Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Back Matter

Title: Letters from the Bahama Islands
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081412/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letters from the Bahama Islands
Physical Description: 207 p. : ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Kent, Richard ( Editor )
Publisher: John Culmer
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: R. H. Johns, Ltd.
Publication Date: 1827
Copyright Date: 1948
Edition: 1948 ed.
Subject: Description and travel -- Bahamas   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Bahamas
General Note: Published anonymously.
General Note: Signed "Adela," "A.D.L.," and "Adela Del Lorraine." "All that can be said of this work is, that the manuscript was recommended to the publishers by a gentleman of known literary merit, and that it was written in a fair, but illegible, Italian hand."--Pub. notice.
Statement of Responsibility: Written in 1823-4.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081412
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 11016922
lccn - 05032133

Table of Contents
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
        Frontispiece 1
        Frontispiece 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page 1
        Page 2
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    Back Matter
        Page 117
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Full Text







Written in


Edited by


First Published -
This Edition

- 1948

H32s -


Set and printed in Great Britain
by R. H.Johns Ltd., Newport, Mon.
in eleven on thirteen point Garamond.



In 1827 a modest, pocket-site volume entitled Letters from the
Bahama Islands Written in 1823-4 was publishedin the United States
by H. C. Carey and I. Lea, printers, of Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
Its two htudred and seven pages, printed in small, neat type, contained
twenty letters describing a stay of several months at Nassau, the capital
of the Bahamas and the only town in the islands.
Although the book appeared anonymously, its authorship is attributed
by bibliographers to a Miss Hart, of whom, apparently, nothing but
her surname is known, although it is reasonable to assume that she was
a visitor to Nassau who adopted the familiar literary device of recording
her impressions in a series of letters.
The first letter, describing the writer's emotions immediately before
she sails from England for "one of the British West India islands"
(which is never once named throughout the book), sets the stage, as it were,
and introduces the reader to the intimate atmosphere which characterises
almost every page of the book.
The progress of a delicately mysterious relationship between a friend
who accompanied her and a dark, handsome stranger who made his
appearance early in the voyage out to the Bahamas gives the letters a
quaintly romantic flavour to which the long and finally fatal illness of
her mother adds a curiously bitter-sweet quality. But the book's chief
attraction is its detailed account of life at Nassau more than a century
ago, for although the romance was probably invented, the descriptions
of island life and scenery are proved by contemporary records to have been
extraordinarily accurate.
Although the letters are as frank and intimate as a private diary,
they trace a connected pattern suggesting a pre-determined literary

viii Introduction
purpose, and the writer's insistence that they should not be published
seems unconvincing, for they were obviously written (or perhaps re-
written) with a care which must have been unusual in ordinary corres-
pondence even in the leisured days of the nineteenth century.
Miss Hart's entertaining descriptions of sceery are pleasantly inter-
woven with her observations on the joys and sorrows of mortality and
with frequent expressions of her rather primly correct views on social
behaviour. Intimate sidelights on the life of an island community in the
West Indies are mingled with shrewd comment on the humours, follies,
and weaknesses of the small world of Nassau society.
The accounts of balls and receptions, of marooning parties and dinner
parties, of a visit to the fort guarding the entrance to Nassau harbour,
and of carriage drives through the country districts and visits to plantations
and estates all have the authentic touch of first-hand reporting, and the
description of a hurricane and of a storm at sea are plainly the work of
an intelligent observer writing on the spot.
Eighteen of the letters, all of which are signed either Adela Del
Lorraine, Adela, or simply A. D. L., are addressed to Julia, a corres-
pondent in the United States. The last two, written in America during
a brief absence from the Bahamas, are addressed to an anonymous
woman friend whose acquaintance the impressionable Adela had made
during her stay in Nassau, and for whom she evidently conceived what
used to be called "a violent attachment." Certainly she writes in terms
which would now be regarded as extravagantly effusive.
The peculiarities of the author's spelling and punctuation have been
retained throughout this edition of the book.
Jfre a Ith, 1948
























4. 4


* 35

4. . .

* 47

5. 2

* 59




* 95
* 95










S. I



. 11no


Decorations and endpapers by Basil Peek

Letters from the
Bahama Islands
Written in 1823-4

All that can be said of this work is, that the
manusaipt was recommended to the Publishers by
a gentleman of known literary merit, and that it
was written in a fair, but illegible, Italian hand.

Letter I

Y ou will undoubtedly be surprised, my lovely friend, when
you hear that to-morrow I am to embark with my mother
and Adelaide da Souza, for one of the British West India
Islands. Dr. Hamilton recommended change of climate as the
last resource for my mother, whose health has been for many
months declining; we left London without delay, and to-morrow
the Acasto sails I You may imagine that my spirits are depressed,
not that I am bidding adieu to the gaieties of a town life, but our
departure is as sudden as the cause of it is melancholy, and
misfortunes so unexpected have burst upon me with over-
whelming power. New scenes are opening before me, and new
cares and anxieties will weigh heavily on the spirit that has
always been light and buoyant. Mine has been a life of unin-
terrupted happiness; I have followed carelessly and lightly along
the flower-covered path before me, thinking little of that period
when its beautiful blossoms would lie cold and withered beneath
my tread; but thank God, my mind has not been enervated by a
life of indulgence and ease, and I feel as if I could encounter the
dangers of a voyage, and the miseries of a residence in a foreign
land, among strangers, with courage and fortitude, since the health
of my mother requires it, for she is all the world to me, and I have
no wish but for her recovery.
When Dr. Hamilton was urging the necessity for her to avoid
the return of spring here, she replied to him, You know, my
friend, the return of spring is often the season of tears and of
sorrow to those who have watched over one they loved with
tender anxiety through the season of storms, in the hope that when

2 Letters from the Bahama Islands
flowers bloomed again, the flush of health would crimson the
cheek of the invalid; but when they bloomed it was over the
grave of the sufferer I "
He looked as if he felt her words were prophetic; and I felt,
at that moment, as if some awful truth had been suddenly
revealed to me.
A kind of terror hangs over me when I turn my thoughts to
the future; but He who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,"
will enable me to bear the sufferings which are reserved for me.
I will not anticipate them, for I hate melancholy and her attendant
train of gloomy thoughts.
To tell you the truth, my dear Julia, I am not sorry to fly from
this cold and cloudy atmosphere, neither do I regret leaving for
a few months the gay friends by whom I am surrounded. I have
been so long accustomed to the delightful air of France, and to the
warm and enthusiastic manners of its inhabitants, that I cannot
become reconciled to the general formality and coldness I meet
with here. My heart and my imagination are both under their influ-
ence, and I often feel as if I were a stranger in the midst of friends.
My sweet St. Genevieve How happy I was there. I shall
never be so happy again-never, for all that was generous and
elevated in my nature was first unfolded there. It was in that
sweet retreat that Nature and the Arts kindled my enthusiasm,
and all those glowing and beautiful sentiments which they elicit,
became emotions or passions :-it was there, that I have bowed
down and worshipped the setting sun in the fullness of my
. happiness ; and I have often, in those moments of deep emotion,
thrown myself on the bosom of El Rayno, and wished that my
spirit, all light and pure as it was, might then pass into the
presence of the Deity. I well remember moments when I was so
happy that I wished for death, for fear I might survive the dear,
delightful consciousness of my happiness:-and, perhaps, there
is one whose recollections will mingle with mine :-one, whose
heart will renew, through all the coming years of life, impressions
which were cherished and indulged alone, amidst the beauty and
silence of nature I

Letter I 3
Those are feelings that belong alone to the happy period of
youth; its visions may return long after its freshness and its
hopes are gone; but such happiness never returns, only as
memory brings it back to the heart; and then, its golden light,
its first glow, and its summer warmth, are gone I Have you
never observed, that it was in those moments of inexpressible
happiness, as well as in those of deep suffering, that we thought
of death, and without terror? It is unquestionably a very
singular association, but I have more than once felt it was so.
I shall not write to you again until we arrive in that enchanted
Island, where I am told the muses might delight to dwell, so
cloudless is its sky, so bright its sun, and so fragrant are its spicy
groves; if I find it like the valley of Cashmere, or like the ever-
green Isle in the Indian Ocean, where the lovely Imalee wept for
her loneliness, I will invoke the aid of the muses, that I may do
justice in describing it to you I And now, I must court a moment's
sleep, for it is past midnight, and we are to sail at sunrise; my
mother is in good spirits, and appears pleased with the prospect
of a voyage. God grant it may restore her II have just thought,
that when we return to the Old World," it may be by way of
the New "; and what happiness it would be to me to embrace
you again, and in your own sweet home too I I think of you
often, my dear Julia; often II mean always, and with affectionate
tenderness. If we do not meet again, remember how truly I have
loved you, and how sincerely I confide in your friendship.
Adieu, adieu,

cLetter II

IT was the evening of the 9th December, that the Acasto
anchored in the harbour of-. It was too late for us to
enjoy the fine prospect which I am told the town presents as
you approach it; but it was a beautiful night; not a breath of
wind swept over the bosom of the emerald and sapphire coloured
waters of the bay, which lay in undisturbed tranquillity under the
light of a thousand stars; the moon was just rising from the
fathomless deep of the ocean, over which it spread that rich,
resplendent light, which is seen but in tropical climates. It is a
light full of poetry and love, which not only powerfully affects
the senses, but which awakens in the heart a native feeling of
devotion and enthusiasm, that purifies it from the effect of
passion, and elevates it above the imperfection of our nature; it
touches those chords of the heart to which the notes of sadness
respond, but it is a sadness softened to the purest and holiest
feeling. The waters of the bay are so transparent that the smallest
shells are seen at the bottom. The Public Buildings" of the
island are directly in front of the landing; they are of granite,
or a light-coloured stone, and are imposing in their appearance;
houses and low cottages are seen in every direction, surrounded
by lemon and orange trees, among which are intermingled the
melancholy cocoa-nut. Every breath of wind that swept over us
was filled with the most delightful odours; it was as soft and
balmy as the fabled breezes of lonia, and I could not resist its
sweet influence. I felt as if I were indeed realizing the poet's
dream. My heart was light with hope, and I said to my mother,
" You will find health and happiness here; there is inspiration in

Letter II

the air itself, and you look better already I She looked at me
with such an expression of sadness, that I burst into tears, for
I felt how melancholy it was to have those warm and delightful
overflowing of the heart thrown back on itself in coldness and
in fear, by the sufferings of one we love. I have felt it so often
of late, that I am losing my enthusiasm, and the brilliant colouring
of my imagination is becoming cold and dim I
My mother said to me, but she wept as she spoke, You will
be happy here, my child, for this soft and beautiful climate is well
suited to your warm and glowing fancy; and while that is
unchilled, flowers and a brilliant sky will satisfy you. I require
nothing to make me happy but your love; yes, dear Adela, I have
nothing in this world to love but you, and I ask no more of
Heaven." At that moment we reached the shore: two persons
were standing on the beach, and one of them enquired of my
mother, if the lady he addressed was Madame Del Lorraine; she
bowed, and he, mentioning the name of our banker in London,
by whose direction everything had been prepared for our
reception, said he waited to conduct us to our lodgings ; and you
may be sure it was with a feeling of joy and thankfulness, that I
saw my mother seated on a comfortable sofa; but the floor of
our parlour was without a carpet, and contained no unnecessary
furniture. I exclaimed, How barbarous but my mother said
"I am pleased and satisfied!" I was so delighted to see her
appear so cheerful, I yielded for a moment to the most enchanting
emotions and to the brightest hopes.
Our house stands upon the beach, and every wave washes
the foundation of it. We have rooms in the upper part, and
broad and lofty verandas encircle them, affording always the most
charming promenade; the windows open into them, and the
winds which sweep through them sound like the mournful music
of the wind harp.
It is impossible for me to describe to you the wild kind of
pleasure with which I gazed upon a scene so new to me. A large
court surrounds the house, which is one of the most comfortable
in appearance I have seen; a few trees have been planted around

6 Letters from the Bahama Islands
it, and the situation is very agreeable; it is in the principal
street, which runs the whole length of the bay; it is wide and
irregular, and is not paved. The houses are generally built of
wood, and front the water, which affords a delightful prospect.
The cottages, or huts, as they first appeared to me, are most of
them of one story, have flat roofs, and no chimnies ; they are not
painted, and look ancient and dilapidated. The town lies in a
kind of valley; the spire of a dark stone church is seen amidst
the foliage of the cocoa-nut and mangrove trees, and on the
surrounding eminences are some spacious and handsome build-
ings and gardens, enclosed by thick and heavy stone walls, which
appears to me an outrage upon good taste; behind them is a
range of hills, thickly wooded, and the rising vapours, seen by
moonlight, curling around the dew-spangled leaves, present a
view picturesque and interesting. Habitations in ruins, stone walls
mouldering and broken down, form a striking contrast to the
verdure and freshness of the orange, lemon, and citron trees,
rich with their foliage and fruit; and the first impression made
on the mind by the singular union of light and shade, is long
remembered by one, on whom it burst with all the charms of
novelty I
One end of our veranda is open to the sea, and a small island
which appears floating on its bosom, breaks that boundless view
of the ocean which is so sublime. I watched several little boats
as they passed to and fro in the moonlight, and occasionally I
caught a note of a boat song, as sung by a fisherman, or the
sailors as they rowed homewards; and once, I heard, as it
appeared to me, music coming over the waters, mingled with
sounds of mirth, as of revellers returning from a feast; and I
heard the shrill sound of the conch shell, blown, as I thought, to
announce the approach of a friend or of a lover; and I said,
who is there, of all those who are reposing under this brilliant
sky, to welcome our arrival, or to give us the kind greeting of a
friend ? and a sense of my melancholy situation stole over my
heart with saddening power. You cannot comprehend the
feeling of desolation that comes over the mind, when you first

Letter II

find yourself in a foreign land, a stranger to all around you, a
stranger even to the very air you breathe, ignorant of all that is
before you, and trembling for the life of one most tenderly
beloved. It must be felt, to be understood, for it is, perhaps, the
only feeling that bears an analogy to that, which paralyzes
us when we look on the friend we have loved and lost
forever I All nature seemed to reproach me for my regrets, and
to mock at my fears; but for all that, they pressed coldly
and heavily on my heart, and I turned away from a scene
full of light and brilliancy; but before I slept, the sun had
risen in the east, crimsoning the whole heavens with its rich,
warm glow.
My mother appears materially better, and is in charming
spirits. Those feel as if they were commencing a new existence,
who are recovering from the ennui and fatigue of a long voyage.
I fear Adelaide da Souza will never cease to lament her exile, as
she calls it, but she is too amiable and too simple not to be happy
when those around her are so.
I hope you have received the
letter I wrote to you on board
the Acasto, in which I mentioned
the terrible storm we encoun-
tered, and our narrow escape
from the most awful death.
Imperfect as my description of it
was, it would make you tremble,
as even the recollection of it does
me; and yet I love to recall
those moments of danger, when
my thoughts and my feelings
were so elevated, that I felt composed to meet even death, for
I have always from a child loved those powerful excitements
which draw the mind from itself, and leave on it deep and
lasting impressions.
It is, perhaps, true, there is no scene in nature which is
terrifying and sublime, that partakes largely of the ludicrous,

8 Letters from the Bahama Islands
but a storm at sea; and I defy anyone but a trembling coward
to witness it, without, at least, one laugh. The rolling and
plunging of the ship, whose every motion tosses you, sans
cri/monie, backwards and forwards, like a ball; the tumbling of
chairs, tables, trunks and boxes; the crashing of china, and glass,
and bottles; the creaking of planks, the flapping of torn sails,
the loud, stem voice of the captain, heard amidst the roar of the
ocean, the oaths of the sailors, the groans of timid passengers,
and the heavy gusts of wind, together with the confusion and
wildness of your own thoughts and feelings, make it one of the
most awfully impressive scenes ever witnessed But, when the
fury of the storm is spent, and the wind is low, and the sun
bursts through the flying clouds, its crimson light beautifully
tinging them as they seem to mingle with the waves that furiously
dash and roll-when the ship that had appeared like a frail bark,
rises majestically upon them, and passes triumphantly on,
leaving them far behind in their expended strength-when she
seems to kiss the blue heavens as she rises on the summit of
mountains of waters, which look like liquid emerald and ruby,
so indescribably brilliant are their colours-it is then, that one
stands in silent awe and admiration, as in the presence of the
Deity-it is then, that the grandeur and sublimity of a storm
at sea is felt at the very bottom of the soul; and there is not,
I believe, the being who has witnessed it, who did not at least
for a moment, bow in wonder and in adoration before the
Being, who rides upon the wings of the wind," and who holds
the spirit of the tempest in his own hands I
I told you in that letter, of a singular fellow passenger we had,
whom I named the Incognito, for it was evident he was in dis-
guise, and sought concealment. He was the most melancholy and
abstracted being I ever met with; he used to stand for hours
in the same spot, and often I heard him walking the deck the
whole night. I never saw him smile but once, and then the light
of soul, the harmony of music, beamed over his countenance,
and I felt involuntarily disposed to show him the respect we
offer to superior genius. I heard the cry of "A sail," "A sail,"

Letter II

and ran upon deck, expecting to be cheered by the sight of my
national flag, when, to my utter amazement, I saw nothing but
one of those curious little fish, called a "Nautilus," or a
" Portuguese Man-of-War," sailing quietly by us; it was soon
after caught by one of the sailors, and my expressions of surprise
probably drew the smile from him. I shall never forget the first
time I heard him sing; it was a stormy night, and the deep,
rich, melancholy tones of his voice, as heard through its pauses,
were startling. I did not sleep that night; all the past rose before
me, and many thoughts of the future came blended with visions
of days gone by I I wished the stranger had been sleeping in a
coral cave, or singing on the rocks to mermaids, before he had
disturbed me thus, for I could not throw off the effect his voice
had produced on me. The night we anchored in the blue bay
of he approached my mother, and expressed in the most
graceful manner the interest he felt in her recovery, and thanking
her for the notice she had taken of a stranger seen under the
most suspicious circumstances," begged to be allowed to see her
once after the fatigues of the voyage were over. She readily
granted his request; but strange to tell, since our arrival we
have neither seen nor heard of him. My mother appears curious
to know who he is, and the idea that he is in some way connected
with her fate, continually pursues me; and you know what a
mystery has enveloped her, and how ignorant I am of the cause
of her sorrow. But God forbid, that any thing should come to
add to her unhappiness in this land of strangers !
What a letter I have written you I But it is drawing to a dose,
for Don Manuel has just informed me that a vessel will sail for
America in the morning, by which I shall send you this; and in
my next epistle I will tell you something of the islanders, and of
the flowers and fruits, and of every thing curious; but I must
tell you now, that we are much pleased with our residence, and
with the climate. Flowers are seen in every direction; and orange,
lemon and lime trees, covered with fruit and blossoms, as well as
the tamarind, almond, pomegranate, and bay. The acacia and
mignonette trees, yield a fragrance that is like continual incense;

o1 Letters from the Bahama Islands
the atmosphere is filled with their odours, and yet it is never
oppressive. The ocean, which I love, is always before me;
eternal verdure, and eternal sunshine, and delicious fruits, every
thing conspires to make us happy. The novelty of our situation
undoubtedly adds much to my happiness, but the heart must be
cold indeed that would not be warmed into pleasure and
enthusiasm by such a climate as this, independent of any
extraneous circumstances.
Farewell I

c- N Letter III

HE vessel has not yet sailed, my dear Julia, for adverse
winds detain her, which gives me an opportunity to teaze
you with another letter. I will first tell you that my mother
is better. She seems invigorated by this beautiful climate, and
who would not be, for it is a luxury merely to breathe such an
air, and I am sure those who have enjoyed the rich, warm, melting
light which belongs only to a tropical climate, could never believe
that genius and imagination were independent of the effect of
climate. Good Heavens I who could look upon the scene
before me, the ocean covered over with light and of a thousand
radiant hues-the heavens all in a glow-the moon beaming
forth a splendour quite indescribable-the fragrance of a thousand
wild flowers filling the air-the leaves of the trees gently respond-
ing to the kisses of the light winds-the waves of the sea rolling
in majesty at my feet-the breakers at a distance seen like rising
mountains of snow, often assuming the most fantastic shapes,
but lingering long enough in their foaming whiteness to catch
the brilliant hues of the moon-beams as they break over them;
who, my friend, could look on sah objects, and not feel the
glow of inspiration kindling in her mind, and not feel a kind
of proud, elevated consciousness of the dignity of her nature,
as well as of the immortality of her spirit ?
I am not a wild, ungoverned enthusiast, but I should wish to
die under such a sky as this: for I feel as if the soul would be
sooner purified of its errors, and that the heart would more
easily, disengage itself from earthly ties, than in a colder and
cloudier region. To be surrounded by all that is beautiful and

12 Letters from the Bahama Islands
consoling in nature, and to gaze on it till the last moment, would
be to me like breathing out my spirit on the bosom of the most
tenderly beloved friend, and gazing on her loved features till
the eyes closed in death; it would be like recalling the enchant-
ment of those sweet and beautiful sentiments, that are elicited
by the harmony of nature, when the heart rejoices in the fresh-
ness of youthful hopes, and their melody would steal over the
senses, with composing and religious power.
Since my last letter to you, my heart has been warmed by
many expressions of kindness from these hospitable islanders;
I say my heart, because in a foreign land, and among strangers,
the most simple expression of good will, and even a look of
affectionate interest, is felt, and felt deeply and gratefully. Many
of the inhabitants of this "desolate rock," as they call it, have
visited us, and their frank and warm-hearted manners are very
pleasing; but I do not much admire the custom they have of
shaking hands whenever they meet or separate. The Governor,
and all persons of distinction whom I have seen, are polite and
courteous, and have offered us every civility; and you can
imagine how agreeable such kindness is to me, particularly on
my mother's account, who appears charmed with her new
friends. I have met with many persons who are affable and
agreeable, but there is no one here before whom my heart bows
down in warm admiration and affection. You have often warned
me against these sudden impressions, and against yielding to
those illusions of the fancy which end too often in tears ; and it
is true, I have been often deceived in my friendships, but I am
not capricious, though I am proud. It was not my fault, if those
who appeared to me true, and generous, and disinterested, were not
so: if I loved them because I thought them sincere and deserving,
when they were not so, it was my misfortune, not my fault.
My mother appears to forget her sufferings in this new
excitement, and when she is happy I have nothing to regret;
but it cannot last, and I am not deceived. I always told you the
happiest period of my life was past when I left St. Genevieve;
and the consciousness that it is so makes me desirous to acquire

Letter III 13
that kind of philosophy, which renders us insensible to the
instability of enjoyment-but I despair of that here 1
I have sometimes wished that my talents were powerful
enough to render me indifferent to the common misfortunes
of life, but it is not so, and I have done thinking even of their
cultivation, for my mother occupies all my thoughts; and my
affections, not my genius, will decide my destiny.
It is a great pleasure to me to find that my mother is willing
to resume her old employment. You will recollect how she has
loved and cultivated a taste for the fine arts, and that music is
almost a passion with her. She has renewed her fondness for it,
and our evening coteries are often delightful. She is a proficient
on the piano and harp, and some of our acquaintances are very
Music is a luxury here : it is like the climate, full of enchant-
ment; but its character is melancholy and its effects powerfully
so. Every thing in a southern clime that
is allied to sentiment and feeling, tends
to produce a delightful and luxurious
kind of sadness, that must be unfavour-
able to vigour of intellect and mental
exertion; but the air itself is opposed
to that. But the effect of it is certainly
very agreeable,.for it imparts a softness
to the manners, a glow to the feelings,
and an intensity to the affections, that is
peculiar. On the morals, the effect is,
perhaps, not even questionable; for whatever enervates the mind,
strengthens the passions, and weakens the power over them:
but I have always thought there might be some slight apology
for errors that spring from such a cause, while there can be none
for those committed by cold calculation, without the excitement
of the imagination or the passions ; and that systematic kind of
depravity, which is common among those of colder climates,
who boast of pure morals, appears to me much more degrading
than those vices which spring from impetuous and impassioned

14 Letters from the Bahama Islands
feelings, and are often connected with noble and generous
virtues: but vice and immorality are revolting under any
colour and in any clime, and perhaps the refinements of them are
particularly dangerous.
If the nations of the south are more eloquent, more brilliant,
and more impassioned, are not those of the north more calm,
more rational, and more virtuous ? There is much sociability
and conviviality here, but I have seen nothing that looks like
depravity of morals; on the contrary, the inhabitants appear to
me kind-hearted, sober, and amiable, by no means deserving the
character generally given to the colonists. There are, undoubtedly,
vices and irregularities among them; and, I believe, there are
instances in which good morals and the established laws of society
are outraged, and perhaps by those that ought to be their firmest
champions; but it is not to be supposed that the society of a
small garrisoned island, under such a sky, can be distinguished
for its moral or intellectual refinements, though the appearance
of morality and virtue is still preserved.
How often I wish you were here, my dear Julia, to join us in
the frequent excursions we make on the water. The harbour is
beautiful, and the tranquil blue waters of the bay are often
covered with little boats, sailing to and fro, their white sails
gently filled, skimming swiftly and gracefully over its surface.
We often sail, or row, by moonlight; and sometimes land for a
moment on the little island, to gather shells and coral. The nights
are calm and beautiful, but the dews are very heavy. We occasion-
ally join a small party after our return, when the evening is
passed in playing cards, dancing by the piano, and promenading
the verandas. My mother retires early, and I often walk alone
for hours in our veranda after all human sounds are hushed, for
by ten o'clock all is still, and you would not know the town
was inhabited, but for the call of the solitary sentinel, "Who
goes there ?" or "All is well!" I love to listen to the wild
music of the ocean, and to the rustling of the cocoa-nut and
banana leaves; it is a soothing yet sad sound, and here it is
for ever heard.

Letter III I5
The signal gun has fired, and it is the signal for my adieu I
I commission the winds to bear you sweet odours from the
fragrant groves of this evergreen isle. Oh I why are you not
here to enjoy them with me. Your national flag is floating on
the breeze: may it ever float as proudly and as independently
as it does now I Another gun I and another adieu
Farewell I Your

C- e Letter IV

P ERHAPS there is no greater pleasure, my dear Julia, than that
of receiving letters, for the first time, in a foreign land, from
one you love; and that happiness has been mine to-day
At the sight of your graceful hand-writing, my heart beat almost
audibly; I kissed your seal again and again before I broke it
and I pressed the dear package to my heart with as much
enthusiasm as I should have embraced you I
From what simple sources most of our purest pleasures
spring; and how much lighter and happier are those unrestrained
and childish emotions, than those which are caused by deeper
and more passionate feelings II do not call that happiness,
which springs from the deep affections of the heart and from
its passions, for there is real and untold suffering there.
Your letters were forwarded from England, and of course
are a little ancient; but for that they were not the less welcome.
They renewed many most cherished recollections; and it is
sweet to me to recall, even here, the happiness of those sunny
days we have passed together, in the interchange of the best
feelings of the heart, enlivened by the gaiety of youthful folly,
and cloudless as a summer's sky.
I feel almost alarmed to find you are becoming so very bookish
and literary; and pray tell me if it is the fashion for your ladies to
study metaphysics and the sciences ? I have heard they encouraged
a taste for literature and study, and that many of them were
distinguished for talents and acquirements; and that some of
those even, who belonged to the most fashionable circles, were
members of the Blue Club. But if it is true, as I have heard, that

Letter IV 17
the American gentlemen, with a true chivalrous spirit, have
thrown aside the pride and prejudice which have been so
religiously cherished by the scholars of the Old World, with
regard to female talents, it is not surprising that the ladies are
as distinguished for their mental superiority, as they are for their
grace and beauty.
There is something very amiable and pleasing in the manners
of the American gentlemen; and those whom I have met with,
would do honour to any country. Their talents and acquire-
ments have often been the subject of admiration in the circles in
which they were known in England; and their genius, and
ambition of literary distinction, is generously acknowledged.
Your splendid iloge on Lord Byron has charmed me; and
I assure you, it has lost nothing of its eloquence by being read
by moonlight, under this poetical and beautiful sky. I am not
such an enthusiast with regard to him as you are, but I believe
his stupendous genius will be restored to its primitive splendour
under the cloudless sky of Greece, and that it will burst upon
us with new light and power from those classic shores, where
the poet does not seek in vain for inspiration.
I received with all due emotions of pleasure and gratitude,
the splendidly bound volume of Mr. Percival's Poems; and,
as you have asked my humble opinion of his works, I shall
tell you in few words that I do not admire their general character.
He has genius, unquestionably, but it is of that dark and melan-
choly kind, that excites your pity, but wearies you by its continued
gloom. He appears to me a misanthrope, who sees nothing
bright or joyous in this life: whose affections have been like
the fatal simoom to him, bearing ruin and desolation along with
them; who looks upon the world as a world of tears and of
sorrow; and who feels himself an isolated being, gifted with
feelings in which none can sympathise. I imagine that such
sentiments as he continually expresses, in the wildest and most
extravagant language, are of dangerous tendency to the young
and sensitive, and that they might even prove immoral in their
effects. Of what use are talents, my dear friend, if they destroy

18 Letters from the Bahama Islands
all that is affectionate, and social, and generous, in the heart;
and of what avail is our religion, if it does not enable us to meet
with courage, and to bear with fortitude, the misfortunes of
life ? I admire genius with the enthusiasm of a devotee, but I
love better those amiable and benevolent virtues, which promote
the happiness of those around us, even at the sacrifice of our own
peculiar taste and feelings.
Mr. Percival seems to have abandoned himself to the luxury
of woe," and to scorn the kindness and sympathy of mankind;
and yet, he is not too proud to make his disappointments and his
sorrows the burthen of his song 1 I am sorry for your sake
I cannot applaud him, and you must not think me severe, but
indeed his sophistry vexes me. There are many of his fugitive
pieces that are poetical, and even beautiful; and if you will
encourage and patronise him, I doubt not but his genius will
unfold itself in lighter and in noble strains.
There is a certain kind of sensitiveness which is said to
belong to genius, that might often make one unhappy, but I
think never unamiable and cynical; yet, I do believe, that those
deep and impassioned feelings, and those proud sentiments,
which generally belong to highly gifted minds, are a source of
great wretchedness, and that they sometimes produce results
which make life hateful; but the irritability of such a tempera-
ment should not be taken for sensibility, though it is often
offered as an apology for many caprices and faults. Perhaps it
is impossible for one who aspires to literary distinction, to
preserve the even tenor of his thoughts and feelings unruffled;
and the secret of the unhappiness of most aspirants after fame,
as well as of the waywardness and perversity of many gifted
with genius, may be traced to disappointed ambition: but I do
not believe that eccentricity and excessive sensibility are con-
comitants of genius, and I have some times been almost vexed
to find an opinion so very absurd, but so generally sanctioned,
has allowed many a strange and wayward wight to lay claim to
the attributes of that mysterious impulse, which is the best
gift of Heaven.

Letter IV 19
I wish I could transport to you some of the sweet flowers
that are blooming around my Hesperian residence; but I must
hasten to send you my farewell, for a vessel is about sailing for
your shores, very unexpectedly to me, and I can only add, that
my mother is better, and we are satisfied and happy. This is a
dull, cold letter, all unworthy of you, and of the sky under which
it is written: but you have discovered before that it is a fault
of mine to be sometimes horribly cold and dull, and that no
subject can kindle fire on the altar, on which it bums at other
times with Promethean heat and lustre I
Do not forget me I
For I am, ever yours,


- Letter V
My dear Julia:
How is it possible you could suppose I would submit to
the drudgery of keeping a "Journal"? Do not believe
I shall do any such thing, even to oblige you; but I
promise to inform you from time to time of my occupations and
amusements, and if you choose to arrange my letters chronologic-
ally, I have no objection. You may even have them bound in
red morocco if it suits your taste, but remember they are written
for no bright eyes but your own.
I am now going to describe for your amusement, a scene
which proved almost too tragical for mine, in the Journal style.
It was Saturday, the twenty-fifth of March, that my mother
prevailed on me to join a marooning party on the water, given
by the Honourable Mr. and Mrs. -. He is an English gentle-
man of fortune, who has resided here several years, is one of
His Majesty's Council, and is distinguished for his liberality, and
for his philanthropy of feeling.
We embarked at eleven o'clock on board the Pam-be-civil,"
a beautiful brig owned by Mr. with ten ladies, and twice
that number of gentlemen. The sky was cloudless, the air
delicious, and the sun was warm and glowing when we weighed
anchor. We soon passed the bar and found ourselves at sea, and
we formed as gay a party as was ever assembled. The wind was
just high enough to waft us along beautifully over the smooth
sea; the heavens were dear and blue, the vessel was in delightful
order, and each one seemed prepared for the greatest enjoyment.
Many of the party appeared inspired by the very God of Mirth,
and neither Comus nor Bacchus would have thought them bad

Letter V zI
disciples I But after we had been two hours at sea, the ladies
began to drop off one by one from the scene of merriment;
and, notwithstanding their unwillingness, they were obliged to
yield to the worst of all physical sufferings I I was more fortunate,
which enabled me to laugh at some and assist others; but I felt
very happy when we came in sight of the island where we were
to anchor. I went on shore with one lady and several gentlemen,
where we found some shells, and a plenty of the fan coral. It is
called "Rose Island," but why, I cannot imagine, for there is
not the smallest appearance of vegetation, and I did not see a
blade of grass or a leaf upon it. It is an entire bed of honeycomb
rock, curiously and beautifully excavated, and in many of the
rocks are deep cavities, which afford romantic abodes for the
mermaids, whose beds might be of sea-weed and coral, and
whose serenade the wild music of the ocean, for its waves dash
and foam eternally against them, whitening them with their
spray. It is uninhabited, and so are most of that immense duster
of islands, over which the most brilliant sun shines in vain.
When we returned, we found an awning spread, and a table
covered with the choicest viands; but the ladies preferred the
quiet repose they were enjoying, to a seat around the festive
board. They were pledged in full bumpers; and champagne,
and the choicest wines, flowed like the waters below us, in
sparkling abundance, and the hours flew swiftly and gaily on.
But as pleasure never lasts long, we were suddenly aroused from
our mirth by the appearance of the captain, who assured us that
black and heavy clouds had gathered in the west, and recom-
mended our weighing anchor immediately. His words were
electric in their effect, and, in a few moments, no signs of the
feast remained, but what the revellers carried with them. A
few corks and broken bottles were scattered on deck, but they
were soon removed; the anchor was weighed, and the wind
was fair; but the clouds outstript us; the thunder began to
rattle over our heads; the lightning's red gleam played among
the shrouds; the wind suddenly ceased, and there was not a
wave or an undulation of the waters to be seen.

22 Letters from the Bahama Islands
The ladies were very much alarmed; and when the rain
began to pour in torrents, they all retreated to the cabin, and
such a scene as followed you can scarcely imagine I Some threw
themselves on the floor, some lay on the lockers, and others
crept into the berths; the wind blew a perfect gale; the ship
was rolling and plunging; the children screaming; the gentle-
men laughing; and the waves were foaming and dashing-.
But it is vain for me to attempt to describe it to you; if you
have seen Matthews in his Trip to Calais," you may imagine,
at least, the ludicrous part of it I
We were obliged to come to anchor, and thinking it wise to
make the best of such an unexpected accident, I attempted to
play a game of chess with Mr. S--, but bishops, knights, and
castles, lay in undignified confusion around us; and folding
up my hands, I seated myself in a comer to wait calmly the
result. The ladies were asleep, and several of the gentlemen
had yielded to the drowsy god; a sudden gust of wind had
extinguished the light, for it was now night, when a cry of distress
assailed our ears. A gentleman who had been taken ill was
brought below, and the occupant of the first berth was roused
from her slumbers to give place to the insensible man; and the
universal cry of "What is the matter?" "Bring lights," and
"Bring brandy," of which we had none, made the scene, for a
moment, truly appalling I
It was twelve o'clock before the wished-for light was dis-
covered; the storm was beginning to abate, and about two
o'clock we arrived in the harbour, and landed in a pelting rain,
very thankful, I assure you, to escape greater danger. Thus
ended an excursion that had promised us the most cloudless
enjoyment, and it was, in truth, both festive and ludicrous, as
well as tragical.
I found my mother in a state almost of distraction; she
threw herself into my arms, and exclaimed, "My child!
my Adela thank God you are here 1" I attended morning
prayers; and, although the Reverend Mr. had been one
of the gayest of the party, he looked as devout as usual, and

Letter V 23
performed the service with as much reverence as if he had never
ventured beyond the bounds of his sanctum sanctorum; as if
he had never heard the sounds of revellers, when inspired by
mirth and wine
If you are as fatigued as I am, you will be delighted to receive
my farewell. My mother salutes you.

c -- Letter VI

I AM waiting with anxious impatience to hear from you, for
your long silence has awakened a thousand fears in my mind,
and I long to be assured once more of your remembrance and
affection, for the idea even of your forgetfulness would cast a
shade on my happiness; but I do not dream of such a thing,
and I repose upon your friendship as confidently as I do tenderly.
You will, perhaps, wonder how a feeling of anxiety can find
its way to the heart, when one is surrounded by all that is beautiful
in nature, and by all that the soul most dearly values; but believe
me, my friend, it is not the most brilliant sky, or the most balmy
atmosphere, or the kindness of new friends, that can make us
forget those we love. The heart cannot shake off its affections,
as the lion shakes the dew-drops from his mane," and memory
turns to guard them with hallowed tenderness, and time and
distance render them only more sacred I
Yesterday we dined at G-- House. I have told you before,
that the master is a gentleman of frank and agreeable manners,
that he is polite and social, fond of his friends, truly loyal, and
is much valued and beloved by the people. He is a military man,
but he is perfectly unostentatious, and mingles without pride
or ceremony with the islanders; and his presence is considered
indispensable at all parties. We have received the most courteous
and hospitable attentions from him.
The party was large, and of course not very select; the ladies
were well dressed. Their manners are free from the languor
and indolence which are peculiar to warm latitudes, and they
appear energetic and spirited, and full of good-humour. Dinner

Letter VI 25
was announced about half-past six o'clock; the table was well
laid and amply filled; but a State dinner is always an alarming
affair, though this passed off very agreeably; and, at nine o'clock,
the ladies retired to the drawing-rooms, where two of them
did the honours of the tea-table, for the G- is a bachelor.
No ceremony was observed. Several tables were placed around
the room, from which you helped yourself, if no knight of the
cup was near, to tea or coffee and cakes, and the ladies reclined
on the sofas, or sipped their tea by moonlight in the verandas,
just as their inclination prompted. The view from the porticos
which surround the house is really sublime; and the situation
is so elevated, it overlooks the whole town and bay. The rooms
are very spacious, but simply furnished, which is the case with
all the houses here. Cards and chess were introduced. I took
a hand at both, but acquired no reputation for skill in either,
for the air here is too enervating for such sedentary games.
I had the pleasure to meet two of your countrywomen there,
who held a conspicuous place in society, particularly in point of
intellectual cultivation and agreeable manners. We have received
from them both great kindness, but the affectionate and warm-
hearted hospitality of Mrs. B- I shall never forget. The
sympathy she has expressed for me has given her the strongest
claim to my gratitude; and it will be my pride, as well as my
pleasure, to remember and speak of her friendship and her
virtues with the enthusiasm they deserve. She is extremely
intelligent and well-educated, and has resided some time in
We supped at twelve o'clock, much gratified with the
courteous hospitality of the master, and the polite attentions of
his guests. I am going this evening to a ball, given by the lady
of the Chief Justice. My mother and Adelaide have declined it,
and I am to represent both. Mademoiselle da Souza has lost all
her gaiety, and I cannot help thinking the Incognito is, in some
way, the cause of it; and yet she knows nothing of him; but,
perhaps, the very mystery and melancholy which envelop
him, have awakened in her heart an interest, of which she is

26 Letters from the Bahama Islands
herself unconscious. She applies herself to books and music,
as if her future destiny were to be decided by her acquirements ;
but I believe something deeper than either occupies her thoughts.
I have been playing billiards this morning and you would have
laughed at my awkwardness, but it is a very fascinating and
graceful game. The only billiard table here is at a beautiful place
about half a mile from town, called the Lawn "; it is a lovely
spot, surrounded by flowers and shrubs, and, I think, is one of
the prettiest situations on the island. It evinces the taste and
liberality of the owner, who is distinguished for his hospitality.
The billiard room contains also an extensive and elegant library.
The sounds of tambourine and harp have ceased, and the
morning sun is peeping forth in the rosy east," but I cannot
sleep, and will therefore fulfil my promise of telling you of the
party. At nine o'clock, I was ushered into the brilliantly lighted
rooms of Mrs. M- 's house. The warmth of the air lent a
softness to the light, mingled, as it seemed to be, with the
brilliant colours of the beautiful flowers; and the dew, exhaling
the odour from the soft white blossoms of the orange and lemon
trees, which filled the whole atmosphere, rendered the scene
almost as seductive and enchanting as the fabled splendours of
an Italian fete. The rooms were crowded, and several officers
in full uniform added something to their splendour. Dancing
commenced at ten, and the G- and the lady of the fete opened
the ball: several pretty women were there, among whom your
countrywomen were distinguished.
The music was fine, the floors were fantastically chalked;
every one appeared in delightful spirits, and the tout ensemble
of the scene was animating and agreeable. Supper was announced
at one o'clock, and the beautiful fruits and the gay flowers which
adorned the table, the profusion of lights, and the gay dresses,
made it delightful, and I have seldom passed an hour of greater
hilarity. It was followed by a fine flourish of "God Save the
King," after which Scotch reels were introduced and continued,
I know not how many hours. I was retiring sans cirdmonie
when I saw the Incognito; he stood gazing in perfect abstracted-

Letter VI 27
ness on the scene before him, and I know not why, but I stopped
a moment to gaze on it too. The moon threw her splendid light
over trees filled with flowers and golden fruit; the ocean in its
vast extent, and the breakers rising in their shadowy whiteness,
as if to mingle with the fleecy clouds, and their deep perpetual
roar, could not be seen or heard without emotion.
The house stands on a hill, overlooking the town; the
small island in front, looked a mere speck on the bosom of the
waters; the houses so far.below, appeared like cottages, and the
grey stone church, embosomed by lofty cocoa-nut trees, rose
darkly amidst their gloom. At the distance of half a mile east, is a
fort, built upon, and surrounded by high ledges of rocks, which
look, at night, almost inaccessible, and broken and ragged as
they are, appear like ancient battlements; I believe it is built of
stone, and is painted white; it stands very high, and is one of the
most picturesque objects that meet the eye. Beyond it is indis-
tinctly seen the spire of another church, amidst the foliage of
orange and tamarind trees; the church is of the most singular
architecture, and is surrounded by an immensely-high and thick
stone wall, over which run a variety of flowering vines, whose
bright and verdant colours form a beautiful contrast to its heavy
and melancholy look. South runs a range of hills, called the
" Blue Hills," and in the valley are scattered cottages, and negro
huts, shaded by branches of the palm and banana; rocks and
gardens, hills and vales, abounding in the wildness and sterility of
nature, are there mingled in beautiful confusion.
The Government House, which is a very handsome building,
with upper and lower verandas, supported by large pillars,
stands at a short distance farther west; on the same eminence
is D-- House, built by the Earl of D-- now occupied by
his son, the Honourable Colonel M.; from that are seen the
garrison and the western forts, and the view of the harbour is
very beautiful. Many of the streets seen from these heights are
cut through the solid rock, and are almost impassable, excepting
Spied; they are often hedged with rows of lime trees and the
bayonet plant.

28 Letters from the Bahama Islands
I stood gazing on the magnificent view before me, illumined.
by the most brilliant moonlight imaginable, in admiration, when
a deep sigh from the stranger recalled me to my recollection;
conscious of my feelings at that moment, I turned hastily away,
as if he had been conscious of them too, indignant that any one,
and most of all, that he, should have witnessed them.
You will know, my dear Julia, how entirely I am under the
influence of my affections, and what a martyr I am to them;
I have often lamented it, for the weakness and suffering into
whicl they betray me, is inconsistent with the proud indepen-
dence of my mind; but it is in vain that I have sought to control
the impetuosity of my feelings, and I have never felt more
keenly the folly of yielding to them, than on this occasion. I
returned very much vexed with myself, and out of humour with
all the world, and for the first time in my life felt sick of the
unvarying splendour of the heavens.
We are going to-morrow to pass a few days in the country,
and any change that brings pleasure to my mother is agreeable
to me. I am afraid you will complain of the length and frequency
of my letters, but I shall continue to persecute you with them, till
you are more indulgent to me. If your patience is exhausted,
forgive me, for I would not punish you too severely, and think
of me sometimes, when you are happiest,
For I am always,

Letter VII r

I*r is very amiable of you, my dear Julia, to flatter me by the
assurance that my letters give you pleasure, and since you tell
me that they make you imagine you are actually inhaling the
odours of the fruits and flowers of this sunny isle, I shall allow
no opportunity to pass without writing you.
We continue to enjoy the hospitable kindness of our friends
here, and a charming and tasteful ball, given by Mrs. W., and a
very agreeable petit super and conversazione, at Mrs. E--'s,
have added much to our pleasure; we have many informal
invitations, and almost every day brings us some new enjoyment.
The spring has arrived, but it is not here as with you, or in
England, the sudden and wonderful unfolding of Nature in all
her vernal freshness and beauty, for it is scarcely marked by any
difference from the winter, excepting that the foliage is of a
brighter and greener hue, the fragrance of the plants a little more
powerful, and some few trees which lose their leaves during the
winter months, resume them with the freshness of youth; the
air is perhaps more balmy, though not so refreshing; and the
"sweet south generally prevails, with its enervating, though
to me its inspiring influence.
I have become so fond of this climate, and find it so congenial
to me, I should wish never to leave it; but I should as soon
believe that the summer brightness of beauty was to last for ever,
as that I was destined to pass my life amidst the fragrance of the
orange and lemon groves of this far off, evergreen isle; yet, I
think I should be content with an humbler fate, and that I could
easily sacrifice my ambition, to enjoy it always.

30 Letters from the Bahama Islands
If you have ever experienced the kind of happiness that can
neither be expressed nor described, which seems to arise from no
external or particular cause, but which fills the spirit with a
kind of intoxication, for it is a buoyancy of feeling, a lightness
and carelessness of heart, and a recklessness of past and future
events, that is as singular as it is delightful, you will know what
I have enjoyed to-day. A lady invited me to join a small party
at her country-place, and offered me a seat in her carriage, which
I accepted, as my mother and Mademoiselle da Souza declined
The Hut," or Hobby Horse Hall," as it is called, is five
miles from town; the ride to it is the whole way on the western
shore; the ocean lies before you, and the beach is covered with
the sea grape tree, and with shrubs and vines; wild flowers of
every hue and odour are mingled with leaves for ever verdant,
and smiling as they appear to do, amidst the wild roar of the
breakers, and the spray that covers them, they look fantastic
and beautiful.
The house stands on a wide plain, far from the road; it is
a thatched cottage, built merely for marooning parties, contains
but two rooms, and has a piazza; it is surrounded on all sides,
at a distance, by low trees, or a kind of forest underbrush, and
flowers bloom amidst the rocks and stones with a wonderful
prodigality. We had a charming drive down, attended by Mr.
A- and Mr. W. M., who was our charioteer.
About sixteen polite and agreeable persons assembled, and
each one was gay and disposed to be happy; a cool west wind,
and a long drive, produced fine appetites and spirits, and ample
provision had been made for the indulgence of both; we sat
down to a delightful dinner at four o'clock, and I do not think
I was ever conscious of greater excitement or enjoyment. I
should like to repeat to you some of the clever things that were
said, but they might lose their cleverness going on such a voyage,
so you must be content to imagine them. After dinner, we
gathered shells on the beach; and the gentlemen, like true knights,
preferring the ladies' smiles to the sparkling goblet, soon joined

Letter VII 31
us, and I romped with the young ladies, and laughed with those
that would not romp, till my spirits became quite extravagant.
I shall never forget that day, let what will come, never I It is
delightful to the heart that is oppressed by fear and sadness, to
redeem even a few moments from the weariness of thought;
but when for hours we forget our cares, we feel blessed
indeed I
When we drove away from the scene of so much gaiety, and
I turned to take a last look of the "Hut," I thought I could
have been satisfied to pass my whole life there; it stood so alone
from all the world; the ocean alone seemed near, and no vestige
of a habitation was to be seen, and no trace that could say, the
hand of man has been there I
It is probably our own peculiar feelings which sometimes
give a nameless charm to people and things; but the recollection
of that day will rise upon me often in unclouded light, even in
after years of sorrow; and my memory will turn to it with
delight, when she, whom my heart worships, no longer loves me,
and when the song of pleasure is no longer heard, and when my
spirit is like the notes of the Eolian lyre, swept over by autumnal
winds, broken and sad I
I believe I have never mentioned to you particularly the
fruits of this island, which are abundant and delicious. The
oranges are delightful; the trees are covered with flowers, the
small green and the ripe fruit at the same time : the bitter orange
and lemon are not very palatable, but they make a good
marmalade. The shaddock grows to a very large size, and the
forbidden fruit also; they hang in dusters on the smallest
twig, and the fragrance of their flowers is over-powering:
pine-apples do not grow in abundance here, but are brought
from the out islands in great perfection; the mango is a rich
and beautiful fruit, resembling in size and shape a large pear;
the avocado pear, or vegetable marrow, I consider the most
delightful fruit of the island; it is something like a small melon,
but is more luscious, and is very nutricious. The soursop is
the same as that fruit which is called in Lima, the cheri-moyna,

