Изображения страниц

“No visitor can enter the capital, | red clay walls, which enclose large forest Abomey, without a sensation of disap- trees, besides orange, banana, and other pointment in the want of grandeur, and fruit trees. All the houses are low and disgust at the ghastly ornaments of its thatched, and one only, in the palace of gateway. The city is about eight miles Dange-lah-cordeh, and one in that of in circumference, surrounded by a ditch, Cumassee, can boast of two storeys. about five feet deep, filled with the “ The Dahoman capital is, in fact enprickly acacia, its only defence. It is tirely unprotected by its walls and gates, entered by six gates, which are simply and built in the most ill judged of posi. clay walls crossing the road, with two tions for so large a city. For a distance apertures, one reserved for the king, the of five miles on every side there is no other a thoroughfare for his subjects. water. Passing out of the north gate, In each aperture are two human skulls; the traveller soon arrives at a most beauand on the inside a pile of skulls, human, tiful point of view. Standing on an and of all the beasts of the field, even to eminence of some hundred feet, a fertile the elephant's. Besides these six gates, valley lies stretched at his feet, bounded the ditch, which is of an oval form in the extreme north-west by the lofty branches off

, at each side the north-west summits of the Dab-a-Dab hills, tinged gate, to the north and north-west, and with blue, and looming larger from the over each branch is a similar gateway, distant view. Here and there about this for one only purpose, to mislead an enemy fertile plain are small cozy reservoirs of in a night attack. In the centre of the water, from which the sole supply of that city are the palaces of Dange-lah-cordeh necessary element is obtained for the and Agrim-gomeh, adjoining; on the populous city. With so scanty and prenorth stands the original palace of Da- carious a supply, it may well be supposed homey; about these, and to the south that fresh water is a luxury in Abomey, gate, are houses, the most conspicuous of and the cry of Seedagbee (good water) as which are those of the ministers. In constant as ths Agua de Lisboa of the front of Agrim-gomeh is an extensive Gallegos in Portugal. On the northsquare, in which are the barracks and a eastern side of the capital, the farms are high shed or palaver house, a saluting dependant solely on the rain water colbattery of fifteen guns, and a stagnant lected during the rainy season, and pond. Just inside the south-east gate secured in deep pits smeared on the in(the Cannah) are a saluting battery and side with palm oil, whence it is drawn off pond, and numerous blacksmiths' shops. into earthen vessels, and thus stored up The roads or streets are in good order ; within the houses until the return of the and, though there are not any shops, the rainy period.” want of them is supplied by two large Dahomey, adieu ! markets—Aha-jah.ee, to the eastward of the central palace, at once a market, parade, and sacrificial ground; and Hung- of those that have been accurately measured, the

THE OAK OF SAINTES.--Among the oak trees, jooloh, just outside the south gate. Be- largest in Europe is no doubt that near the town sides these, there are several smaller of Saintes, in the department of the Charente markets, the stalls of which are all owned, is sixty-four English feet high, has a diameter of

Inferieure, on the road to Coyes. This tree, which and are generally attended, by women, twenty-nine and a half English feet near the the wives of all classes and orders, from ground. In the dead part of the trunk a little the miegan's to the blacksmith’s. The feet wide, and nine to ten feet high, with a semifetish houses are numerous, and ridicu- circular bench. A window gives light to the lously ornamented. Cloths are manufac- interior, so that the sides of the chamber (which tured within the palaces and houses. I is closed with a door) are clothed with ferns and

lichens, giving it a pleasing appearance. Judging There are no regular streets, and it is by the size of a small piece

of wood which has difficult for a European to imagine him- been cut out above the door, and in which the self in the capital of a large country, as

marks of two hundred rings have been counted,

the oak of Saintes would be between 1800 and all the houses are surrounded by high 2000 years old.-Humboldt,

their attention from me and the story WHY I DIDN'T MARRY. they were waiting for, I began

« Well girls, I was twenty-two before Oh! what shall we do this weary I'd a single prospect of matrimony. dreary evening !” so spake my niece From eighteen to twenty-two, just four Mary at the close of one of those rainy years had passed away, and in all that afternoons just before Christmas; it was time I had never exchanged a sweet sendull truly, but then old folks, like me, tence with anybody. Four years! why were glad that terrible frost had vanished, in that time I might have been apprenwhich tlıreatened to freeze us all up into ticed and learnt a trade, or I might have icicles.

