Page images

found the door fastened; and he was obliged to wait some time before it was opened by Esther.

The first object he beheld was his beloved Clara, stretched on the ground, apparently a corpse! The sorceress had thrown her into a trance, by a preparation of deadly night-shade. The hag burst into an infernal laugh, when she beheld the despair that was painted in Cæsar's countenance!" Wretch!" cried she; "you have defied my power: behold its victim!" Cæsar, in a transport of rage, seized her by the throat: but his fury was soon checked. "Destroy me," said the fiend, "and you destroy your Clara. She is not dead: but she lies in the sleep of death, into which she has been thrown by magic art, and from which no power, but mine, can restore her to the light of life. Yes! Look to her, pale and motionless! Never will she rise from the earth, unless, within one hour, you obey my commands. I have administered to Hector and his companions the solemn fetish oath, at the sound of which every negro in Africa trembles! You know my object." "Fiend, I do!" replied Cæsar; eyeing her sternly; but, while I have life, it shall never be accomplished." "Look yonder!" cried she, pointing to the moon; "in a few minutes that moon will set: at that hour Hector and his friends will appear. They come armed! armed with weapons which I shall steep in poison for their enemies. Themselves I will render invulnerable. Look again!" continued she, "if my dim eyes mistake not, yonder they come. Rash man, you die, if they cross my threshold." "I wish for death," said Cæsar. "Clara is dead!" "But you can restore her to life by a single word." Cæsar, at this moment, seemed to hesitate. "Consider! Your heroism is vain," continued Esther. "You will have the knives of fifty of the conspirators in your bosom, if you do not join them; and after you have fallen, the death of your master is inevitable. Here is the bowl of poison, in which the negro knives are to be steeped. Your friends, your former friends, your countrymen, will be in arms in a few minutes; and they will bear down every thing before them! Victory! Wealth! Freedom! and Revenge! will be theirs!"

Cæsar appeared to be more and more agitated. His eyes were fixed upon Clara. The conflict in his mind was violent; but his sense of gratitude and duty could not be shaken by hope, fear, or ambition: nor could it be vanquished by love. He determined, however, to appear to yield. As if struck with panic, at the approach of the confederate negroes, he suddenly turned to the sorceress, and said, in a tone of feigned submission, "It is in vain to struggle with fate. Let my knife, too, be dipped in your magic poison." The sorceress clapped her hands, with infernal joy in her countenance. She bade him instantly give her his knife. that she might plunge it


to the hilt in the bowl of poison; to which she turned with savage impatience. His knife was left in his cottage; and, under pretence of going in search of it, he escaped. Esther promised to prepare Hector, and all his companions, to receive him with their ancient cordiality, on his return. Cæsar ran with the utmost speed along a bye-path out of the wood, met none of the rebels, reached his master's house, scaled the wall of his bed-chamber, got in at the window, and wakened him, exclaiming, "Arm! Arm yourself, my dear master! Arm all your slaves! They will fight for you, and die for you; as I will the first. The Koromantyn yell of war will be heard in Jefferies' plantation this night! Arm! Arm yourself, my dear master, and let us surround the rebel leaders while it is yet time. I will lead you to the place where they are all assembled, on condition that their chief, who is my friend, shall be pardoned."

Mr Edwards armed himself and the negroes on his plantation, as well as the whites: they were all equally attached to him. He followed Cæsar into the recesses of the wood. They proceeded with all possible rapidity, but in perfect silence, till they reached Esther's habitation; which they surrounded completely, before they were perceived by the conspirators.

Mr Edwards looked through a hole in the wall; and, by the blue flame of a cauldron, over which the sorceress was stretching her shrivelled hands, he saw Hector and five stout negroes standing, intent upon her incantations. These negroes held their knives in their hands, ready to dip them into the bowl of poison. It was proposed, by one of the whites, to set fire immediately to the hut; and thus to force the rebels to surrender. The advice was followed; but, Mr Edwards charged his people to spare their prisoners. The moment the rebels saw that the thatch of the hut was in flames, they set up the Koromantyn yell of war, and rushed out with frantic desperation. "Yield! You are pardoned, Hector," cried Mr Edwards, in a loud voice. "You are pardoned, my friend!" repeated Cæsar. Hector, incapable at this instant of listening to any thing but revenge, sprang forward, and plunged his knife into the bosom of Cæsar. The faithful servant staggered back a few paces: his master caught him in his arms. "I die content," said he. "Bury me with Clara!" He swooned from loss of blood as they were carrying him home; but when his wound was examined, it was found not to be mortal. As he recovered from his swoon, he stared wildly around him, trying to recollect where he was, and what had happened. He thought that he was still in a dream, when he saw his beloved Clara standing beside him. The opiate, which the pretended sorceress had administered to her, had ceased to operate; she wakened from

her trance just at the time the Koromantyn yell commenced. Cæsar's joy!We must leave that to the imagination.