32 Letters from the Bahama Islands
only it is much larger; it looks like a dark green melon, and is
covered with small black spots, like the prickly pear; the inside
resembles fine white cotton, sopped in sugar and spiced vinegar,
and the juice expressed makes a very refreshing beverage; the
pomegranate, the sappodilla, the guava, the banana, the bread-
fruit, the mammee, and the paupaw or custard apple, are all
delightful. Grapes are not very abundant, but are exquisite in
flavour, and the dusters are of immense size; I have seen the
purple grape nearly as large as the Madeira nut, and bunches of
them more than twelve inches long.
The gooseberry tree is very pretty;
the fruit grows in dusters, is almost _
white, and looks like beautiful wax-
work; it is used only for sweetmeats, .,.
as are most of the plums. The cashu ,
apple is beautiful in appearance, but
disagreeable to the taste; a large nut
grows out from the top of it, like a
stem, which is very poisonous before
it has been roasted, but a juice is
extracted from the fruit, which I have been told is used by some
ladies as a cosmetic, but it is dangerous and deleterious in its
effects. The tamarind, almond, citron, lemon, wild fig, water
melon, granadilla, sugar cane, cocoa-nut, are all common here; the
star apple, egg apple, and the rose apple, which has the odour of the
most powerfully scented rose, are highly esteemed by the islanders,
but I do not think them agreeable; there are a variety of wild
grapes, beside the sea grape, which grows on a shrub on the
beach; but of peaches and strawberries there are none, though
it is true I have seen what they called a strawberry; and I have
seen a small apple tree with one blossom on it, but it never bore
fruit, although it was cherished with very great care.
I have given you but an imperfect account of some of the
fruits that grow here, but it will give you an idea of the fertility
of these rocks, for in many parts of the island there is scarcely
an appearance of soil, and even the gardens look like beds of sand

Letter VII 33
and stone. You will naturally exclaim, "what a climate that
must be, where 'the desert blossoms like the rose,' and the
rock yield as lovely flowers as the fertile vales of Cashmere I "
and it is so.
I have not been able to write you for many days, my dear
Julia, for my mother has been ill, and my time and thoughts
have been constantly occupied. She joined me in a fishing
excursion, attended by several gentlemen, and we unfortunately
remained out too long, and were overtaken by one of those
sudden gusts so frequent in these latitudes, and for a few
moments were in danger; but it soon blew over, and we landed
safely, after having toiled all day under a scorching sun, and
caught nothing but one "angel-fish," which was beautiful, as
it should be from its name.
My mother, during the night, was restless, and in the morning
she appeared so ill, I was advised to send for the garrison surgeon,
who is a very genteel young Scotch gentleman; he has attended
her every day since, and this evening pronounces her out of
danger. H- has shared with me the melancholy office of
nursing, and it is delightful to me to see how grateful her
attentions are to my mother, who is warmly attached to her.
There is something very fascinating to me in that union of
intellectual cultivation and talent, with the tender and affectionate
sympathies of the heart, which we sometimes, though rarely,
meet with.
It appears to me very singular that my mother never speaks of
returning to England, and seldom mentions America, though
I know she resided there for several years, and indeed she early
taught me to love it as my mother country. I know not
what fatal secret preys upon her mind, but it is true, there is
something that weighs heavily on her spirits, and I often feel
alarmed by the mystery and concealment that surround her.
I watch over her from day to day with the most painful solicitude,
and my thoughts turn in terror from the prospect of her sufferings.
They come over my heart with chilling power, and cloud my
imagination with gloom-they seem the point, beyond which

34 Letters from the Bahama Islands
no light, no hope penetrates-where all feeling and happiness
end I It is cruel to have such fears springing up in the heart,
when all Nature seems to encourage the thought of perpetual
happiness, by her eternal verdure; but many hopes wither, and
many hearts grow cold, while she smiles on as joyously as though
they had not changed; and it is that which draws tears from us
in the hour of sadness I
A vessel sails for America at sunrise, and I salute you tenderly
and affectionately.

cL-N Letter


I HAVE been at two charming balls since I wrote you last.
The first was given by Mr. I- who is the Secretary" and
"Treasurer." It was at the Assembly Room, which is in the
"Public Buildings," and was beautifully decorated and splendidly
lighted. It is arched at one end, and in the recess were placed
orange and lemon trees in full bearing, and lights were tastefully
arranged among the branches, producing the most enchanting
effect imaginable; and the ladies, who sat beneath their light
and shade, looked almost like the houris of the Mahomedan
Paradise, or like Peris, lingering beneath the perfumed bowers
of some enchanted land I Wreaths of flowers were festooned
round the ceilings, and in one comer of the room were placed
an immense variety of beautiful flowers and flowering shrubs,
in vases and boxes, and behind them were hung lamps, which
threw their fairy shade half across the room.
I went under the protection of my kind friends, Mr. and Mrs.
James-- and when I entered the room, I stood still a moment
to enjoy the novelty of the scene. The ladies were seated on side
benches, and the profusion of flowers and feathers, and the gay
dresses, and the splendour of the light, and the freshness of the
perfume from the flowers, and the music all made me imagine
I had been suddenly transported to some fairy spot, to some
Armidian garden, where lovely smiles and intoxicating odours,
and love itself, had lent their illusions, to beguile the heart of
remembrance, to bewilder the senses, and to dazzle the imagina-
tion I But singular as it may appear to you, at that moment I felt
ready to weep; delighted as I was, a sudden sadness stole over

36 Letters from the Bahama Islands
my heart, and I wished myself alone on some sea-beaten rock,
where no sound but that of the deep, sullen roar of the ocean
could reach me. I felt as sad as if my future destiny had been
revealed to me in the darkest and most mysterious oracles 1
Now, if your knowledge of the heart and of the philosophy
of the mind, enables you to account for such waywardness of
feeling, I will leave the mystery to be solved by you, for it is
entirely above my comprehension.
When the Governor and his suite arrived, the band saluted
him with the King's March," and afterwards the fine, national
air of God Save the King echoed through the rooms, awaken-
ing in many hearts, no doubt, dear and delightful thoughts of
country and of home.
The ball was opened by the Governor and Lady M- ,
and young and old, gay and sad, all joined in the merry dance.
But I will not attempt to describe the fantastic dresses, and the
unique appearance, of some who were there, for the pencil of
a Hogarth alone could do justice to them I About one hundred
persons sat down to supper at a late hour: the tables were all
laid in one room, and were prettily ornamented and abundantly
filled. Our coterie secured at one corner plenty of champagne,
and you may be sure, when we rose from the table, there was no
trace of gloom or of sadness left. I felt as gay and as happy as
if the future lay before me all light and happiness; and it was
four o'clock before we retired, to forget our enjoyment in
morning dreams I
The other was the Birth-Night Ball, April twenty-third,
given at Government House, and it was both splendid and
charming. The ladies were decked in their most gorgeous robes,
and the gentlemen of course wore their badges of loyalty. At
twelve o'clock there were beautiful fire-works on the lawn in
front, and the light, as it transiently gleamed on the town below,
and over the waters of the bay, which was covered with vessels
and boats, their flags waving in the light breeze, and the sound of
guns occasionally fired, and ever and anon the note of a bugle
heard, rendered the scene quite enchanting.

Letter VIII 37
The supper was a scene of indescribable hilarity; for the
occasion of the fete made it necessary to invite many who do
not generally mingle with the gentry; and nothing is more
amusing than the assumed consequence of those persons, when
they are admitted to the society to which they are unaccustomed.
I was seated on the right of the Governor, and directly before
me sat an old gentleman with a light yellow wig, and dressed
in a grey suit, of no ordinary size. He had the most good natured
look, and I enjoyed his apparent glee,- believing he could be
nothing else than an alderman. I had not been introduced to him,
but he begged me to allow him the honour to drink with me
His Majesty's health," which I cheerfully did, and he made me
the most flattering speeches I ever heard. I was highly amused,
and His Excellency seemed well disposed to have me flatter the
vanity of the merry old gentleman, which I did, by paying him
some well-turned compliments," and before we left the table
it was pronounced a complete conquest." When he followed
me to the veranda, I was prepared to see him play the part of a
Gibbon (and if he had fallen on his knees, I know not how long
he might have remained there) and prepared as I was to hear a
declaration, judge of my surprise and horror, when I sawhim
seat himself in a large arm chair, and fall instantly asleep I
However, I would not abandon the thought of a romantic
dnouement, for you may suppose I was not a little anxious for
the honour of bearing off such a prize I But the hour for parting
came, and my knight with the yellow wig was still dreaming
away the fumes of the King's wine," and I was obliged to
retire, comforted only by "hope's flattering tale "!
I am not yet au disespoir, for though I have since heard he
is no alderman, I am sure he did not as easily dream away the
impressions he received, as he did the wine he pledged me in,
and I shall see him yet-but alas I if I should be disappointed.
But here are towering rocks and the foaming surge, and sweet
oblivion beneath the eternal roar of the blue waves, and a
requiem befitting another Sappho
Au rest, the ball ended charmingly, and I was delighted,

38 Letters from the Bahama Islands
and I do not believe his Majesty's birth night was ever celebrated
with more conviviality and true loyal faith, than by his few faithful
subjects here that night, though without the splendours of wealth
and fashion, and the cold restraints of pride and etiquette.
You may imagine how much that is ludicrous is mingled
with what is agreeable, and that I find many things to amuse,
notwithstanding the melancholy fears that depress me: but
what has all that to do with happiness, you will say: not much,
to be sure; but one cannot be really unhappy, when the smiles
of those we love better than all the world besides, are beamed
upon us at the rising and setting of every sun; and that sun is
yellow and glowing, and seems by its warmth and brilliancy
to reflect the tenderness of our own hearts 1
It is happiness enough for me to live under a bright warm
sun, with one I love with passionate and devoted fondness-to
feel that the affections of the heart cannot grow cold, and that
the imagination borrows from nature its brilliancy and glow.
Amidst the acacia and myrtle, and orange groves of a southern
climate, under a brilliant sky, and breathing an atmosphere full
of freshness and fragrance, all the tender sentiments of the heart
are felt with redoubled force, and a thousand emotions are
revealed, which become sources of enjoyment; admiration of
everything that is beautiful, and the sentiment of devotion, both
are felt more deeply; love and friendship borrow a thousand
bright and lovely hues from nature; hearts become blended in
sweet harmony; kind thoughts flow and mingle "like two
instruments, yielding but one modulation," and all creation seems
Sto inspire us with the enthusiasm and tenderness she excites;
and even if the wild notes of passion sweep over the heart, they
are more touching and more plaintive than in colder regions.
It is happiness enough for me to live where I feel all this, and
much more than I can describe to you; and well as I love the
intellectual refinements of polished and elegant society, yet I
would willingly abandon them for this perpetual spring of the
heart, which sorrow and misfortune could not tinge with the
sadder hues of autumnal decay I

Letter VIII 39
*You may laugh at my enthusiasm, but you, I know, feel
powerfully the influence of climate; you love flowers, and poetry,
and music; you worship Nature with the simple sincerity of
artless feeling, so I imagine you can sympathise with me. But
I do not express my feelings unreservedly to anyone here, for
they would be ridiculed as romantic and extravagant; one who
has been accustomed to look always upon beautiful objects or
scenes, hears with surprise the passionate bursts of admiration
they call forth from those who feel their influence for the first
time; so I suppose that many who live amidst the ruins of
Imperial Rome, feel no more excitement, than they would amidst
the interminable forests of the New World: and I am sure, the
inhabitants of this island gaze upon their lovely blue sky, and
inhale the fragrance of the beautiful flowers, and look upon the
ocean in its stormy agitations, and in its deep and imposing
tranquillity, with a feeling of perfect indifference.
I described to you in my last letter, some of the fruits of this
Island, and I shall comply with your request respecting the
flowers when I have leisure. I am making a collection of beautiful
shells and shell work for you, but I find it difficult to procure
any that are very rare or valuable, excepting the conch, and the
conch pearl. I saw a large piece of amber which was found here,
and sold by a fisherman for a few dollars, that would be worth
many guineas in England.
Farewell I Yours,

c-^ Letter IX

W HEN shall I hear from you, my dear Julia ? I count the
days and the weeks as they pass without bringing me
letters from you, and though my eyes are often turned
towards the flag-staff, it is in vain that I look for the eagerly
desired signal; no star-spangled banner can be seen floating
amidst the English and Spanish flags that are waving over these
waters, and alas I woe is me I
I now scarcely know how to fill up a letter to you, for there
is no variety in our amusements, having become accustomed to
the common round of visiting, riding, sailing, and marooning,
and our occupations are from day to day much the same. New
books are seldom received here, excepting by some private
individual; the packet which arrives once a month from Jamaica,
brings letters and papers and the merchant ships bring the
periodical publications for the reading-room. Books are not to
be purchased; there are no book stores, and but one printing
office, from which a small Gazette is issued twice a week.
The reading-room is in the public buildings, as well as the
Council chamber, and most of the offices for public business,
which renders it a very disagreeable resort for ladies; but if they
would encourage and patronize it, it might be made a source of
pleasure and improvement. But really, every thing in such a
climate tends to depress intellectual exertions, and a drive in
the evening along the bay is more refreshing than a morning
passed in a public reading-room. Many persons have valuable
private libraries, and I do not by any means think the ladies are
without intellectual cultivation and taste; many of them were

Letter IX 41
educated "at home," that is, in England, and are usefully
accomplished. But there is nothing here to remind one of the
fine arts; neither pictures, nor statues, nor artists, which I
consider a misfortune, for they are among the highest sources of
improvement to the taste, and afford a delightful and classical
gratification to the mind, as well as to the imagination.
Several gentlemen of talents and literary taste reside here,
but they are professional men, and though they mingle constantly
in society, I should imagine it was more for relaxation than from
any idea of intellectual enjoyment. Mr. whom I have often
mentioned, is a very intelligent and polite young man: he holds
one of the most honourable and lucrative offices, and is the
very spirit of hospitality and gaiety. From the family of the
Honourable James we have received the most flattering
and affectionate attentions; and the affection and kindness of
Mrs .-, I shall never cease to remember with grateful pleasure.
Our obligations to them have been tenfold; and her sisters,
and her beautiful niece, Miss W- I shall never forget.
Yesterday we passed at the country-place of the Honourable
Colonel M- y. He is a son of the Earl of D--, and his
wife is a beautiful young woman, a native of this island. The
Colonel possesses all the pride of hereditary rank, of which he
is very tenacious; but he is affable and courtier-like in his manners,
is an indulgent master, and a kind father. Mrs. M- has five
sisters residing here, all of them intelligent and well-educated
young ladies, and from them we have received many proofs of
Their country residence is four miles west from town; the
house stands on a very high hill, called Prospect Hill," and
looks almost like a ruin: the ascent to it is steep, over ledges
of rocks, among which orange and lemon trees grow in great
perfection. At the foot of the hill is an extensive lawn, covered
with various kinds of trees and shrubs, surrounded by a stone
wall; west of the house, is a long Pine Barren," and the walk
through it leads to a beautiful lake, several miles in extent, whose
peaceful waters are seldom disturbed, excepting when a little

42 Letters from the Bahama Islands
boat passes silently over them. It is thickly wooded on both
sides, and as it breaks suddenly on your view, is truly picturesque.
We wished to have rowed across it, but the boat was filled with
water, and the retiring sun did not allow us time to "pump it
out." Before we returned to the house, twilight had added its
saddening shade to the natural gloom of the forest, and we
walked on for half an hour without speaking: it was as still as
if all creation slept, and not even a fire-fly crossed our path to
guide us by its golden light; but we arrived in time for a cup
of coffee, after which we took leave of our amiable and hospitable
friends, having passed a delightful day.
The family remains there through the winter months; and
in the summer, the season when we fly to the country, it is
abandoned on account of its being unhealthy. The view from
the house is truly sublime: the country all around is broken and
uneven; hills and valleys, and masses of rocks, with negro
huts scattered over them, and the broad, blue sea, which
meets the eye at every turn, boundless as the wildest imagina-
tion, terrific almost in its infinity, lies in front, and its never-
ceasing roar, which is distinctly heard, is imposing, if not
always inspiring.
The cottage belonging to my kind friend, Mr. James --,
stands in a valley east of it, and its thatched roof is seen through
groves of oleander, mahogany, and cocoa-nut trees. I have passed
many delightful days there with my friends, and it is one of the
most extensive and highly cultivated "Farms on the island.
The gardens and fruit orchards are very large, and through
"one of them extends a walk planted thickly on both sides with
cocoa-nut and palm-trees, which is almost dark at noon-day.
It is called Cocoa-nut Grove," and I have enjoyed many walks
there, for there is something in its sombre and almost melancholy
shade that is delightful; not that it inspires me with feelings
of its own hue, for I have had many frolicks there; but it is
delightful, and that is enough!
On the summit of a hill, south of the cottage, is a building
quite in ruins, moss-covered, and almost concealed by trees:

Letter IX 43
it has a gloomy and romantic appearance, for there is no foot-
path or opening to it visible; and when I have looked at it by
moonlight, some classical and poetical thoughts have been
awakened in my mind, though probably it has been the habitation
of pirates, or of some other reckless vagabonds I
The gardens are filled with rose and myrtle trees, and though
the soil is nothing but sand, it produces the most beautiful
flowers, and the best European vegetables I have seen here.
The cottage is not occupied, but a great number of slaves live
on the plantation, and I have often been gratified to witness
their comfort and happiness. The moment the carriage is seen
driving up the avenue, the children run with their little baskets
to gather the choicest fruits and flowers, as a grateful offering to
their "young massa" and "missee," and appear quite wild
with joy when they receive in return some cakes and sugar-
I have never seen an instance of cruelty to the slaves since
my residence here; on the contrary, they are well fed and
clothed, and appear always cheerful and happy. They have but
little employment, as there are neither sugar nor coffee plantations
on the island, but they are civil in their manners, and very kind
and obliging.
It is the fashion for every person who keeps an equipage, to
drive after dinner, and in the course of half an hour you have the
pleasure to bow to almost all of your acquaintances. Those
who cannot ride, promenade up and down the bay; and the
main street, at the hour of sunset, presents an animated appearance.
The island affords but two rides, east and west, the road to the
southern beach being over rocks and through sand-hills.
To most of the houses there are verandas, which are very
necessary to comfort in this warm climate; and you often see
the ladies, with their cavalieri serventi, walking by moonlight,
and sometimes you hear stealing through the silence of night,
the soft notes of the harp, piano and flute. Every lady, I believe,
has a piano; (I have heard it said a Conch fortune consisted in
a piano and a pair of night-shades 1) and there are some few

44 Letters from the Bahama Islands
who are proficients in music; but the guitar, an instrument so
well suited to such a climate, I have never seen played here.
Mrs. L--, who was educated in England, and is both
agreeable and accomplished, sings and plays delightfully. Her
husband is a young man of genius: he is a virtuoso, botanist
and chemist; he is fond of poetry and the arts, and is full of
originality and humour. He considers his residence here as a
misfortune, as he has no opportunity of indulging his particular
tastes, but for botany; and for that study, there is a field that
Linnaeus himself would not have despised. Very few foreigners
reside here, and I have never met with a Spanish or a French
It is impossible for me to answer your question, for I do not
know whether the original inhabitants of this island, or those
who succeeded the extermination of the pirates in 1718, were
called Conchs; but there is a class of people, and many of the
highest respectability, still distinguished by that name, which I
suppose must have been derived from the employment of diving
for conchs and for coral, from which they obtained subsistence;
but I have often remarked, that those whose origin was traced
back to them, appeared not to be very proud of the name or
You desire me to describe to you the flowers; but you must
imagine all the splendid hues of the rainbow, and all the intoxicat-
ing odours from the rich flowers of the beautiful valley of Cash-
mere, that were ever worshipped by an Indian devotee, before
you will believe my description of them I
European flowers are but little cultivated, for the soil is so
dry and sandy they will not flourish; and there is no reason why
they should be, for the indigenous plants and flowers, and
flowering shrubs, are abundant and beautiful; and, it is said,
there are five thousand varieties. I am very fond of the mignon-
ette tree; it bears pale yellow and green flowers, and has the
most powerful and delicious fragrance. The acacia is very
different from that of the same name with us; the flower is a
little, round, yellow ball, about the size of a chestnut, looks like

Letter IX 45
a tuft of fringe, and is filled with a yellow powder, and has a
sweet perfume: the blossom of the mahogany tree is beautiful,
and so is the yellow and crimson flower fence, or Barbadoes'
pride. The coral tree is very curious: the flower looks like a
bunch of red, cut coral, and grows at the top of the branch
distinct from any leaves; the stem, which is five or six inches
long, stands perfectly erect, and though beautiful, it is ungraceful.
The coral vine bears a blossom of the same colour and shape,
and runs in wild profusion over all the stone walls and hedges,
but has no odour. Myrtles, jessamines, tuberoses, and roses,
the amaryllis of every species, the convolvulus, the sensitive
plant, and the Arabian jasmine, are seen in every direction, and
grow wild among the rocks. Groves of the oleander are very
common, and, prized as they are with you, are thought almost
vulgar here, as well as the beautiful south-sea rose. The mutable
rose is a native of this climate; the bignonia bears a yellow
trumpet flower; the blue passion flower, which hides its head
amidst dusters of dark green leaves, is one of my favourite
flowers; the cactus grandiflores I have not seen, it is a native
of Jamaica; the yellow jasmine, and a variety of flowering
myrtles fill the air with their perpetual fragrance. Geraniums,
tulips, carnations, and all those flowers common with you, do
not flourish well here, but I have seen the sweet briar and the
multiflora rose in blossom, growing very luxuriantly.
There is a very curious tree here, but at this moment I have
forgotten its name; I have heard it called the "music" or
" singing tree." After it has flowered, the leaves drop off and
it is covered thickly with pods about eight inches long, like the
tamarind; they are of a silvery colour and almost transparent;
the tree is very large and spreads like an umbrella, and these
pods, as they rustle against each other, produce a singular, but
soothingly musical sound, which never ceases. The flower is
particularly beautiful; it resembles the finest floss silk, hangs
in the shape of a crescent from the top of a long stem, without a
leaf, is of a pale lemon colour, and has no odour. The bayonet
plant is properly named, for its leaves are thick and sharp like

46 Letters from the Bahama Islands
those of the aloes, and point upwards like those of the pine-
apple : it grows about thirty feet high, and forms an impenetrable
hedge. From the centre of the leaves, directly on the top, bursts
a stem about two feet long, which is thickly covered with dazzling
white flowers, the size and shape of a crown imperial; the inside
of the calyx is of a pale yellow, and hundreds of these little bells,
hanging downwards, cover the stem, and the whole is two or
three feet in circumference. It has the most powerful and
oppressive fragrance. The flower of the cocoa-nut is very beautiful.
There is no end to the variety of the pretty flowering vines and
shrubs which spread forth their rainbow coloured flowers to
charm the eye, and mingle their spicy odours with the soft winds
to delight the senses. The coffee and cotton trees are not very
numerous, but the air is eternally filled with the fragrance of the
orange, lemon, and mahogany blossoms. There is a wonderful
variety of medicinal plants here, and almost every leaf affords a
panacea for some disease.
I shall send you a list of plants and flowers from one of my
botanical friends, for I have not been able to describe any of them
You would be amused to see what care and tenderness are
bestowed upon a few miserable exotics by some of the ladies,
while the splendid flowers which cover their lawns are quite
unnoticed. But I believe you must be well weary of me and of
my subject by this time, so wishing that the most fragrant flowers
of life may shed continual incense around you,
I bid you, for the present,

SLetter X

ou will perhaps think, my dear Julia, that all the enjoyments
of this delicious climate are more than counterbalanced
by the immense number of reptiles, and every kind of
troublesome insect, that abound here; and it was long before I
became reconciled to them. I could not sleep for fear, though
everyone is apparently protected from them at night, by a
pavilion, made of the thinnest gauze or muslin, which doses
tight around the bed. I am now so accustomed to the obnoxious
things, I do not care for them; but I am in continual dread of
the tarantula. The sting of those found here, is not so venomous
as those of the East Indies, or of South America, and I believe is
never fatal-they are much sought after for the cabinets of natural
curiosities that are sent to Europe, but it is difficult to take them
alive; when they are pursued, they sting themselves to death
like the scorpion; they throw the sting over upon the back,
and almost instantly die. You can imagine nothing more hideous
and offensive than they are. Spiders of every size and description
are very numerous, also the centipied, scorpion, lizards, cock-
roaches, mosquitoes, sand flies, and moths constantly offend
you. The little fire-fly emits a most brilliant emerald light, as it
flits gracefully through the air; the gardens and lawns are often
illuminated by them at night. I have seen very few birds, and
none of beautiful plumage, but the flamingo and parrot, and not
a single snake. There is an extensive field here for the researches
of a naturalist, and some few gentlemen have formed valuable
cabinets for their friends in England.
This island was once the residence of the renowned Black

48 .Letters from the Bahama Islands
Beard," and the remains of an immense tree are to be seen, on
which it is said he hung his prisoners, and it is supposed by many,
that large treasures were buried near it by the pirates; there is
also a well called "Black Beard's Well," and a tradition, that
those who drink of its waters become so warmly attached to these
rocks, that they wish never to abandon them; but I have not
found it necessary to drink from the magical fount, for I already
feel, that when I leave them it will be with sincere regret.
The name of Black Beard is the goblin of all nurseries, and
it is quite a terror to the ignorant and superstitious ; and they,
as you may imagine, constitute
a large proportion of the
inhabitants of these rocks.
There are many wonderful
tales told of his cruelty, and of
his league with the Prince of
Darkness; and there are many
9 places pointed out to the
r stranger as having been the
scene of his sanguinary deeds.
I believe it is in Exuma, one
S "- r- --- of the out islands, where I
have been told there are several spots which the inhabitants
believe contain his ill-gotten wealth. There is one in particular
which I have heard described as being very curious: it is a
large mound of earth, of a conical form, raised on a high eminence
overlooking the sea; it is guarded by the most rigid super-
stition, and no one has ever penetrated its mysteries. It is
believed by the natives that his victims, as well as his gold, rest
there; but sometimes, impelled by avarice, the negroes have
attempted to open it; the moment they commenced their labours,
groans and sepulchral sounds issued from the ground; and, in
some instances, the "Bloody Pirate," in his winding sheet, that
is, if he had any, which from the nature of his death I should
doubt, has appeared to them, which completely destroyed their
desire to look into his elfin-guarded mausoleum I

Letter X 49
I have told you before, that the foundation of the whole
island is of honey comb rock; the surface is lightly covered
with sand, and there are thousands of deep cavities among the
rocks, and many caves on the western shore that are accessible:
some of the excavations are beautiful, some of the rocks are
curiously carved, and the cave holes, into which the unwary
negro is often precipitated, and sometimes loses his life, they
being concealed by shrubs and vines, are of frightful depth.
The large branches of fan coral that are found on the rocks,
are very pretty, and of various colours, pink, purple, and yellow;
the white sea-weed is also very curious, and I have found many
odd things, which I shall send you, and you must study conch-
ology, that you may be able to arrange your cabinet scientifically.
I was walking in the veranda this morning, when my attention
was suddenly attracted by multitudes of persons running towards
the beach, and at the same time I heard signal guns of distress;
I looked upon the ocean, and saw a brig standing in, whose
masts were broken and hanging over her side; the sails were
torn and flying like threads in the wind, which was very heavy,
the waves were running high, and she was making rapidly
towards the breakers, which rose with tremendous power, and
broke over high ledges of rocks, with a deafening roar. Her
destruction appeared to me inevitable, when I saw the pilot
boat bounding over the angry waves, and I knew if mortal skill
could save her, it would be that of the fearless Captain Magee.
He was soon on board, but she rolled and plunged amidst the
waves, and looked as if the next instant she would be buried
beneath them; I could discover with the glass, there were but
few persons on board; the deck appeared covered with torn
sails and timbers, and, black and broken as she was she presented
the most melancholy sight.
But I soon forgot the brig, when I saw the pilot boat, with
six men, drifting from her side, and the current or the wind
bearing her rapidly into the foaming surge. There are several
rocks or reefs south of the bar, over which the breakers dash
with horrible fury, and it was not long before I saw the frail

50 Letters from the Bahama Islands
bark rolling amidst their foam, and in an instant she was dashed
to pieces. Good Heavens I It was a grand, but apalling sight I
The most awful death seemed to await the poor fellows who
were struggling with the waves, for to reach the shore I knew
would be impossible; they rose and sunk and rose again; they
combated the fury of the surf as it rolled over them, with a
kind of desperate energy; they were all negroes, and I imagined
I could even hear their cries, as they raised their bare, sinewy
arms above the waves, as if to implore assistance I Hundreds of
persons were on the beach gazing on them in speechless terror,
without the power to save them; at that moment when the
last hope seemed gone, I saw a small boat bounding over the
waves, with only a man at the helm, and I thought, as I looked
at him, if he has risked his life so nobly for those men, he deserves
a rich reward; for it was at the positive risk of life that he attempted
to save them; and the repeated cries of "No boat can live
an instant in these breakers; it is madness, they cannot be
saved I seemed to seal their destiny. But the boat dashed on
rapidly and fearlessly: my very breath was for moments sus-
pended: the intenseness of my feelings had become very painful,
but they were soon relieved by the hurrahs of the multitude,
which rent the air, They are saved-they are saved I "
That gallant man, who is a Captain Sands, rescued every one
of the sufferers, and their preservation was little short of a miracle.
He was received by the crowd with loud acclamations of applause,
and I hope the Board of Admiralty will bestow on him the
reward he merits: but it is the fault of all governments, that
-those individual exertions made at the risk of life, either for
public or private benefit, go unrewarded, and are soon forgotten :
but for myself, I consider the man who is capable of such
generous and disinterested actions, as worthy of immortal
The brig, by the skill of the pilot, crossed the bar safely, and
came into the harbour a very wreck; she had encountered a gale
three days before, and her mast had been splintered by lightning.
The scene, so awfully impressive, has led me to muse deeply

Letter X

on the attributes and power of that Being who formed all the
sublime wonders of creation by the breath of his word, and Mercy,
amidst all the terrors by which he is surrounded, stands forth in
bright and beautiful colours I
Your injunctions for me to tell you every thing are so
positive, my dear Julia, that I have great pleasure in obeying
you to the very letter of the law," and I have no doubt my
letters weary you, and if it is so, the punishment you afflict upon
me is not light.
My mother's health is evidently declining, but I endeavour
from day to day to deceive myself in regard to her real situation,
though I read in the anxious looks of Dr. B---, and in the
melancholy watchfulness of my lovely friend, the fatal truth.
I feel that I have need of more than mortal courage; and yet,
I have not fortitude to think even of the future ; but farewell :
may thesun of your life shine on nearly and brightly, through
the mist of years I

-Letter XI

ou are not ignorant, my dear Julia, of the apprehensions

that are justly entertained by the inhabitants of the West
India Islands, of hurricanes; and I belive I told you in
one of my letters, that many families regularly prepared for
them, by having battens for the doors and windows, and some-
times, when they imagine one is near, they have provisions cooked
that in case of sudden surprise, they may not be left in a state of
starvation, for no cooking utensils are kept in the dwelling
houses, but in a building at some distance. It is several years
since, a severe hurricane has been felt here, but that was so
destructive, half the town was laid in ruins. I am often amused
by predictions of coming danger, by some wise heads; but I
am not one to anticipate evils, for I love to enjoy the brightness
of the present, even if storms do lie behind the clouds I
Last evening as we were driving eastward, we saw the fisher-
men and the conch divers, busily employed in pulling their
boats upon the shore, and securing their turtle crawls ; the houses
were fastened, and the women and children had gathered round
the doors, looking on in fear. We were surprised, and inquired
of an old man the cause of it; he folded up his arms, and looking
very wise, replied: "Why, we expect a hurricane; the wind,
you know, has blowed hard all day, the sea is running high, and
there is other demonstrations of it." We laughed and drove on;
but really the clouds did look fearfully demonstrative; the waves
rolled sullenly on, and broke over the pebbly beach with a dismal
roar, which sounded to me, being unaccustomed to their stormy
agitations, almost prophetic.

Letter XI 53
As we drove down the bay, I thought there was a kind of
consternation visible in the faces of those we met. The Vendue
House was deserted, and that was a singular circumstance, for
it is generally filled with persons who have news to distribute,
and scandal to collect. It is an arched, stone building, in the
principal street, where wrecked goods, and all kinds of mer-
chandise, are sold; and serves as a lounge for gossiping people,
who have more interest in the concerns of their neighbours
than in their own. But to return to my story : I observed for the
first time that inactivity and cessation from business, which some-
times precedes great calamity; the shipping in the harbour had
been secured, and several vessels removed to a safer anchorage.
We returned, and passed the evening without any apprehensions;
but afterwards, when I walked the veranda alone, every gust
of wind that swept through it filled me with fear; but the hours
passed by, and no danger came, and the sun has risen as brightly
and as cloudlessly as ever I saw it.
Those who have always lived amidst the dust and smoke of
a large city, cannot imagine the terror often experienced by those
who live upon an island subject to tornadoes, that lies alone on
the bosom of the boundless ocean, and is surrounded by it on
every side; whose shores are eternally washed by its waves,
whose rumbling and heaving are for ever heard, and which
affords no safe retreat in case of danger. There is something
terrifying in the idea, and yet I should wish to live always in a
sunny and verdant island, whose rocks and shells would for ever
re-echo the eternal roar of the ocean's waves I
I was indebted to the courtesy of the Commissary, Mr. M'L-,
for an invitation to visit the Garrison; and, with a party of
ladies and gentlemen, I explored those caverns that lie deep in the
bosom of the rocks; but you must not expect me to turn
traitor, and divulge the secrets of state." We descended twenty-
five or thirty natural steps formed in the rocks, in total darkness;
the guide went on before with a lantern, and one of the officers,
descending backwards, offered his hand to protect us, but the
descent is so winding and irregular, no ray of light penetrated

54 Letters from the Bahama Islands
the midnight darkness of the rocks, till we reached the bottom,
and then the blue light from the lantern threw over their
sepulchral gloom a glare that made me shudder.
The Magazine, and the different apartments, excavated out
of the solid rock, some formed by nature and others by labour,
are lighted only by a lamp: you pass through narrow apertures
from one apartment to another by the dim light of the guide.
There are long and narrow cells for culprits, but I saw only one
man in chains, and he was pardoned the next day. The vaults
contain immense magazines of arms and ammunition; and
piles of bright and burnished steel, the corslet and the sword,
were ready for young and gallant knights, who would bravely
gird them on for their country and their king, and, perchance,
for the honour of their lady's love
In this singular subterraneous military deposit, there is the
most perfect order and neatness, and I could not but admire
it, though I have not much taste d la militaire.
There are two forts on the same hill on which the garrison
is built, which overlook the whole town, and completely defend
the harbour; and Gibraltar itself is not a more formidable or
impenetrable fortress than this might easily be made: but there
is no necessity for it, the island possessing too few advantages
to be an object of conquest; and I truly hope its tranquillity
may never be disturbed by the approach of foes, and that the
military skill of these men-at-arms may never be called into
action for the defence of its hospitable inhabitants-but may
peace, and happiness, and prosperity, shed their blessings over
thee, bright and sunny little isle, and may the sounds of revelry
and mirth long echo among thy rocks, and thy hills, and thy
plains, and float musically over the dear blue waters of thy
beautiful bay, and be re-echoed joyously by thousands of light
and happy hearts I May no storms arise to desolate thy beautiful
flower-covered lawns, and thy fragrant and spicy orange groves,
and may no tempest ever reach thee I
The Barracks for the officers stand on the same high eminence'
near the forts, and though they are in a ruinous state, they

Letter XI 5
afford an agreeable residence, for the situation is commanding
and delightful: a veranda runs the whole length of the house,
and is lofty and wide enough for a dance. After we had visited
the fort, we returned to the officers' quarters, and in the mess
room partook of an elegant d#euner a la fourcbette, or, as it is
called here, a second breakfast; and from Mr. M'L--, the
master of ceremonies, and from all the officers, we received the
most courteous attentions, and I returned highly gratified with
my military visit.
I often ride on horseback, and this wild and romantic scenery
is never more enjoyed than then. A ride by moonlight, through
these rocky glens, is invigorating and inspiring; and our
knights, with their towering plumes, look quite martial, as they
gallop along on the sea-beach, or through the narrow defiles,
wooded on both sides by rows of trees, whose top branches
are embraced and united by the little flowering, clustering vines,
which look like gems among dark foliage in the silver moonlight.
Our cavalcade is often the subject of amusement to the crowd,
for there are not many ladies who ride, the horses being very
bad. I have been indebted to the politeness of the G- for
a swift and gallant milk-white steed, and we have always a most
chivalrous and numerous escort.
I wish for you, my dear Julia, many a time and oft, to share
these rural sports with me, knowing how well they are suited
to your taste, though not perhaps to your habits; but it appears
to me one of the greatest charms of life, that free and unrestrained
indulgence of feeling and of child-like gaiety, that the simple
habits of these islanders sanction, and which would be ridiculed
by the beau monde as affectation and romance.
As I rode along on the beach last night, I saw a little boat
resting on its oars directly under the moon, whose beams fell
upon the waters like a broad sheet of silver; indeed, I never
saw such a flood of light, of rich, glowing light, as was poured
down upon the ocean: a breathless stillness pervaded all nature;
the curling waves just kissed the shells on the shore, and then
receded, to mingle again with that mass of waters, which roll

56 Letters from the Bahama Islands
on and on, through years and through ages, unchanged and
uninfluenced by the destiny of man or of nations I
I stopped, filled with admiration of a sight so glorious;
and as I looked upon the frail shallop, I discovered two persons
sitting in it, and I said they are doubtless two happy lovers,
who have escaped from the weariness of society, to enjoy alone,
under the light of this most brilliant sky, the glowing and
delightful sentiments of their own hearts; and I doubt not but
they were, though A-- might laugh and tell you, it was a
fisherman and his wife providing their morning's repast I
This is certainly one of the most charming climates in the
world: it is often resorted to by American invalids, and several
have died here, having arrived too late, but pulmonary complaints
are scarcely known, and fevers are not very common. Many of
the troops die at the sickly season, when the rains commence,
which is in August and September, but that is owing to exposure
and imprudence. The night air and dew should be avoided,
though it is almost impossible, where the temptation to be out
is so very great. Here, as in all warm climates, the complexion
is sallow and pallid, and the frame delicate, but the ladies appear
to have great strength, for I have seen them dance for three or
four hours the most sultry nights, without the least apparent
fatigue, and their spirits seemed as buoyant as their motions
were rapid. I have often looked at them with astonishment,
for dancing appears to me an amusement so unsuited to such a
climate; but it is introduced at every evening party, and one
piano produces as much excitement among the lovers of the merry
reels, as the finest band of music possibly could.
Yesterday I attended the proroguing of the House of
Assembly, by the especial indulgence of my friends, Mrs. James
- and the lady of the Chief Justice; and I believe our
appearance there excited not a little surprise, for the ladies are not
in the habit of attending the sittings of the council, though there
are some who venture to court, when some limb of the law "
promises to be very eloquent. The Council Chamber is in the
public buildings; it is a large and handsome room; there is a

Letter XI 57
long table placed in the centre, covered with green cloth, and at one
end a little platform is raised about two feet, which is encircled
by a railing, within which the members and spectators stand,
We had waited an hour, when a fine flourish of trumpets,
and the roll of the drums, announced the approach of the
Governor. He was in his carriage, which is a plain equipage,
with two liveried servants; he was preceded by a file of black
soldiers, in yellow uniform, and was attended by all his staff
officers, in full dress. The soldiers ranged themselves on either
side of the door, and he passed through them, without that
proud and lofty demeanour which often distinguishes a man of
power; he was very richly dressed, and when he entered the
room, I thought I observed an expression of surprise in his
countenance when he saw us I Every one stood still till he had
taken his seat at the head of the board, when he laid his imperialbat
upon the table, and bowing to the Council, the Speaker in his
black robes and cap, advanced with a huge roll of papers, each
one bearing the royal signet. He bowed gracefully and reveren-
tially to the Governor, and then read in a cear and sonorous
voice, each "Act" that had been passed by the Assembly, to
which the Governor affixed his name. His Excellency then
made a short and handsome speech to his Council (which
consists of seven or eight gentlemen) in which he thanked
them for the assistance they had rendered him in performing
the duties of his office, and modestly attributed to their wisdom,
more than to his own, the prosperous and tranquil state of the
colony, and kindly invoked for them the blessings of peace and
union, and the approbation of "His most gracious Majesty,
King George the Fourth." He then retired, attended to his
carriage by the Council and his officers, amidst the loud applause
of the Assembly and the people, and the martial notes of God
Save the King."
The Governor is remarkable for his modest and conciliating
manners, and by his wisdom and forbearance he has restored
harmony and good feeling among the inhabitants, who, under
their former rulers, were disunited.

58 Letters from the Bahama Islands
The Speaker of the House is a man of elegant and powerful
talents; he is uncommonly graceful and eloquent, his manners
are polished and insinuating, and he is very distinguished at the
You have doubtless heard of Mr. K- who was associated
with Aaron Burr in his traitorous conspiracy at New Orleans;
-he is the speaker of the House of Assembly.
The weeks and the months pass away without my hearing
from you, my dear Julia, and I feel ready to quarrel with fate;
but I know there is no regular connection between this island
and your country, and that may be the cause of my receiving
letters so seldom from you. God grant that you are well and

c-- Letter XII

I KNOW not what evil star prevails, to occasion me so many
disappointments, but sure it is, I am weary of them. A vessel
arrived from America yesterday, and not a letter did I receive
from you I Why are you so cruel, when you know the happiness
your letters always afford me; and I have been expecting so
long the commissions I asked you to execute I
I shall be au disespoir if they do not arrive, for it is impossible
to procure here for love or money," the things I desire. Almost
all the goods that are sold, are carried about in baskets on the
heads of the women, who are called "basket women," and I
believe they retail news and scandal much cheaper than they
do their wares.
Most of the articles of merchandise are sold in the same way,
and at the corners of many of the streets, the vendors of cakes
and fruits, and other things, sit all day long, laughing, singing,
smoking, and selling.
We have at this season very frequent thunder gusts, which
are to me much more alarming, than the anticipation of a
hurricane, and they come so unexpectedly one,never feels secure.
I was driving with Mr. a few evenings since, the moon
was pursuing her course without a cloud to shade the splendour
of her light, and the air was as balmy as the first breath of morn,
when, in an instant, a cloud passed over it, and, en passant,
poured down an ocean upon us I It was in truth, as if the sea
had deluged us, and I was completely drenched. The rain does
not fall here as with you, but pours in such torrents, I have seen
the streets almost overflowed in five minutes, and they are so

60 Letters from the Bahama Islands
sandy and full of limestone, they are nearly as soon dry. We
drove rapidly home, but before we had proceeded half a mile,
the sky was cloudless, the flowers and the foliage yielded a
sweeter odour, and the drops of rain that were lingering on the
leaves, looked like emeralds sparkling in the brilliant moonlight.
Yesterday morning I was standing in the veranda, admiring
the profound tranquillity that pervaded all nature; there was not
a cloud in the sky, and it looked all over like one sheet of deep,
rich mellow light, and not a sound was heard to interrupt a
stillness almost deathlike; there was no ripple on the waters-
no music in the leaves-no note even of a solitary bird, as it
winged its way through the air, when suddenly the wind swept
through the trees like a tempest; it sounded like a funeral dirge
heard at midnight, and it came over me with appalling power;
the sun was obscured by black and heavy couds; it seemed but
a moment, and the joyousness of the morning's brightness was
succeeded by the darkness of night.
The wind ceased as suddenly as it had commenced, and the
pause was truly awful; I felt it on my heart like the chill of
death, and in the silence and sadness of my spirit, I breathed
forth something like an invocation to the Deity. The thunder
rolled in one long continued peal, and the lightning filled the air
with a bright sulphurous light, which was perfectly suffocating.
I had but that moment turned away from the door, when a
flash of lightning passed directly over the place where I had
stood, and ran along upon the floor like a stream of blue.liquid
fire, filling the room with a brilliant but transient blaze. It
struck the Pride of India tree in front of the door, and one of
its largest branches fell with a tremendous crash into the veranda.
I was almost benumbed by the influence of the electric fluid,
and my whole spirit was subdued by the display of the power
and goodness of that Being, "who turns our laughter into
sorrow," and who reveals himself in such awful majesty; it
appeared as if rocks, trees, and stones would be rent from their
resting places, and for several moments the air was filled with
leaves and small branches from the trees, as well as shingles

Letter XII 61
from the houses. I was alone, and the image of death comes
over the heart in such a situation, without the light which the
hope of immortality sheds around it, when contemplated in the
bosom of affection, and surrounded by kind friends; and you
cannot conceive the horror with which I shrunk from the
thought of it at that moment I
In half an hour, the thunder and lightning, and rain ceased,
but the messenger of death folded not up his wings till his work
was done I A young female not far from where I lived, was
struck instantly dead, as she stood thoughtlessly and fearlessly
looking at the clouds; in one moment, "the silver cord was
snapped," and all the ties to life were broken-in one moment,
even before she could breathe a prayer to heaven for mercy or
forgiveness I
An hour afterwards, the sun beamed forth in renewed
splendour, and every thing looked as tranquil as if there had been
no spirit of the tempest sent forth to disturb the beautiful repose
of Nature; the birds were singing joyfully-the air was filled
with a richness and freshness of perfume that was delightful,
and a spirit of deep devotion seemed to rest on every object.
As I rode along the eastern shore that night, they were carrying
the young woman to her last home; she was followed by a
crowd, for her sudden and awful death had excited curiosity,
if not sympathy; the sun had set, and twilight had lent her
soft light to guide the procession as it moved on in solemn
silence and in deathlike stillness, under the shade of the cocoa-nut
branches, which waved and rustled mournfully in the wind:
it was an impressive and melancholy scene, and I shall never
forget my emotions, when I thought how nearly her fate had
been my own.
It appeared to me very singular, but her grave was dug on
the sea shore, on a little spot of sand, surrounded by evergreens,
and the waves, as they dash over it, will chant eternally her
funeral requiem I
My mother was very much shocked when she knew of the
danger I had escaped; she wept long and deliriously over me;

62 Letters from the Bahama Islands
she pressed me to her heart with a kind of convulsive energy,
as if she would have held me for ever there. I often witness
such terrible bursts of passion in my mother, to which she
yields so unresistingly, that I fel the stem pride of her mind
is gone; but the proudest spirits yield at last to the influence of
continued misfortunes, and death seems to be the only hope
that brings with it consolation and relief.
There is something fearful in those misfortunes, that wring
from the heart all that is buoyant ani confiding there-there is
something humiliating in the conviction, that the spirit is broken,
and the thought, that the world regards us with compassion, is
worse than death I know she is changed, and I feel that I am
changed too; but there was never a happier, or a more fortunate
being than I have been; and it is the remembrance of the
uninterrupted sunshine of my life, that will console me for
many, very many of its coming evils; I should be worse than
ungrateful to Him, who has strewn my path with flowers, if it
were not so; and yet, I would willingly resign my last hope
of happiness, to restore my mother to tranquillity-but it
cannot be.
I think you are half angry with me by this time, for keeping
you so long in ignorance of the Incognito, but the truth is, I
know nothing about him, and since he chooses to keep himself
so entirely in the dark, I should never think of him, were it not
I have imagined that Mademoiselle da Souza feels a deep interest
in him. I sometimes tremble, lest the visions of her imagination,
from being too long and secretly indulged, should become the
beau-ideal of her fancy, and that the glowing feelings of her
heart might at last repose upon it, as something necessary to her
I have remarked with regret her increasing distaste of society :
and I believe, when the heart is oppressed by real or imaginary
sufferings, that solitude is delightful: if our sadness arises
from the passions, we fly from society, and desire no sympathy
but from Nature; for alone, the melancholy they create, is
indulged without fear, and we often cling to the image which

Letter XII 63
has perhaps shed a desolating influence over us, with real and
passionate fondness I
Have long feared the tranquillity of her youthful feelings had
been disturbed, and today her secret was revealed. We were
sitting in the saloon with my mother, when the Incognito
himself entered It was with difficulty I suppressed an exclama-
tion of surprise, for I was never so confounded as by his appear-
ance; but my mother rose, and received him with graceful
animation,.and presented him to us as the Chevalier Grammont.
He bowed to me with a kind of oriental reverence, but there was
something in his look and manner when he turned to Adelaide,
that expressed more than words could convey; the glow of
pleasure was partly suppressed by fear, and a look of recognition
was shaded by an expression of mystery, but his whole appearance
was quite captivating. I think I never saw the deep passions of
the mind, and the overflowing rapture of the heart, so finely
blended, and so modestly expressed, as in his face.
But Adelaide sat like that marble statue, which is said to
represent a beautiful female figure seated on a rock, in the
attitude of one about to speak, with feelings deeply excited.
She felt the glance of that eye, which was to her like the beam
of the rosy west to the statue, and though she turned towards it,
she spoke not, and at that moment the hidden secret of her soul
was revealed I*
The Chevalier is a graceful and elegant young man, but there
is a kind of pride and loftiness about him, an aristocracy of feeling
and of sentiment, which would render him illiberal towards
and disgusted with general society; but I see he is full of talent
and genius, and I think we shall soon dub him a true knight!
My mother assures me he has been introduced to her by one
of her most valued friends in England, and begs me never to
*There is a statue by a young German artist in the Louvre, which is
considered very beautiful, though it is rather a romantic, than a classical
subject. A beautiful female figure is seated on a rock of marble, in the
attitude of one about to speak, with feelings deeply excited. The story is,
that at sunset every evening, the marble figure became animated, and turning
to the rosy west, uttered a few words I

64 Letters from the Bahama Islands
allude to the circumstances which kept us so long ignorant of
his name and situation; but I assure you, I am curious to know
what it is that has rendered so much mystery necessary, but I
suppose I shall know, "when all things are revealed," if not
sooner. As for Mademoiselle, she must carry on her love affairs,
if she has any, without my assistance, for it is as much as I can
do to manage my own I I have sometimes thought with Tweddell,
"with marriages I have no concern, only this I know, they are,
for the most part ill assorted, and that those which promise
happiness, are generally broken, together with the hearts whose
hopes are disappointed." But if those two highly interesting
and gifted beings love each other, I see no reason why the whole
world should not be to them an Eden, and they as the two fault-
less and happy mortals who were placed in Paradise in their
primeval beauty and innocence. But does happiness belong to
this world, and are the most beautiful and the most distinguished
the most fortunate ?
Pleasure still continues to smile in our train, and we, not
ungrateful, receive her with true courtesy. She generally courts
our acceptance every Saturday, in the form of a maroon, over
at the little island in front of the town, or at some rural spot
a few miles in the country.
It is the custom of most families here to devote that day to
festivity, and we find those pic-nic parties very amusing. A
pic-nic is where each, except invited guests, contributes his
share to the good things, and whatever you are to provide
is determined by a ticket which you draw. They are perfectly
informal, and every one is allowed to amuse himself, or herself,
in the way most agreeable. I do not know if you have such
frolics in America, for where the restraints of society are more
observed, social and unceremonious enjoyment is less understood.
The evening is generally passed at the town house of one of the
party, at cards and conversation, and ends with a petit souper;
and I am afraid the opening of the Holy Day finds many of the
Saturday revellers too dull and drowsy for morning prayers;
but be that as it may, it is no affair of mine I

Letter XII 65
Although we are very happy here, I sometimes think I will
persuade my mother to visit America, for I imagine her health
would be improved by a short voyage. I should leave my friends
here with great regret; but absence does not dissolve the spell
which friendship throws around us, neither does it destroy those
attachments which twine themselves around the heart so lightly
and so beautifully, that we scarcely feel their power till the
moment of separation. I can form no plans for the future, and
I have no anxiety about it but as it concerns my mother.
I wish you would commission some winged Mercury to
bring me letters from you, my dear Julia, for I am afraid I am
passing away from your remembrance like a morning dream.
I salute you affectionately,
A. D. L.

c^ Letter XIII

HE Spirit of Prophecy must have slumbered, for while the
tempest was gathering, all the weather-wise heads were
predicting "no hurricane this year"--but it came without
sounding a note of preparation, and found both the wise and
the foolish sleeping.
The evening before it commenced was beautiful; I had passed
it with a friend who was ill. I sat by her bed-side till nearly twelve
o'clock, when the wind began to blow, and it rained a little; but
the increasing sounds of a storm alarmed me, and I thought it
prudent to return.
My gallant friend insisted on driving me home himself:
the clouds looked dark and heavy, the wind blew tremendously,
and the ocean groaned in its might; but still he insisted there
would be no storm to-night." I had but just entered the house,
when the rain began to fall in torrents, and my chivalrous knight
must have been completely drenched.
I listened for hours with the most painful apprehension to
the increasing violence of the storm; I fell asleep about daylight,
but was soon awakened by the bursting open of my door, and
before Robert could be called to secure it, the floor was deluged
with water; the window shutters were blown in, and the rain
poured through the boards as if they had been but paper. I
retreated to my mother's room: she was very much alarmed,
and despatched the servants in search of assistance, but it was
hours before any one came to batten the doors and windows.
Every ray of light was excluded but from a crevice in the door,
and you may imagine, if it is possible, how we felt in almost

Letter XIII 67
total darkness, the house shaking to its foundation, the rain
beating furiously upon it, the crash of trees heard at every instant,
and we in continual fear, that the Pride of India in front would
fall upon the house, which would have nearly demolished it,
so slightly is it built.
The roar of the ocean, the rush of water (for the tide over-
flows the beach in such gales, and sometimes inundates the
streets), the uprooting and crashing of trees, the tearing of shingles
from the houses, the tumbling of stones from the walls, and the
incessant and horrible sound of the wind, which exceeds all
description, were enough to have filled a bolder heart than mine
with fear; and I confess my spirit almost sunk within me; but
I knew that "He who rules the tempest, is mighty and able to
save," and I trusted to His arm to protect us from impending
ruin. The continual apprehension of increasing danger, and the
terrifying images which crowd upon the mind, render a situation
like ours very alarming. It is not what is, but that which may come,
that makes one tremble like a coward, and humbles and subdues
the proudest spirit.
After a few hours we were fortunate enough to procure a
tinder-box, which gave us the comfort of a light, and then,
with a feeling almost of security, I threw myself on the sofa,
preparing for whatever might come. We had not even a biscuit
in the house, though we did not lack wine, but at one o'clock
one of our friends kindly sent us a sandwich, which we ate
with as much goit and thankfulness, as was ever felt by any poor
traveller in the deserts of Arabia, when he touched a drop of
dear water to his parched and feverish lips !
In a sudden pause of the wind, I ventured to open the door,
for I had imagined for some time, that I heard the sound of a
human voice mingled with the terrors of the tempest, but how
can I describe the horror I felt at seeing our old negro servant,
who is six feet high, and is a very spectre, merely the ruin of a
man, almost naked, a red handkerchief bound round his head,
and one tied round his waist, and his shoulders and neck bare,
with an axe in his hand, climbing the tree in front to cut away

68 Letters from the Bahama Islands
the main branches II exclaimed, For Heaven's sake, Providence
(for that is his name), what are you doing ? Come down, come
instantly down I He took no notice of me, but .commenced
cutting, holding the axe in one hand, while with the other he
grasped the slender twigs, which one by one gave way, till he
seemed hanging by a single leaf! I was in perfect terror, and
called to him again and again to come down, but he refused.
The next moment the axe fell from his hand, and he appeared
quite benumbed, though he threw his long sinewy arms around
the trunk of the tree, as if he sought to secure himself from the
fury of the gale; and he really looked, as he seemed suspended
in the air, like the demon of the tempest; I gazed upon him
with horror, though at the same time, with feelings of grateful
astonishment, for such a proof of his faithful attachment to us,
and I am sure I shall never forget it. Before Robert arrived to
his rescue, he fell, but fortunately he caught by a broken part
of the wall, and saved himself from death; a few moments
after, nearly the whole length of the wall gave way, and with a
horrible crash fell into the street, bearing in its ruin several large
trees, which were torn up by their roots.
The faithful old man, who had done honour to his name,
appeared quite consoled by a glass of eau-de-vie, and his pipe;
he considered his exposure "nothing, since he had saved his
dear young missee and the house I "
It was just four o'clock when the thunder began to rattle, and
it was a joyful sound, for then I knew the wind must abate;
and from that time it continued gradually to decrease till our fears
subsided. It rained gently all night, and was quite calm; but
such tranquillity after the rage of the elements for more. than
twelve hours, had something almost of terror in it; and to me
it seemed like the awful stillness which immediately succeeds
the agonies of death.
The next morning the sun smiled beautifully on a curious
scene of confusion and desolation: stone walls overthrown,
the streets filled with trees and branches, and leaves and fruit;
oranges, limes, and lemons, floating about, and the gardens

Letter XIII 69
looking as if a fire had passed over them. It seemed almost in
mockery that the sun threw his radiance over such a scene, making
ruin visible.
There were no houses materially injured, and the vessels
in the harbour generally escaped; but in the out islands, the
hurricane was very destructive: houses were blown over,
negro huts were carried into the sea, and some blown high
upon the rocks, and master and slave left without a covering
for their heads. The salt pits were inundated, and large quantities
of salt destroyed, which blights the hopes of the planter for this
year: vessels were driven on shore, and
some lay "high and dry" on the planta-
tions. The Jamaica Packet was lost, and
seven men perished in her. -
There are some houses which are built
expressly for protection against hurricanes;
they stand very low, and the roofs are not,
like the others, flat. It is common at the
commencement of a violent gale, for those .
who consider their own dwellings insecure,
to take a loaf of bread and a bottle ofwine, or whatever they happen
to have, and seek shelter in them, having previously obtained
permission of the occupants; and, I am told, the cellars have
sometimes been filled with people of every age and colour, for
the fear of a tornado effectually destroys all distinctions of rank.
I hope this letter will reach you soon enough to save you the
anxiety you would naturally feel when you hear there has been
a gale here; and your imagination would doubtless magnify
the dangers of it ten-fold, and perhaps place us in some situation
much less romantic and desirable than the one we now occupy.
Thank God I we are safe; and I imagine I never played the
heroine better in my life, than upon that stormy occasion.
We have passed the day delightfully with our friends at--,
whose frequent dinner and evening parties are charming. It is
the custom here, to make a select dinner party, and to invite
"the dear five hundred" to coffee, when cards and dancing

70 Letters from the Bahama Islands
continue till a late hour. Scotch reels are the favourite dance
with the natives, and may perhaps be tolerated after a gay
dinner party, when quadrilles are rather too intricate for heads
not perfectly dear. Nothing can be more fatiguing and ungrace-
ful then than those never-ending reels, and for such a climate -
as this they are perfectly barbarous: the music is generally
bad, but the ladies have such a passion for dancing, it takes
nothing from their spirit and animation.
I have not seen the castanets played, excepting by one
beautiful young girl, and she was so timid, I could not prevail
on her to dance by them; they are very graceful and voluptuous,
and perhaps, dangerous.
In reply to your question, there is no theatre here; but the
Assembly Room, which is in the public buildings, and is a
spacious and handsome apartment, has been fitted up, and a
temporary stage erected, which answers occasionally for a
play-house. The scenery was painted, and indeed the whole was
arranged by one or two private gentlemen, with a good deal of
taste, and dramatic effect. I believe it was planned by Mr. L- ,
and certainly reflects credit on his industry and genius.
Plays have been performed there by the quality, not exactly
in the style of Madame de Stiel's at Copet, but very agreeably,
and with talent. A very intelligent and accomplished American
lady, who is resident here, has performed with Mrs. L. and others ;
and I was even invited to take the character of Lady Randolph;
but believing that Melpomene would not deign to lend me her
buskin, and afraid of incurring her displeasure, I declined. I
imagine it requires the consciousness of high excellence in that
department, a strong natural talent for imitation, and a firm
assurance of success, to enable a female, who is not a regular
actress, to brave the critiques, even of her most indulgent
friends; but those ladies have always been successful, and have
gained great admiration for their talents dramatiques, and the
tout ensemble has passed off very well.
The husband of your fair countrywoman is the principal
manager of this little theatre, and is decidedly one of the best

Letter XIII 71
performers here. He is quite a bel esprit, and is one of the
most agreeable gentlemen I know.
The play of "Who wants a Guinea," was performed by
several of the young men alone, but it was a total failure, excepting
on the part of two or three. A countryman of yours appeared
in the character of Hardy," but unsuccessfully.
Sunday is the fashionable day for paying and receiving visits,
but I have not known a single instance of its being devoted to
dinner or evening parties. Church is always well attended in
the morning; the Governor and his suite are generally there;
he is escorted to the door by a file of black soldiers, the band
playing God save the King; they follow him into the church,
and preserve through the whole service the most respectful and
reverential silence. There is no noise or disturbance in the
streets in the evening, and though the free blacks and the slaves
are in their holyday suits, they are quiet and well behaved.
Visits de cirimonie are paid from twelve till four o'clock, and they
often last two and three hours I It is not uncommon to take a
"second breakfast" with a friend before you part, which
generally consists of a sandwich, fruits, and cakes. There is
not the most perfect harmony in the society here; politics and
interest often clash, and private feuds exist, which render it
disagreeable for those who take no interest in them; but the
inhabitants are all attentive and courteous to strangers, and are
very hospitable.
Not a vessel has sailed for the States since the gale, but the
signal is up for a Yankee flag, and my heart beats with joy at
the thought of receiving letters from you.
No letters-no news from you I are you dead, or married,
or am I forgotten ? I would to God, I could know how you are,
and what you are doing, and if you ever think of me I My lamp
burs blue, and I am sure your patience is all exhausted, but I
will just add, I wish you could enjoy if only for one hour this
splendid moonlight; it is almost too brilliant, for in what heart
are there feelings to respond to it ? and anything so unnaturally
resplendent, is to me full of melancholy.

72 Letters from the Bahama Islands
The sound of the oars from the little boats which are passing
along under my window, is full of music; the beautiful shells
which are seen under the cear blue water, look almost as bright
as the stars over my head; everything looks brilliant and
glorious I
How unlike the cloudy atmosphere, the withered leaves, and
the autumnal winds of your climate I And yet, my mother says,
nothing can be more picturesque and beautiful than the American
scenery, uniting as it does, the magnificent and sublime, the
simple and the grand.
It is doubtless a fair Eden, that land of your birth, and I
salute with affection one of the fairest of her daughters.
Farewell I

c --N Letter XIV

YouR charming letter of September x51th, was peculiarly
fortunate in its passage, and all the winds of the fair west
must have conspired to bear it on. This is the more
delightful, as the greatest alloy to a correspondence with a friend
across hundreds of leagues of ocean, is its distance. One writes
a gay letter with the reflection that it may find its destination in
an hour of sadness, or appeal to the kindness of a friend whom
absence or caprice may have estranged; but apart from this,
the arrival of a letter in a foreign country is certainly one of the
most delicious things in the world; the more delightful perhaps,
than the first meeting would be, with the friend who wrote it.
I have observed many happy meetings, and have enjoyed some,
but the agitation of one's feelings after a long separation, is too
great at first for real happiness; and there is even a sense of
disappointment, arising perhaps, from our inability to express,
or even to comprehend, our own emotions.
The account of your health and enjoyment gives me the
greatest pleasure, and may all your dreams of future prosperity
be realized, my dear and amiable friend. It is consoling to those,
whose prospects of happiness are few and distant, to see others
more blest, and it is consoling to one vainly opening in succession
the thousand doors of Hope, to witness the response and delight
of dear friends in her brightest bower.
You imagine I am changed, and that friendship is too cold
a sentiment to satisfy the heart." Your complaint against me has
revealed your secret, and the truth is, when love scatters its
summer flowers and sweet odours around the spirit, the less

74 Letters from the Bahama Islands
brilliant flowers which blossom in our path are unnoticed;
but I have heard, that sometimes the simple chaplet which
friendship delights to twine for the objects of its devotion,
survives the brilliant garland which love weaves for its idol I
I am not changed, and I marvel not that you should be;
but while the syren voice of love is tempting you to his rose and
myrtle bowers, the last notes of the song of pleasure have swept
over my heart, and yet, towards you, I am not changed.
This is the first time that I have addressed you with the
feelings of an exile, and now it appears as if every thing but the
terrors of fate had abandoned me; I feel as if an earthquake
had swallowed up everything I loved and worshipped on earth,
or that a volcanic eruption had left the world a desert waste
around me. My imagination is so saddened, that even the
"hallowed forms" it loved best to cherish, are seen through
the mist of tears.
My mother has declined so rapidly, there now appears no
hope of her recovery, and indeed our excellent young friend,
Dr. B-- n, has assured me in the most delicate manner, there
is not.
I passed the whole of last night by her bed-side; she revealed
to me all the sad events of her life, which have filled me with
grief and wonder; and that her tender care of my happiness
should have led her to concealment of them for so many years,
I can never cease to regret, for she has cherished them in the
deep loneliness of her spirit, till they have destroyed her.
When I have leisure, I shall commit to paper all my mother
has told me, but now it appears like a frightful vision which has
passed over my imagination; like a deep and troubled thought,
that has left behind it a feverish kind of delirium, and a burning
consciousness of suffering I But I must not allow the expression
of my sadness, to trouble the beauty and happiness of your
glowing hours, and I ask you to still confide in my affection,
as a sentiment, safe from the changes and chances of this mortal
life; for if there is any thing safe and secure this side'heaven,
it is my friendship for you.

Letter XIV 75
"This sail which wafts this hence, is fluttering in the gale; "
and I can only add, adieu, adieu I

c----- Letter XV r
My dear Julia,
IT is just two weeks ago tonight, I was sitting alone with my
mother; it was a beautiful night, but there was a soft shade
of melancholy in the light, which seemed to speak to the
soul; the waves of the ocean lay in unruffled stillness, and
all nature seemed to breathe forth a peacefulness, that was both
seen and felt.
My mother after a long silence said, What a beautiful night,
my Adela! Lead me to the sofa in the veranda, and with my
eyes fixed on that brilliant sky, and listening to the gentle murmur
of the waters, let me unfold to you the sad secret of my mis-
fortunes." I seated myself at her feet, my heart beat almost
audibly, and I hid my face in my hands to conceal my tears.
My mother appeared as tranquil as the light of heaven; there
was no trace of the turbulent passions of the heart in her coun-
tenance, and she looked more like an inspired prophetess, about
to reveal some happy oracles, than a sorrowing and dying
mother, unfolding to her only child the sad history of her
sufferings and her wrongs.
She placed her hand in mine, and said, "It is indeed true,
my child, that the time has arrived for me to communicate to
you those events which widowed my heart in the midst of its
happiness;. it is a painful, but a necessary duty, and I have
endeavoured to arm myself with fortitude to perform it calmly
and dispassionately.
"I have often told you, my dear Adela, that I married in
America, where I had resided several years with my father, and
where I had the misfortune to lose him.

Letter XV

"With his sanction and approbation, I was engaged to
Julius Del Lorraine, but we were not married till eighteen months
after I was an orphan.
Your father was a native of France, but had been educated
in America, and he loved it as his own country. He possessed
all the fascinations of splendid talents, and all the waywardness
and susceptibility of genius; his imagination was strongly
tinged with melancholy, but sometimes it was sportive and
poetical, and then it was, he was the most singularly fascinating
being I have ever known. His manners were polished and
elegant, but he was reserved, and sometimes almost gloomy;
he was devoted to literature and study; he was an amateur,
and loved with extravagance everything that was connected
with letters and the fine arts. His library was splendidly furnished
and looked like a cabinet of the arts, for he had spared no expense
in collecting valuable paintings, statuary, medals, intaglios and
books, and he passed most of his time surrounded by those
works of the mighty and the dead, which were more congenial
to his taste than the social pleasures of life, and the charms of
Del Lorraine was tenderly and religiously devoted to me,
and for six years our happiness was perfect and uninterrupted;
and even now, my memory loves to dwell on that beautiful
period of my life, when his affection formed my happiness and
my glory I
It was about five years after your birth, that the Chevalier
de Courtenaye arrived in America: he had been the most
intimate and honoured friend of my father, though much
younger, and he accepted without hesitation the hospitality we
offered him, and was a welcome and delightful acquisition to
our circle. He had resided more than a twelvemonth with us,
when I began to observe the coldness of your father to him;
I knew no cause for it, for he had appeared charmed with the
Chevalier, and even attached to him, and de Court6naye had
been uniformly modest and agreeable, and his attentions to me
had been only such as his situation sanctioned.

78 Letters from the Bahama Islands
"He was an accomplished scholar; he had lost his wife
several years before, and had placed his only child, Manuel
Eugene, at a military academy in Paris. He taught you the
rudiments of the French and Italian languages, and you are also
indebted to him for your first knowledge of music; he loved
music passionately, and understood it scientifically, and every
sentiment of his soul was in accord with its sweetest and purest
I never for one moment considered the Chevalier in any
way the cause of my husband's abstraction and melancholy,
and never in my deepest musings, or my most severe self-
examinations, did I think of him as connected with it; but often
having sought in vain to discover the cause, after having by my
tenderness and entreaties urged him to disclose to me why he
was unhappy, I was obliged to solace myself with the idea, that
it was merely the effect of a natural irritability of temper, and of
misanthropic feelings, increased by too long indulgence, and
intense application to books; and perhaps I erred, when I
determined no longer to sacrifice to his caprice and gloomy
temper, my love of society, and of the gay pleasures of life.
"I had loved Del Lorraine tenderly and faithfully, and I
respected his virtues and his principles, though I often thought
them severe and cold; I was too proud to complain, and I
never, even to him, breathed an expression of my unhappiness;
but I sought forgetfulness of it in the occupations and amuse-
ments of society, and I enjoyed more or less the frivolities of
fashionable life.
"De Courttnaye had generally attended me in my visits,
by the request of my husband, and it is true, I sometimes remarked
a melancholy abstractedness in his manner which surprised me,
but I never imagined till that fatal moment which consummated
my misery, that he entertained for me any sentiment but that of
friendship. We had returned one evening from a delightful
excursion down the river Delaware, with a large and gay party,
and I hastened home to arrange my dress for the evening, full
of spirits and gaiety; but judge of my horror, when, as I entered

Letter XV 79
the library, I saw your father sitting at his desk, his arms folded
across his breast, his look wild and haggard, and a pair of pistols
lying before him II immediately threw myself on my knees, and
exclaimed, My husband I He turned from me, indignantly and
passionately, and madly reproved me for my folly. He gazed
wildly on de Court&naye, and seizing the pistol, he advanced
towards him. The Chevalier stood unmoved, and he exclaimed,
'It is you who have destroyed my happiness; it is you who
have robbed me of my Gertrude, and think you I value my
life now ? I loved her more than life, but take it, for it is hateful
to me.'
The Chevalier threw the pistol which he had offered him
into the court, and your father raved with all the vehemence of
passion. I rose and said calmly and proudly to him, for I was
sustained by the consciousness of my own innocence and his
injustice: Hear me, Del Lorraine, and no longer insult our
kind and generous friend; but he exclaimed, 'No, I will not
hear you; no, no, leave me. Oh I Gertrude, leave me, and for
ever He was in a wild delirium, but overpowered by the
violence of his feelings, he fell senseless on the floor. He was
conveyed to his room, and de Courtenaye wept over him as
we would weep over one we love, who had fallen from that
high point of perfection, where our indulgent affection had
placed him, 'more in pity than in anger.' Campbell, our family
physician, pronounced him in an alarming brain fever, but I
knew I might confide in his skill, as well as in his friendship.
"It was the tenth day, and the Chevalier had not left his
bed-side; I had been from that night confined to my room,
and my sufferings, though less apparent, were perhaps not less
intense than my husband's. As soon as I was able to leave my
bed, supported by the venerable Howard, I went to his room;
de Court&naye was kneeling by the side of my husband, who
was sleeping, but his features looked still convulsed, and he
was wasted to a shadow. He uttered my name repeatedly, but
there was nothing of anger or of passion in the sounds of his
voice, and as I wept over him, I felt the weight of my sufferings

8o Letters from the Bahama Islands
cold and heavy on my heart. I kissed his burning forehead,
and felt how tenderly I forgave him for his cruelty, not only to
myself, but to the best and most honourable of men. As I entered
the room, de Courtinaye rose, a slight blush passed over his
features, but he did not speak. I thanked him with all the
enthusiasm of gratitude, for his devotion to my husband, but
he spoke not I
"He was a virtuous and noble minded man; he had the
most chivalrous veneration for woman, and he possessed that
kind of refinement of sentiment and of manner, which renders
the homage of such a man flattering, even to the proudest and
most distinguished female.
"That night he requested an interview with me, which I
immediately granted in the library: deep traces of the contending
emotions of his mind were visible in his countenance; he looked
as if the sentence of death had been passed upon him, and he
had come to supplicate forgiveness for the last time. I extended
my hand to him, but kneeling before me, he said, 'It is too
true, most exalted of women, that I have destroyed your happiness
and my own, though I have never indulged a thought towards
you, that might not almost be called a prayer breathed forth for
your happiness; and while I dared not acknowledge to my own
heart that I loved you, I would have shed its last drop to have
saved you from suffering:-loved you I Yes, I have dared to love
you; but I thought that none but the all-searching Eye of Heaven
had discovered the fatal secret of my soul. I would have guarded
it as the Altar of the Divinity; I would have enshrined it with
those sentiments which belong to Heaven, for it was inspired
by the deep reverence of your virtues, and by the adoration of
those principles which are so lovely in woman; but never,
here as in the presence of the Eternal, let me swear to you, I
had never till that fatal night, the slightest suspicion of the cause
of Del Lorraine's coldness to you, or of his indifference to me.
"' God of Heaven! it fell like a thunderbolt on my heart,
and yet I was innocent of even a thought, injurious to his
happiness I

Letter XV

"' I have often resolved to return to England, not daring
to confide in myself, but when I thought of Del Lorraine's
aversion to society, and of your loneliness, and when I felt how
the dear and beautiful Adela had twined herself around my heart,
how could I execute a determination that would have made me
the most isolated and wretched of men ? God is my witness,
that no selfish or unfeeling sentiment actuated me, and I believed
my silent and repressed adoration of you was a pledge for all
that was generous and virtuous in my actions; and had I
imagined your happiness was endangered by my presence, I
should have left you, if wretchedness and death had followed !
'I have worshipped you in my heart as a lovely and exalted
being, worthy to be adored; I have bowed down before you,
as before the pure and beautiful image of the Deity, and though
I have loved you, it was only as you were worthy to be loved;
and I have come now to ask your forgiveness of this involuntary
homage of my affections, and to expiate my fault in part, by this
humiliating confession of my unhappiness. I implore you not
to think too severely of me; I could endure the most savage
tortures, to give you back the happiness I have destroyed;
but I must endure the eternal reproach of your misery, yet I
thank my God, I have not sinned against you, even in thought.
Think of me as unfortunate, but not guilty, and do not tear my
remembrance from your memory in coldness and in scorn, but
say that you forgive me, for I feel my farewell will be eternal I '
"I had listened to him with the most painful surprise, and
when I recovered, I begged him to rise, assuring him of my
respect and friendship, and I endeavoured to soften the anguish
of his feelings by speaking of the past, and of the happiness his
society had been to me.
"He spoke tenderly and forgivingly of Del Lorraine, but
when the moment for his departure arrived, he bowed his
head upon my hand, and said, 'Most lovely and most loved
of women, forget de Courtdnaye and his misfortunes, and let
the past be as though it had not been, and may the blessing of
Heaven rest upon you I Farewell, and for ever '

82 Letters from the Bahama Islands
He was to embark the next day for England; he left a
letter for your father, and he embraced you with great tenderness;
when I kissed you afterwards, your cheeks were still wet with
his tears, and I heard his sobs, when he pressed the hands of
Del Lorraine for the last time to his throbbing brows.
I watched over your father, my dear child, for two months
with unremitting care, and during that period he had never an
interval of reason. With what anxiety and hopelessness have I
watched over his couch for days and nights, and with what
tenderness did I daily implore Heaven to restore him to reason
and to happiness.
But it was all in vain, for my destiny was irrevocably fixed,
and neither tears nor prayers could change it.
"One night when I was sitting alone by my husband, he
suddenly exclaimed, 'Where is. Gertrude, and where is De
Courtenaye ? Oh II have cursed them both, and they have
abandoned me to my fate-and my daughter, my fair and lovely
child, where is she? Oh! my God, what burning thoughts
press on my brain I Oh I save me, save me from them I-Gertrude
-de Court6naye '
I retreated silently from his room, and entreated Campbell
to watch over him, for he appeared to be recovering his recollec-
tion gradually, like one just awaking from a heavy and deathlike
sleep. After a few hours, the physician came to tell me his reason
had returned, and that he had conversed freely with him, and
he added, 'Del Lorraine retains a full and dear recollection of
the events of that night, which are like bright and burning spots
on his memory.'
I fell on my knees in silent thankfulness to Heaven, but the
future rose before me then in awful darkness, for I knew to
eradicate those impressions from his mind which had had power
to overthrow his reason, would be impossible; but I endeavoured
to arm myself with fortitude, to meet the worst, and I determined
let what would come, my pride should support me through it.
"My father had taught me from childhood, not to yield
weakly to misfortunes, and particularly, not to sacrifice the

Letter XV 83
proud, dignified independence of my feelings to the caprice of
any being, however well beloved; a mistaken system, my dear
Adela, for a female, whose whole happiness depends upon her
affections; but you have discovered that little of the weakness
of human passion and of irresolution are mingled with the
feelings of your mother.
"I loved, perhaps to excess, the adoration of society, and
having been always accustomed to its homage, I thought it
necessary to my happiness; but had I imagined that my duty,
or the peace of my husband, required it of me, I could have
sacrificed it all, and found enjoyment in his affection, and in those
resources with which my education furnished me : I loved him,
and I could have renounced without regret, the gaieties of life,
and the splendours of rank and fashion, if he had asked it of me-
- but . ." Here my mother ceased speaking, subdued by her
emotions, and I had no power to utter a word. After a long
pause, she continued, I will not dwell upon my own feelings,
for time has softened my grief, though it has not healed the
bleeding wound in my heart: when the physician thought it
prudent, Howard led you to your father; he at first refused to
receive you, but when his friend entreated, he clasped you in
his arms and wept convulsively over you; but he said, 'It is
for the last time, I embrace you, yes, the last time; tell your
mother, my child, I have wept over you for the last time, and
that I have renounced all that was dear to me in life. Oh I my
daughter, what a farewell for a fond father! Why, oh! why
is it not the grave which separates us, rather than this hateful-
farewell my child-my Adela, a long farewell '
I suffered several days to pass, and then resolved to see my
husband, that my fate might be determined, and I cared little
what it was.
"I entered the library late one night when I knew he was
there, for I had heard his hurried and rapid steps for hours;
and my feelings were wild and almost desperate. The moment
I entered, he exclaimed, Oh I leave me-leave me I '-and he
sunk upon a seat, I approached him, and said as calmly as I

84 Letters from the Bahama Islands
could, 'No, I will never leave you, Del Lorraine, till I have heard
my fate pronounced by yourself; I can die, but I will not live
thus; you have wronged me; I am innocent, and I love you
still faithfully and tenderly; hear me, my husband, and cast me
not from you; by the past I implore you I 'By the past,' he
repeated, gazing wildly upon me, 'by the past I oh I it is there
my madness lies-leave me, Gertrude, my vow has been
pronounced, and the angels of Heaven have registered it; drive
me not to guilt, but leave me, it is all I ask I'
"I had knelt to him, but I rose, and said tremblingly, 'I shall
leave you, but the time will come, when, with tears of blood,
you will weep for this outrage, and this desertion of me, for I am
innocent of even a thought unfaithful to you I '
He rushed from the room, and his last words were,' Leave
me, and for ever I'
"I felt my fate was sealed, and I yielded myself up to the
most passionate despair, and for many days I was unconscious
of my sufferings : but they returned with accumulated violence,
and even now the remeribrance of them comes over me with
desolating power; years have not taught me forgetfulness of
that moment which sealed the wretchedness and darkness of my
fate, and doomed me to a life of loneliness and of tears.
By the advice of the pious and amiable Howard, who had
appealed in vain to the reason, as well as to the feelings of Del
Lorraine, I determined to seek the protection of my brother-in-
law, the Count Victor Adolphe Del Lorraine, as your father had
often expressed a wish that you should be educated in France;
and I was confirmed in this resolution, when Howard informed
me he had renewed the request, and had made suitable arrange-
ments for it. We were to embark for Havre, accompanied by the
son of our friend, who was to finish his studies in Paris, and a
more gentle and accomplished being than young Howard
never existed.
Just before we embarked, I entered the library, for at that
moment no feeling but of compassion and tenderness filled my
heart; your father was leaning over his desk, I threw my arms

Letter XV 85
around his neck, and said weeping, 'Julius Del Lorraine, my
husband, farewell! May God forgive and watch over youl
My husband, farewell '
"He appeared overpowered by the suddenness of my
appearance, and gazed wildly at me. 'Gertrudel your tears
cannot deceive me; oh I no--and why have you come to
disturb this death-like repose? Leave me, and let me die in
peace In the agony of my feelings I knelt to him: My fare-
well is eternal-ohl my husband, in this last moment, deny
me not your blessing; it is all I ask, do not in mercy withhold
it from me I He clasped his hands convulsively together, and
striking them against his forehead, shrieked, 'My blessing I
Gertrude, I have cursed you I Yes, I have cursed you both I'"
My mother sunk back upon the sofa; I felt as if a thunder-
bolt had passed through my heart, and dried up its life-blood;
its pulsation was for a time suspended, for I remember my mother
was chafing my hands and temples, and that I was shivering
with cold, when she pressed her lips to mine, and I heard the
low, melting tones of her voice. My child, my Adela, speak
to me, love I It is your mother, speak to me, my daughter,
that I may be assured you live."
The blood rushed over my heart, and then I remembered
the wrongs of my mother, and the curse of my father; I threw
myself into her arms, but I could say nothing, but My mother,
my dear injured mother I She embraced me and said, "It is
sweet to weep on the bosom of my child, and these are the
first happy tears I have shed."
The next day my mother continued---"I found in Victor
Adolphe Del Lorraine, the most affectionate brother, and the
most generous friend; he was all sympathy and kindness; he
received me with affecting tenderness, and the warmth of
friendship, and I felt my heart glowing with grateful enthusiasm
towards him. He informed me that de Court6naye had gone
directly to France, and having sought him immediately, com-
municated all that passed, not concealing his unfortunate attach-
ment. They had long been known to each other, and it required

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