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´╗┐Title: Paul et Virginie. English - Paul and Virginia
Author: Saint-Pierre, Bernardin de, 1737-1814
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Paul et Virginie. English - Paul and Virginia" ***

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by Bernardin de Saint Pierre

With A Memoir Of The Author


In introducing to the Public the present edition of this well known
and affecting Tale,--the _chef d'oeuvre_ of its gifted author, the
Publishers take occasion to say, that it affords them no little
gratification, to apprise the numerous admirers of "Paul and Virginia,"
that the _entire_ work of St. Pierre is now presented to them. All the
previous editions have been disfigured by interpolations, and mutilated
by numerous omissions and alterations, which have had the effect of
reducing it from the rank of a Philosophical Tale, to the level of a
mere story for children.

Of the merits of "Paul and Virginia," it is hardly necessary to utter
a word; it tells its own story eloquently and impressively, and in a
language simple, natural and true, it touches the common heart of the
world. There are but few works that have obtained a greater degree
of popularity, none are more deserving it; and the Publishers cannot
therefore refrain from expressing a hope that their efforts in thus
giving a faithful transcript of the work,--an acknowledged classic by
the European world,--may be, in some degree, instrumental in awakening
here, at home, a taste for those higher works of Fancy, which, while
they seek to elevate and strengthen the understanding, instruct and
purify the heart. It is in this character that the Tale of "Paul and
Virginia" ranks pre-eminent. [Prepared from an edition published by
Porter & Coates, Philadelphia, U.S.A.]


Love of Nature, that strong feeling of enthusiasm which leads to
profound admiration of the whole works of creation, belongs, it may be
presumed, to a certain peculiarity of organization, and has, no doubt,
existed in different individuals from the beginning of the world. The
old poets and philosophers, romance writers, and troubadours, had all
looked upon Nature with observing and admiring eyes. They have most of
them given incidentally charming pictures of spring, of the setting sun,
of particular spots, and of favourite flowers.

There are few writers of note, of any country, or of any age, from
whom quotations might not be made in proof of the love with which
they regarded Nature. And this remark applies as much to religious and
philosophic writers as to poets,--equally to Plato, St. Francois de
Sales, Bacon, and Fenelon, as to Shakespeare, Racine, Calderon, or
Burns; for from no really philosophic or religious doctrine can the love
of the works of Nature be excluded.

But before the days of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Buffon, and Bernardin
de St. Pierre, this love of Nature had not been expressed in all its
intensity. Until their day, it had not been written on exclusively.
The lovers of Nature were not, till then, as they may perhaps since be
considered, a sect apart. Though perfectly sincere in all the adorations
they offered, they were less entirely, and certainly less diligently and
constantly, her adorers.

It is the great praise of Bernardin de St. Pierre, that coming
immediately after Rousseau and Buffon, and being one of the most
proficient writers of the same school, he was in no degree their
imitator, but perfectly original and new. He intuitively perceived the
immensity of the subject he intended to explore, and has told us that
no day of his life passed without his collecting some valuable materials
for his writings. In the divine works of Nature, he diligently sought
to discover her laws. It was his early intention not to begin to write
until he had ceased to observe; but he found observation endless, and
that he was "like a child who with a shell digs a hole in the sand to
receive the waters of the ocean." He elsewhere humbly says, that not
only the general history of Nature, but even that of the smallest plant,
was far beyond his ability. Before, however, speaking further of him as
an author, it will be necessary to recapitulate the chief events of his

HENRI-JACQUES BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE, was born at Havre in 1737. He
always considered himself descended from that Eustache de St. Pierre,
who is said by Froissart, (and I believe by Froissart only), to have so
generously offered himself as a victim to appease the wrath of Edward
the Third against Calais. He, with his companions in virtue, it is also
said, was saved by the intercession of Queen Philippa. In one of his
smaller works, Bernardin asserts this descent, and it was certainly one
of which he might be proud. Many anecdotes are related of his childhood,
indicative of the youthful author,--of his strong love of Nature, and
his humanity to animals.

That "the child is the father of the man," has been seldom more strongly
illustrated. There is a story of a cat, which, when related by him many
years afterwards to Rousseau, caused that philosopher to shed tears. At
eight years of age, he took the greatest pleasure in the regular culture
of his garden; and possibly then stored up some of the ideas which
afterwards appeared in the "Fraisier." His sympathy with all living
things was extreme.

In "Paul and Virginia," he praises, with evident satisfaction, their
meal of milk and eggs, which had not cost any animal its life. It has
been remarked, and possibly with truth, that every tenderly disposed
heart, deeply imbued with a love of Nature, is at times somewhat
Braminical. St. Pierre's certainly was.

When quite young, he advanced with a clenched fist towards a carter
who was ill-treating a horse. And when taken for the first time, by his
father, to Rouen, having the towers of the cathedral pointed out to him,
he exclaimed, "My God! how high they fly." Every one present naturally
laughed. Bernardin had only noticed the flight of some swallows who had
built their nests there. He thus early revealed those instincts which
afterwards became the guidance of his life: the strength of which
possibly occasioned his too great indifference to all monuments of
art. The love of study and of solitude were also characteristics of
his childhood. His temper is said to have been moody, impetuous, and
intractable. Whether this faulty temper may not have been produced
or rendered worse by mismanagement, cannot not be ascertained. It,
undoubtedly became afterwards, to St. Pierre a fruitful source of
misfortune and of woe.

The reading of voyages was with him, even in childhood, almost a
passion. At twelve years of age, his whole soul was occupied by Robinson
Crusoe and his island. His romantic love of adventure seeming to his
parents to announce a predilection in favour of the sea, he was sent
by them with one of his uncles to Martinique. But St. Pierre had
not sufficiently practised the virtue of obedience to submit, as was
necessary, to the discipline of a ship. He was afterwards placed with
the Jesuits at Caen, with whom he made immense progress in his studies.
But, it is to be feared, he did not conform too well to the regulations
of the college, for he conceived, from that time, the greatest
detestation for places of public education. And this aversion he has
frequently testified in his writings. While devoted to his books of
travels, he in turn anticipated being a Jesuit, a missionary or a
martyr; but his family at length succeeded in establishing him at Rouen,
where he completed his studies with brilliant success, in 1757. He soon
after obtained a commission as an engineer, with a salary of one hundred
louis. In this capacity he was sent (1760) to Dusseldorf, under the
command of Count St. Germain. This was a career in which he might have
acquired both honour and fortune; but, most unhappily for St. Pierre,
he looked upon the useful and necessary etiquettes of life as so many
unworthy prejudices. Instead of conforming to them, he sought to trample
on them. In addition, he evinced some disposition to rebel against his
commander, and was unsocial with his equals. It is not, therefore, to be
wondered at, that at this unfortunate period of his existence, he made
himself enemies; or that, notwithstanding his great talents, or the
coolness he had exhibited in moments of danger, he should have been sent
back to France. Unwelcome, under these circumstances, to his family, he
was ill received by all.

It is a lesson yet to be learned, that genius gives no charter for the
indulgence of error,--a truth yet _to be_ remembered, that only a small
portion of the world will look with leniency on the failings of the
highly-gifted; and, that from themselves, the consequences of their
own actions can never be averted. It is yet, alas! _to be_ added to
the convictions of the ardent in mind, that no degree of excellence in
science or literature, not even the immortality of a name can exempt
its possessor from obedience to moral discipline; or give him happiness,
unless "temper's image" be stamped on his daily words and actions. St.
Pierre's life was sadly embittered by his own conduct. The adventurous
life he led after his return from Dusseldorf, some of the circumstances
of which exhibited him in an unfavourable light to others, tended,
perhaps, to tinge his imagination with that wild and tender melancholy
so prevalent in his writings. A prize in the lottery had just doubled
his very slender means of existence, when he obtained the appointment of
geographical engineer, and was sent to Malta. The Knights of the Order
were at this time expecting to be attacked by the Turks. Having already
been in the service, it was singular that St. Pierre should have had the
imprudence to sail without his commission. He thus subjected himself to
a thousand disagreeables, for the officers would not recognize him
as one of themselves. The effects of their neglect on his mind were
tremendous; his reason for a time seemed almost disturbed by the
mortifications he suffered. After receiving an insufficient indemnity
for the expenses of his voyage, St. Pierre returned to France, there to
endure fresh misfortunes.

Not being able to obtain any assistance from the ministry or his family,
he resolved on giving lessons in the mathematics. But St. Pierre was
less adapted than most others for succeeding in the apparently easy,
but really ingenious and difficult, art of teaching. When education
is better understood, it will be more generally acknowledged, that,
to impart instruction with success, a teacher must possess deeper
intelligence than is implied by the profoundest skill in any one branch
of science or of art. All minds, even to the youngest, require, while
being taught, the utmost compliance and consideration; and these
qualities can scarcely be properly exercised without a true knowledge of
the human heart, united to much practical patience. St. Pierre, at this
period of his life, certainly did not possess them. It is probable that
Rousseau, when he attempted in his youth to give lessons in music, not
knowing any thing whatever of music, was scarcely less fitted for
the task of instruction, than St. Pierre with all his mathematical
knowledge. The pressure of poverty drove him to Holland. He was well
received at Amsterdam, by a French refugee named Mustel, who edited a
popular journal there, and who procured him employment, with handsome
remuneration. St. Pierre did not, however, remain long satisfied with
this quiet mode of existence. Allured by the encouraging reception given
by Catherine II. to foreigners, he set out for St. Petersburg. Here,
until he obtained the protection of the Marechal de Munich, and the
friendship of Duval, he had again to contend with poverty. The latter
generously opened to him his purse and by the Marechal he was introduced
to Villebois, the Grand Master of Artillery, and by him presented to the
Empress. St. Pierre was so handsome, that by some of his friends it was
supposed, perhaps, too, hoped, that he would supersede Orloff in the
favor of Catherine. But more honourable illusions, though they were
but illusions, occupied his own mind. He neither sought nor wished to
captivate the Empress. His ambition was to establish a republic on the
shores of the lake Aral, of which in imitation of Plato or Rousseau,
he was to be the legislator. Pre-occupied with the reformation of
despotism, he did not sufficiently look into his own heart, or seek to
avoid a repetition of the same errors that had already changed friends
into enemies, and been such a terrible barrier to his success in
life. His mind was already morbid, and in fancying that others did
not understand him, he forgot that he did not understand others. The
Empress, with the rank of captain, bestowed on him a grant of fifteen
hundred francs; but when General Dubosquet proposed to take him with him
to examine the military position of Finland, his only anxiety seemed to
be to return to France: still he went to Finland; and his own notes of
his occupations and experiments on that expedition prove, that he gave
himself up in all diligence to considerations of attack and defence. He,
who loved Nature so intently, seems only to have seen in the extensive
and majestic forests of the north, a theatre of war. In this instance,
he appears to have stifled every emotion of admiration, and to have
beheld, alike, cities and countries in his character of military

On his return to St. Petersburg, he found his protector Villebois,
disgraced. St. Pierre then resolved on espousing the cause of the Poles.
He went into Poland with a high reputation,--that of having refused
the favours of despotism, to aid the cause of liberty. But it was his
private life, rather than his public career, that was affected by his
residence in Poland. The Princess Mary fell in love with him, and,
forgetful of all considerations, quitted her family to reside with
him. Yielding, however, at length, to the entreaties of her mother,
she returned to her home. St. Pierre, filled with regret, resorted to
Vienna; but, unable to support the sadness which oppressed him, and
imagining that sadness to be shared by the Princess, he soon went back
to Poland. His return was still more sad than his departure; for he
found himself regarded by her who had once loved him, as an intruder.
It is to this attachment he alludes so touchingly in one of his letters.
"Adieu! friends dearer than the treasures of India! Adieu! forests of
the North, that I shall never see again!--tender friendship, and the
still dearer sentiment which surpassed it!--days of intoxication and
of happiness adeiu! adieu! We live but for a day, to die during a whole

This letter appears to one of St. Pierre's most partial biographers,
as if steeped in tears; and he speaks of his romantic and unfortunate
adventure in Poland, as the ideal of a poet's love.

"To be," says M. Sainte-Beuve, "a great poet, and loved before he had
thought of glory! To exhale the first perfume of a soul of genius,
believing himself only a lover! To reveal himself, for the first time,
entirely, but in mystery!"

In his enthusiasm, M. Sainte-Beuve loses sight of the melancholy sequel,
which must have left so sad a remembrance in St. Pierre's own mind.
His suffering, from this circumstance, may perhaps have conduced to his
making Virginia so good and true, and so incapable of giving pain.

In 1766, he returned to Havre; but his relations were by this time dead
or dispersed, and after six years of exile, he found himself once
more in his own country, without employment and destitute of pecuniary

The Baron de Breteuil at length obtained for him a commission as
Engineer to the Isle of France, whence he returned in 1771. In this
interval, his heart and imagination doubtless received the germs of his
immortal works. Many of the events, indeed, of the "Voyage a l'Ile de
France," are to be found modified by imagined circumstances in "Paul and
Virginia." He returned to Paris poor in purse, but rich in observation
and mental resources, and resolved to devote himself to literature. By
the Baron de Breteuil he was recommended to D'Alembert, who procured
a publisher for his "Voyage," and also introduced him to Mlle. de
l'Espinasse. But no one, in spite of his great beauty, was so ill
calculated to shine or please in society as St. Pierre. His manners
were timid and embarrassed, and, unless to those with whom he was very
intimate, he scarcely appeared intelligent.

It is sad to think, that misunderstanding should prevail to such an
extent, and heart so seldom really speak to heart, in the intercourse of
the world, that the most humane may appear cruel, and the sympathizing
indifferent. Judging of Mlle. de l'Espinasse from her letters, and the
testimony of her contemporaries, it seems quite impossible that she
could have given pain to any one, more particularly to a man possessing
St. Pierre's extraordinary talent and profound sensibility. Both she and
D'Alembert were capable of appreciating him; but the society in which
they moved laughed at his timidity, and the tone of raillery in which
they often indulged was not understood by him. It is certain that he
withdrew from their circle with wounded and mortified feelings, and, in
spite of an explanatory letter from D'Alembert, did not return to it.
The inflictors of all this pain, in the meantime, were possibly as
unconscious of the meaning attached to their words, as were the birds of
old of the augury drawn from their flight.

St. Pierre, in his "Preambule de l'Arcadie," has pathetically and
eloquently described the deplorable state of his health and feelings,
after frequent humiliating disputes and disappointments had driven him
from society; or rather, when, like Rousseau, he was "self-banished"
from it.

"I was struck," he says, "with an extraordinary malady. Streams of fire,
like lightning, flashed before my eyes; every object appeared to me
double, or in motion: like OEdipus, I saw two suns. . . In the
finest day of summer, I could not cross the Seine in a boat without
experiencing intolerable anxiety. If, in a public garden, I merely
passed by a piece of water, I suffered from spasms and a feeling of
horror. I could not cross a garden in which many people were collected:
if they looked at me, I immediately imagined they were speaking ill of
me." It was during this state of suffering, that he devoted himself with
ardour to collecting and making use of materials for that work which was
to give glory to his name.

It was only by perseverance, and disregarding many rough and
discouraging receptions, that he succeeded in making acquaintance with
Rousseau, whom he so much resembled. St. Pierre devoted himself to his
society with enthusiasm, visiting him frequently and constantly, till
Rousseau departed for Ermenonville. It is not unworthy of remark, that
both these men, such enthusiastic admirers of Nature and the natural
in all things, should have possessed factitious rather than practical
virtue, and a wisdom wholly unfitted for the world. St. Pierre asked
Rousseau, in one of their frequent rambles, if, in delineating St.
Preux, he had not intended to represent himself. "No," replied Rousseau,
"St. Preux is not what I have been, but what I wished to be." St. Pierre
would most likely have given the same answer, had a similar question
been put to him with regard to the Colonel in "Paul and Virginia."
This at least, appears the sort of old age he loved to contemplate, and
wished to realize.

For six years, he worked at his "Etudes," and with some difficulty found
a publisher for them. M. Didot, a celebrated typographer, whose daughter
St. Pierre afterwards married, consented to print a manuscript which had
been declined by many others. He was well rewarded for the undertaking.
The success of the "Etudes de la Nature" surpassed the most sanguine
expectation, even of the author. Four years after its publication, St.
Pierre gave to the world "Paul and Virginia," which had for some time
been lying in his portfolio. He had tried its effect, in manuscript,
on persons of different characters and pursuits. They had given it no
applause; but all had shed tears at its perusal: and perhaps, few works
of a decidedly romantic character have ever been so generally read, or
so much approved. Among the great names whose admiration of it is on
record, may be mentioned Napoleon and Humboldt.

In 1789, he published "Les Veoeux d'un Solitaire," and "La Suite des
Voeux." By the _Moniteur_ of the day, these works were compared to the
celebrated pamphlet of Sieyes,--"Qu'est-ce que le tiers etat?" which
then absorbed all the public favour. In 1791, "La Chaumiere Indienne"
was published: and in the following year, about thirteen days before
the celebrated 10th of August, Louis XVI. appointed St. Pierre
superintendant of the "Jardin des Plantes." Soon afterwards, the King,
on seeing him, complimented him on his writings and told him he was
happy to have found a worthy successor to Buffon.

Although deficient in the exact knowledge of the sciences, and knowing
little of the world, St. Pierre was, by his simplicity, and the
retirement in which he lived, well suited, at that epoch, to the
situation. About this time, and when in his fifty-seventh year, he
married Mlle. Didot.

In 1795, he became a member of the French Academy, and, as was just,
after his acceptance of this honour, he wrote no more against literary
societies. On the suppression of his place, he retired to Essonne. It is
delightful to follow him there, and to contemplate his quiet existence.
His days flowed on peaceably, occupied in the publication of "Les
Harmonies de la Nature," the republication of his earlier works, and
the composition of some lesser pieces. He himself affectingly regrets an
interruption to these occupations. On being appointed Instructor to the
Normal School, he says, "I am obliged to hang my harp on the willows
of my river, and to accept an employment useful to my family and my
country. I am afflicted at having to suspend an occupation which has
given me so much happiness."

He enjoyed in his old age, a degree of opulence, which, as much as
glory, had perhaps been the object of his ambition. In any case, it is
gratifying to reflect, that after a life so full of chance and change,
he was, in his latter years, surrounded by much that should accompany
old age. His day of storms and tempests was closed by an evening of
repose and beauty.

Amid many other blessings, the elasticity of his mind was preserved to
the last. He died at Eragny sur l'Oise, on the 21st of January, 1814.
The stirring events which then occupied France, or rather the whole
world, caused his death to be little noticed at the time. The Academy
did not, however, neglect to give him the honour due to its members.
Mons. Parseval Grand Maison pronounced a deserved eulogium on his
talents, and Mons. Aignan, also, the customary tribute, taking his seat
as his successor.

Having himself contracted the habit of confiding his griefs and sorrows
to the public, the sanctuary of his private life was open alike to the
discussion of friends and enemies. The biographer, who wishes to be
exact, and yet set down nought in malice, is forced to the contemplation
of his errors. The secret of many of these, as well as of his miseries,
seems revealed by himself in this sentence: "I experience more pain from
a single thorn, than pleasure from a thousand roses." And elsewhere,
"The best society seems to me bad, if I find in it one troublesome,
wicked, slanderous, envious, or perfidious person." Now, taking into
consideration that St. Pierre sometimes imagined persons who were really
good, to be deserving of these strong and very contumacious epithets,
it would have been difficult indeed to find a society in which he could
have been happy. He was, therefore, wise, in seeking retirement, and
indulging in solitude. His mistakes,--for they were mistakes,--arose
from a too quick perception of evil, united to an exquisite and diffuse
sensibility. When he felt wounded by a thorn, he forgot the beauty and
perfume of the rose to which it belonged, and from which perhaps it
could not be separated. And he was exposed (as often happens) to the
very description of trials that were least in harmony with his defects.
Few dispositions could have run a career like his, and have remained
unscathed. But one less tender than his own would have been less soured
by it. For many years, he bore about with him the consciousness of
unacknowledged talent. The world cannot be blamed for not appreciating
that which had never been revealed. But we know not what the jostling
and elbowing of that world, in the meantime, may have been to him--how
often he may have felt himself unworthily treated--or how far that
treatment may have preyed upon and corroded his heart. Who shall
say that with this consciousness there did not mingle a quick and
instinctive perception of the hidden motives of action,--that he did
not sometimes detect, where others might have been blind, the
under-shuffling of the hands, in the by-play of the world?

Through all his writings, and throughout his correspondence, there are
beautiful proofs of the tenderness of his feelings,--the most essential
quality, perhaps, in any writer. It is at least, one that if not
possessed, can never be attained. The familiarity of his imagination
with natural objects, when he was living far removed from them, is
remarkable, and often affecting.

"I have arranged," he says to Mr. Henin, his friend and patron, "very
interesting materials, but it is only with the light of Heaven over
me that I can recover my strength. Obtain for me a _rabbit's hole_, in
which I may pass the summer in the country." And again, "With the _first
violet_, I shall come to see you." It is soothing to find, in passages
like these, such pleasing and convincing evidence that

     "Nature never did betray,
     The heart that loved her."

In the noise of a great city, in the midst of annoyances of many kinds
these images, impressed with quietness and beauty, came back to the mind
of St. Pierre, to cheer and animate him.

In alluding to his miseries, it is but fair to quote a passage from
his "Voyage," which reveals his fond remembrance of his native land. "I
should ever prefer my own country to every other," he says, "not because
it was more beautiful, but because I was brought up in it. Happy he,
who sees again the places where all was loved, and all was lovely!--the
meadows in which he played, and the orchard that he robbed!"

He returned to this country, so fondly loved and deeply cherished in
absence, to experience only trouble and difficulty. Away from it, he had
yearned to behold it,--to fold it, as it were, once more to his bosom.
He returned to feel as if neglected by it, and all his rapturous
emotions were changed to bitterness and gall. His hopes had proved
delusions--his expectations, mockeries. Oh! who but must look with
charity and mercy on all discontent and irritation consequent on such
a depth of disappointment: on what must have then appeared to him such
unmitigable woe. Under the influence of these saddened feelings, his
thoughts flew back to the island he had left, to place all beauty, as
well as all happiness, there!

One great proof that he did beautify the distant, may be found in the
contrast of some of the descriptions in the "Voyage a l'Ile de France,"
and those in "Paul and Virginia." That spot, which when peopled by the
cherished creatures of his imagination, he described as an enchanting
and delightful Eden, he had previously spoken of as a "rugged country
covered with rocks,"--"a land of Cyclops blackened by fire." Truth,
probably, lies between the two representations; the sadness of
exile having darkened the one, and the exuberance of his imagination
embellished the other.

St. Pierre's merit as an author has been too long and too universally
acknowledged, to make it needful that it should be dwelt on here. A
careful review of the circumstances of his life induces the belief, that
his writings grew (if it may be permitted so to speak) out of his life.
In his most imaginative passages, to whatever height his fancy soared,
the starting point seems ever from a fact. The past appears to have been
always spread out before him when he wrote, like a beautiful landscape,
on which his eye rested with complacency, and from which his mind
transferred and idealized some objects, without a servile imitation
of any. When at Berlin, he had had it in his power to marry Virginia
Tabenheim; and in Russia, Mlle. de la Tour, the niece of General
Dubosquet, would have accepted his hand. He was too poor to marry
either. A grateful recollection caused him to bestow the names of the
two on his most beloved creation. Paul was the name of a friar, with
whom he had associated in his childhood, and whose life he wished to
imitate. How little had the owners of these names anticipated that
they were to become the baptismal appellations of half a generation in
France, and to be re-echoed through the world to the end of time!

It was St. Pierre who first discovered the poverty of language
with regard to picturesque descriptions. In his earliest work, the
often-quoted "Voyages," he complains, that the terms for describing
nature are not yet invented. "Endeavour," he says, "to describe a
mountain in such a manner that it may be recognised. When you have
spoken of its base, its sides, its summit, you will have said all!
But what variety there is to be found in those swelling, lengthened,
flattened, or cavernous forms! It is only by periphrasis that all this
can be expressed. The same difficulty exists for plains and valleys.
But if you have a palace to describe, there is no longer any difficulty.
Every moulding has its appropriate name."

It was St. Pierre's glory, in some degree, to triumph over this
dearth of expression. Few authors ever introduced more new terms into
descriptive writing: yet are his innovations ever chastened, and in good
taste. His style, in its elegant simplicity, is, indeed, perfection. It
is at once sonorous and sweet, and always in harmony with the sentiment
he would express, or the subject he would discuss. Chenier might well
arm himself with "Paul and Virginia," and the "Chaumiere Indienne," in
opposition to those writers, who, as he said, made prose unnatural, by
seeking to elevate it into verse.

The "Etudes de la Nature" embraced a thousand different subjects, and
contained some new ideas on all. It is to the honour of human nature,
that after the uptearing of so many sacred opinions, a production like
this, revealing the chain of connection through the works of Creation,
and the Creator in his works, should have been hailed, as it was, with

His motto, from his favourite poet Virgil, "Taught by calamity, I pity
the unhappy," won for him, perhaps many readers. And in its touching
illusions, the unhappy may have found suspension from the realities of
life, as well as encouragement to support its trials. For, throughout,
it infuses admiration of the arrangements of Providence, and a desire
for virtue. More than one modern poet may be supposed to have drawn a
portion of his inspiration, from the "Etudes." As a work of science it
contains many errors. These, particularly his theory of the tides,(*)
St. Pierre maintained to the last, and so eloquently, that it was said
at the time, to be impossible to unite less reason with more logic.

     (*) Occasioned, according to St. Pierre, by the melting of
     the ice at the Poles.

In "Paul and Virginia," he was supremely fortunate in his subject. It
was an entirely new creation, uninspired by any previous work; but which
gave birth to many others, having furnished the plot to six theatrical
pieces. It was a subject to which the author could bring all his
excellences as a writer and a man, while his deficiencies and defects
were necessarily excluded. In no manner could he incorporate politics,
science, or misapprehension of persons, while his sensibility, morals,
and wonderful talent for description, were in perfect accordance with,
and ornaments to it. Lemontey and Sainte-Beuve both consider success
to be inseparable from the happy selection of a story so entirely in
harmony with the character of the author; and that the most successful
writers might envy him so fortunate a choice. Buonaparte was in the
habit of saying, whenever he saw St. Pierre, "M. Bernardin, when do you
mean to give us more Pauls and Virginias, and Indian Cottages? You ought
to give us some every six months."

The "Indian Cottage," if not quite equal in interest to "Paul and
Virginia," is still a charming production, and does great honour to the
genius of its author. It abounds in antique and Eastern gems of thought.
Striking and excellent comparisons are scattered through its pages; and
it is delightful to reflect, that the following beautiful and solemn
answer of the Paria was, with St. Pierre, the results of his own
experience:--"Misfortune resembles the Black Mountain of Bember,
situated at the extremity of the burning kingdom of Lahore; while you
are climbing it, you only see before you barren rocks; but when you have
reached its summit, you see heaven above your head, and at your feet the
kingdom of Cachemere."

When this passage was written, the rugged, and sterile rock had been
climbed by its gifted author. He had reached the summit,--his genius had
been rewarded, and he himself saw the heaven he wished to point out to


     [For the facts contained in this brief Memoir, I am indebted
     to St. Pierre's own works, to the "Biographie Universelle,"
     to the "Essai sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de Bernardin de St.
     Pierre," by M. Aime Martin, and to the very excellent and
     interesting "Notice Historique et Litteraire," of M. Sainte-


Situated on the eastern side of the mountain which rises above Port
Louis, in the Mauritius, upon a piece of land bearing the marks of
former cultivation, are seen the ruins of two small cottages. These
ruins are not far from the centre of a valley, formed by immense rocks,
and which opens only towards the north. On the left rises the mountain
called the Height of Discovery, whence the eye marks the distant sail
when it first touches the verge of the horizon, and whence the signal is
given when a vessel approaches the island. At the foot of this mountain
stands the town of Port Louis. On the right is formed the road which
stretches from Port Louis to the Shaddock Grove, where the church
bearing that name lifts its head, surrounded by its avenues of bamboo,
in the middle of a spacious plain; and the prospect terminates in a
forest extending to the furthest bounds of the island. The front view
presents the bay, denominated the Bay of the Tomb; a little on the right
is seen the Cape of Misfortune; and beyond rolls the expanded ocean,
on the surface of which appear a few uninhabited islands; and, among
others, the Point of Endeavour, which resembles a bastion built upon the

At the entrance of the valley which presents these various objects,
the echoes of the mountain incessantly repeat the hollow murmurs of the
winds that shake the neighbouring forests, and the tumultuous dashing of
the waves which break at a distance upon the cliffs; but near the ruined
cottages all is calm and still, and the only objects which there meet
the eye are rude steep rocks, that rise like a surrounding rampart.
Large clumps of trees grow at their base, on their rifted sides, and
even on their majestic tops, where the clouds seem to repose. The
showers, which their bold points attract, often paint the vivid colours
of the rainbow on their green and brown declivities, and swell the
sources of the little river which flows at their feet, called the river
of Fan-Palms. Within this inclosure reigns the most profound silence.
The waters, the air, all the elements are at peace. Scarcely does the
echo repeat the whispers of the palm-trees spreading their broad leaves,
the long points of which are gently agitated by the winds. A soft light
illumines the bottom of this deep valley, on which the sun shines only
at noon. But, even at the break of day, the rays of light are thrown on
the surrounding rocks; and their sharp peaks, rising above the shadows
of the mountain, appear like tints of gold and purple gleaming upon the
azure sky.

To this scene I loved to resort, as I could here enjoy at once the
richness of an unbounded landscape, and the charm of uninterrupted
solitude. One day, when I was seated at the foot of the cottages, and
contemplating their ruins, a man, advanced in years, passed near the
spot. He was dressed in the ancient garb of the island, his feet were
bare, and he leaned upon a staff of ebony; his hair was white, and the
expression of his countenance was dignified and interesting. I bowed to
him with respect; he returned the salutation; and, after looking at me
with some earnestness, came and placed himself upon the hillock on which
I was seated. Encouraged by this mark of confidence I thus
addressed him: "Father, can you tell me to whom those cottages once
belonged?"--"My son," replied the old man, "those heaps of rubbish,
and that untilled land, were, twenty years ago, the property of two
families, who then found happiness in this solitude. Their history is
affecting; but what European, pursuing his way to the Indies, will pause
one moment to interest himself in the fate of a few obscure individuals?
What European can picture happiness to his imagination amidst poverty
and neglect? The curiosity of mankind is only attracted by the
history of the great, and yet from that knowledge little use can
be derived."--"Father," I rejoined, "from your manner and your
observations, I perceive that you have acquired much experience of human
life. If you have leisure, relate to me, I beseech you, the history of
the ancient inhabitants of this desert; and be assured, that even
the men who are most perverted by the prejudices of the world, find
a soothing pleasure in contemplating that happiness which belongs to
simplicity and virtue." The old man, after a short silence, during which
he leaned his face upon his hands, as if he were trying to recall the
images of the past, thus began his narration:--

Monsieur de la Tour, a young man who was a native of Normandy, after
having in vain solicited a commission in the French army, or some
support from his own family, at length determined to seek his fortune in
this island, where he arrived in 1726. He brought hither a young woman,
whom he loved tenderly, and by whom he was no less tenderly beloved. She
belonged to a rich and ancient family of the same province: but he had
married her secretly and without fortune, and in opposition to the will
of her relations, who refused their consent because he was found guilty
of being descended from parents who had no claims to nobility. Monsieur
de la Tour, leaving his wife at Port Louis, embarked for Madagascar, in
order to purchase a few slaves, to assist him in forming a plantation on
this island. He landed at Madagascar during that unhealthy season which
commences about the middle of October; and soon after his arrival died
of the pestilential fever, which prevails in that island six months of
the year, and which will forever baffle the attempts of the European
nations to form establishments on that fatal soil. His effects were
seized upon by the rapacity of strangers, as commonly happens to persons
dying in foreign parts; and his wife, who was pregnant, found herself a
widow in a country where she had neither credit nor acquaintance, and no
earthly possession, or rather support, but one negro woman. Too delicate
to solicit protection or relief from any one else after the death of
him whom alone she loved, misfortune armed her with courage, and she
resolved to cultivate, with her slave, a little spot of ground, and
procure for herself the means of subsistence.

Desert as was the island, and the ground left to the choice of the
settler, she avoided those spots which were most fertile and most
favorable to commerce: seeking some nook of the mountain, some secret
asylum where she might live solitary and unknown, she bent her way
from the town towards these rocks, where she might conceal herself
from observation. All sensitive and suffering creatures, from a sort of
common instinct, fly for refuge amidst their pains to haunts the
most wild and desolate; as if rocks could form a rampart against
misfortune--as if the calm of Nature could hush the tumults of the soul.
That Providence, which lends its support when we ask but the supply of
our necessary wants, had a blessing in reserve for Madame de la Tour,
which neither riches nor greatness can purchase:--this blessing was a

The spot to which Madame de la Tour had fled had already been inhabited
for a year by a young woman of a lively, good-natured and affectionate
disposition. Margaret (for that was her name) was born in Brittany, of a
family of peasants, by whom she was cherished and beloved, and with
whom she might have passed through life in simple rustic happiness, if,
misled by the weakness of a tender heart, she had not listened to the
passion of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who promised her marriage.
He soon abandoned her, and adding inhumanity to seduction, refused to
insure a provision for the child of which she was pregnant. Margaret
then determined to leave forever her native village, and retire, where
her fault might be concealed, to some colony distant from that country
where she had lost the only portion of a poor peasant girl--her
reputation. With some borrowed money she purchased an old negro slave,
with whom she cultivated a little corner of this district.

Madame de la Tour, followed by her negro woman, came to this spot, where
she found Margaret engaged in suckling her child. Soothed and charmed by
the sight of a person in a situation somewhat similar to her own, Madame
de la Tour related, in a few words, her past condition and her present
wants. Margaret was deeply affected by the recital; and more anxious to
merit confidence than to create esteem, she confessed without disguise,
the errors of which she had been guilty. "As for me," said she,
"I deserve my fate: but you, madam--you! at once virtuous and
unhappy"--and, sobbing, she offered Madame de la Tour both her hut and
her friendship. That lady, affected by this tender reception, pressed
her in her arms, and exclaimed,--"Ah surely Heaven has put an end to my
misfortunes, since it inspires you, to whom I am a stranger, with more
goodness towards me than I have ever experienced from my own relations!"

