, as far as possible amid the privations of our existence, to hallow the day of God by private devotion. As I closed the volume, the sun forsook the horizon, leaving a beautifully serene sky. He proposed a walk, to which I gladly assented ; and as the means of prolonging it, without attracting par ticular attention in streets filled with soldiers, desired me to wear a suit of his military apparel. Yielding to his rea soning, I consented thus to array myself ; and we strolled 23
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onward, admiring the scenary which, at that season in the American climate, is so peculiarly brilliant. We indulged in a conversation, which selected from the past the most soothing recollections, and gilded the future with the pen cil of hope. We followed the course of the fortifications until we had passed, almost unconsciously, the last re doubt. The shadows of evening were beginning to con ceal the landscape, when we heard the trampling of many feet. The white uniform of the French, and presently that of the Americans were seen, through the trees which skirted our path. My husband had scarcely time to draw his sword, when a volley of shot was poured upon us. A bullet pierced his breast, and he fell without life. I fell with him, senseless as himself. I recovered troin my swoon to mourn that I lived, and to feel more than the bit terness of death. Sometimes I fancied that he clasped my hand ; but it was only the trickling of his blood through my own. I imagined that he sighed ; but it was the breathing of the hollow wind through the reeds where his head lay. I heard the horrible uproar of war in the neigh bouring redoubts, the roar of cannon, the clashing of swords, and the cry of men. I knew that the enemy was in the town, but I made no attempt to escape. Whither should I have flown ? Among my own people I was a stranger, and were it possible that I should reach England, who would succour me there ? An hour passed in the madness of grief, while I was clasping the lifeless form, and supplicating to be made like unto it, A small party
PORTV YEARS SINCE. 267
passed, speaking with uncouth voices. I saw that they were American Indians, and wished to escape. I forgot, in my inconsistency, that I had a moment before exclaimed with the prophet, who mourned his smitten gourd, " take now away my life, I pray thee ; it is better for me to die, than to live." My movements betrayed me, and they took me prisoner. They were leaving the town, and I expected to have been conveyed to the American camp. But they continued to journey throughout the night, and from their conversation I learned that two redoubts had been taken by the Americans and French, with desperate valour. This was the daring action, in which La Fayette led on the Americans, and De Viomenil the French, which preceded but four days the surrender of Earl Cormvallis. The party which had slain my husband, was the advance- guard, under the command of Colonel Hamilton ; and those, who had taken me captive, were a small number of natives led by a Delaware Chief. They were connected with some embassy which had been sent, as far as I could understand their broken explanations, to discover the state of affairs at Yorktown ; and being there at the time of this encounter, had joined the Americans, partly as actors, and partly as spies. Thus was I in the power of beings, whom I had ever contemplated as the most savage of mankind. I followed them, as we rove in a terrible dream unable either to resist, or to awake. Stupified with grief, I was for many days unequal to the sense of my misery. Yet the captors, so far from testifying the cruelty I had anticipa-
268 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT,
ted, were attentive to my wants. Of their food, which was principally game shot as they travelled, and roasted before fires kindled in the forest, they always presented me an ample share, even when they were themselves but scantily supplied. When I was weary, they would con struct a kind of litter, and carry me for a time upon their shoulders. I exerted myself tg endure hardship as cour ageously as possible, fearing they might suspect my
guise ; but they appeared to consider my effeminacy as the result of that civilization which they constantly de. cried. " A British soldier," said they, " is never so good on a march, as an Indian squaw."
But as I began to arouse from the stupor, which the overwhelming rapidity of my affections had occasioned, a horrible idea took possession of my mind. I imagined they were protecting my life with such care, in order to sacrifice it in that savage manner, of which I had frequent ly heard descriptions. This trrour obtained predomi nance over grief. When I lay down to sleep in the forest, wrapped closely in my blanket, and surrounded by the dark-brow d warriours, no slumber visited me ; for beforr my diseased imagination swam continually images of the* prisoner at the stake, the flame, the death-song, and all tKj features of savage vengeance, and exultation. Plans of escape occupied every night, and every day revealed their impracticability. During this season of excitement, 1 felt no fatigue. My strength was more than equal to the labour imposed : so much is the mind capable of mod
FORTY YEARS SINCE. ?69
ifying its terrestrial companion. I hoped that, as our route led through a more populous country, we should occasion ally lodge in towns ; where I fancied greater facility of escape might be offered. But they avoided suffering me to pass through the more populous settlements, and uni formly preferred the shelter of forests, to the abodes of white men, whom I found they still considered as intrud ers, and doubtful friends. On our arrival at a large town in Pennsylvania, they made me, as usual, travel through the outskirts with a guard of four men. Those, who en tered, perceived demonstrations of extravagant joy, and were informed that the surrender of Cornwall is had taken place on the 1 8th of October, antf that peace was confi dently expected. They made no stay in this place, ex cept to purchase a large quantity of whiskey ; and pres sing on with great rapidity, prepared to pass the night within the borders of an extensive, and lofty forest. Here they made a fire, and proceeded to strip the bark from some young saplings. Their words were in their own language, but their gestures were mysterious ; and their eyes were often directed towards me, with an expres sion of fierceness. The black shade of the forest, whose top seemed to reach the skies, the glare of the wide, red flame, falling upon the giant forms of those warriours. with their uncouth habits, wild locks, and savage counten ances, formed a picture, which I cannot even now retrace without shuddering. Loud words arose, as if a contest was about to begin. The party contained a few Mohe-
270 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT,
gans ; but the principal number were Delawares, or Len- ni-Lenape, as they styled themselves. I believed that my hour was come, and that the strife was between the two nations, respecting different modes of torture. An old warriour of the former tribe sat solitary, taking no part in the conflict, but observing its progress with great attention. He avoided the spirituous liquors, with which all were becoming inflamed, and seemed to reserve him- felf for action in some important juncture. I thought that I had previously seen him regarding me with eyes of pity, and said mentally, is it possible that Heaven will raise up in my extremity, a friend in this aged man ? I remembered that he "was called Arrowhamet, and was treated with respect for his courage and wisdom. When the strife grew violent, he arose, and approached the Dela ware Chief. They conversed long together, during which both parties preserved silence. Then they parted, and the Lenni-Lenape murmured aloud. Their Chief calmed them, with the simple expressions, " Arrowhamet is old. He has fought bravely. His temples are white as the snows of the Alleghany. Young men must submit to the warriour, who wears the crown of time." They then commenced their war-dance, and in the violence of thai amusement, and the fumes of intoxication, merged their anger at disappointment. It was long past midnight, ere they all lay down to sleep. Arrowhamet approached me, and throwing over me his blanket, said, " The night is chill. All now will be quiet. Compose your mind, thai
FORTV YEARS SINCE.- 271
your body may be able to bear fatigue." He stretched himself at some distance, between me, and the slumber ing group. It was impossible for me to find repose, and I saw that my aged guardian also slept not. His eyes were raised upward, as if he contemplated the Maker of that majestic blue arch, where a few stars faintly twinkled. I said silently, can it be that an Indian thinks of God ? Ah ! I knew not then, of what deep devotion their souls were susceptible. Judge, into what fearful surprize I was start- Jed from my reverie, when a low voice uttered, " Oriana ! Is thy mind wakeful ? Fear not to sleep. Thou art re deemed from torture. No flame shall touch you. Be lieve what the old warriour has spoken, and rest in peace."
" Why do you call me Oriana ?" I inquired, trembling with astonishment.
v Didst thou then think the eye of Arrowhamet was ,-o dim that it could not read thy brow ? that his heart was so cold as to forget the hand that gave him bread ?"
" Am I knawn then to your comrades ?" I asked.
" No thought but mine has comprehended thee. Arrow hamet shall be as the bars of the grave to thy secret. To all but me, thou appearest as if thy disguise were truth."
" How have you acquired knowledge, above all your companions, and what have you spoken about my giving you food ?"
272 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT,
" I knew that face," he answered tenderly, ci when the torches first glared upon it, and the cry of war was around. It was deadly pale, but I knew it was the face of her who had given me bread. Thou sayest, when have I fed thee ? So will the righteous ask at the last day. Thou writest the traces of thy charity in the sand, but the fam ished prisoner graves them in the rock forever. I was with the men of Colonel Buford, on the waters of the Santee River, where out of four hundred, only fifty-three escaped the sword of Tarleton. I saw an hundred hands of brave men raised to implore mercy. They were stricken off by the sabres of the horsemen, who SOGJI trampled upon their bodies. But why tell I thee tales of blood ? whose heart is tender as that of an infant. I have said that a few were saved. With them I went into cap tivity. Some pined away, and died in their sorrows. Seventeen moons have since beamed upon their graves.
" Remember thou an old Indian, who leaned against a tree, near thy tent ? He leaned upon it, because he was weak, and his blood wasted by famine ? *He asked not for food, yet thou gavest it to him. Thou rememberest him not ? Well ! Thou wilt never forget the youth, who was near, in the door of thy tent. His voice was like the flute of his own country, when he said, Oriana. But how did I see him next ? His beautiful forehead was cold, and his noble breast red with its own blood. I saw thee also. Thou wert as one dead. But how could I be mistaken in the hand that .had given me bread ? I determined to take
FORTY YEARS SINCE.. 17o
thee from my people, that I might feed thee when thou didst hunger, and be thy staff when thou wert weary. To this end have I laboured. The purpose is accomplished, and thou art safe."
" Was I then right in supposing myself destined to the torture ?"
The chief hatf said that this night his people should avenge on thee, tneir young men who had been slain in battle. So fixed were the Lenni-Lenape upon thy death, that 1 obtained power to rescue thee with difficulty. In : dians will generally submit their will to the hoary head. But they continually replied, Our mighty men have fallen before the warriours of his country. Two sons of our Sa chem were cut in pieces by their swords. The blood of the brave cries for vengeance. If we give it not ere the rising of the dawn, let their souls frowri on us forever. "
" But how were you able to accomplish your compas sionate design ?" He hesitated fora moment, ere he re plied " The natives of this country, have a custom of which thou art ignorant. He, who is deprived of a near relative by death, is permitted to fill the void in his heart from among the captives, whom the fortune of war gives into the hands of his nation. This is called the rite of adoption. It has snatched the prisoner from the stake, when the fire was scorching his vitals. Without the force of this claim I could not have saved thee from the raging passions of my countrymen ; for the footstep of death was nearer to thee than mine." Pausing, he added, in a
74 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT,
tone of great tenderness, " I had once a daughter. An only one, as the apple of my eye. But she faded. She went down to the grave, ere she bloomed in womanhood."
" There was silence ; and afterwards I expressed with warmth, my gratitude t o my deliverer. The solemn hour of midnight had long passed ; yet the forest seemed to assume a still darker hue, and the decaying fires, scarcely cast a feeble ray upon the scattered forms of the slumber ing warriours.
" Daughter !" said the aged man, " rest in peace. I watch over thee. I have prayed the Great Spirit that I may lead thee in safety to my home, and put thy hand in to the hand of my wife. Knowest thou why she will love thee ? Why the tears will cover her face, when she look" eth upon thine ? Because thou wilt remind her heart of the blossom whose growth she nursed, whose blasting she be moaned. Be not angry at what I say. She had a dark brow, and her garb was like the children of red men. Yet, as she went down into the dust, there was
lips a smile, and in her eye a tender melancholy, like thine." He ceased, oppressed with emotion. Pressing his hands upon his forehead, he laid it on the earth. Pres ently raising his head, I saw that his eyes, was dazzling., but tearless.
"Wilt thou accept my adoption?" he inquired. "Wilt thou bow thyself, for a time, to be called the daughter of old Arrowhamet? I have said that it need be but for a time. My home is near the shores of the great water*
FORTY YEARS SINCE- 275
They shall bear thee to thy people, when thy heart sick ens at the rude ways of Indians." I assured him of my acceptance, in such terms as an outcast ought to address to his sole earthly benefactor. Apparently gratified, he raised his lofty form erect, and laying one hand upon my head, while he lifted the other towards heaven, ratified with great solemnity his rite of adoption.
Thou ! whose way is upon the winds through the deep waters within the dark cloud Spirit of Truth ! before whom the shades of our fathers walk in fields of everlasting light, hear confirm bless."
" He added a few words in his native language, and stretching himself upon the ground in an attitude of re pose, said, " It is enough. Sleep now, my daughter. I will pray thy God .to protect thee. Thy God, is my God. I am called among warriours, Arrowhamet ; but the name of Zachary was given me, when I bowed to the baptism of Christians. Thou wilt no longer fear me, when thou art convinced that our God is the same."
" Lost in wonder, in gratitude, in praise, to the Al mighty Preserver, I made my orison with many tears, and sank into such a refreshing sleep, as had not visited me since my captivity. I awoke not, till the Sun, like a globe of gold, was burnishing the crowns of the kings of the forest.
" Nothing worthy of narration occurred, on the remain der of our journey. The supernatural strength, which had hitherto sustained me, gradually vanished ; and du-
276 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT,
ring a great part of the distance, I was borne on the shoul ders of the natives. In a short time, the Mohegans separated from the Lenni-Lenape, to return to their hab itations, having completed the period of their engage ment. In passing through a considerable town, I sold a yaluable watch and necklace, gifts of my Edward in his happiest days. The sum which they produced, is not yet expended. It will probably suffice fur the purposes of my interment.
" My reception from old Martha was soothing to my weary heart. From that moment to this, her maternal kindness has never slumbered. With the most watchful care, she has suited my aliment to my situation ; and by her knowledge of the virtues of plants, has mitigated my pain. Kindness, from whatever hand, is dear to the iso lated and suffering heart. At my first admission into this humble abode, I cherished a hope of returning to England. Yet to what should I have returned ? Only to the graves of my parents. With the disconsolate and elo quent Logan, I might say, " there runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. Who is there to mourn for me ? Not one."
"Throughout the whole range of my native country, was there a cottage to afford me shelter, or friends to minis ter to me, day and night, like these aged beings ? But with whatever attractions the land, where I first drew breath, would sometimes gleam upon my exiled eye, all hope of again sharing them has been long since extinguish
FORTY YEARS SINCE. 277
ed. The disease, to which my early youth evinced a predisposition, and which I probably inherit from both parents, soon revealed itself. Its progress was at first slow ; but every month, I became conscious of its latent ravages. My retreat, which to most beholders would have seemed as comfortless as it is obscure, so accorded with my subdued feelings, that, like the disciple who de sired a tabernacle upon the mountain of mystery, I have often exclaimed " Master ! it is good to be here." Here, f\ have learned to estimate a race, to which I had ever done .injustice. Those, whom I had previously stigma tized as the slaves of barbarity, ignorance, and obduracy, were appointed to exhibit to my view continually traces of philanthropy, intellect, and devotion, inviolable attach ment, and deathless gratitude for trivial kindness ; which, however the civilized world may affect to scorn in Uu cabin of the red man, she does not often find in the pala ces of kings. Here I have felt, how vain is that impor tance which we attach to shades of complexion, and gradations of rank ; how less than nothing the pageantry of pomp, and the tinsel of wealth appear, when " God taketh away the soul." The Almighty has here appoint ed me to realize the nature of those phantoms which had often held me in bondage, that renouncing all other domin ion, my affections might own supreme allegiance to him. It was necessary that the pride of my heart should be subdued by affliction : and affliction having had her per fect work, has terminated in peace. Yet I quit not this 24
ii78 SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT.
existence, like the ascetic for whom it has no allurements. Its opening was gilded by what the world calls happiness, and its close with a joy to which that world is a stranger. For your instructions, your prayers, my Father, receive the blessings of one who will soon have neither name, nor memorial among men. Your last benevolent office, will be to lay her wasted frame where saints slumber. May she meet you at their resurrection in light. Her last re quest is that you would sometimes grant a visit, and a prayer to those, who were parents to her without the bonds of affinity ; philanthropists, without hope of the w^i ld s applause ; Christians, though proscribed as the heritors of a savage nature ; and who will also, she trusts, be heir? of heaven, through faith in Him who hath promised that MIPS merciful shall obtain mercy."