Page images

When thou art near
The sweetest joys still sweeter seem,

The brightest hopes more bright appear;
And life is all one happy dream

When thou art near.



Thou, who didst love Italia's clime and lyre,

Whose hands have smit the epic chords sublime,

With power unequal'd in all modern time, And only match'd by Homer's heavenly fire ! When from thy dazzling visions I retire,

Thy paradisal lay and "hours of prime,'

'Tis sweet to listen to the varying rhyme Thy sonnets, rich in melody, respire.

They on the ear in sounds according rise,
Like the wild harp's, that whispering airs arouse;

While rapture owns the genius in their sighs

That swell’d the song of man and Eden brightThe breeze, that gently shakes the fruit-tree boughs,

Is but the tempest, soften’d from its might.


A Legend of the Natchez.

On! On! fleet hart! the bloodhounds press thy track!


The avidity with which every class of readers dwells upon the narrative of personal prowess, national legends, or remote tradition, is powerfully identified with the springs of human action, and traces its origin to the most intense impulses agitating the heart of


They are, for the most part, the inartificial relation of motives and actions finding a sympathetic response in every bosom, while they possess that unity and simplicity to which may be referred all that we understand by grandeur and sublimity, whether in the wonders of inanimate creation, the deep fountains of human feeling, or the tempestuous passions of the soul.

The early intercourse of the Europeans with the American aborigines, once the undisputed masters of a country whence violence and fraud, under foul pre

texts and specious names, have expelled them, could its annals have been perpetuated, would present to the inquirer, at this day, incidents worthy of the pen of the historian and the sympathies of the philanthropist. The admirer of that kind of reading to which allusion has been made, and of traits of character developed under strong excitement, the expansion of feelings and passions uncontrolled by artificial institutions, and displayed amid peril and adventure, would possess a fund of intellectual treasure, now irretrievably lost to his researches.

Among the numerous tribes whose history and misfortunes have aroused our curiosity, or claimed our sympathy, there are none presenting incidents fraught with higher interest, than that which inhabited the fertile region lying between the luxuriant vales of Second Creek and St. Catharine, and the high bluffs of the Mississippi. A melancholy record of their numbers and power is seen in the isolated mounds and verdant places of the dead; while a city, seated on enduring hills, will transmit to posterity the brief, but bloody story of the ill fated Natchez.

Such are the reflections which come in upon the mind, and knock at the heart of the solitary wanderer in the silent valleys and deep solitudes of the Mississippi; or mingle with his visions while he reposes beneath the impenetrable shade of magnificent oaks, flinging up their stupendous arms and spreading out their perennial verdure over the graves of a nation!

I have, elsewhere, detailed the accident to which I was indebted for an acquaintance with an aged Indian, the sole relict of the Natchez tribe. It has ripened into intimacy; and the partiality I have always indulged for deep forests and silent musings among the beauties of nature, is enhanced by the society of a companion of congenial taste, and one who is the only sensitive link between the thousands who moulder around us, and that busy world on whose verge he awaits the mandate that will reunite him with kindred spirits.

It was in a mood produced by such a train of thought, that I found myself in company with my aged friend, on a bright and beautiful evening in May. We were strolling along the ledges and precipices known by the name of the · Ellis Cliffs,' lying like a huge barrier in grim repose against the eastern bank of the Mississippi. The sun was descending gloriously, and the broad green band of the western forest looked like a giant emerald, girt with sapphire, and set in billows of fretted gold. His declining rays lighted the summits of these bare and inaccessible peaks, which, like ruined towers, shoot up their desolate heads into the mist that floats far above the bed of the river; or glanced on the polished green of the silver pine, displaying in all their magnificence those sparkling changes from which it takes its name: and the rough branches and wiry leaves of this hardy tree responded a plaintive melody to the sullen roar of the river blast,

as it struggled up the deep fissures and narrow defiles of the wild and rugged scenery. Two hundred and fifty feet below the Mississippi rolled on in grandeur. The mighty waters moved in silence; but the whirling eddy, bearing up against the course of the flood and bellowing with the voice of a distant cataract, seemed to return, as if in vengeance, upon the barrier set there to stay his power. Immense masses of earth, thus undermined and detached from the cliffs, and the crash of the falling trees, as they thundered into the abyss, fearfully attested the depth and resistless force of the current.

On the opposite shore lay in beautiful contrast the fertile plains of Louisiana. King's Point, with the adjoining plantations, looked like an extended map. Distance invested every object with an appearance of softness and serenity; while the sun, casting his mellow lustre over all, imparted an air of deep tranquillity and quiet loveliness. Turning now to the left, a new and exquisite landscape met the eye. We beheld the river through an immense aperture, formed, as if by a convulsion of nature, in the bosom of the cliffs, driving on between romantic heights and luxuriant plains, and pursuing his majestic course until the forests, seeming to unite, enveloped his waters in verdure and distance.

I was contemplating this scenery in mute admiration, and did not observe that my companion had disappeared, and that the day was rapidly approaching its close. I now wound a hunting bugle, as a signal,

« PreviousContinue »