I was acquainted with Margaret: and, although my habitation is a league
and a half from hence, in the woods behind that sloping mountain, I
considered myself as her neighbour. In the cities of Europe, a street,
even a simple wall, frequently prevents members of the same family from
meeting for years; but in new colonies we consider those persons as
neighbours from whom we are divided only by woods and mountains; and
above all at that period, when this island had little intercourse with
the Indies, vicinity alone gave a claim to friendship, and hospitality
towards strangers seemed less a duty than a pleasure. No sooner was I
informed that Margaret had found a companion, than I hastened to her, in
the hope of being useful to my neighbour and her guest. I found Madame
de la Tour possessed of all those melancholy graces which, by
blending sympathy with admiration give to beauty additional power.
Her countenance was interesting, expressive at once of dignity and
dejection. She appeared to be in the last stage of her pregnancy. I told
the two friends that for the future interests of their children, and
to prevent the intrusion of any other settler, they had better divide
between them the property of this wild, sequestered valley, which is
nearly twenty acres in extent. They confided that task to me, and I
marked out two equal portions of land. One included the higher part of
this enclosure, from the cloudy pinnacle of that rock, whence springs
the river of Fan-Palms, to that precipitous cleft which you see on the
summit of the mountain, and which, from its resemblance in form to the
battlement of a fortress, is called the Embrasure. It is difficult to
find a path along this wild portion of the enclosure, the soil of which
is encumbered with fragments of rock, or worn into channels formed
by torrents; yet it produces noble trees, and innumerable springs and
rivulets. The other portion of land comprised the plain extending along
the banks of the river of Fan-Palms, to the opening where we are now
seated, whence the river takes its course between these two hills, until
it falls into the sea. You may still trace the vestiges of some meadow
land; and this part of the common is less rugged, but not more valuable
than the other; since in the rainy season it becomes marshy, and in dry
weather is so hard and unyielding, that it will almost resist the stroke
of the pickaxe. When I had thus divided the property, I persuaded my
neighbours to draw lots for their respective possessions. The higher
portion of land, containing the source of the river of Fan-Palms, became
the property of Madame de la Tour; the lower, comprising the plain
on the banks of the river, was allotted to Margaret; and each seemed
satisfied with her share. They entreated me to place their habitations
together, that they might at all times enjoy the soothing intercourse
of friendship, and the consolation of mutual kind offices. Margaret's
cottage was situated near the centre of the valley, and just on the
boundary of her own plantation. Close to that spot I built another
cottage for the residence of Madame de la Tour; and thus the two
friends, while they possessed all the advantages of neighbourhood lived
on their own property. I myself cut palisades from the mountain, and
brought leaves of fan-palms from the sea-shore in order to construct
those two cottages, of which you can now discern neither the entrance
nor the roof. Yet, alas! there still remains but too many traces for
my remembrance! Time, which so rapidly destroys the proud monuments of
empires, seems in this desert to spare those of friendship, as if to
perpetuate my regrets to the last hour of my existence.

As soon as the second cottage was finished, Madame de la Tour was
delivered of a girl. I had been the godfather of Margaret's child, who
was christened by the name of Paul. Madame de la Tour desired me to
perform the same office for her child also, together with her friend,
who gave her the name of Virginia. "She will be virtuous," cried
Margaret, "and she will be happy. I have only known misfortune by
wandering from virtue."

About the time Madame de la Tour recovered, these two little estates had
already begun to yield some produce, perhaps in a small degree owing
to the care which I occasionally bestowed on their improvement, but far
more to the indefatigable labours of the two slaves. Margaret's slave,
who was called Domingo, was still healthy and robust, though advanced in
years: he possessed some knowledge, and a good natural understanding.
He cultivated indiscriminately, on both plantations, the spots of ground
that seemed most fertile, and sowed whatever grain he thought most
congenial to each particular soil. Where the ground was poor, he strewed
maize; where it was most fruitful, he planted wheat; and rice in such
spots as were marshy. He threw the seeds of gourds and cucumbers at the
foot of the rocks, which they loved to climb and decorate with their
luxuriant foliage. In dry spots he cultivated the sweet potatoe; the
cotton-tree flourished upon the heights, and the sugar-cane grew in the
clayey soil. He reared some plants of coffee on the hills, where the
grain, although small, is excellent. His plantain-trees, which spread
their grateful shade on the banks of the river, and encircled the
cottages, yielded fruit throughout the year. And lastly, Domingo, to
soothe his cares, cultivated a few plants of tobacco. Sometimes he was
employed in cutting wood for firing from the mountain, sometimes in
hewing pieces of rock within the enclosure, in order to level the paths.
The zeal which inspired him enabled him to perform all these labours
with intelligence and activity. He was much attached to Margaret, and
not less to Madame de la Tour, whose negro woman, Mary, he had married
on the birth of Virginia; and he was passionately fond of his wife. Mary
was born at Madagascar, and had there acquired the knowledge of some
useful arts. She could weave baskets, and a sort of stuff, with long
grass that grows in the woods. She was active, cleanly, and, above all,
faithful. It was her care to prepare their meals, to rear the poultry,
and go sometimes to Port Louis, to sell the superfluous produce of these
little plantations, which was not however, very considerable. If you
add to the personages already mentioned two goats, which were brought up
with the children, and a great dog, which kept watch at night, you will
have a complete idea of the household, as well as of the productions of
these two little farms.

Madame de la Tour and her friend were constantly employed in spinning
cotton for the use of their families. Destitute of everything which
their own industry could not supply, at home they went bare-footed:
shoes were a convenience reserved for Sunday, on which day, at an early
hour, they attended mass at the church of the Shaddock Grove, which
you see yonder. That church was more distant from their homes than Port
Louis; but they seldom visited the town, lest they should be treated
with contempt on account of their dress, which consisted simply of the
coarse blue linen of Bengal, usually worn by slaves. But is there,
in that external deference which fortune commands, a compensation for
domestic happiness? If these interesting women had something to suffer
from the world, their homes on that very account became more dear to
them. No sooner did Mary and Domingo, from this elevated spot, perceive
their mistresses on the road of the Shaddock Grove, than they flew to
the foot of the mountain in order to help them to ascend. They discerned
in the looks of their domestics the joy which their return excited. They
found in their retreat neatness, independence, all the blessings which
are the recompense of toil, and they received the zealous services
which spring from affection. United by the tie of similar wants, and the
sympathy of similar misfortunes, they gave each other the tender names
of companion, friend, sister. They had but one will, one interest, one
table. All their possessions were in common. And if sometimes a passion
more ardent than friendship awakened in their hearts the pang of
unavailing anguish, a pure religion, united with chaste manners, drew
their affections towards another life: as the trembling flame rises
towards heaven, when it no longer finds any ailment on earth.

The duties of maternity became a source of additional happiness to these
affectionate mothers, whose mutual friendship gained new strength at
the sight of their children, equally the offspring of an ill-fated
attachment. They delighted in washing their infants together in the same
bath, in putting them to rest in the same cradle, and in changing the
maternal bosom at which they received nourishment. "My friend," cried
Madame de la Tour, "we shall each of us have two children, and each
of our children will have two mothers." As two buds which remain on
different trees of the same kind, after the tempest has broken all their
branches, produce more delicious fruit, if each, separated from the
maternal stem, be grafted on the neighbouring tree, so these two
infants, deprived of all their other relations, when thus exchanged
for nourishment by those who had given them birth, imbibed feelings of
affection still more tender than those of son and daughter, brother and
sister. While they were yet in their cradles, their mothers talked of
their marriage. They soothed their own cares by looking forward to the
future happiness of their children; but this contemplation often drew
forth their tears. The misfortunes of one mother had arisen from having
neglected marriage; those of the other from having submitted to its
laws. One had suffered by aiming to rise above her condition, the other
by descending from her rank. But they found consolation in reflecting
that their more fortunate children, far from the cruel prejudices of
Europe, would enjoy at once the pleasures of love and the blessings of

Rarely, indeed, has such an attachment been seen as that which the
two children already testified for each other. If Paul complained of
anything, his mother pointed to Virginia: at her sight he smiled, and
was appeased. If any accident befel Virginia, the cries of Paul gave
notice of the disaster; but the dear little creature would suppress
her complaints if she found that he was unhappy. When I came hither,
I usually found them quite naked, as is the custom of the country,
tottering in their walk, and holding each other by the hands and under
the arms, as we see represented in the constellation of the Twins. At
night these infants often refused to be separated, and were found lying
in the same cradle, their cheeks, their bosoms pressed close together,
their hands thrown round each other's neck, and sleeping, locked in one
another's arms.

When they first began to speak, the first name they learned to give each
other were those of brother and sister, and childhood knows no softer
appellation. Their education, by directing them ever to consider each
other's wants, tended greatly to increase their affection. In a short
time, all the household economy, the care of preparing their rural
repasts, became the task of Virginia, whose labours were always crowned
with the praises and kisses of her brother. As for Paul, always in
motion, he dug the garden with Domingo, or followed him with a little
hatchet into the woods; and if, in his rambles he espied a beautiful
flower, any delicious fruit, or a nest of birds, even at the top of the
tree, he would climb up and bring the spoil to his sister. When you met
one of these children, you might be sure the other was not far off.

One day as I was coming down that mountain, I saw Virginia at the end of
the garden running towards the house with her petticoat thrown over her
head, in order to screen herself from a shower of rain. At a distance,
I thought she was alone; but as I hastened towards her in order to help
her on, I perceived she held Paul by the arm, almost entirely enveloped
in the same canopy, and both were laughing heartily at their being
sheltered together under an umbrella of their own invention. Those two
charming faces in the middle of a swelling petticoat, recalled to my
mind the children of Leda, enclosed in the same shell.

Their sole study was how they could please and assist one another; for
of all other things they were ignorant, and indeed could neither read
nor write. They were never disturbed by inquiries about past times, nor
did their curiosity extend beyond the bounds of their mountain. They
believed the world ended at the shores of their own island, and all
their ideas and all their affections were confined within its limits.
Their mutual tenderness, and that of their mothers, employed all the
energies of their minds. Their tears had never been called forth by
tedious application to useless sciences. Their minds had never been
wearied by lessons of morality, superfluous to bosoms unconscious of
ill. They had never been taught not to steal, because every thing with
them was in common: or not to be intemperate, because their simple
food was left to their own discretion; or not to lie, because they had
nothing to conceal. Their young imaginations had never been terrified
by the idea that God has punishment in store for ungrateful children,
since, with them, filial affection arose naturally from maternal
tenderness. All they had been taught of religion was to love it, and if
they did not offer up long prayers in the church, wherever they were, in
the house, in the fields, in the woods, they raised towards heaven their
innocent hands, and hearts purified by virtuous affections.

All their early childhood passed thus, like a beautiful dawn, the
prelude of a bright day. Already they assisted their mothers in the
duties of the household. As soon as the crowing of the wakeful cock
announced the first beam of the morning, Virginia arose, and hastened to
draw water from a neighbouring spring: then returning to the house she
prepared the breakfast. When the rising sun gilded the points of the
rocks which overhang the enclosure in which they lived, Margaret and her
child repaired to the dwelling of Madame de la Tour, where they offered
up their morning prayer together. This sacrifice of thanksgiving always
preceded their first repast, which they often took before the door of
the cottage, seated upon the grass, under a canopy of plantain: and
while the branches of that delicious tree afforded a grateful shade, its
fruit furnished a substantial food ready prepared for them by nature,
and its long glossy leaves, spread upon the table, supplied the place of
linen. Plentiful and wholesome nourishment gave early growth and vigour
to the persons of these children, and their countenances expressed the
purity and the peace of their souls. At twelve years of age the figure
of Virginia was in some degree formed: a profusion of light hair shaded
her face, to which her blue eyes and coral lips gave the most charming
brilliancy. Her eyes sparkled with vivacity when she spoke; but when she
was silent they were habitually turned upwards, with an expression of
extreme sensibility, or rather of tender melancholy. The figure of Paul
began already to display the graces of youthful beauty. He was taller
than Virginia: his skin was of a darker tint; his nose more aquiline;
and his black eyes would have been too piercing, if the long eye-lashes
by which they were shaded, had not imparted to them an expression of
softness. He was constantly in motion, except when his sister appeared,
and then, seated by her side, he became still. Their meals often passed
without a word being spoken; and from their silence, the simple elegance
of their attitudes, and the beauty of their naked feet, you might have
fancied you beheld an antique group of white marble, representing some
of the children of Niobe, but for the glances of their eyes, which were
constantly seeking to meet, and their mutual soft and tender smiles,
which suggested rather the idea of happy celestial spirits, whose nature
is love, and who are not obliged to have recourse to words for the
expression of their feelings.

In the meantime Madame de la Tour, perceiving every day some unfolding
grace, some new beauty, in her daughter, felt her maternal anxiety
increase with her tenderness. She often said to me, "If I were to die,
what would become of Virginia without fortune?"

Madame de la Tour had an aunt in France, who was a woman of quality,
rich, old, and a complete devotee. She had behaved with so much
cruelty towards her niece upon her marriage, that Madame de la Tour
had determined no extremity of distress should ever compel her to have
recourse to her hard-hearted relation. But when she became a mother, the
pride of resentment was overcome by the stronger feelings of maternal
tenderness. She wrote to her aunt, informing her of the sudden death of
her husband, the birth of her daughter, and the difficulties in which
she was involved, burthened as she was with an infant, and without means
of support. She received no answer; but notwithstanding the high spirit
natural to her character, she no longer feared exposing herself to
mortification; and, although she knew her aunt would never pardon her
for having married a man who was not of noble birth, however estimable,
she continued to write to her, with the hope of awakening her compassion
for Virginia. Many years, however passed without receiving any token of
her remembrance.

At length, in 1738, three years after the arrival of Monsieur de la
Bourdonnais in this island, Madame de la Tour was informed that the
Governor had a letter to give her from her aunt. She flew to Port Louis;
maternal joy raised her mind above all trifling considerations, and
she was careless on this occasion of appearing in her homely attire.
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais gave her a letter from her aunt, in which she
informed her, that she deserved her fate for marrying an adventurer and
a libertine: that the passions brought with them their own punishment;
that the premature death of her husband was a just visitation from
Heaven; that she had done well in going to a distant island, rather than
dishonour her family by remaining in France; and that, after all, in
the colony where she had taken refuge, none but the idle failed to
grow rich. Having thus censured her niece, she concluded by eulogizing
herself. To avoid, she said, the almost inevitable evils of marriage,
she had determined to remain single. In fact, as she was of a very
ambitious disposition she had resolved to marry none but a man of
high rank; but although she was very rich, her fortune was not found
a sufficient bribe, even at court, to counterbalance the malignant
dispositions of her mind, and the disagreeable qualities of her person.

After mature deliberations, she added, in a postscript, that she had
strongly recommended her niece to Monsieur de la Bourdonnais. This she
had indeed done, but in a manner of late too common which renders a
patron perhaps even more to be feared than a declared enemy; for, in
order to justify herself for her harshness, she had cruelly slandered
her niece, while she affected to pity her misfortunes.

Madame de la Tour, whom no unprejudiced person could have seen without
feelings of sympathy and respect, was received with the utmost coolness
by Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, biased as he was against her. When she
painted to him her own situation and that of her child, he replied in
abrupt sentences,--"We shall see what can be done--there are so many to
relieve--all in good time--why did you displease your aunt?--you have
been much to blame."

Madame de la Tour returned to her cottage, her heart torn with grief,
and filled with all the bitterness of disappointment. When she
arrived, she threw her aunt's letter on the table, and exclaimed to her
friend,--"There is the fruit of eleven years of patient expectation!"
Madame de la Tour being the only person in the little circle who could
read, she again took up the letter, and read it aloud. Scarcely had
she finished, when Margaret exclaimed, "What have we to do with your
relations? Has God then forsaken us? He only is our father! Have we not
hitherto been happy? Why then this regret? You have no courage."
Seeing Madame de la Tour in tears, she threw herself upon her neck,
and pressing her in her arms,--"My dear friend!" cried she, "my dear
friend!"--but her emotion choked her utterance. At this sight Virginia
burst into tears, and pressed her mother's and Margaret's hand
alternately to her lips and heart; while Paul, his eyes inflamed with
anger, cried, clasped his hands together, and stamped his foot, not
knowing whom to blame for this scene of misery. The noise soon brought
Domingo and Mary to the spot, and the little habitation resounded with
cries of distress,--"Ah, madame!--My good mistress!--My dear mother!--Do
not weep!" These tender proofs of affections at length dispelled the
grief of Madame de la Tour. She took Paul and Virginia in her arms, and,
embracing them, said, "You are the cause of my affliction, my children,
but you are also my only source of delight! Yes, my dear children,
misfortune has reached me, but only from a distance: here, I am
surrounded with happiness." Paul and Virginia did not understand this
reflection; but, when they saw that she was calm, they smiled, and
continued to caress her. Tranquillity was thus restored in this happy
family, and all that had passed was but a storm in the midst of fine
weather, which disturbs the serenity of the atmosphere but for a short
time, and then passes away.

The amiable disposition of these children unfolded itself daily. One
Sunday, at day-break, their mothers having gone to mass at the church
of Shaddock Grove, the children perceived a negro woman beneath the
plantains which surrounded their habitation. She appeared almost wasted
to a skeleton, and had no other garment than a piece of coarse cloth
thrown around her. She threw herself at the feet of Virginia, who was
preparing the family breakfast, and said, "My good young lady, have pity
on a poor runaway slave. For a whole month I have wandered among these
mountains, half dead with hunger, and often pursued by the hunters and
their dogs. I fled from my master, a rich planter of the Black River,
who has used me as you see;" and she showed her body marked with scars
from the lashes she had received. She added, "I was going to drown
myself, but hearing you lived here, I said to myself, since there are
still some good white people in this country, I need not die yet."
Virginia answered with emotion,--"Take courage, unfortunate creature!
here is something to eat;" and she gave her the breakfast she had been
preparing, which the slave in a few minutes devoured. When her hunger
was appeased, Virginia said to her,--"Poor woman! I should like to go
and ask forgiveness for you of your master. Surely the sight of you
will touch him with pity. Will you show me the way?"--"Angel of heaven!"
answered the poor negro woman, "I will follow you where you please!"
Virginia called her brother, and begged him to accompany her. The slave
led the way, by winding and difficult paths, through the woods, over
mountains, which they climbed with difficulty, and across rivers,
through which they were obliged to wade. At length, about the middle of
the day, they reached the foot of a steep descent upon the borders of
the Black River. There they perceived a well-built house, surrounded by
extensive plantations, and a number of slaves employed in their various
labours. Their master was walking among them with a pipe in his mouth,
and a switch in his hand. He was a tall thin man, of a brown complexion;
his eyes were sunk in his head, and his dark eyebrows were joined
in one. Virginia, holding Paul by the hand, drew near, and with much
emotion begged him, for the love of God, to pardon his poor slave, who
stood trembling a few paces behind. The planter at first paid little
attention to the children, who, he saw, were meanly dressed. But when
he observed the elegance of Virginia's form, and the profusion of her
beautiful light tresses which had escaped from beneath her blue cap;
when he heard the soft tone of her voice, which trembled, as well as her
whole frame, while she implored his compassion; he took his pipe from
his mouth, and lifting up his stick, swore, with a terrible oath, that
he pardoned his slave, not for the love of Heaven, but of her who asked
his forgiveness. Virginia made a sign to the slave to approach her
master; and instantly sprang away followed by Paul.