sailed round the world, or I might have “Tell us a story, Auntie, yes, do tell done everything except the very thing I us a story;" said the young voices in hadn't done-marry. I asked myself the chorus.

reason for this, was it in my looks ? no, And the stories I had told! oh dear! surely; there was Miss Smith, yes Anna, stories of the most probable and impro- only plain Miss Ann Smith-not even bable kind, and my nieces yet clamoured had she your terminal vowel to redeem for another. So they folded up their her name from its intense plainness— work (the bridal work they were about), there was Ann Smith, plain in name and placed their feet upon the fender and plain in features, married-married well, looked determined.

too, and gone off to live in the fells of “Tell us why you didn't marry? Yorkshire. Was it my want of fortune ? Auntie,” said Emma, a bright-eyed girl no, surely, for there was my bosom friend of seventeen.

Jane Jesson, not a penny, and not hand“Why! why because of Auntie's name, some either, married to the most popular I'm sure,” cried Anna. Now my name lawyer in the county-town. Besides, I is Judith, and as Aunt Judith my nieces was an only daughter, and the world alone knew me.

might fairly suppose that I should come “Nonsense,” said the bride elect- into a portion of my father's wealth" that's not true.” So then, I came in and my father was reputed wealthy. with my quiet voice and said, “I have Well, I was not known, you'll conclude, another name, girls, poetical and romantic that was it; I was the identical fiower enough, and that is Rosalie, and by that Gray wrote of—blushing unseen,

and on I was called in my young days.”

desert air wasting its sweetness. No, “ Is not that a settler for you, Anna ?” that wasn't it either, for I knew heaps, cried Emma, who was given to use her yes heaps of gentlemen, who dined, brother's vocabulary.

danced, and dinned my ears with their “ Will you tell us, Auntie, though?” noise and clatter at our house. Then it asked the fair and quiet Mary.

was my temper-every one knew it was Now our thoughts were all running on bad, and nobody would have anything to matrimony at that time, because my do with such a cross-patch. Stop a biteldest niece, the one who had just spoken, it was said of me-mind, it's the only was to be married when the new year good thing I've quoted in my own praise, turned (ah! it's come now and the wed- it was said of me, girls, that I was reding's over, and Mary's flying about markably amiable! Germany); or else, I, an old woman of “ It's not to be accounted for; it's only more than sixty, should not have begun a fact, I was twenty-two and unengaged, to prate an old romance to my young and I didn't know but what forty-two nieces, putting silly thoughts into their might find me in the same place. Not young heads. So I looked round at the that it's so very desirable to marry-(I six eager eyes that were intently watch thought it best to put in a bit of wisdom, ing mine, and looked out of the window, those eyes opposite mine were so very and looked into the fire, and as nothing bright, and my niece Mary had lost no suggested itself by which I could divert | time—the minx was but twenty) don't


grey lustre.

think that girls, but I was young and / and laughing a great deal more than was silly then, and have learnt better since, my wont. as you will, if you live to be old enough. “ The next morning I was very busy

Well, we lived in this town-in this in the kitchen, putting up our best glass, house, as you know, and on one identical and those white and gold coffee-cupsWednesday-yes! I remember the very you know them, girls-ah! to think that day even now—we were going to have a John Badams should ever have drunk his dinner party. I turned round and round coffee out of that very service !--As I my dresses, which were hanging up in was saying, I was so busy, and scolding my room closet, and thought which I the maids too for their waste and de. should put on; ‘Only Mr. Deerhurst, my struction of the evening before, when a father's old partner is coming-and such double and treble rap-tap-tap startled me as he-'I grumbled as I took down an and Hannah, and caused me to break the old plaid. Yes, though! there's Major only saucer which has ever been broken Startling,' and I half unhooked my blue belonging to that same white and gold silk. What folly!' I exclaimed, he'd service. Hannah ran off to open the never see if I wore a coal sacking,' and I door, while I gathered up the shreds with laid hold of the old plaid again. 'Stop' an ill grace, keeping one ear open the --some stranger my father had spoken while for what was passing in the pasof, and said he might-would if he could, sage. His voice, oh yes! I had soon

What, if it be neither might, learnt to know it from all the hundreds could, or would, but should come ?' To of voices of indifferent men, so I was not be on the safe side was best; I gave the astonished when Hannah returned saying old plaid, and even the blue silk, a dis- -Mr. Badams has called to see you, dainful whirl, and took down my silver- Miss.'

I went; I did not need to run up “But this had all nothing to do with stairs first and smooth my hair and reit, girls, nothing to do with it, only you arrange my dress; I was always neat and will have a story; for, as for dress, you presentable when I was young, girls; know, it's not important, so that you are and I glanced severely at Emma who is a neat looking and never extravagant. bit of a slattern. Mind, if you ever get chosen for the dress “Well, he stopped nearly an hour, and you wear, your husband will care for you we talked again, and we got to speak just as long as it takes to wear it out- about flowers, and then went, though it nor so long as that, I promise you, if the was winter time, to walk round the old texture happens to be woollen and it's a garden to look at them. Mr. Badams good while in coming to tatters. So I did not know much about flowers, for I went down to the drawing-room to sup- remember he called some aconites--butport the dignity of hostess, and was in- tercups, and said sundry other absurd troduced to the stranger. I shook out things; but then I was not in the humour my silver-grey lustre into becoming folds to be critical. So it went on and on, and mentally blest the wisdom which had girls, till John Badams settled the matter left the old plaid in the closet above one day in this same old garden by askstairs. We spent a wonderfully pleasant ing me to become his wife. I had learnt evening, and Mr. Badams was profusely to love him by that time, so I did not attentive to me. I did not reckon much say no; then he said he must go away to on that though, because I had been used settle some business before he came back to attention; it came in with the soup to ask me of my father. and went out with the after dinner coffee, “I knew but little of his history, and I and I saw and heard no more of it till had not cared to enquire; the history of the hats were hung up in our hall again. our courtship was quite enough to occupy However, in thinking over that evening, my thoughts, and I left all other histoit occurred to me that Mr. Badams had ries alone; however, while he was away been struck, and that I had been chatting | I happened to hear my father speak of him to Mr. Deerhurst, as they were “ The dinner bell shook my considering sitting over their wine one evening. The cap off my head and sent me into another words were

tremble; and how was I to eat dinner, “I can't make him out, he has money indeed, choked with so many sensations ? in plenty, but no friends in England, and I thought with relief that I had ordered no relations anywhere.'

roast ducks, and one could pick a bone “« Rather odd that for a wealthy man,' without one's want of appetite being obsaid Mr. Deerhurst; “but the business servable: I descended with a tremour, which brought him to us is all right and but met Mr. Badams with a smile; he above board.'

smiled again, and I was reassured, and I Quite,' said my father.

could see that he was very quiet and “I dare not linger to hear more, but satisfied like." for the first time since I had known John My nieces had become so deeply inteBadams I trembled over our future. Yes, rested in Auntie's story that they would there was a cloud rising, I felt it-saw it not give me a moment for rest, so gathercoming up black and ominous, big enough ing up my courage I went on with my to overwhelm all my happiness. I knew old romance in the dim light of that that Mr. Badams had been out of England rainy afternoon. for some years, and that he was consider- “ The first time I saw John alone after ably older than myself; but, to me, he that he told me that my father had conappeared a kind hearted, honest hearted, sented to our union, provided he was gentleman; a true man and no spy. He satisfied on several little points, but he came back after some weeks of absence, wished us to wait awhile. I had tremand my peace was restored in his pre- bled with fright before, now I trembled sence, only a little lingering doubt kept a with joy, I did not see the cloud here, dark corner for itself at the bottom of my and my happiness forced out the dark heart. He came to our house as usual, fear from the little corner of my heart, my father was friendly and polite, and I and marched up and down therein to the could not doubt but that John Badams tune of my love-my love for John loved me, even me, with an entire all-ob- Badams, which was becoming every day serving affection, still he lingered and more intense. Then, as I was going to hesitated to speak to my father.

be his wife, I did quite right to fan well “At last they had a talk, and how my the flame—the flame that wanted no heart beat, such thumps surely, as I fanning, for it burned up brightly looked out of my chamber window one enough. day before dinner, and saw my father and “I spent a happy month, two happy Mr. Badams pacing up and down that months, I think it must have been, for it long straight gravel path in our old was summer. I recollect how the sun garden, and knew they were talking shone on my misery, not caring a bit for about me. My father shook his head it, and how I felt the sun could shine several times, I could see that, though I coldly as well as hotly, for surely there was too high above the garden to read were never brighter sunbeams than those the expression of their faces. But what that glanced and danced in the diningcould that portend? Do people shake room yonder, when I stood there to hear their heads only negatively? I asked. my fate, yet I shivered and my teeth And what possible objection could my chattered while standing in their beams. father have? True, I should leave him I was summoned by Hannah, who told alone, but would not that be better than me that my father wanted me in the that I should one day be left alone my- dining-room, and that Mr. Badams was self? I thought every parent would say there. This was gratuitous information yes to that, every loving parent, at least, on Hannah's part, and did not reassure and mine did not want for affection to my starting fears. I went, my father wards me, only it was not of the demon- looked blackly at me, Mr. Badams did strative sort.

not look at me at all. I felt small and

miserable, as a woman does when she however-as I am to this day convinced stands before two angry men on whom -would have been any arguments with she has not the power to pour her anger my father, he never would have given in return.

his daughter to a man returned from You must give up your engagement transportation. with this—this scoundrel, once, and for “ There then he stood, inexorable, and ever,' said my father. I could not utter there stood John Badams, daunted and a word, but I looked at John—no doubt ashamed. I went up to him, shivering with a face of miserable earnestness. He all over, we shook hands once and parted did not turn and he did not speak. in silent agony, he never even looked at

“Do you hear me?' resumed my me. father. I shivered, my hands trembled, “ After that I had two offers, within and the garish sun shone upon the wall that same year, one from the curate, one and sent the rainbow hues from the glass —which surprised me much—from Major chandeliers bobbing up and down as if Startling; but I was too bewildered and they were spiteful sprites exulting in my sore-hearted even to consider their suits, misery. How I watched them! just the so they had a speedy and decisive negatrifle to catch one in one's agony, as tive. My father would have liked the trifles do catch us by some strange power latter match, and even ventured on some in our natures at those terrible times; persuasions, but I had no ears to hear yes, I watched and noticed shadows when them with, for love had died within me. the substance of happiness was being "I never suffered any one after to call riven from my grasp! I had not even me Rosalie, it was the name John had stretched out my feeble hand to retain it. known me by, and with his memory it I would do so, I would not be passive too should die, so I am now only Aunt under this blow, so I asked loudly, Judith—and that's the reason, girls, why "Why, father?"

I didn't marry." - He-he whom we've known as Mr. A few tears coursed softly down the Badams, a merchant returned from old lady's face as she finished the romance

abroad,' answered my father, speaking of her early days. Her nieces quietly | rapidly and angrily, 'is no other than a stared into the fire and said nothing

man who has been transported, and comes let us do the same—'tis a history that back here with money gotten, since his needs no after words.

VANS. time in the penal colony expired, in South America; he's no other than Jack Adams

PARENTS AND CHILDREN. who was born in the alley.'

“ Jack Adams! why I had heard of him The relationship between parent and as a girl, a clever mischievous boy, who child is one that appears to have been orhad disappeared from the town for some dained by Providence to bring the better years, and whose poor but honest parents feelings of mankind and many domestic had ever been pitied for having such a virtues into active exercise. The implicit scrapegrace son. Yes, Jack Adams, had confidence with which children, when been transported.

properly treated, look up to their elders “I had not a word to utter-nor had for guidance, is not less beautiful than he. We had neither sense enough ; nor, endearing; and no parents can set about perhaps, love enough, left to plead all the work of guiding aright, in real that might have been pleaded in our earnest, out deriving as much good favour. ”For Jack Adams had expired as they impart. The feelings with which long since, and Jobn Badams had for this labour of love would be carried foreight years redeemed his character by ward is, as the poet writes of mercy twice industry, honesty, and good conduct; blessed – had raised himself, moreover, out of the “It blesses him that gives and him that takes." ranks in which he was born by his appli- And yet in daily life and experience how cation and love of knowledge. Useless, I seldom do we find these views realised!

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »