« PreviousContinue »
• Your pleasing cares, thrice happy band ! she cries,
Still, still pursue, ye favoured of the skies ! These arms come not on murderous message bent, Your songs to hush, your labours to prevent. Yet Father, say, how in this placid ground, When war's aspiring flames are kindling round, Has fear of soldier wrongs no dwelling found ?, "Son,' he replied, 'no outrage this domain, Nor tresspass yet has ventured to profane: Nor Mars, with note confused, reach'd this sequestered plain. I know not if kind heaven indulgent spares The lowly innocence of shepherd's cares ; Or, as the thunderbolt more seldom ligbts On the deep vale, but scathes the mountain heights, So foreign swords their thirsting fury wreak On royal heads--nor hither, spoils to seek, Soldiers intent on gain, with hand impure Can our neglected poverty allure. Neglected ? yes, by others-dear to me, More dear than sceptred wealth can ever be. Ne'er does ambition's wish, or love of gain, In this untroubled breast its home maintain : In the clear wave my thirst I stoop to slake, And fear no poison scattered on the lake; While unbought portion for my frugal board This flock, this little ground, by turns afford. Few are our wants; and small the stock we need To nourish life: behold my sons,--they lead The herd to pasture ; and no slaves surround My peaceful threshold, or protect my ground. So live I lonely; watching with delight The goat and stag run nimbly in my sight, The bird to heaven expand its feathery pride, And sportive fishes through the streamlet glide. Time was,-that season when man's opening hour Still plays the child,—that other things had power To wake desire: this pasture counted mean, I fled my natal plains for other scene;Where regal Memphis spreads her palace walls, Amid the ministers that fill'd its halls I too was plac'd; the gardens all my care, Yet courtly wiles I saw, and proved them there. Rash hope allured me; long vexatious time Endured I ; but when passed my flowering prime, And with it courage fail'd, and hope grew cold, I mourn'd my vanish'd peace, my tranquil fold. Adieu, ye courts ! I cried, these friendly shades Returning found, and pleasure with my glades; As thus he spake, upon his words intent Erminia calmly hung; such reasoning sent Peace through her stormy senses, and sunk deep; Some pause she made-determind then to keep, Till Fortune smooth'd her steps another way, Within that secret vale her partial star.
• Thou, happy one, but who thyself', she cries,
The maid in rustic spoils equips ber now,
Oft, as in summer heats the sheep reclin'd
On the 12th at dawn, we descried land. It was the moun. tain of Caraccas; the highest summit of which, distinguished, on account of its peculiar form, by the name of Silla de Caracas, or Saddle of Caraccas, was joyfully pointed out by the passengers, who were natives of the city that lay at its feet. There was scarcely a breath of air to break the waves, over which our little bark rolled with a sluggish motion, that ill suited our anxiety to reach the shore. To prevent our retrogading, as the current set strongly against us, we had recourse to sweeps, by the aid of which we were enabled to advance a mile or two before sunrise. To this event I was now looking forward with no ordinary emotion. As if to greet his coming, clouds piled on clouds had gathered themselves about that part of the mountain's brow, on which the powerful king of day' was first to alight on his entrance into the scene around
Their dark masses were deeply contrasted by their gradually brightening summits ; and in watching their movements, I exulted in the idea that I was realizing a scene so admirably described by the poet:
“ The lessening clouds, The kindling azure, and the mountain's brow Illumed with fluid gold, his near approach
Betoken glad As the sun gradually uprose from the bed of clouds, their diminished forms slowly vanished, and left his path through the fields of ether clear and unobstructed. At the same time, the morning breeze began to swell our idle sails, and first to curl the waves, and then to lash them into foam. Our sweeps were cheerfully laid aside, and we once more bounded over the waters that still separated us from the wished-for land. I could not help remarking, that the heaving motions of the vessel no longer produced those sickening effects on our passengers, now that land was in sight, which they had occasioned formerly, when sky and ocean alone were visible. The most timid walked the deck, with an air of confidence, that would have done honour to Neptune himself. Sickness was forgotten and languour laid aside, and all were ready to exclaim
Oh! who can tell-save he whose heart has tried
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way! At eleven, we ran to an anchoring ground. To the right, on the south and west, lay Cabo Blanco, a high promontory, whose whitened sands, burnishing in the sun, sufficiently explained the origin of its name. Nearer along shore, a thick grove of cocoa-nut trees marked where stood the village of Maycatia. Immediately in front, lay the small town of La Guya ra, at the very base of the lofty mountains, which rose precipitously behind, and lent here and there a projecting platform for some little fortalice or signal town. To the left, moles of batteries were visible on the strand, till in the distance Macuto's verdant scenery closed the landward view.
