« PreviousContinue »
tales of the border wars, and the heroic days of the Roost. His great goose-gun, too, is still in existence, having been preserved for many years in a hollow tree, and passed from hand to hand among the Dutch burghers, as a precious relique of the revolution. It is now actually in possession of a contemporary of the stout Jacob, one almost his equal in years, who treasures it up at his house in the Bowerie of New-Amsterdam, hard by the ancient rural retreat of the chivalric Peter Stuyvesant. I am not without hopes of one day seeing this formidable piece of ordnance restored to its proper station in the arsenal of the Roost.
Before closing this historic document, I cannot but advert to certain notions and traditions concerning the venerable pile in question. Old-time edifices are apt to gather odd fancies and superstitions about them, as they do moss and weather-stains ; and this is in a neighborhood a little given to old-fashioned notions, and who look upon the Roost as somewhat of a fated mansion. A lonely, rambling, downhill lane leads to it, overhung with trees, with a wild brook dashing along, and crossing and re-crossing it. This lane I found some of the good people of the neighborhood shy of treading at night; why, I could not for a long time ascertain; until I learned that one or two of the rovers of the Tappan Sea, shot by the stout Jacob during the war, had been buried hereabout, in unconsecrated ground.
Another local superstition is of a less gloomy kind, and one which I confess I am somewhat disposed to cherish. The Tappan Sea, in front of the Roost, is about three miles wide, bordered by a lofty line of waving and rocky hills. Often, in the still twilight of a summer evening, when the sea is like glass, with the opposite hills throwing their purple shadows half across it, a low sound is heard, as of the steady, vigorous pull of oars, far out in the middle of the stream, though not a boat is to be descried. This I should have been apt to ascribe to some boat rowed along under the shadows of the western shore, for sounds are conveyed to a great distance by water, at such quiet hours, and I can distinctly hear the baying of the watchdogs at night, from the farms on the sides of the opposite mountains. The ancient traditionists of the neighborhood, however, religiously ascribe these sounds to a judgment upon one Rumbout Van Dam, of Spiting Devil, who danced and drank late one Saturday night, at a Dutch quilting frolic, at Kakiat, and set off alone for home in his boat, on the verge of Sunday morning ; swearing he would not land till he reached Spiting Devil, if it took him a month of Sundays. He was never seen afterward, but is often heard plying his oars across the Tappan Sea, a Flying Dutchman on a small scale, suited to the size of his cruizing-ground; being doomed to ply between Kakiat and Spiting Devil till the day of judgment, but never to reach the land.
There is one room in the mansion, which almost overhangs the river, and is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a young lady who died of love and green apples. I have been awakened at night by the sound of oars and the tinkling of guitars beneath the window; and seeing a boat loitering in the moonlight, have been tempted to believe it the Flying Dutchman of Spiting Devil, and to try whether a silver bullet might not put an end to his unhappy cruisings; but, happening to recollect that there was a living young lady in the VOL. XIII.
haunted room, who might be terrified by the report of fire-arms, I have refrained from pulling trigger.
As to the enchanted fountain, said to have been gifted by the wizard sachem with supernatural powers, it still wells up at the foot of the bank, on the margin of the river, and goes by the name of the Indian spring; but I have my doubts as to its rejuvenating powers, for though I have drank oft and copiously of it, I cannot boast that I find myself growing younger.
Come to my heart! though we long have been parted,
Pilgrims alone on life's shadowy slope ;
And prisms before us the rainbow of Hope.
But a token we hail, as it fades in the sky;
Is folding her plumes at the portal, to die.
I have tempted the sea; but its billowy mountain,
A terror to all, was no terror to me;
Gushing with sweet recollections of thee.
The wilder its fury, I welcomed it more;
And sooner I'd reap the rich harvest they bore.
But no longer I sigh for the turbulent billow,
Though music I found in the hurricane's breath;
Where fain would I sleep, until wakened by death.
And ihe cares of thy lonely heart lettered thy brow,
When the altar should witness and hallow our vow ?
Yet we needed no tie of the altar to bind us,
And cold were the words of the holy man, tben;
And the covenant needed no sanction of men.
When the senses are all with one ecstasy fraught;
Would mar, in euch hours, the rapture of thought !
The sea lifts its brow with a crested commotion,
And chides the rough winds that awake its repose,
Its angriest murmurs can never disclose;
Converse of the breathings that ripple its waves,
Save the passions that rage or exuli in its caves ?
But thy breast will for aye give thy sympathies warning,
Of every emotion thai quickens in mine;
Will shine on our evening, and gild its decline.
We'll wander along, like our parents of yore;
'They left Éden behind — but we have it before !
B. W. HUNTINGTOK.
THE EVENING BEFORE THE WEDDING.
FROM THE GERMAN
• We shall certainly be very happy!' said Lady Louise to her aunt, the evening before her marriage; and her cheeks wore a brighter hue, and her eyes were radiant with inward joy. Every one knows who a young bride means, when she says “we.'
"I do n't doubt it, Louise,' replied her aunt; "and only hope that your happiness may be enduring.'
• Fear not for its continuance. I know myself, dear aunt, and know, that whatever faults I now possess, my love for him will cor
As long as we love, we must be happy; and our love can never change.'
'Ah!' sighed her aunt, ‘ you speak like a girl of nineteen, on the eve of marriage, with the exhilaration of satisfied wishes, the intoxication of bright hopes, and fond expectations. But remember, my beloved child, that even the heart grows old. The day will come, when the enchantment will be broken, the illusions of love dispersed. When the beauty and grace that charmed us is gone with the freshness of youth, then is it first evident whether we are truly worthy of love. Shadows are ever the attendants of sunshine, even in domestic life. When they fall
, then can a wife first know whether her husband is truly estimable ; then can the husband first know whether the virtues of his wife are imperishable. The day before marriage, all anticipations and protestations are to me ridiculous.'
I understand you, aunt; you mean that it is only mutual virtue that can preserve mutual affection and happiness. As for myself, I will not boast; but is he not the best, the noblest ? Is he not possessed of every quality necessary to insure the happiness of life?
My child,' replied her aunt, I acknowledge that you are right; without flattery, Î can say that you are both amiable and excellent. But your blooming virtues have been kindly nurtured in sunshine. No flowers deceive like these. We know not how they can bear the storm ; we know not in what soil they take root; neither know we what seed is hidden in the heart.' · Alas! dear aunt, you
make fearful !' "So much the better, Louise ; I would that some good might result from this evening's conversation. I love you sincerely, and will tell you what I have proved. I am not yet an old aunt ; an austere, bigotted woman. At seven-and-twenty, I look cheerfully upon life. I have an excellent husband, and a happy family; therefore you will not consider what I say as the splenetic effusions of disappointment. I will tell you a secret; of something which few speak to a lovely young maiden ; something that occupies little of the attention of young men ; and yet something of the highest importance to all, and from which eternal love and indestructible happiness alone proceed.'
Louise pressed the hand of her aunt, as she said : 'I know what you would say, and I certainly believe with you, that continued happi
ness and enduring love are not the result of accident or perishable attractions ; but of the virtues of the heart, the graces of the mind. These are the best marriage treasures that we can gather; they never become old.'
• Ah, Louise ! the virtues can become old and ugly, like the fading charms of the face.'
* Alas, dear aunt ! say you so ?'
Name me one virtue that cannot become disagreeable or hateful with years.'
Surely, aunt, the virtues are not mortal ?'
Even so !' • Can mildness and gentleness ever become odious ?'
When, with time, they become weakness and indecision.' • And manly spirit ?' • Becomes rude defiance.' • And modesty - discretion ?' • Prudery — reserve.' • And noble pride ?' • Arrogance and presumption.' • And a wish to please ?'
• Becomes sycophancy, and cringing for the approbation of all men.'
• My dear aunt, you make me almost angry. My future husband, however, can never so degenerate. One thing will keep him from all by-paths; his own noble mind, his deep and indelible love for all that is great, and good, and beautiful. This delicate perception I think I also possess; and it is to me an innate security for our bappiness.'
* And when this changes to a vicious or sickly sensibility ? My child, believe me, sentimentality is the true marriage-fiend. I speak not of your sentiment for each other ; that may God preserve ; but of a sentimentality which may make you a ridiculous or quarrelsome woman. Do you know the Countess Stammern ?
• Who separated from her husband a year or two ago ?'
No; there has been so many contradictory reports.' • She told me herself; and as the story is both amusing and instructive, I will repeat it to you.'
Louise was all curiosity, and her aunt proceeded.
• Count STAMMERN and his wife had long been considered an enviably happy pair. Their union was the result of a long and ardent attachment. Beautiful, good, and intellectual ; congenial in taste and feeling; they seemed made for each other.
After their betrothment, some disagreement occurred between their parents, which threatened to put a stop to the consummation of the marriage. The young countess became alarmingly ill from grief; and the enthusiastic lover threatened to destroy himself, like Goethe's Werther, or Miller's Siegwart. However, to restore the countess, and prevent the desperate act of the count, the parents became apparently reconciled. This saved the life of the lovers; but no sooner was
the young lady pronounced out of danger, than her parents removed her, and sought to delay their union for an indefinite period. This was not to be endured. The young couple contrived to meet one night, escaped beyond the frontier, and under another government were united before the altar. They returned man and wife, having secured, as they fondly thought, a heaven upon earth. From this time, they seemed models of love and harmony. From morning until evening, never separate, they seemed but to think of, and live for, each other. The romance and sentimental tenderness of their love made their existence like life in a faéry tale. In winter, as well as in summer, he filled her apartment with significant flowers; and even every article of furniture was hallowed by some association or recollection.
The second year, this enthusiastic fondness seemed rather an overstrained, false sentiment; but still, in all society, whether in gay routs and balls, or in a small circle of friends, they seemed to see and think only of each other; so much so indeed, as to render themselves almost ridiculous. In the third year, they laid aside this amiable weakness before the world, though at home their love still retained its romantic fondness. In the fourth, they seemed to have recovered from this first intoxication of happiness, so far at least as to be contented apart. They often passed the evening, sometimes the whole day, in company; he here, she there. This, however, but enhanced the pleasure of their rëunion. By the fifth year, the count could leave home for a week, without being almost heart-broken ; and the countess could bear his absence with fortitude. But their letters to each other, written daily, were as tender and impassioned as those of Helöise. The sixth, they became more sensible; and even when separated for several weeks, were satisfied with a few friendly letters. In the seventh, both felt that they could love sincerely, without its being necessary to assure each other of it, from morning until night.
So far, all was well. In place of the all-absorbing passion of their first love, there was that abiding affection, that silent confidence in each other, that deeper friendship, which is the height of human happiness. In the eighth year, they had gradually thrown off so much of the selfishness of love, as to become sensible of the claims of the rest of the world, and no longer lived solely for each other, as if they were the only sentient beings, and the rest of mankind but pictures or statues upon the stage of life. In nine, they were amiable, sensible people, abroad as well as at home. In ten, they seemed very much like mankind in general, and like excellent people who had been married ten years, and could take care of themselves. They had certainly grown ten years older ; so had their love; and, alas ! so had their virtues also.
Next, they began to see the faults and foibles that had heretofore been covered with the mantle of love. They spoke not of them, but viewed each other's errors witlı kindness and indulgence. Soon, however, came a gentle admonition; but if it wounded the feelings, the offender was sure to make a full and sweet atonement. Then these admonitions came oftener; atonement was not so easily made; yet still harmony prevailed. Then followed occasional irritation, and anger, and differences of opinion; but they still loved each other,