In the meantime, what became of the rebel negroes, and Mr Edwards? The taking the chief conspirators prisoners did not prevent the negroes, upon Jefferies' plantation, from insurrection. The moment they heard the war-whoop, the signal agreed upon, they rose in a body; and, before they could be prevented, either by the whites on the estate, or by Mr Edwards' adherents, they had set fire to the overseer's house, and to the canes. The overseer was the principal object of their vengeance: he died in tortures, inflicted by the hands of those who had suffered most by his cruelties. Mr Edwards, however, quelled the insurgents before rebellion spread to any other estates in the island. The influence of his character, and the effect of his eloquence upon the minds of the people, were astonishing: nothing but his interference could have prevented the total destruction of Mr Jefferies, and his family; who, as it was computed, lost this night upwards of fifty thousand pounds. He was never afterwards able to recover his losses, or to shake off his constant fear of a fresh insurrection among his slaves. At length, he and his lady returned to England: where they were obliged to live in obscurity and indigence. They had no consolation, in their misfortunes, but that of railing at the treachery of the whole race of slaves.-Our readers, we hope, will think that at least one exception may be made in favour of THE GRATEFUL NEGRO.



No more shall the spring my lost pleasures restore,
Uncheer'd I still wander alone,

And, sunk in dejection, for ever deplore

The sweets of the days that are gone.

While the sun as it rises to others shines bright,

I think how it formerly shone;

While others cull blossoms, I find but a blight,
And sigh for the days that are gone.

I stray where the dew falls through moon-lighted groves,
And list to the nightingale's song,

Her plaints still remind me of long-banish'd joys,

And the sweets of the days that are gone.

Each dew-drop that steals from the dark eye of night,
Is a tear for the bliss that is flown:
While others cull blossoms, I find but a blight,

And sigh for the days that are gone.


"THE Passing Crowd" is a phrase coined in the spirit of indifference. Yet, to a man of what Plato calls "universal sympathies," and even to the plain ordinary denizens of this world, what can be more interesting than "the passing crowd?" Does not this tide of human beings, which we daily see passing along the ways of this world, consist of persons animated by the same spark of the divine essence, and partaking of the same high destinies with ourselves? Let us stand still but for a moment in the midst of this busy, and seemingly careless scene, and consider what they are or may be whom we see around us. In the hurry of the passing show, and of our own sensations, we see but a series of unknown faces; but this is no reason why we should regard them with indifference. Many of these persons, if we knew their histories, would rivet our admiration, by the ability, worth, benevolence, or piety, which they have displayed in their various paths through life. Many would excite our warmest interest by their sufferings sufferings, perhaps, borne meekly and well, and more for the sake of others than themselves. How many tales of human weal and woe, of glory and of humiliation, could be told by those beings, whom, in passing, we regard not! Unvalued as they are by us, how many as good as ourselves repose upon them the affections of bounteous hearts, and would not want them for any earthly compensation. Every one of these persons, in all probability, retains in his bosom the cherished recollections of early happy days, spent in some scene which "they ne'er forget, though there they are forgot," with friends and fellows who, though now far removed in distance and in fortune, are never to be given up by the heart. Every one of these individuals, in all probability, nurses still deeper, in the recesses of feeling, the remembrance of that chapter of romance in the life of every man, an early earnest attachment, conceived in the fervour of youth, unstained by the slightest thought of self, and for the time purifying and elevating the character far above its ordinary standard. Beneath all this gloss of the world-this cold conventional aspect, which all more or less present, and which the business of life renders necessary-there resides for certain a fountain of goodness, pure in its inner depths as the lymph rock-distilled, and ready on every proper occasion to well out in the exercise of the noblest duties. Though all may seem but a hunt after worldly objects, the great majority of these individuals can, at the proper time, cast aside all earthly thoughts, and communicate directly with the Being whom their fathers have taught them to worship, aud whose will and

* From Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, No. 5.

attributes have been taught to man immediately by Himself. Perhaps many of these persons are loftier of aspect than ourselves, and belong to a sphere removed above our own. But, nevertheless, if the barrier of mere worldly form were taken out of the way, it is probable that we could interchange sympathies with these persons as freely and cordially as with any of our own class. Perhaps they are of an inferior order; but they are only inferior in certain circumstances, which should never interpose to prevent the flow of feeling for our kind. The great common features of human nature remain; and let us never forget how much respect is due to the very impress of humanity-the type of the divine nature itself! Even where our fellow-creatures are degraded by vice and poverty, let us still be gentle in our judging. The various fortunes which we every day see befalling the members of a single family, after they part off in their several paths through life, teach us, that it is not to every one that success in the career of existence is destined. Besides, do not the arrangements of society at once necessitate the subjection of an immense multitude to humble toil, and give rise to temptations, before which the weak and uninstructed can scarcely escape falling? But even beneath the soiled face of the poor artizan there may be aspirations after some vague excellence, which hard fate has denied him the means of attaining, though the very wish to obtain it is itself ennobling. The very mendicant was not always so: he, too, has had his undegraded and happier days, upon the recollection of which, some remnant of better feeling may still repose.

These, I humbly think, are reasons why we should not look with coldness upon any masses of men with whom it may be our lot to mingle. It is the nature of a good man to conclude that others are like himself; and if we take the crowd promiscuously, we can never be far wrong in thinking that there are worthy and well-directed feelings in it as well as in our own bosoms.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »