網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

B8
1853
v.2

THE

HOMES OF THE NEW WORLD.

LETTER XVIII.

PHILADELPHIA, June 23rd. At length, my sweet little Agatha, I have a moment's calm in which to converse with you; but it has been hard to find in this friendly city of the Friends.

I left Charleston the fifteenth of this month, overwhelmed, as in all other places, with presents, and an infinity of kindness and attentions.

But ah ! how weary and worn out I was during the last days there with the labour of incessant society. Sea-bathing kept me alive, as well as a few hours of rest in the kind house of my friend Mrs. W. H.

My last evening at Charleston was spent in company with a lively little astronomer, Mr. Gibbs, brother of the natural historian at Columbia, and in contemplating from the piazza the starry heavens. The three great constellations, Scorpio, with its fiery-red heart, Antares, Sagittarius, and Capricornus, as well as the Southern Crown (insignificant), shone brightly in the southern heavens, and the zodiacal light cast its white splendour up towards the milky way. We directed the telescope upon a nebulous spot in the latter, and then to that place where -We found ourselves, ah! lost in immensity, like the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

VOL II.

[merged small][ocr errors]

animalculæ in the ocean.

But I can now look upon this relative condition without being depressed, without its producing uneasy thoughts. Oersted's treatise on the “Entirety of Reason in the whole Universe," and the data upon which he founds his argument, have given me the feeling of home in this universe, and made me a citizen of the world. The whole universe is to me now merely the world and home of man. The night was very dark, and the stars, therefore, all the brighter; yet they were not as bright as with us, nor yet did they appear so large. The atmosphere was full of fragrance, and was so calm that the strokes of the oars, and the songs from the negroes' boats on the river, were plainly heard. It was not till half-past twelve that I went to rest.

The following day I took leave of my excellent and beloved home in South Carolina. My good Mrs. W. H. took a sisterly, nay, a motherly, care of me to the last. My little hand-basket was filled with beautiful fruit, oranges and bananas, by her “fruit-woman," a handsome mulatto, who always wore a handkerchief tied picturesquely on her head, and a sketch of whom I made in my album.

album. Old Romeo gave me flowers. At halfpast three in the afternoon I went on board the steam. boat, the “Ospry;" the steam company of Philadelphia and Charleston, the proprietors of this vessel, having sent me a free ticket, so that I went to Philadelphia free of cost; it was thus a gift to me of twenty dollars, and could not have been made in a more polite manner.

The first four-and-twenty hours on board were extremely hot. Both the air and the sea were still, as if the wind was dead. And I felt how people might die of heat. A number of Spaniards from Cuba were on board; and it was amusing to watch them from their peculiar physiognomy and demeanour, so unlike that of Americans. The vivacity of their action, their strongly accentuated, melodious language, the peculiarity of feature, seemed to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

indicate a more important race than that of the Anglo-
Saxon ; and yet it is not so, at least not at the present
time. The Spaniards, particularly in this hemisphere,
stand far behind the Americans in moral and scientific
cultivation. One portion of these Spaniards was said to
be escaping from the investigations, which the unsuccessful
expedition of Lopez had occasioned in the island; others
were going to New York to consult physicians, or to avoid
the summer in the tropics. A young couple of a high
family, and near relations, were going to be married, as
the Spanish law is said to place impediments in the way
of marriage between near relatives, and that with reason,
as the children or grandchildren of such frequently
become idiotic, or unfortunate beings in some other way.
The young bridegroom was handsome, but looked ill-
tempered, with a good deal of hauteur. The bride and
her sister were young and pretty, but too stout. An old
count, who was evidently suffering from asthma, was
waited upon with the greatest tenderness by a negro.
Little children were amusing by their lively antics and
talk. The voyage was calm, and, upon the whole, good.
Mr. Linton, from the city of the Friends, took charge of
me with chivalric politeness. The sea sent us flocks of
flying-fish as entertainment on the voyage. Pelicans,
with immense beaks, floated like our gulls through the
air, on search for prey, whilst a large whale stopped on
his journey through the ocean, as if to let us witness
various beautiful waterspouts.

The sailing up the river Delaware on Tuesday morning
was very agreeable to me, although the weather was
misty. But the mist lifted up again and again its heavy
draperies, and revealed bright green shores of idyllian
beauty, with lofty hills, wooden country houses, grazing
cattle, and a character of landscape wholly unlike that,
which had been lately familiar to me in the South.
I was met at Philadelphia by the polite Professor Hart,

B 2"

[ocr errors]

rief tiels

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

who took me to his house. And there have I been ever since, and there am I still, occupied, both soul and body, by social life and company, and by a great deal which is interesting, although laborious.

The Quakers, the Friends, as they are commonly called, are especially kind to me, take me by the hand, call me Fredrika, and address me with thou or rather thee, and

convey me, in easy carriages, to see all that is remarkable and beautiful, as well in the city as out of it. And what large and excellent institutions there are here for the public good! The heart is enlarged by the contemplation of them, and by the manner in which they are maintained. One cannot help being struck here, in a high degree, by the contrast between the slave states and the free states; between the state whose principle is selfishness, and the state whose principle is human love; between the state where labour is slavery, and the state where labour is free, and the free are honoured. And here, where one sees white women sweeping before the doors, how well-kept is everything, how ornamental, how flourishing within the city, as well as in the country! And these public institutions, these flowers of human love,-ah! the magnolia blossoms of the primeval forests are devoid of fragrance in comparison with them; they stand as far behind these dwellings, these asylums for the unfortunate and for the old, as the outer court of the Sanctuary did to the holy of holies.

I could not help weeping tears of joy when I visited, the other day, the great Philadelphia Lunatic Asylum ; so grand, so noble appeared the human heart to me here, the work and the tenderness of which seemed to present itself in everything. The Asylum is situated in large and beautiful grounds, in which are shady alleys, seats and flower-gardens. The whole demesne is surrounded by a wall, so managed as to be concealed by the rising ground, both from the park and the house, so that the

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

poor captives may fancy themselves in perfect freedom. There is also a beautiful museum of stuffed birds and other animals, with collections of shells and minerals, where the diseased mind may divert itself and derive instruction; occupation and amusement being the principal means employed for the improvement of these unfortunates. For this reason lectures are delivered two or three times a week in a large hall. They frequently meet for general amusement, as for concerts, dances, and so on, and the appliances for various kinds of games, such as billiards, chess, &c., are provided. I heard on all hands music in the house. Music is especially an effective means of cure. Many of the patients played on the piano remarkably well. They showed me an elderly lady, who had been brought hither in a state of perfect fatuity. They gave her a piano, and encouraged her to play some little simple pieces, such as she had played in her youth. By degrees, the memory of many of these early pieces re-awoke, until the whole of her childhood's music revived within her, and with it, as it seemed, the world of her childhood. She played to me, and went with visible delight from one little piece to another, whilst her countenance became as bright, and as innocently gay, as that of a happy child. She will probably never become perfectly well and strong in mind; but she spends here a happy, harmless life in the music of her early years. Many of the ladies, and in particular the younger ones, occupy themselves in making artificial flowers, some of which they gave me, and very well done they were. The men are much employed in field labour and gardening. A niece of the great Washington's was here: a handsome old lady, with features greatly resembling those of the President, and well-bred manners.

She was very pale, and was said to be rather weak, than diseased, in mind. The number of beautiful flowers here, particularly of roses, was extraordinary; and even the incurables, if they

TIT! AK

[ocr errors]

e deri d as dit Fortunate

Uair did

visited istlum de here present

se and

its and

Ted by rising

at the

« 上一頁繼續 »