They climbed up the steep they had descended; and having gained the
summit, seated themselves at the foot of a tree, overcome with fatigue,
hunger and thirst. They had left their home fasting, and walked five
leagues since sunrise. Paul said to Virginia,--"My dear sister, it is
past noon, and I am sure you are thirsty and hungry: we shall find no
dinner here; let us go down the mountain again, and ask the master
of the poor slave for some food."--"Oh, no," answered Virginia, "he
frightens me too much. Remember what mamma sometimes says, 'The bread
of the wicked is like stones in the mouth.' "--"What shall we do then,"
said Paul; "these trees produce no fruit fit to eat; and I shall not be
able to find even a tamarind or a lemon to refresh you."--"God will take
care of us," replied Virginia; "he listens to the cry even of the little
birds when they ask him for food." Scarcely had she pronounced these
words when they heard the noise of water falling from a neighbouring
rock. They ran thither and having quenched their thirst at this crystal
spring, they gathered and ate a few cresses which grew on the border
of the stream. Soon afterwards while they were wandering backwards and
forwards in search of more solid nourishment, Virginia perceived in
the thickest part of the forest, a young palm-tree. The kind of cabbage
which is found at the top of the palm, enfolded within its leaves,
is well adapted for food; but, although the stock of the tree is not
thicker than a man's leg, it grows to above sixty feet in height. The
wood of the tree, indeed, is composed only of very fine filaments; but
the bark is so hard that it turns the edge of the hatchet, and Paul was
not furnished even with a knife. At length he thought of setting fire to
the palm-tree; but a new difficulty occurred: he had no steel with which
to strike fire; and although the whole island is covered with rocks,
I do not believe it is possible to find a single flint. Necessity,
however, is fertile in expedients, and the most useful inventions have
arisen from men placed in the most destitute situations. Paul determined
to kindle a fire after the manner of the negroes. With the sharp end of
a stone he made a small hole in the branch of a tree that was quite dry,
and which he held between his feet: he then, with the edge of the same
stone, brought to a point another dry branch of a different sort of
wood, and, afterwards, placing the piece of pointed wood in the small
hole of the branch which he held with his feet and turning it rapidly
between his hands, in a few minutes smoke and sparks of fire issued
from the point of contact. Paul then heaped together dried grass and
branches, and set fire to the foot of the palm-tree, which soon fell to
the ground with a tremendous crash. The fire was further useful to him
in stripping off the long, thick, and pointed leaves, within which the
cabbage was inclosed. Having thus succeeded in obtaining this fruit,
they ate part of it raw, and part dressed upon the ashes, which they
found equally palatable. They made this frugal repast with delight,
from the remembrances of the benevolent action they had performed in the
morning: yet their joy was embittered by the thoughts of the uneasiness
which their long absence from home would occasion their mothers.
Virginia often recurred to this subject; but Paul, who felt his strength
renewed by their meal, assured her, that it would not be long before
they reached home, and, by the assurance of their safety, tranquillized
the minds of their parents.

After dinner they were much embarrassed by the recollection that they
had now no guide, and that they were ignorant of the way. Paul, whose
spirit was not subdued by difficulties, said to Virginia,--"The sun
shines full upon our huts at noon: we must pass, as we did this morning,
over that mountain with its three points, which you see yonder. Come,
let us be moving." This mountain was that of the Three Breasts, so
called from the form of its three peaks. They then descended the steep
bank of the Black River, on the northern side; and arrived, after an
hour's walk, on the banks of a large river, which stopped their further
progress. This large portion of the island, covered as it is with
forests, is even now so little known that many of its rivers and
mountains have not yet received a name. The stream, on the banks of
which Paul and Virginia were now standing, rolls foaming over a bed of
rocks. The noise of the water frightened Virginia, and she was afraid
to wade through the current: Paul therefore took her up in his arms, and
went thus loaded over the slippery rocks, which formed the bed of
the river, careless of the tumultuous noise of its waters. "Do not be
afraid," cried he to Virginia; "I feel very strong with you. If that
planter at the Black River had refused you the pardon of his slave,
I would have fought with him."--"What!" answered Virginia, "with that
great wicked man? To what have I exposed you! Gracious heaven! how
difficult it is to do good! and yet it is so easy to do wrong."

When Paul had crossed the river, he wished to continue the journey
carrying his sister: and he flattered himself that he could ascend
in that way the mountain of the Three Breasts, which was still at the
distance of half a league; but his strength soon failed, and he was
obliged to set down his burthen, and to rest himself by her side.
Virginia then said to him, "My dear brother, the sun is going down; you
have still some strength left, but mine has quite failed: do leave me
here, and return home alone to ease the fears of our mothers."--"Oh no,"
said Paul, "I will not leave you if night overtakes us in this wood, I
will light a fire, and bring down another palm-tree: you shall eat the
cabbage, and I will form a covering of the leaves to shelter you." In
the meantime, Virginia being a little rested, she gathered from the
trunk of an old tree, which overhung the bank of the river, some long
leaves of the plant called hart's tongue, which grew near its root. Of
these leaves she made a sort of buskin, with which she covered her feet,
that were bleeding from the sharpness of the stony paths; for in her
eager desire to do good, she had forgotten to put on her shoes. Feeling
her feet cooled by the freshness of the leaves, she broke off a branch
of bamboo, and continued her walk, leaning with one hand on the staff,
and with the other on Paul.

They walked on in this manner slowly through the woods; but from the
height of the trees, and the thickness of their foliage, they soon lost
sight of the mountain of the Three Breasts, by which they had hitherto
directed their course, and also of the sun, which was now setting. At
length they wandered, without perceiving it, from the beaten path in
which they had hitherto walked, and found themselves in a labyrinth of
trees, underwood, and rocks, whence there appeared to be no outlet.
Paul made Virginia sit down, while he ran backwards and forwards, half
frantic, in search of a path which might lead them out of this thick
wood; but he fatigued himself to no purpose. He then climbed to the top
of a lofty tree, whence he hoped at least to perceive the mountain of
the Three Breasts: but he could discern nothing around him but the tops
of trees, some of which were gilded with the last beams of the setting
sun. Already the shadows of the mountains were spreading over the
forests in the valleys. The wind lulled, as is usually the case at
sunset. The most profound silence reigned in those awful solitudes,
which was only interrupted by the cry of the deer, who came to their
lairs in that unfrequented spot. Paul, in the hope that some hunter
would hear his voice, called out as loud as he was able,--"Come, come to
the help of Virginia." But the echoes of the forest alone answered his
call, and repeated again and again, "Virginia--Virginia."

Paul at length descended from the tree, overcome with fatigue and
vexation. He looked around in order to make some arrangement for passing
the night in that desert; but he could find neither fountain, nor
palm-tree, nor even a branch of dry wood fit for kindling a fire. He was
then impressed, by experience, with the sense of his own weakness, and
began to weep. Virginia said to him,--"Do not weep, my dear brother, or
I shall be overwhelmed with grief. I am the cause of all your sorrow,
and of all that our mothers are suffering at this moment. I find we
ought to do nothing, not even good, without consulting our parents. Oh,
I have been very imprudent!"--and she began to shed tears. "Let us pray
to God, my dear brother," she again said, "and he will hear us." They
had scarcely finished their prayer, when they heard the barking of a
dog. "It must be the dog of some hunter," said Paul, "who comes here at
night, to lie in wait for the deer." Soon after, the dog began barking
again with increased violence. "Surely," said Virginia, "it is Fidele,
our own dog: yes,--now I know his bark. Are we then so near home?--at
the foot of our own mountain?" A moment after, Fidele was at their feet,
barking, howling, moaning, and devouring them with his caresses. Before
they could recover from their surprise, they saw Domingo running towards
them. At the sight of the good old negro, who wept for joy, they began
to weep too, but had not the power to utter a syllable. When Domingo
had recovered himself a little,--"Oh, my dear children," said he, "how
miserable have you made your mothers! How astonished they were when they
returned with me from mass, on not finding you at home. Mary, who was at
work at a little distance, could not tell us where you were gone. I ran
backwards and forwards in the plantation, not knowing where to look
for you. At last I took some of your old clothes, and showing them to
Fidele, the poor animal, as if he understood me, immediately began to
scent your path; and conducted me, wagging his tail all the while, to
the Black River. I there saw a planter, who told me you had brought back
a Maroon negro woman, his slave, and that he had pardoned her at your
request. But what a pardon! he showed her to me with her feet chained to
a block of wood, and an iron collar with three hooks fastened round her
neck! After that, Fidele, still on the scent, led me up the steep bank
of the Black River, where he again stopped, and barked with all his
might. This was on the brink of a spring, near which was a fallen
palm-tree, and a fire, still smoking. At last he led me to this very
spot. We are now at the foot of the mountain of the Three Breasts,
and still a good four leagues from home. Come, eat, and recover your
strength." Domingo then presented them with a cake, some fruit, and
a large gourd, full of beverage composed of wine, water, lemon-juice,
sugar, and nutmeg, which their mothers had prepared to invigorate and
refresh them. Virginia sighed at the recollection of the poor slave,
and at the uneasiness they had given their mothers. She repeated several
times--"Oh, how difficult it is to do good!" While she and Paul were
taking refreshment, it being already night, Domingo kindled a fire: and
having found among the rocks a particular kind of twisted wood, called
bois de ronde, which burns when quite green, and throws out a great
blaze, he made a torch of it, which he lighted. But when they prepared
to continue their journey, a new difficulty occurred; Paul and Virginia
could no longer walk, their feet being violently swollen and inflamed.
Domingo knew not what to do; whether to leave them and go in search of
help, or remain and pass the night with them on that spot. "There was
a time," said he, "when I could carry you both together in my arms!
But now you are grown big, and I am grown old." When he was in this
perplexity, a troop of Maroon negroes appeared at a short distance from
them. The chief of the band, approaching Paul and Virginia, said to
them,--"Good little white people, do not be afraid. We saw you pass this
morning, with a negro woman of the Black River. You went to ask pardon
for her of her wicked master; and we, in return for this, will carry you
home upon our shoulders." He then made a sign, and four of the strongest
negroes immediately formed a sort of litter with the branches of trees
and lianas, and having seated Paul and Virginia on it, carried them upon
their shoulders. Domingo marched in front with his lighted torch, and
they proceeded amidst the rejoicings of the whole troop, who overwhelmed
them with their benedictions. Virginia, affected by this scene, said
to Paul, with emotion,--"Oh, my dear brother! God never leaves a good
action unrewarded."

It was midnight when they arrived at the foot of their mountain, on the
ridges of which several fires were lighted. As soon as they began to
ascend, they heard voices exclaiming--"Is it you, my children?" They
answered immediately, and the negroes also,--"Yes, yes, it is." A moment
after they could distinguish their mothers and Mary coming towards them
with lighted sticks in their hands. "Unhappy children," cried Madame
de la Tour, "where have you been? What agonies you have made us
suffer!"--"We have been," said Virginia, "to the Black River, where we
went to ask pardon for a poor Maroon slave, to whom I gave our breakfast
this morning, because she seemed dying of hunger; and these Maroon
negroes have brought us home." Madame de la Tour embraced her daughter,
without being able to speak; and Virginia, who felt her face wet with
her mother's tears, exclaimed, "Now I am repaid for all the hardships I
have suffered." Margaret, in a transport of delight, pressed Paul in
her arms, exclaiming, "And you also, my dear child, you have done a
good action." When they reached the cottages with their children, they
entertained all the negroes with a plentiful repast, after which the
latter returned to the woods, praying Heaven to shower down every
description of blessing on those good white people.

Every day was to these families a day of happiness and tranquillity.
Neither ambition nor envy disturbed their repose. They did not seek
to obtain a useless reputation out of doors, which may be procured
by artifice and lost by calumny; but were contented to be the sole
witnesses and judges of their own actions. In this island, where, as
is the case in most colonies, scandal forms the principal topic of
conversation, their virtues, and even their names were unknown. The
passer-by on the road to Shaddock Grove, indeed, would sometimes ask the
inhabitants of the plain, who lived in the cottages up there? and
was always told, even by those who did not know them, "They are good
people." The modest violet thus, concealed in thorny places sheds all
unseen its delightful fragrance around.

Slander, which, under an appearance of justice, naturally inclines
the heart to falsehood or to hatred, was entirely banished from their
conversation; for it is impossible not to hate men if we believe them
to be wicked, or to live with the wicked without concealing that hatred
under a false pretence of good feeling. Slander thus puts us ill at ease
with others and with ourselves. In this little circle, therefore, the
conduct of individuals was not discussed, but the best manner of doing
good to all; and although they had but little in their power, their
unceasing good-will and kindness of heart made them constantly ready to
do what they could for others. Solitude, far from having blunted these
benevolent feelings, had rendered their dispositions even more
kindly. Although the petty scandals of the day furnished no subject of
conversation to them, yet the contemplation of nature filled their minds
with enthusiastic delight. They adored the bounty of that Providence,
which, by their instrumentality, had spread abundance and beauty amid
these barren rocks, and had enabled them to enjoy those pure and simple
pleasures, which are ever grateful and ever new.

Paul, at twelve years of age, was stronger and more intelligent than
most European youths are at fifteen; and the plantations, which Domingo
merely cultivated, were embellished by him. He would go with the old
negro into the neighbouring woods, where he would root up the young
plants of lemon, orange, and tamarind trees, the round heads of which
are so fresh a green, together with date-palm trees, which produce fruit
filled with a sweet cream, possessing the fine perfume of the orange
flower. These trees, which had already attained to a considerable size,
he planted round their little enclosure. He had also sown the seed of
many trees which the second year bear flowers or fruit; such as the
agathis, encircled with long clusters of white flowers which hang from
it like the crystal pendants of a chandelier; the Persian lilac, which
lifts high in air its gray flax-coloured branches; the pappaw tree,
the branchless trunk of which forms a column studded with green
melons, surmounted by a capital of broad leaves similar to those of the

The seeds and kernels of the gum tree, terminalia, mango, alligator
pear, the guava, the bread-fruit tree, and the narrow-leaved rose-apple,
were also planted by him with profusion: and the greater number of these
trees already afforded their young cultivator both shade and fruit.
His industrious hands diffused the riches of nature over even the most
barren parts of the plantation. Several species of aloes, the Indian
fig, adorned with yellow flowers spotted with red, and the thorny torch
thistle, grew upon the dark summits of the rocks, and seemed to aim at
reaching the long lianas, which, laden with blue or scarlet flowers,
hung scattered over the steepest parts of the mountain.

I loved to trace the ingenuity he had exercised in the arrangement of
these trees. He had so disposed them that the whole could be seen at a
single glance. In the middle of the hollow he had planted shrubs of
the lowest growth; behind grew the more lofty sorts; then trees of
the ordinary height; and beyond and above all, the venerable and lofty
groves which border the circumference. Thus this extensive enclosure
appeared, from its centre, like a verdant amphitheatre decorated with
fruits and flowers, containing a variety of vegetables, some strips
of meadow land, and fields of rice and corn. But, in arranging these
vegetable productions to his own taste, he wandered not too far from
the designs of Nature. Guided by her suggestions, he had thrown upon the
elevated spots such seeds as the winds would scatter about, and near
the borders of the springs those which float upon the water. Every
plant thus grew in its proper soil, and every spot seemed decorated by
Nature's own hand. The streams which fell from the summits of the rocks
formed in some parts of the valley sparkling cascades, and in others
were spread into broad mirrors, in which were reflected, set in verdure,
the flowering trees, the overhanging rocks, and the azure heavens.

Notwithstanding the great irregularity of the ground, these plantations
were, for the most part, easy of access. We had, indeed, all given
him our advice and assistance, in order to accomplish this end. He had
conducted one path entirely round the valley, and various branches from
it led from the circumference to the centre. He had drawn some advantage
from the most rugged spots, and had blended, in harmonious union, level
walks with the inequalities of the soil, and trees which grow wild with
the cultivated varieties. With that immense quantity of large pebbles
which now block up these paths, and which are scattered over most of the
ground of this island, he formed pyramidal heaps here and there, at
the base of which he laid mould, and planted rose-bushes, the Barbadoes
flower-fence, and other shrubs which love to climb the rocks. In a short
time the dark and shapeless heaps of stones he had constructed were
covered with verdure, or with the glowing tints of the most beautiful
flowers. Hollow recesses on the borders of the streams shaded by the
overhanging boughs of aged trees, formed rural grottoes, impervious
to the rays of the sun, in which you might enjoy a refreshing coolness
during the mid-day heats. One path led to a clump of forest trees, in
the centre of which sheltered from the wind, you found a fruit-tree,
laden with produce. Here was a corn-field; there, an orchard; from one
avenue you had a view of the cottages; from another, of the inaccessible
summit of the mountain. Beneath one tufted bower of gum trees,
interwoven with lianas, no object whatever could be perceived: while the
point of the adjoining rock, jutting out from the mountain, commanded
a view of the whole enclosure, and of the distant ocean, where,
occasionally, we could discern the distant sail, arriving from Europe,
or bound thither. On this rock the two families frequently met in the
evening, and enjoyed in silence the freshness of the flowers, the gentle
murmurs of the fountain, and the last blended harmonies of light and

Nothing could be more charming than the names which were bestowed upon
some of the delightful retreats of this labyrinth. The rock of which
I have been speaking, whence they could discern my approach at a
considerable distance, was called the Discovery of Friendship. Paul and
Virginia had amused themselves by planting a bamboo on that spot; and
whenever they saw me coming, they hoisted a little white handkerchief,
by way of signal of my approach, as they had seen a flag hoisted on the
neighbouring mountain on the sight of a vessel at sea. The idea struck
me of engraving an inscription on the stalk of this reed; for I never,
in the course of my travels, experienced any thing like the pleasure
in seeing a statue or other monument of ancient art, as in reading a
well-written inscription. It seems to me as if a human voice issued from
the stone, and, making itself heard after the lapse of ages, addressed
man in the midst of a desert, to tell him that he is not alone, and that
other men, on that very spot, had felt, and thought, and suffered like
himself. If the inscription belongs to an ancient nation, which no
longer exists, it leads the soul through infinite space, and strengthens
the consciousness of its immortality, by demonstrating that a thought
has survived the ruins of an empire.

I inscribed then, on the little staff of Paul and Virginia's flag, the
following lines of Horace:--

     Fratres Helenae, lucida sidera,
     Ventorumque regat pater,
     Obstrictis, aliis, praeter Iapiga.

"May the brothers of Helen, bright stars like you, and the Father of the
winds, guide you; and may you feel only the breath of the zephyr."

There was a gum-tree, under the shade of which Paul was accustomed to
sit, to contemplate the sea when agitated by storms. On the bark of this
tree, I engraved the following lines from Virgil:--

     Fortunatus et ille deos qui novit agrestes!

"Happy are thou, my son, in knowing only the pastoral divinities."

And over the door of Madame de la Tour's cottage where the families so
frequently met, I placed this line:--

     At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita.

"Here dwell a calm conscience, and a life that knows not deceit."

But Virginia did not approve of my Latin: she said, that what I had
placed at the foot of her flagstaff was too long and too learned. "I
should have liked better," added she, "to have seen inscribed, EVER
AGITATED, YET CONSTANT."--"Such a motto," I answered, "would have been
still more applicable to virtue." My reflection made her blush.

The delicacy of sentiment of these happy families was manifested in
every thing around them. They gave the tenderest names to objects
in appearance the most indifferent. A border of orange, plantain and
rose-apple trees, planted round a green sward where Virginia and Paul
sometimes danced, received the name of Concord. An old tree, beneath
the shade of which Madame de la Tour and Margaret used to recount their
misfortunes, was called the Burial-place of Tears. They bestowed the
names of Brittany and Normandy on two little plots of ground, where they
had sown corn, strawberries, and peas. Domingo and Mary, wishing, in
imitation of their mistresses, to recall to mind Angola and Foullepoint,
the places of their birth in Africa, gave those names to the little
fields where the grass was sown with which they wove their baskets,
and where they had planted a calabash-tree. Thus, by cultivating
the productions of their respective climates, these exiled families
cherished the dear illusions which bind us to our native country, and
softened their regrets in a foreign land. Alas! I have seen these trees,
these fountains, these heaps of stones, which are now so completely
overthrown,--which now, like the desolated plains of Greece, present
nothing but masses of ruin and affecting remembrances, all called into
life by the many charming appellations thus bestowed upon them!

But perhaps the most delightful spot of this enclosure was that called
Virginia's resting-place. At the foot of the rock which bore the name
of The Discovery of Friendship, is a small crevice, whence issues a
fountain, forming, near its source, a little spot of marshy soil in the
middle of a field of rich grass. At the time of Paul's birth I had made
Margaret a present of an Indian cocoa which had been given me, and which
she planted on the border of this fenny ground, in order that the tree
might one day serve to mark the epoch of her son's birth. Madame de la
Tour planted another cocoa with the same view, at the birth of Virginia.
These nuts produced two cocoa-trees, which formed the only records of
the two families; one was called Paul's tree, the other, Virginia's.
Their growth was in the same proportion as that of the two young
persons, not exactly equal: but they rose, at the end of twelve years,
above the roofs of the cottages. Already their tender stalks were
interwoven, and clusters of young cocoas hung from them over the basin
of the fountain. With the exception of these two trees, this nook of the
rock was left as it had been decorated by nature. On its embrowned and
moist sides broad plants of maiden-hair glistened with their green and
dark stars; and tufts of wave-leaved hart's tongue, suspended like long
ribands of purpled green, floated on the wind. Near this grew a chain
of the Madagascar periwinkle, the flowers of which resemble the red
gilliflower; and the long-podded capsicum, the seed-vessels of which are
of the colour of blood, and more resplendent than coral. Near them, the
herb balm, with its heart-shaped leaves, and the sweet basil, which has
the odour of the clove, exhaled the most delicious perfumes. From the
precipitous side of the mountain hung the graceful lianas, like floating
draperies, forming magnificent canopies of verdure on the face of
the rocks. The sea-birds, allured by the stillness of these retreats,
resorted here to pass the night. At the hour of sunset we could perceive
the curlew and the stint skimming along the seashore; the frigate-bird
poised high in air; and the white bird of the tropic, which abandons,
with the star of day, the solitudes of the Indian ocean. Virginia took
pleasure in resting herself upon the border of this fountain, decorated
with wild and sublime magnificence. She often went thither to wash
the linen of the family beneath the shade of the two cocoa-trees, and
thither too she sometimes led her goats to graze. While she was making
cheeses of their milk, she loved to see them browse on the maiden-hair
fern which clothes the steep sides of the rock, and hung suspended by
one of its cornices, as on a pedestal. Paul, observing that Virginia
was fond of this spot, brought thither, from the neighbouring forest, a
great variety of bird's nests. The old birds following their young, soon
established themselves in this new colony. Virginia, at stated times,
distributed amongst them grains of rice, millet, and maize. As soon as
she appeared, the whistling blackbird, the amadavid bird, whose note is
so soft, the cardinal, with its flame coloured plumage, forsook
their bushes; the parroquet, green as an emerald, descended from the
neighbouring fan-palms, the partridge ran along the grass; all advanced
promiscuously towards her, like a brood of chickens: and she and Paul
found an exhaustless source of amusement in observing their sports,
their repasts, and their loves.

Amiable children! thus passed your earlier days in innocence, and in
obeying the impulses of kindness. How many times, on this very spot,
have your mothers, pressing you in their arms, blessed Heaven for the
consolation your unfolding virtues prepared for their declining years,
while they at the same time enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing you begin
life under the happiest auspices! How many times, beneath the shade
of those rocks, have I partaken with them of your rural repasts, which
never cost any animal its life! Gourds full of milk, fresh eggs, cakes
of rice served up on plantain leaves, with baskets of mangoes, oranges,
dates, pomegranates, pineapples, furnished a wholesome repast, the
most agreeable to the eye, as well as delicious to the taste, that can
possibly be imagined.

Like the repast, the conversation was mild, and free from every thing
having a tendency to do harm. Paul often talked of the labours of the
day and of the morrow. He was continually planning something for the
accommodation of their little society. Here he discovered that the paths
were rugged; there, that the seats were uncomfortable: sometimes the
young arbours did not afford sufficient shade, and Virginia might be
better pleased elsewhere.

During the rainy season the two families met together in the cottage,
and employed themselves in weaving mats of grass, and baskets of bamboo.
Rakes, spades, and hatchets, were ranged along the walls in the most
perfect order; and near these instruments of agriculture were heaped its
products,--bags of rice, sheaves of corn, and baskets of plantains. Some
degree of luxury usually accompanies abundance; and Virginia was taught
by her mother and Margaret to prepare sherbert and cordials from the
juice of the sugar-cane, the lemon and the citron.

When night came, they all supped together by the light of a lamp; after
which Madame de la Tour or Margaret related some story of travellers
benighted in those woods of Europe that are still infested by banditti;
or told a dismal tale of some shipwrecked vessel, thrown by the tempest
upon the rocks of a desert island. To these recitals the children
listened with eager attention, and earnestly hoped that Heaven would one
day grant them the joy of performing the rites of hospitality towards
such unfortunate persons. When the time for repose arrived, the two
families separated and retired for the night, eager to meet again the
following morning. Sometimes they were lulled to repose by the beating
of the rains, which fell in torrents upon the roofs of their cottages,
and sometimes by the hollow winds, which brought to their ear the
distant roar of the waves breaking upon the shore. They blessed God for
their own safety, the feeling of which was brought home more forcibly to
their minds by the sound of remote danger.

Madame de la Tour occasionally read aloud some affecting history of the
Old or New Testament. Her auditors reasoned but little upon these sacred
volumes, for their theology centred in a feeling of devotion towards
the Supreme Being, like that of nature: and their morality was an active
principle, like that of the Gospel. These families had no particular
days devoted to pleasure, and others to sadness. Every day was to them
a holyday, and all that surrounded them one holy temple, in which they
ever adored the Infinite Intelligence, the Almighty God, the Friend of
human kind. A feeling of confidence in his supreme power filled their
minds with consolation for the past, with fortitude under present
trials, and with hope in the future. Compelled by misfortune to return
almost to a state of nature, these excellent women had thus developed in
their own and their children's bosoms the feelings most natural to the
human mind, and its best support under affliction.

But, as clouds sometimes arise, and cast a gloom over the best regulated
tempers, so whenever any member of this little society appeared to be
labouring under dejection, the rest assembled around, and endeavoured
to banish her painful thoughts by amusing the mind rather than by grave
arguments against them. Each performed this kind office in their own
appropriate manner: Margaret, by her gaiety; Madame de la Tour, by the
gentle consolations of religion; Virginia, by her tender caresses; Paul,
by his frank and engaging cordiality. Even Mary and Domingo hastened
to offer their succour, and to weep with those that wept. Thus do weak
plants interweave themselves with each other, in order to withstand the
fury of the tempest.

During the fine season, they went every Sunday to the church of the
Shaddock Grove, the steeple of which you see yonder upon the plain. Many
wealthy members of the congregation, who came to church in palanquins,
sought the acquaintance of these united families, and invited them
to parties of pleasure. But they always repelled these overtures with
respectful politeness, as they were persuaded that the rich and powerful
seek the society of persons in an inferior station only for the sake of
surrounding themselves with flatterers, and that every flatterer must
applaud alike all the actions of his patron, whether good or bad. On the
other hand, they avoided, with equal care, too intimate an acquaintance
with the lower class, who are ordinarily jealous, calumniating, and
gross. They thus acquired, with some, the character of being timid, and
with others, of pride: but their reserve was accompanied with so much
obliging politeness, above all towards the unfortunate and the unhappy,
that they insensibly acquired the respect of the rich and the confidence
of the poor.

After service, some kind office was often required at their hands by
their poor neighbours. Sometimes a person troubled in mind sought their
advice; sometimes a child begged them to its sick mother, in one of the
adjoining hamlets. They always took with them a few remedies for the
ordinary diseases of the country, which they administered in that
soothing manner which stamps a value upon the smallest favours. Above
all, they met with singular success in administrating to the disorders
of the mind, so intolerable in solitude, and under the infirmities of a
weakened frame. Madame de la Tour spoke with such sublime confidence of
the Divinity, that the sick, while listening to her, almost believed him
present. Virginia often returned home with her eyes full of tears, and
her heart overflowing with delight, at having had an opportunity of
doing good; for to her generally was confided the task of preparing and
administering the medicines,--a task which she fulfilled with angelic
sweetness. After these visits of charity, they sometimes extended their
walk by the Sloping Mountain, till they reached my dwelling, where I
used to prepare dinner for them on the banks of the little rivulet which
glides near my cottage. I procured for these occasions a few bottles of
old wine, in order to heighten the relish of our Oriental repast by
the more genial productions of Europe. At other times we met on the
sea-shore, at the mouth of some little river, or rather mere brook. We
brought from home the provisions furnished us by our gardens, to which
we added those supplied us by the sea in abundant variety. We caught
on these shores the mullet, the roach, and the sea-urchin, lobsters,
shrimps, crabs, oysters, and all other kinds of shell-fish. In this
way, we often enjoyed the most tranquil pleasures in situations the most
terrific. Sometimes, seated upon a rock, under the shade of the velvet
sunflower-tree, we saw the enormous waves of the Indian Ocean break
beneath our feet with a tremendous noise. Paul, who could swim like a
fish, would advance on the reefs to meet the coming billows; then, at
their near approach, would run back to the beach, closely pursued by the
foaming breakers, which threw themselves, with a roaring noise, far on
the sands. But Virginia, at this sight, uttered piercing cries, and said
that such sports frightened her too much.

Other amusements were not wanting on these festive occasions. Our
repasts were generally followed by the songs and dances of the two young
people. Virginia sang the happiness of pastoral life, and the misery
of those who were impelled by avarice to cross the raging ocean, rather
than cultivate the earth, and enjoy its bounties in peace. Sometimes she
performed a pantomime with Paul, after the manner of the negroes. The
first language of man is pantomime: it is known to all nations, and is
so natural and expressive, that the children of the European inhabitants
catch it with facility from the negroes. Virginia, recalling, from among
the histories which her mother had read to her, those which had affected
her most, represented the principal events in them with beautiful
simplicity. Sometimes at the sound of Domingo's tantam she appeared upon
the green sward, bearing a pitcher upon her head, and advanced with a
timid step towards the source of a neighbouring fountain, to draw water.
Domingo and Mary, personating the shepherds of Midian forbade her to
approach, and repulsed her sternly. Upon this Paul flew to her succour,
beat away the shepherds, filled Virginia's pitcher, and placing it upon
her heard, bound her brows at the same time with a wreath of the red
flowers of the Madagascar periwinkle, which served to heighten the
delicacy of her complexion. Then joining in their sports, I took upon
myself the part of Raguel, and bestowed upon Paul, my daughter Zephora
in marriage.

Another time Virginia would represent the unhappy Ruth, returning poor
and widowed with her mother-in-law, who, after so prolonged an absence,
found herself as unknown as in a foreign land. Domingo and Mary
personated the reapers. The supposed daughter of Naomi followed their
steps, gleaning here and there a few ears of corn. When interrogated by
Paul,--a part which he performed with the gravity of a patriarch,--she
answered his questions with a faltering voice. He then, touched
with compassion, granted an asylum to innocence, and hospitality to
misfortune. He filled her lap with plenty; and, leading her towards us
as before the elders of the city, declared his purpose to take her
in marriage. At this scene, Madame de la Tour, recalling the desolate
situation in which she had been left by her relations, her widowhood,
and the kind reception she had met with from Margaret, succeeded now
by the soothing hope of a happy union between their children, could not
forbear weeping; and these mixed recollections of good and evil caused
us all to unite with her in shedding tears of sorrow and of joy.

These dramas were performed with such an air of reality that you
might have fancied yourself transported to the plains of Syria or of
Palestine. We were not unfurnished with decorations, lights, or an
orchestra, suitable to the representation. The scene was generally
placed in an open space of the forest, the diverging paths from which
formed around us numerous arcades of foliage, under which we were
sheltered from the heat all the middle of the day; but when the sun
descended towards the horizon, its rays, broken by the trunks of the
trees, darted amongst the shadows of the forest in long lines of light,
producing the most magnificent effect. Sometimes its broad disk appeared
at the end of an avenue, lighting it up with insufferable brightness.
The foliage of the trees, illuminated from beneath by its saffron beams,
glowed with the lustre of the topaz and the emerald. Their brown and
mossy trunks appeared transformed into columns of antique bronze; and
the birds, which had retired in silence to their leafy shades to pass
the night, surprised to see the radiance of a second morning, hailed the
star of day all together with innumerable carols.

Night often overtook us during these rural entertainments; but the
purity of the air and the warmth of the climate, admitted of our
sleeping in the woods, without incurring any danger by exposure to the
weather, and no less secure from the molestations of robbers. On our
return the following day to our respective habitations, we found them in
exactly the same state in which they had been left. In this island, then
unsophisticated by the pursuits of commerce, such were the honesty and
primitive manners of the population, that the doors of many houses were
without a key, and even a lock itself was an object of curiosity to not
a few of the native inhabitants.

There were, however, some days in the year celebrated by Paul and
Virginia in a more peculiar manner; these were the birth-days of their
mothers. Virginia never failed the day before to prepare some wheaten
cakes, which she distributed among a few poor white families, born
in the island, who had never eaten European bread. These unfortunate
people, uncared for by the blacks, were reduced to live on tapioca in
the woods; and as they had neither the insensibility which is the result
of slavery, nor the fortitude which springs from a liberal education,
to enable them to support their poverty, their situation was deplorable.
These cakes were all that Virginia had it in her power to give away, but
she conferred the gift in so delicate a manner as to add tenfold to
its value. In the first place, Paul was commissioned to take the cakes
himself to these families, and get their promise to come and spend the
next day at Madame de la Tour's. Accordingly, mothers of families, with
two or three thin, yellow, miserable looking daughters, so timid that
they dared not look up, made their appearance. Virginia soon put them
at their ease; she waited upon them with refreshments, the excellence
of which she endeavoured to heighten by relating some particular
circumstance which in her own estimation, vastly improved them. One
beverage had been prepared by Margaret; another, by her mother: her
brother himself had climbed some lofty tree for the very fruit she was
presenting. She would then get Paul to dance with them, nor would she
leave them till she saw that they were happy. She wished them to partake
of the joy of her own family. "It is only," she said, "by promoting the
happiness of others, that we can secure our own." When they left, she
generally presented them with some little article they seemed to fancy,
enforcing their acceptance of it by some delicate pretext, that she
might not appear to know they were in want. If she remarked that their
clothes were much tattered, she obtained her mother's permission to
give them some of her own, and then sent Paul to leave them, secretly at
their cottage doors. She thus followed the divine precept,--concealing
the benefactor, and revealing only the benefit.

You Europeans, whose minds are imbued from infancy with prejudices at
variance with happiness, cannot imagine all the instruction and pleasure
to be derived from nature. Your souls, confined to a small sphere of
intelligence, soon reach the limit of its artificial enjoyments: but
nature and the heart are inexhaustible. Paul and Virginia had neither
clock, nor almanack, nor books of chronology, history or philosophy.
The periods of their lives were regulated by those of the operations of
nature, and their familiar conversation had a reference to the changes
of the seasons. They knew the time of day by the shadows of the trees;
the seasons, by the times when those trees bore flowers or fruit;
and the years, by the number of their harvests. These soothing images
diffused an inexpressible charm over their conversation. "It is time to
dine," said Virginia, "the shadows of the plantain-trees are at their
roots:" or, "Night approaches, the tamarinds are closing their leaves."
"When will you come and see us?" inquired some of her companions in
the neighbourhood. "At the time of the sugar-canes," answered Virginia.
"Your visit will be then still more delightful," resumed her young
acquaintances. When she was asked what was her own age and that of
Paul,--"My brother," said she, "is as old as the great cocoa-tree of the
fountain; and I am as old as the little one: the mangoes have bore fruit
twelve times and the orange-trees have flowered four-and-twenty times,
since I came into the world." Their lives seemed linked to that of the
trees, like those of Fauns or Dryads. They knew no other historical
epochs than those of the lives of their mothers, no other chronology
than that of doing good, and resigning themselves to the will of Heaven.

What need, indeed, had these young people of riches or learning such
as ours? Even their necessities and their ignorance increased their
happiness. No day passed in which they were not of some service to one
another, or in which they did not mutually impart some instruction. Yes,
instruction; for if errors mingled with it, they were, at least, not of
a dangerous character. A pure-minded being has none of that description
to fear. Thus grew these children of nature. No care had troubled their
peace, no intemperance had corrupted their blood, no misplaced passion
had depraved their hearts. Love, innocence, and piety, possessed their
souls; and those intellectual graces were unfolding daily in their
features, their attitudes, and their movements. Still in the morning of
life, they had all its blooming freshness: and surely such in the garden
of Eden appeared our first parents, when coming from the hands of God,
they first saw, and approached each other, and conversed together, like
brother and sister. Virginia was gentle, modest, and confiding as Eve;
and Paul, like Adam, united the stature of manhood with the simplicity
of a child.

Sometimes, if alone with Virginia, he has a thousand times told me, he
used to say to her, on his return from labour,--"When I am wearied, the
sight of you refreshes me. If from the summit of the mountain I perceive
you below in the valley, you appear to me in the midst of our orchard
like a blooming rose-bud. If you go towards our mother's house, the
partridge, when it runs to meet its young, has a shape less beautiful,
and a step less light. When I lose sight of you through the trees, I
have no need to see you in order to find you again. Something of you, I
know not how, remains for me in the air through which you have passed,
on the grass where you have been seated. When I come near you, you
delight all my senses. The azure of the sky is less charming than the
blue of your eyes, and the song of the amadavid bird less soft than the
sound of your voice. If I only touch you with the tip of my finger,
my whole frame trembles with pleasure. Do you remember the day when we
crossed over the great stones of the river of the Three Breasts? I was
very tired before we reached the bank: but, as soon as I had taken you
in my arms, I seemed to have wings like a bird. Tell me by what charm
you have thus enchanted me! Is it by your wisdom?--Our mothers have more
than either of us. Is it by your caresses?--They embrace me much oftener
than you. I think it must be by your goodness. I shall never forget how
you walked bare-footed to the Black River, to ask pardon for the poor
run-away slave. Here, my beloved, take this flowering branch of a
lemon-tree, which I have gathered in the forest: you will let it remain
at night near your bed. Eat this honey-comb too, which I have taken for
you from the top of a rock. But first lean on my bosom, and I shall be

Virginia would answer him,--"Oh, my dear brother, the rays of the sun in
the morning on the tops of the rocks give me less joy than the sight of
you. I love my mother,--I love yours; but when they call you their son,
I love them a thousand times more. When they caress you, I feel it more
sensibly than when I am caressed myself. You ask me what makes you love
me. Why, all creatures that are brought up together love one another.
Look at our birds; reared up in the same nests, they love each other as
we do; they are always together like us. Hark! how they call and answer
from one tree to another. So when the echoes bring to my ears the air
which you play on your flute on the top of the mountain, I repeat the
words at the bottom of the valley. You are dear to me more especially
since the day when you wanted to fight the master of the slave for me.
Since that time how often have I said to myself, 'Ah, my brother has a
good heart; but for him, I should have died of terror.' I pray to
God every day for my mother and for yours; for you, and for our
poor servants; but when I pronounce your name, my devotion seems to
increase;--I ask so earnestly of God that no harm may befall you! Why
do you go so far, and climb so high, to seek fruits and flowers for
me? Have we not enough in our garden already? How much you are
fatigued,--you look so warm!"--and with her little white handkerchief
she would wipe the damps from his face, and then imprint a tender kiss
on his forehead.

For some time past, however, Virginia had felt her heart agitated by
new sensations. Her beautiful blue eyes lost their lustre, her cheek
its freshness, and her frame was overpowered with a universal langour.
Serenity no longer sat upon her brow, nor smiles played upon her lips.
She would become all at once gay without cause for joy, and melancholy
without any subject for grief. She fled her innocent amusements, her
gentle toils, and even the society of her beloved family; wandering
about the most unfrequented parts of the plantations, and seeking every
where the rest which she could no where find. Sometimes, at the sight
of Paul, she advanced sportively to meet him; but, when about to accost
him, was overcome by a sudden confusion; her pale cheeks were covered
with blushes, and her eyes no longer dared to meet those of her brother.
Paul said to her,--"The rocks are covered with verdure, our birds begin
to sing when you approach, everything around you is gay, and you only
are unhappy." He then endeavoured to soothe her by his embraces, but
she turned away her head, and fled, trembling towards her mother. The
caresses of her brother excited too much emotion in her agitated heart,
and she sought, in the arms of her mother, refuge from herself. Paul,
unused to the secret windings of the female heart, vexed himself in
vain in endeavouring to comprehend the meaning of these new and strange
caprices. Misfortunes seldom come alone, and a serious calamity now
impended over these families.

One of those summers, which sometimes desolate the countries situated
between the tropics, now began to spread its ravages over this island.
It was near the end of December, when the sun, in Capricorn, darts over
the Mauritius, during the space of three weeks, its vertical fires.
The southeast wind, which prevails throughout almost the whole year,
no longer blew. Vast columns of dust arose from the highways, and hung
suspended in the air; the ground was every where broken into clefts;
the grass was burnt up; hot exhalations issued from the sides of
the mountains, and their rivulets, for the most part, became dry. No
refreshing cloud ever arose from the sea: fiery vapours, only, during
the day, ascended from the plains, and appeared, at sunset, like the
reflection of a vast conflagration. Night brought no coolness to
the heated atmosphere; and the red moon rising in the misty horizon,
appeared of supernatural magnitude. The drooping cattle, on the sides
of the hills, stretching out their necks towards heaven, and panting for
breath, made the valleys re-echo with their melancholy lowings: even the
Caffre by whom they were led threw himself upon the earth, in search of
some cooling moisture: but his hopes were vain; the scorching sun
had penetrated the whole soil, and the stifling atmosphere everywhere
resounded with the buzzing noise of insects, seeking to allay their
thirst with the blood of men and of animals.

During this sultry season, Virginia's restlessness and disquietude were
much increased. One night, in particular, being unable to sleep, she
arose from her bed, sat down, and returned to rest again; but could find
in no attitude either slumber or repose. At length she bent her way, by
the light of the moon, towards her fountain, and gazed at its spring,
which, notwithstanding the drought, still trickled, in silver threads
down the brown sides of the rock. She flung herself into the basin: its
coolness reanimated her spirits, and a thousand soothing remembrances
came to her mind. She recollected that in her infancy her mother and
Margaret had amused themselves by bathing her with Paul in this very
spot; that he afterwards, reserving this bath for her sole use, had
hollowed out its bed, covered the bottom with sand, and sown aromatic
herbs around its borders. She saw in the water, upon her naked arms and
bosom, the reflection of the two cocoa trees which were planted at her
own and her brother's birth, and which interwove above her head their
green branches and young fruit. She thought of Paul's friendship,
sweeter than the odour of the blossoms, purer than the waters of the
fountain, stronger than the intertwining palm-tree, and she sighed.
Reflecting on the hour of the night, and the profound solitude, her
imagination became disturbed. Suddenly she flew, affrighted, from those
dangerous shades, and those waters which seemed to her hotter than the
tropical sunbeam, and ran to her mother for refuge. More than once,
wishing to reveal her sufferings, she pressed her mother's hand within
her own; more than once she was ready to pronounce the name of Paul: but
her oppressed heart left her lips no power of utterance, and, leaning
her head on her mother's bosom, she bathed it with her tears.

Madame de la Tour, though she easily discerned the source of her
daughter's uneasiness, did not think proper to speak to her on the
subject. "My dear child," said she, "offer up your supplications to God,
who disposes at his will of health and of life. He subjects you to trial
now, in order to recompense you hereafter. Remember that we are only
placed upon earth for the exercise of virtue."

The excessive heat in the meantime raised vast masses of vapour from the
ocean, which hung over the island like an immense parasol, and gathered
round the summits of the mountains. Long flakes of fire issued from time
to time from these mist-embosomed peaks. The most awful thunder soon
after re-echoed through the woods, the plains, and the valleys: the
rains fell from the skies in cataracts; foaming torrents rushed down the
sides of this mountain; the bottom of the valley became a sea, and the
elevated platform on which the cottages were built, a little island. The
accumulated waters, having no other outlet, rushed with violence through
the narrow gorge which leads into the valley, tossing and roaring, and
bearing along with them a mingled wreck of soil, trees, and rocks.

The trembling families meantime addressed their prayers to God all
together in the cottage of Madame de la Tour, the roof of which cracked
fearfully from the force of the winds. So incessant and vivid were the
lightnings, that although the doors and window-shutters were securely
fastened, every object without could be distinctly seen through
the joints in the wood-work! Paul, followed by Domingo, went with
intrepidity from one cottage to another, notwithstanding the fury of the
tempest; here supporting a partition with a buttress, there driving in
a stake; and only returning to the family to calm their fears, by the
expression of a hope that the storm was passing away. Accordingly, in
the evening the rains ceased, the trade-winds of the southeast pursued
their ordinary course, the tempestuous clouds were driven away to the
northward, and the setting sun appeared in the horizon.

Virginia's first wish was to visit the spot called her Resting-place.
Paul approached her with a timid air, and offered her the assistance
of his arm; she accepted it with a smile, and they left the cottage
together. The air was clear and fresh: white vapours arose from the
ridges of the mountain, which was furrowed here and there by the courses
of torrents, marked in foam, and now beginning to dry up on all
sides. As for the garden, it was completely torn to pieces by deep
water-courses, the roots of most of the fruit trees were laid bare, and
vast heaps of sand covered the borders of the meadows, and had choked
up Virginia's bath. The two cocoa trees, however, were still erect, and
still retained their freshness; but they were no longer surrounded by
turf, or arbours, or birds, except a few amadavid birds, which, upon the
points of the neighbouring rocks, were lamenting, in plaintive notes,
the loss of their young.

At the sight of this general desolation, Virginia exclaimed to
Paul,--"You brought birds hither, and the hurricane has killed them.
You planted this garden, and it is now destroyed. Every thing then
upon earth perishes, and it is only Heaven that is not subject to
change."--"Why," answered Paul, "cannot I give you something that
belongs to Heaven? but I have nothing of my own even upon the earth."
Virginia with a blush replied, "You have the picture of Saint Paul."
As soon as she had uttered the words, he flew in quest of it to his
mother's cottage. This picture was a miniature of Paul the Hermit, which
Margaret, who viewed it with feelings of great devotion, had worn at her
neck while a girl, and which, after she became a mother, she had placed
round her child's. It had even happened, that being, while pregnant,
abandoned by all the world, and constantly occupied in contemplating
the image of this benevolent recluse, her offspring had contracted some
resemblance to this revered object. She therefore bestowed upon him the
name of Paul, giving him for his patron a saint who had passed his life
far from mankind by whom he had been first deceived and then forsaken.
Virginia, on receiving this little present from the hands of Paul, said
to him, with emotion, "My dear brother, I will never part with this
while I live; nor will I ever forget that you have given me the only
thing you have in the world." At this tone of friendship,--this unhoped
for return of familiarity and tenderness, Paul attempted to embrace
her; but, light as a bird, she escaped him, and fled away, leaving him
astonished, and unable to account for conduct so extraordinary.

Meanwhile Margaret said to Madame de la Tour, "Why do we not unite our
children by marriage? They have a strong attachment for each other, and
though my son hardly understands the real nature of his feelings, yet
great care and watchfulness will be necessary. Under such circumstances,
it will be as well not to leave them too much together." Madame de la
Tour replied, "They are too young and too poor. What grief would it
occasion us to see Virginia bring into the world unfortunate children,
whom she would not perhaps have sufficient strength to rear! Your negro,
Domingo, is almost too old to labor; Mary is infirm. As for myself, my
dear friend, at the end of fifteen years, I find my strength greatly
decreased; the feebleness of age advances rapidly in hot climates, and,
above all, under the pressure of misfortune. Paul is our only hope: let
us wait till he comes to maturity, and his increased strength enables
him to support us by his labour: at present you well know that we have
only sufficient to supply the wants of the day: but were we to send Paul
for a short time to the Indies, he might acquire, by commerce, the
means of purchasing some slaves; and at his return we could unite him to
Virginia; for I am persuaded no one on earth would render her so happy
as your son. We will consult our neighbour on this subject."

They accordingly asked my advice, which was in accordance with Madame
de la Tour's opinion. "The Indian seas," I observed to them, "are calm,
and, in choosing a favourable time of the year, the voyage out is seldom
longer than six weeks; and the same time may be allowed for the return
home. We will furnish Paul with a little venture from my neighbourhood,
where he is much beloved. If we were only to supply him with some raw
cotton, of which we make no use for want of mills to work it, some
ebony, which is here so common that it serves us for firing, and some
rosin, which is found in our woods, he would be able to sell those
articles, though useless here, to good advantage in the Indies."

I took upon myself to obtain permission from Monsieur de la Bourdonnais
to undertake this voyage; and I determined previously to mention the
affair to Paul. But what was my surprise, when this young man said to
me, with a degree of good sense above his age, "And why do you wish me
to leave my family for this precarious pursuit of fortune? Is there any
commerce in the world more advantageous than the culture of the ground,
which yields sometimes fifty or a hundred-fold? If we wish to engage
in commerce, can we not do so by carrying our superfluities to the town
without my wandering to the Indies? Our mothers tell me, that Domingo
is old and feeble; but I am young, and gather strength every day. If
any accident should happen during my absence, above all to Virginia, who
already suffers--Oh, no, no!--I cannot resolve to leave them."

So decided an answer threw me into great perplexity, for Madame de la
Tour had not concealed from me the cause of Virginia's illness and want
of spirits, and her desire of separating these young people till they
were a few years older. I took care, however, not to drop any thing
which could lead Paul to suspect the existence of these motives.

About this period a ship from France brought Madame de la Tour a letter
from her aunt. The fear of death, without which hearts as insensible as
hers would never feel, had alarmed her into compassion. When she wrote
she was recovering from a dangerous illness, which had, however, left
her incurably languid and weak. She desired her niece to return to
France: or, if her health forbade her to undertake so long a voyage,
she begged her to send Virginia, on whom she promised to bestow a good
education, to procure for her a splendid marriage, and to leave
her heiress of her whole fortune. She concluded by enjoining strict
obedience to her will, in gratitude, she said, for her great kindness.

At the perusal of this letter general consternation spread itself
through the whole assembled party. Domingo and Mary began to weep.
Paul, motionless with surprise, appeared almost ready to burst with
indignation; while Virginia, fixing her eyes anxiously upon her mother,
had not power to utter a single word. "And can you now leave us?" cried
Margaret to Madame de la Tour. "No, my dear friend, no, my beloved
children," replied Madame de la Tour; "I will never leave you. I have
lived with you, and with you I will die. I have known no happiness but
in your affection. If my health be deranged, my past misfortunes are the
cause. My heart has been deeply wounded by the cruelty of my relations,
and by the loss of my beloved husband. But I have since found more
consolation and more real happiness with you in these humble huts, than
all the wealth of my family could now lead me to expect in my country."

At this soothing language every eye overflowed with tears of delight.
Paul, pressing Madame de la Tour in his arms, exclaimed,--"Neither will
I leave you! I will not go to the Indies. We will all labour for you,
dear mamma; and you shall never feel any want with us." But of the whole
society, the person who displayed the least transport, and who probably
felt the most, was Virginia; and during the remainder of the day, the
gentle gaiety which flowed from her heart, and proved that her peace of
mind was restored, completed the general satisfaction.

At sun-rise the next day, just as they had concluded offering up, as
usual, their morning prayer before breakfast, Domingo came to inform
them that a gentleman on horseback, followed by two slaves, was coming
towards the plantation. It was Monsieur de la Bourdonnais. He entered
the cottage, where he found the family at breakfast. Virginia had
prepared, according to the custom of the country, coffee, and rice
boiled in water. To these she had added hot yams, and fresh plantains.
The leaves of the plantain-tree, supplied the want of table-linen; and
calabash shells, split in two, served for cups. The governor exhibited,
at first, some astonishment at the homeliness of the dwelling; then,
addressing himself to Madame de la Tour, he observed, that although
public affairs drew his attention too much from the concerns of
individuals, she had many claims on his good offices. "You have an aunt
at Paris, madam," he added, "a woman of quality, and immensely rich, who
expects that you will hasten to see her, and who means to bestow upon
you her whole fortune." Madame de la Tour replied, that the state of her
health would not permit her to undertake so long a voyage. "At least,"
resumed Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, "you cannot without injustice,
deprive this amiable young lady, your daughter, of so noble an
inheritance. I will not conceal from you, that your aunt has made use of
her influence to secure your daughter being sent to her; and that I have
received official letters, in which I am ordered to exert my authority,
if necessary, to that effect. But as I only wish to employ my power for
the purpose of rendering the inhabitants of this country happy, I expect
from your good sense the voluntary sacrifice of a few years, upon which
your daughter's establishment in the world, and the welfare of your
whole life depends. Wherefore do we come to these islands? Is it not to
acquire a fortune? And will it not be more agreeable to return and find
it in your own country?"

He then took a large bag of piastres from one of his slaves, and placed
it upon the table. "This sum," he continued, "is allotted by your aunt
to defray the outlay necessary for the equipment of the young lady for
her voyage." Gently reproaching Madame de la Tour for not having had
recourse to him in her difficulties, he extolled at the same time her
noble fortitude. Upon this Paul said to the governor,--"My mother did
apply to you, sir, and you received her ill."--"Have you another child,
madam?" said Monsieur de la Bourdonnais to Madame de la Tour. "No, Sir,"
she replied; "this is the son of my friend; but he and Virginia are
equally dear to us, and we mutually consider them both as our own
children." "Young man," said the governor to Paul, "when you have
acquired a little more experience of the world, you will know that it
is the misfortune of people in place to be deceived, and bestow, in
consequence, upon intriguing vice, that which they would wish to give to
modest merit."

Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, at the request of Madame de la Tour, placed
himself next to her at table, and breakfasted after the manner of the
Creoles, upon coffee, mixed with rice boiled in water. He was delighted
with the order and cleanliness which prevailed in the little cottage,
the harmony of the two interesting families, and the zeal of their old
servants. "Here," he exclaimed, "I discern only wooden furniture; but I
find serene countenances and hearts of gold." Paul, enchanted with the
affability of the governor, said to him,--"I wish to be your friend: for
you are a good man." Monsieur de la Bourdonnais received with pleasure
this insular compliment, and, taking Paul by the hand, assured him he
might rely upon his friendship.

After breakfast, he took Madame de la Tour aside and informed her
that an opportunity would soon offer itself of sending her daughter to
France, in a ship which was going to sail in a short time; that he would
put her under the charge of a lady, one of the passengers, who was
a relation of his own; and that she must not think of renouncing an
immense fortune, on account of the pain of being separated from her
daughter for a brief interval. "Your aunt," he added, "cannot live
more than two years; of this I am assured by her friends. Think of it
seriously. Fortune does not visit us every day. Consult your friends.
I am sure that every person of good sense will be of my opinion." She
answered, "that, as she desired no other happiness henceforth in the
world than in promoting that of her daughter, she hoped to be allowed to
leave her departure for France to her own inclination."

Madame de la Tour was not sorry to find an opportunity of separating
Paul and Virginia for a short time, and provide by this means, for their
mutual felicity at a future period. She took her daughter aside, and
said to her,--"My dear child, our servants are now old. Paul is still
very young, Margaret is advanced in years, and I am already infirm. If
I should die what would become of you, without fortune, in the midst
of these deserts? You would then be left alone, without any person who
could afford you much assistance, and would be obliged to labour
without ceasing, as a hired servant, in order to support your wretched
existence. This idea overcomes me with sorrow." Virginia answered,--"God
has appointed us to labour, and to bless him every day. Up to this time
he has never forsaken us, and he never will forsake us in time to come.
His providence watches most especially over the unfortunate. You have
told me this very often, my dear mother! I cannot resolve to leave you."
Madame de la Tour replied, with much emotion,--"I have no other aim than
to render you happy, and to marry you one day to Paul, who is not really
your brother. Remember then that his fortune depends upon you."

A young girl who is in love believes that every one else is ignorant of
her passion; she throws over her eyes the veil with which she covers the
feelings of her heart; but when it is once lifted by a friendly hand,
the hidden sorrows of her attachment escape as through a newly-opened
barrier, and the sweet outpourings of unrestrained confidence succeed
to her former mystery and reserve. Virginia, deeply affected by this new
proof of her mother's tenderness, related to her the cruel struggles
she had undergone, of which heaven alone had been witness; she saw,
she said, the hand of Providence in the assistance of an affectionate
mother, who approved of her attachment; and would guide her by her
counsels; and as she was now strengthened by such support, every
consideration led her to remain with her mother, without anxiety for the
present, and without apprehension for the future.

Madame de la Tour, perceiving that this confidential conversation had
produced an effect altogether different from that which she expected,
said,--"My dear child, I do not wish to constrain you; think over it at
leisure, but conceal your affection from Paul. It is better not to let a
man know that the heart of his mistress is gained."

Virginia and her mother were sitting together by themselves the same
evening, when a tall man, dressed in a blue cassock, entered their
cottage. He was a missionary priest and the confessor of Madame de la
Tour and her daughter, who had now been sent to them by the governor.
"My children," he exclaimed as he entered, "God be praised! you are
now rich. You can now attend to the kind suggestions of your benevolent
hearts, and do good to the poor. I know what Monsieur de la Bourdonnais
has said to you, and what you have said in reply. Your health, dear
madam, obliges you to remain here; but you, young lady, are without
excuse. We must obey our aged relations, even when they are unjust.
A sacrifice is required of you; but it is the will of God. Our Lord
devoted himself for you; and you in imitation of his example, must give
up something for the welfare of your family. Your voyage to France will
end happily. You will surely consent to go, my dear young lady."

Virginia, with downcast eyes, answered, trembling, "If it is the command
of God, I will not presume to oppose it. Let the will of God be done!"
As she uttered these words, she wept.

The priest went away, in order to inform the governor of the success of
his mission. In the meantime Madame de la Tour sent Domingo to request
me to come to her, that she might consult me respecting Virginia's
departure. I was not at all of opinion that she ought to go. I consider
it as a fixed principle of happiness, that we ought to prefer the
advantages of nature to those of fortune, and never go in search of that
at a distance, which we may find at home,--in our own bosoms. But what
could be expected from my advice, in opposition to the illusions of a
splendid fortune?--or from my simple reasoning, when in competition with
the prejudices of the world, and an authority held sacred by Madame de
la Tour? This lady indeed only consulted me out of politeness; she had
ceased to deliberate since she had heard the decision of her confessor.
Margaret herself, who, notwithstanding the advantages she expected for
her son from the possession of Virginia's fortune, had hitherto opposed
her departure, made no further objections. As for Paul, in ignorance of
what had been determined, but alarmed at the secret conversations which
Virginia had been holding with her mother, he abandoned himself to
melancholy. "They are plotting something against me," cried he, "for
they conceal every thing from me."

A report having in the meantime been spread in the island that fortune
had visited these rocks, merchants of every description were seen
climbing their steep ascent. Now, for the first time, were seen
displayed in these humble huts the richest stuffs of India; the fine
dimity of Gondelore; the handkerchiefs of Pellicate and Masulipatan;
the plain, striped, and embroidered muslins of Dacca, so beautifully
transparent: the delicately white cottons of Surat, and linens of all
colours. They also brought with them the gorgeous silks of China,
satin damasks, some white, and others grass-green and bright red; pink
taffetas, with the profusion of satins and gauze of Tonquin, both plain
and decorated with flowers; soft pekins, downy as cloth; and white and
yellow nankeens, and the calicoes of Madagascar.

Madame de la Tour wished her daughter to purchase whatever she liked;
she only examined the goods, and inquired the price, to take care that
the dealers did not cheat her. Virginia made choice of everything she
thought would be useful or agreeable to her mother, or to Margaret and
her son. "This," said she, "will be wanted for furnishing the cottage,
and that will be very useful to Mary and Domingo." In short, the bag of
piastres was almost emptied before she even began to consider her own
wants; and she was obliged to receive back for her own use a share of
the presents which she had distributed among the family circle.

Paul, overcome with sorrow at the sight of these gifts of fortune, which
he felt were a presage of Virginia's departure, came a few days after to
my dwelling. With an air of deep despondency he said to me--"My sister
is going away; she is already making preparations for her voyage. I
conjure you to come and exert your influence over her mother and
mine, in order to detain her here." I could not refuse the young man's
solicitations, although well convinced that my representations would be

Virginia had ever appeared to me charming when clad in the coarse
cloth of Bengal, with a red handkerchief tied round her head: you
may therefore imagine how much her beauty was increased, when she was
attired in the graceful and elegant costume worn by the ladies of this
country! She had on a white muslin dress, lined with pink taffeta.
Her somewhat tall and slender figure was shown to advantage in her new
attire, and the simple arrangement of her hair accorded admirably with
the form of her head. Her fine blue eyes were filled with an expression
of melancholy; and the struggles of passion, with which her heart was
agitated, imparted a flush to her cheek, and to her voice a tone of deep
emotion. The contrast between her pensive look and her gay habiliments
rendered her more interesting than ever, nor was it possible to see or
hear her unmoved. Paul became more and more melancholy; and at length
Margaret, distressed at the situation of her son, took him aside and
said to him,--"Why, my dear child, will you cherish vain hopes, which
will only render your disappointment more bitter? It is time for me to
make known to you the secret of your life and of mine. Mademoiselle de
la Tour belongs, by her mother's side, to a rich and noble family, while
you are but the son of a poor peasant girl; and what is worse you are

Paul, who had never heard this last expression before, inquired with
eagerness its meaning. His mother replied, "I was not married to your
father. When I was a girl, seduced by love, I was guilty of a weakness
of which you are the offspring. The consequence of my fault is, that you
are deprived of the protection of a father's family, and by my flight
from home you have also lost that of your mother's. Unfortunate child!
you have no relations in the world but me!"--and she shed a flood of
tears. Paul, pressing her in his arms, exclaimed, "Oh, my dear mother!
since I have no relation in the world but you, I will love you all the
more. But what a secret have you just disclosed to me! I now see the
reason why Mademoiselle de la Tour has estranged herself so much from me
for the last two months, and why she has determined to go to France. Ah!
I perceive too well that she despises me!"

The hour of supper being arrived, we gathered round the table; but
the different sensations with which we were agitated left us little
inclination to eat, and the meal, if such it may be called, passed
in silence. Virginia was the first to rise; she went out, and seated
herself on the very spot where we now are. Paul hastened after her,
and sat down by her side. Both of them, for some time, kept a profound
silence. It was one of those delicious nights which are so common
between the tropics, and to the beauty of which no pencil can do
justice. The moon appeared in the midst of the firmament, surrounded
by a curtain of clouds, which was gradually unfolded by her beams. Her
light insensibly spread itself over the mountains of the island, and
their distant peaks glistened with a silvery green. The winds were
perfectly still. We heard among the woods, at the bottom of the valleys,
and on the summits of the rocks, the piping cries and the soft notes of
the birds, wantoning in their nests, and rejoicing in the brightness
of the night and the serenity of the atmosphere. The hum of insects was
heard in the grass. The stars sparkled in the heavens, and their lurid
orbs were reflected, in trembling sparkles, from the tranquil bosom of
the ocean. Virginia's eye wandered distractedly over its vast and gloomy
horizon, distinguishable from the shore of the island only by the red
fires in the fishing boats. She perceived at the entrance of the harbour
a light and a shadow; these were the watchlight and the hull of the
vessel in which she was to embark for Europe, and which, all ready for
sea, lay at anchor, waiting for a breeze. Affected at this sight, she
turned away her head, in order to hide her tears from Paul.

Madame de la Tour, Margaret, and I, were seated at a little distance,
beneath the plantain-trees; and, owing to the stillness of the night, we
distinctly heard their conversation, which I have not forgotten.

Paul said to her,--"You are going away from us, they tell me, in three
days. You do not fear then to encounter the danger of the sea, at the
sight of which you are so much terrified?" "I must perform my duty,"
answered Virginia, "by obeying my parent." "You leave us," resumed
Paul, "for a distant relation, whom you have never seen." "Alas!" cried
Virginia, "I would have remained here my whole life, but my mother would
not have it so. My confessor, too, told me it was the will of God that I
should go, and that life was a scene of trials!--and Oh! this is indeed
a severe one."

"What!" exclaimed Paul, "you could find so many reasons for going, and
not one for remaining here! Ah! there is one reason for your departure
that you have not mentioned. Riches have great attractions. You will
soon find in the new world to which you are going, another, to whom you
will give the name of brother, which you bestow on me no more. You will
choose that brother from amongst persons who are worthy of you by their
birth, and by a fortune which I have not to offer. But where can you go
to be happier? On what shore will you land, and find it dearer to you
than the spot which gave you birth?--and where will you form around you
a society more delightful to you than this, by which you are so much
accustomed? What will become of her, already advanced in years, when
she no longer sees you at her side at table, in the house, in the walks,
where she used to lean upon you? What will become of my mother, who
loves you with the same affection? What shall I say to comfort them when
I see them weeping for your absence? Cruel Virginia! I say nothing to
you of myself; but what will become of me, when in the morning I shall
no more see you; when the evening will come, and not reunite us?--when
I shall gaze on these two palm trees, planted at our birth, and so
long the witnesses of our mutual friendship? Ah! since your lot is
changed,--since you seek in a far country other possessions than the
fruits of my labour, let me go with you in the vessel in which you
are about to embark. I will sustain your spirits in the midst of those
tempests which terrify you so much even on shore. I will lay my head
upon your bosom: I will warm your heart upon my own; and in France,
where you are going in search of fortune and of grandeur, I will wait
upon you as your slave. Happy only in your happiness, you will find
me, in those palaces where I shall see you receiving the homage and
adoration of all, rich and noble enough to make you the greatest of all
sacrifices, by dying at your feet."

The violence of his emotions stopped his utterance, and we then heard
Virginia, who, in a voice broken by sobs, uttered these words:--"It is
for you that I go,--for you whom I see tired to death every day by the
labour of sustaining two helpless families. If I have accepted this
opportunity of becoming rich, it is only to return a thousand-fold
the good which you have done us. Can any fortune be equal to your
friendship? Why do you talk about your birth? Ah! if it were possible
for me still to have a brother, should I make choice of any other than
you? Oh, Paul, Paul! you are far dearer to me than a brother! How much
has it cost me to repulse you from me! Help me to tear myself from what
I value more than existence, till Heaven shall bless our union. But
I will stay or go,--I will live or die,--dispose of me as you will.
Unhappy that I am! I could have repelled your caresses; but I cannot
support your affliction."

At these words Paul seized her in his arms, and, holding her pressed
close to his bosom, cried, in a piercing tone, "I will go with
her,--nothing shall ever part us." We all ran towards him; and Madame de
la Tour said to him, "My son, if you go, what will become of us?"

He, trembling, repeated after her the words,--"My son!--my son! You my
mother!" cried he; "you, who would separate the brother from the sister!
We have both been nourished at your bosom; we have both been reared upon
your knees; we have learnt of you to love another; we have said so a
thousand times; and now you would separate her from me!--you would send
her to Europe, that inhospitable country which refused you an asylum,
and to relations by whom you yourself were abandoned. You will tell me
that I have no right over her, and that she is not my sister. She is
everything to me;--my riches, my birth, my family,--all that I have! I
know no other. We have had but one roof,--one cradle,--and we will have
but one grave! If she goes, I will follow her. The governor will prevent
me! Will he prevent me from flinging myself into the sea?--will he
prevent me from following her by swimming? The sea cannot be more fatal
to me than the land. Since I cannot live with her, at least I will
die before her eyes, far from you. Inhuman mother!--woman without
compassion!--may the ocean, to which you trust her, restore her to you
no more! May the waves, rolling back our bodies amid the shingles
of this beach, give you in the loss of your two children, an eternal
subject of remorse!"

At these words, I seized him in my arms, for despair had deprived him
of reason. His eyes sparkled with fire, the perspiration fell in great
drops from his face; his knees trembled, and I felt his heart beat
violently against his burning bosom.

Virginia, alarmed, said to him,--"Oh, my dear Paul, I call to witness
the pleasures of our early age, your griefs and my own, and every thing
that can for ever bind two unfortunate beings to each other, that if I
remain at home, I will live but for you; that if I go, I will one day
return to be yours. I call you all to witness;--you who have reared me
from my infancy, who dispose of my life, and who see my tears. I swear
by that Heaven which hears me, by the sea which I am going to pass, by
the air I breathe, and which I never sullied by a falsehood."

As the sun softens and precipitates an icy rock from the summit of
one of the Appenines, so the impetuous passions of the young man were
subdued by the voice of her he loved. He bent his head, and a torrent of
tears fell from his eyes. His mother, mingling her tears with his,
held him in her arms, but was unable to speak. Madame de la Tour, half
distracted, said to me, "I can bear this no longer. My heart is quite
broken. This unfortunate voyage shall not take place. Do take my son
home with you. Not one of us has had any rest the whole week."