Immediately after our anchoring, a gun was fired from a small fort on the heights, and the Colombian flag unfurled, to announce our arrival, About twelve, a launch, with the national flag at the stern, came along side, bearing on board the harbour master, health officer, &c.*
These gentlemen proceeded to examine into the name and condition of the vessel and passengers, which duty being speedily performed, they left us at our own disposal. We sent for a canoe, which, rowed by four lusty mulattoes, soon made its appearance, and took our persons and baggage to the shore. The surf beat high, and I was considering, when we came on a line with the only wharf visible, how we should be conveniently landed, when I was astonished to find our canoe, of a sudden, surrounded by a whole posse of coloured fellows. Each of these, wading up to his breast in water, took a passenger on his back, and with the greatest alertness conveyed us safe and dry to terra firma. Our baggage was brought to us in the same way, and the price demanded for the use of the canoe, &c. was about four dollars.
The wharf was crowded with persons anxious to see the coming strangers. The most of them were black; and their muscular, athletic forms presented a marked contrast to the puny and wan appearance of the whites. This contrast is in part observable throughout the West-Indies. The whites are in general very much deteriorated, by a long residence in tropical countries, both in their colour and general strength.
* Muscat, formerly barber, in Martinique, and perchance tooth drawer, now physician and health officer. He receives nine dollars for every visit. tą a vessel.
The seeming exceptions are constituted by the fat paunches of bons vivans, who would gladly purchase exception from this deceitful appearance of superiority.
At right angles with the wharf runs the wall of the town: through one of the gates of this wall we were conducted to an office, where our baggage underwent a trifling examination by the custom-house officers. After passing the gate, we ascended a small street, crossing the two principal ones at right angles, and ending abruptly at a short distance, in the rugged base of the mountain. We were conducted to the principal posada, or boarding house, and thence directed to our respective places of business or pleasure. I waited on Echandia, the collector of the port, to whom I had a letter of introduction. I found him pleasant and affable in his deportment, and received much hospitable attention at his hands. By him I was introduced to Avendano, the governor of La Guyra, at whose house I had the satisfaction of dining, in company with a small, but intelligent circle of friends. The conversation, as it may be supposed, turned chiefly upon subjects connected with the state of the country, and its present struggle for independence and freedom. On these subjects these ardent Colombians spoke with a warmth and energy that could not fail to interest a lover of freedom, and to engage his best wishes for their success. With respect to the United States, they entertained, in general, very correct information, and anxiously looked forward to the acknowledgement of their independence by our government. Of Mr. Clay, they entertained the most exalted sentiments; reverencing him no less, as a warm defender of the rights of his own country, than as the enlightened statesman, who embraced in the grasp of his wide benevolence every country upon earth, whose citizens were entitled, by their intelligence and bravery, to the enjoyment of liberty. As is usual, however, with these people, conversation, however animated and uninterrupted, is seldom instructive. Common places are frequently discussed, with an impetuosity of manner, and a vehemence of style, that would lead a stranger to their customs and language to suppose them engaged in treating of the most important and extraordinary subjects.
La Guyra is generally called the port of the city of Caraccas, and is not of much more recent date than that city, which was founded 250 years ago. It is situated at the foot of the mountains, composing part of the chain of the Andes, which lose themselves to windward, near Trinidad, and the average height of which is 4500 feet. In the rear of the town however, the