صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

did hold, he would sit with a child on one knee and rock a cradle for whole hours together.

In addition to his other vocations, he was the singingmaster of the neighbourhood, and picked up many bright shillings by instructing the young folks in psalmody. It was a matter of no little vanity to him on Sundays, to take his station in front of the church gallery, with a band of chosen singers; where, in his own mind, he completely carried away the palm from the parson. Certain it is, his voice resounded far above all the rest of the congregation; and there are peculiar quivers still to be heard in that church, and may still be heard half-a-mile off, quite to the opposite side of the mill-pond, on a still Sunday morning, which are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod Crane. Thus, by divers little makeshifts, in that ingenious way which is commonly denominated “by hook and by crook," the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was thought, by all who understood nothing of the labour of headwork, to have a wonderful easy life of it.

Superstition. Bot all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions that succeeded. The neighbourhood is rich in legendary treasures of the kind. Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered long settled retreats; but are trampled under foot by the shifting throng that forms the population of most of our country places. Besides there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap, and turn themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighbourhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long established Dutch communities.

The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land. Several of the Sleepy Hollow peo ple were present at Van Tassal's, and, as usual, were doling out their wild and wonderful legends. Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major Andre was taken, and which stood in the neighbourhood. Some mention was made also of the woman in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow. The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favourite spectre of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard.

The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favoured haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust trees and lofty elms, from among which, its decent whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity, beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass grown yard, there the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the day-time; but occasioned a fearful darkness at night. Such was one of the favourite haunts of the headless horseman, and the place where he was most frequently encountered. The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how he met the horseman returning from his foray into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind him ; how they galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached the bridge; when the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree tops with a clap of thunder.

G2

THE BROKEN HEART.

It is a common practice with those who have outlived the susceptibility of early feeling, or have been brought up in the gay heartlessness of dissipated life, to laugh at all love stories, and to treat the tales of romantic passion as mere fictions of novelists and poets. My observations on human nature have induced me to think otherwise. They have convinced me, that however the surface of the character may be chilled and frozen by the cares of the world, or cultivated into mere smiles by the arts of socie ty, still there are dormant fires lurking in the depths of the coldest bosom, which, when once enkindled, become impetuous, and are sometimes desolating in their effeets. Indeed, I am a true believer in the blind deity, and go to the full extent of his doctrines. Shall I confess it !—I believe in broken hearts, and the possibility of dying of disappointed love. I do not, however, consider it a malady often fatal to my own sex; but I firmly believe that it withers down many a lovely woman into an early grave.

Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His na. ture leads him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeks for fame, for fortune, for space in the world's thought, and do minion over his fellow men. But a woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world: it is there her ambition strives for empires; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure ; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless--for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.

To a man the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs: it wounds some feelings of tenderness-it blasts some prospects of felicity ; but he is an active being - he may dissipate his thoughts in the whirl of varied occupation, or may plunge into the tide of pleasure; or, if the scene of disappointment be too full of painful associations, he can shift his abode at will, and taking as it were the wings of the morning, can “fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be at rest,”

But woman's is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and a

meditative life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation? Her lot is to be wooed and won; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that has been captured, and sacked, and abandoned and left desolate.

How many bright eyes grow dim-how many soft cheeks grow pale-how many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is the nature of woman to hide from the world the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise, she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her the desire of the heart has failed. The great charm of existence is at an end. She neglects all the cheerful excercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulses, and send the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken—the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams“dry sorrow drinks her blood,” until her enfeebled frame sinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little while, and you will find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, and wondering that one who but lately glowed with all the radiance of health and beauty, should so speedily be brought down to “darkness and the worm." You will be told of some wintry chill, some casual indisposition, that laid her low ;-but no one knows of the mental malady that previously sapped her strength, and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.

She is like some tender tree, the pride and beauty of the grove; graceful in its form, bright in its foliage, but with the worm preying at its heart. We find it suddenly withering, when it should be most fresh and luxuriant. We see it drooping its branches to the earth, and shedding leaf by leaf; until, wasted and perished away, it falls even in the stillness of the forest; and, as we muse over the beautiful ruin, we strive in vain to recollect the blast or thunderbolt that could have smitten it with decay.

I have seen many instances of women running to waste

and self-neglect, and disappearing gradually from the earth, almost as if they had been exhaled to heaven; and have repeatedly fancied that I could trace their death

rough the various declensions of consumption, cold, de bility, languor, melancholy, until I reached the first sympton of disappointed love. But an instance of the kind was lately told to me; the circumstances are well known in the country where they happened, and I shall but give them in the manner as they were related

Every one must recollect the tragical story of young E- the Irish patriot; it was too touching to be soon forgotten. During the troubles in Ireland he was tried, condemned, and executed on a charge of treason. His fate made a deep impression on public sympathy. He was so young-so intelligent-so generous-so brave-50 every thing that we are apt to like in a young man. His conduct under trial, too, was so lofty and intrepid. The noble indignation with which he repelled the charge of treason against his country—the eloquent vindication of his name—and his pathetic appeal to posterity, in the hopeless hour of condemnation-all these entered deeply into every generous bosom, and even his enemies lamented the stern policy that dictated his execution.*

*This ill-starred youth was the son of Dr. Emmet, a gentleman of fortune and family, whose mind was deeply imbued with republican principles, which he was but too successful in impressing upon his children. His eldest son, Thomas Addis Emmit, being a guspected character, in 1798 he accepted the terms offered by Government, and retired to France, from theuce le proceeded to New-York, where he held the first place at the bar of that city, highly respected as a lawyer and esteemed as a man. Robert, the person alluded to by our author, either possessing more enthusiasm or less prudence than his brother, became involved in a series of insurrections, which at last attracted the attention of Government, and the unfortunate man was arrested while he lingered in his flight, in expectation of a last meeting with the lady to whom he was engaged. This amiable female, whose hard fate is described with so much pathos by our author, was the daughter of the celebrated John Philpot Curran. The following address was delivered by Enimet on his trial.

'I am asked if I have any thing to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon me. Was I to suffer only death, after being adjudged guilty, I should bow in silence; but a man in my situation has not only to combat with the difficulties of fortune, but also the difficulties of prejudice: the sentence of the law which delivers over his body to the executioner consigns his character to obloquy. The man dies, but his memory lives; and that mine may not forfeit all claim to the respect of my countrymen, I use this occa

should not be pron quilty, I should bow.he difficulties of

« السابقةمتابعة »