I said to Paul, "My dear friend, your sister shall remain here.
To-morrow we will talk to the governor about it; leave your family to
take some rest, and come and pass the night with me. It is late; it is
midnight; the southern cross is just above the horizon."

He suffered himself to be led away in silence; and, after a night of
great agitation, he arose at break of day, and returned home.

But why should I continue any longer to you the recital of this history?
There is but one aspect of human pleasure. Like the globe upon which we
revolve, the fleeting course of life is but a day; and if one part of
that day be visited by light, the other is thrown into darkness.

"My father," I answered, "finish, I conjure you, the history which you
have begun in a manner so interesting. If the images of happiness are
the most pleasing, those of misfortune are the more instructive. Tell me
what became of the unhappy young man."

The first object beheld by Paul in his way home was the negro woman
Mary, who, mounted on a rock, was earnestly looking towards the sea. As
soon as he perceived her, he called to her from a distance,--"Where is
Virginia?" Mary turned her head towards her young master, and began to
weep. Paul, distracted, retracing his steps, ran to the harbour. He was
there informed, that Virginia had embarked at the break of day, and
that the vessel had immediately set sail, and was now out of sight. He
instantly returned to the plantation, which he crossed without uttering
a word.

Quite perpendicular as appears the wall of rocks behind us, those green
platforms which separate their summits are so many stages, by means of
which you may reach, through some difficult paths, that cone of sloping
and inaccessible rocks, which is called The Thumb. At the foot of that
cone is an extended slope of ground, covered with lofty trees, and so
steep and elevated that it looks like a forest in the air, surrounded by
tremendous precipices. The clouds, which are constantly attracted round
the summit of the Thumb, supply innumerable rivulets, which fall to so
great a depth in the valley situated on the other side of the mountain,
that from this elevated point the sound of their cataracts cannot be
heard. From that spot you can discern a considerable part of the island,
diversified by precipices and mountain peaks, and amongst others,
Peter-Booth, and the Three Breasts, with their valleys full of woods.
You also command an extensive view of the ocean, and can even perceive
the Isle of Bourbon, forty leagues to the westward. From the summit of
that stupendous pile of rocks Paul caught sight of the vessel which was
bearing away Virginia, and which now, ten leagues out at sea, appeared
like a black spot in the midst of the ocean. He remained a great part of
the day with his eyes fixed upon this object: when it had disappeared,
he still fancied he beheld it; and when, at length, the traces which
clung to his imagination were lost in the mists of the horizon, he
seated himself on that wild point, forever beaten by the winds, which
never cease to agitate the tops of the cabbage and gum trees, and the
hoarse and moaning murmurs of which, similar to the distant sound of
organs, inspire a profound melancholy. On this spot I found him, his
head reclined on the rock, and his eyes fixed upon the ground. I had
followed him from the earliest dawn, and, after much importunity, I
prevailed on him to descend from the heights, and return to his family.
I went home with him, where the first impulse of his mind, on seeing
Madame de la Tour, was to reproach her bitterly for having deceived him.
She told us that a favourable wind having sprung up at three o'clock in
the morning, and the vessel being ready to sail, the governor, attended
by some of his staff and the missionary, had come with a palanquin to
fetch her daughter; and that, notwithstanding Virginia's objections, her
own tears and entreaties, and the lamentations of Margaret, every body
exclaiming all the time that it was for the general welfare, they had
carried her away almost dying. "At least," cried Paul, "if I had bid
her farewell, I should now be more calm. I would have said to
her,--'Virginia, if, during the time we have lived together, one word
may have escaped me which has offended you, before you leave me forever,
tell me that you forgive me.' I would have said to her,--'Since I am
destined to see you no more, farewell, my dear Virginia, farewell! Live
far from me, contented and happy!'" When he saw that his mother and
Madame de la Tour were weeping,--"You must now," said he, "seek some
other hand to wipe away your tears;" and then, rushing out of the house,
and groaning aloud, he wandered up and down the plantation. He hovered
in particular about those spots which had been most endeared to
Virginia. He said to the goats, and their little ones, which followed
him, bleating,--"What do you want of me? You will see with me no more
her who used to feed you with her own hand." He went to the bower called
Virginia's Resting-place, and, as the birds flew around him, exclaimed,
"Poor birds! you will fly no more to meet her who cherished you!"--and
observing Fidele running backwards and forwards in search of her, he
heaved a deep sigh, and cried,--"Ah! you will never find her again."
At length he went and seated himself upon a rock where he had conversed
with her the preceding evening; and at the sight of the ocean upon which
he had seen the vessel disappear which had borne her away, his heart
overflowed with anguish, and he wept bitterly.

We continually watched his movements, apprehensive of some fatal
consequence from the violent agitation of his mind. His mother and
Madame de la Tour conjured him, in the most tender manner, not to
increase their affliction by his despair. At length the latter soothed
his mind by lavishing upon him epithets calculated to awaken his
hopes,--calling him her son, her dear son, her son-in-law, whom she
destined for her daughter. She persuaded him to return home, and to take
some food. He seated himself next to the place which used to be occupied
by the companion of his childhood; and, as if she had still been
present, he spoke to her, and made as though he would offer her whatever
he knew as most agreeable to her taste: then, starting from this
dream of fancy, he began to weep. For some days he employed himself in
gathering together every thing which had belonged to Virginia, the last
nosegays she had worn, the cocoa-shell from which she used to drink; and
after kissing a thousand times these relics of his beloved, to him the
most precious treasures which the world contained, he hid them in his
bosom. Amber does not shed so sweet a perfume as the veriest trifles
touched by those we love. At length, perceiving that the indulgence of
his grief increased that of his mother and Madame de la Tour, and that
the wants of the family demanded continual labour, he began, with the
assistance of Domingo, to repair the damage done to the garden.

But, soon after, this young man, hitherto indifferent as a Creole to
every thing that was passing in the world, begged of me to teach him
to read and write, in order that he might correspond with Virginia. He
afterwards wished to obtain a knowledge of geography, that he might form
some idea of the country where she would disembark; and of history, that
he might know something of the manners of the society in which she would
be placed. The powerful sentiment of love, which directed his present
studies, had already instructed him in agriculture, and in the art of
laying out grounds with advantage and beauty. It must be admitted, that
to the fond dreams of this restless and ardent passion, mankind are
indebted for most of the arts and sciences, while its disappointments
have given birth to philosophy, which teaches us to bear up under
misfortune. Love, thus, the general link of all beings, becomes the
great spring of society, by inciting us to knowledge as well as to

Paul found little satisfaction in the study of geography, which, instead
of describing the natural history of each country, gave only a view of
its political divisions and boundaries. History, and especially modern
history, interested him little more. He there saw only general and
periodical evils, the causes of which he could not discover; wars
without either motive or reason; uninteresting intrigues; with nations
destitute of principle, and princes void of humanity. To this branch
of reading he preferred romances, which, being chiefly occupied by the
feelings and concerns of men, sometimes represented situations similar
to his own. Thus, no book gave him so much pleasure as Telemachus, from
the pictures it draws of pastoral life, and of the passions which are
most natural to the human breast. He read aloud to his mother and Madame
de la Tour, those parts which affected him most sensibly; but sometimes,
touched by the most tender remembrances, his emotion would choke his
utterance, and his eyes be filled with tears. He fancied he had found
in Virginia the dignity and wisdom of Antiope, united to the misfortunes
and the tenderness of Eucharis. With very different sensations he
perused our fashionable novels, filled with licentious morals and
maxims, and when he was informed that these works drew a tolerably
faithful picture of European society, he trembled, and not without some
appearance of reason, lest Virginia should become corrupted by it, and
forget him.

More than a year and a half, indeed, passed away before Madame de la
Tour received any tidings of her aunt or her daughter. During that
period she only accidently heard that Virginia had safely arrived in
France. At length, however, a vessel which stopped here on its way to
the Indies brought a packet to Madame de la Tour, and a letter written
by Virginia's own hand. Although this amiable and considerate girl
had written in a guarded manner that she might not wound her mother's
feelings, it appeared evident enough that she was unhappy. The letter
painted so naturally her situation and her character, that I have
retained it almost word for word.


"I have already sent you several letters, written by my own hand, but
having received no answer, I am afraid they have not reached you. I have
better hopes for this, from the means I have now gained of sending you
tidings of myself, and of hearing from you.

"I have shed many tears since our separation, I who never used to weep,
but for the misfortunes of others! My aunt was much astonished, when,
having, upon my arrival, inquired what accomplishments I possessed, I
told her that I could neither read nor write. She asked me what then I
had learnt, since I came into the world; and when I answered that I
had been taught to take care of the household affairs, and to obey your
will, she told me that I had received the education of a servant. The
next day she placed me as a boarder in a great abbey near Paris, where
I have masters of all kinds, who teach me, among other things, history,
geography, grammar, mathematics, and riding on horseback. But I have
so little capacity for all these sciences, that I fear I shall make but
small progress with my masters. I feel that I am a very poor creature,
with very little ability to learn what they teach. My aunt's kindness,
however, does not decrease. She gives me new dresses every season; and
she had placed two waiting women with me, who are dressed like fine
ladies. She has made me take the title of countess; but has obliged me
to renounce the name of LA TOUR, which is as dear to me as it is to you,
from all you have told me of the sufferings my father endured in order
to marry you. She has given me in place of your name that of your
family, which is also dear to me, because it was your name when a girl.
Seeing myself in so splendid a situation, I implored her to let me send
you something to assist you. But how shall I repeat her answer! Yet you
have desired me always to tell you the truth. She told me then that
a little would be of no use to you, and that a great deal would only
encumber you in the simple life you led. As you know I could not write,
I endeavoured upon my arrival, to send you tidings of myself by another
hand; but, finding no person here in whom I could place confidence, I
applied night and day to learn to read and write, and Heaven, who saw my
motive for learning, no doubt assisted my endeavours, for I succeeded in
both in a short time. I entrusted my first letters to some of the ladies
here, who, I have reason to think, carried them to my aunt. This time I
have recourse to a boarder, who is my friend. I send you her direction,
by means of which I shall receive your answer. My aunt has forbid me
holding any correspondence whatever, with any one, lest, she says, it
should occasion an obstacle to the great views she has for my advantage.
No person is allowed to see me at the grate but herself, and an old
nobleman, one of her friends, who, she says is much pleased with me.
I am sure I am not at all so with him, nor should I, even if it were
possible for me to be pleased with any one at present.

"I live in all the splendour of affluence, and have not a sous at
my disposal. They say I might make an improper use of money. Even my
clothes belong to my femmes de chambre, who quarrel about them before I
have left them off. In the midst of riches I am poorer than when I lived
with you; for I have nothing to give away. When I found that the great
accomplishments they taught me would not procure me the power of doing
the smallest good, I had recourse to my needle, of which happily you had
taught me the use. I send several pairs of stockings of my own making
for you and my mamma Margaret, a cap for Domingo, and one of my red
handkerchiefs for Mary. I also send with this packet some kernels, and
seeds of various kinds of fruits which I gathered in the abbey park
during my hours of recreation. I have also sent a few seeds of violets,
daisies, buttercups, poppies and scabious, which I picked up in the
fields. There are much more beautiful flowers in the meadows of this
country than in ours, but nobody cares for them. I am sure that you and
my mamma Margaret will be better pleased with this bag of seeds, than
you were with the bag of piastres, which was the cause of our separation
and of my tears. It will give me great delight if you should one day
see apple trees growing by the side of our plantains, and elms blending
their foliage with that of our cocoa trees. You will fancy yourself in
Normandy, which you love so much.

"You desired me to relate to you my joys and my griefs. I have no
joys far from you. As far as my griefs, I endeavour to soothe them by
reflecting that I am in the situation in which it was the will of God
that you should place me. But my greatest affliction is, that no one
here speaks to me of you, and that I cannot speak of you to any one. My
femmes de chambre, or rather those of my aunt, for they belong more
to her than to me, told me the other day, when I wished to turn the
conversation upon the objects most dear to me: 'Remember, mademoiselle,
that you are a French woman, and must forget that land of savages.' Ah!
sooner will I forget myself, than forget the spot on which I was
born and where you dwell! It is this country which is to me a land of
savages, for I live alone, having no one to whom I can impart those
feelings of tenderness for you which I shall bear with me to the grave.
I am,

"My dearest and beloved mother,

"Your affectionate and dutiful daughter,


"I recommend to your goodness Mary and Domingo, who took so much care of
my infancy; caress Fidele for me, who found me in the wood."

Paul was astonished that Virginia had not said one word of him,--she,
who had not forgotten even the house-dog. But he was not aware that,
however long a woman's letter may be, she never fails to leave her
dearest sentiments for the end.

In a postscript, Virginia particularly recommended to Paul's attention
two kinds of seed,--those of the violet and the scabious. She gave him
some instructions upon the natural characters of these flowers, and
the spots most proper for their cultivation. "The violet," she said,
"produces a little flower of a dark purple colour, which delights to
conceal itself beneath the bushes; but it is soon discovered by its
wide-spreading perfume." She desired that these seeds might be sown
by the border of the fountain, at the foot of her cocoa-tree. "The
scabious," she added, "produces a beautiful flower of a pale blue, and a
black ground spotted with white. You might fancy it was in mourning; and
for this reason it is also called the widow's flower. It grows best in
bleak spots, beaten by the winds." She begged him to sow this upon the
rock where she had spoken to him at night for the last time, and that,
in remembrance of her, he would henceforth give it the name of the Rock
of Adieus.

She had put these seeds into a little purse, the tissue of which was
exceedingly simple; but which appeared above all price to Paul, when
he saw on it a P and a V entwined together, and knew that the beautiful
hair which formed the cypher was the hair of Virginia.

The whole family listened with tears to the reading of the letter of
this amiable and virtuous girl. Her mother answered it in the name of
the little society, desiring her to remain or to return as she thought
proper; and assuring her, that happiness had left their dwelling since
her departure, and that, for herself, she was inconsolable.

Paul also sent her a very long letter, in which he assured her that he
would arrange the garden in a manner agreeable to her taste, and mingle
together in it the plants of Europe with those of Africa, as she had
blended their initials together in her work. He sent her some fruit from
the cocoa-trees of the fountain, now arrived at maturity telling her,
that he would not add any of the other productions of the island, that
the desire of seeing them again might hasten her return. He conjured her
to comply as soon as possible with the ardent wishes of her family, and
above all, with his own, since he could never hereafter taste happiness
away from her.

Paul sowed with a careful hand the European seeds, particularly the
violet and the scabious, the flowers of which seemed to bear some
analogy to the character and present situation of Virginia, by whom they
had been so especially recommended; but either they were dried up in
the voyage, or the climate of this part of the world is unfavourable to
their growth, for a very small number of them even came up, and not one
arrived at full perfection.

In the meantime, envy, which ever comes to embitter human happiness,
particularly in the French colonies, spread some reports in the island
which gave Paul much uneasiness. The passengers in the vessel which
brought Virginia's letter, asserted that she was upon the point of being
married, and named the nobleman of the court to whom she was engaged.
Some even went so far as to declare that the union had already taken
place, and that they themselves had witnessed the ceremony. Paul at
first despised the report, brought by a merchant vessel, as he knew that
they often spread erroneous intelligence in their passage; but some of
the inhabitants of the island, with malignant pity, affecting to bewail
the event, he was soon led to attach some degree of belief to this cruel
intelligence. Besides, in some of the novels he had lately read, he had
seen that perfidy was treated as a subject of pleasantry; and knowing
that these books contained pretty faithful representations of European
manners, he feared that the heart of Virginia was corrupted, and had
forgotten its former engagements. Thus his new acquirements had already
only served to render him more miserable; and his apprehensions were
much increased by the circumstance, that though several ships touched
here from Europe, within the six months immediately following the
arrival of her letter, not one of them brought any tidings of Virginia.

This unfortunate young man, with a heart torn by the most cruel
agitation, often came to visit me, in the hope of confirming or
banishing his uneasiness, by my experience of the world.

I live, as I have already told you, a league and a half from this
point, upon the banks of a little river which glides along the Sloping
Mountain: there I lead a solitary life, without wife, children, or

After having enjoyed, and lost the rare felicity of living with a
congenial mind, the state of life which appears the least wretched is
doubtless that of solitude. Every man who has much cause of complaint
against his fellow-creatures seeks to be alone. It is also remarkable
that all those nations which have been brought to wretchedness by their
opinions, their manners, or their forms of government, have produced
numerous classes of citizens altogether devoted to solitude and
celibacy. Such were the Egyptians in their decline, and the Greeks of
the Lower Empire; and such in our days are the Indians, the Chinese,
the modern Greeks, the Italians, and the greater part of the eastern and
southern nations of Europe. Solitude, by removing men from the miseries
which follow in the train of social intercourse, brings them in some
degree back to the unsophisticated enjoyment of nature. In the midst of
modern society, broken up by innumerable prejudices, the mind is in a
constant turmoil of agitation. It is incessantly revolving in itself a
thousand tumultuous and contradictory opinions, by which the members of
an ambitious and miserable circle seek to raise themselves above each
other. But in solitude the soul lays aside the morbid illusions which
troubled her, and resumes the pure consciousness of herself, of nature,
and of its Author, as the muddy water of a torrent which has ravaged the
plains, coming to rest, and diffusing itself over some low grounds out
of its course, deposits there the slime it has taken up, and, resuming
its wonted transparency, reflects, with its own shores, the verdure of
the earth and the light of heaven. Thus does solitude recruit the powers
of the body as well as those of the mind. It is among hermits that are
found the men who carry human existence to its extreme limits; such
are the Bramins of India. In brief, I consider solitude so necessary to
happiness, even in the world itself, that it appears to me impossible
to derive lasting pleasure from any pursuit whatever, or to regulate
our conduct by any pursuit whatever, or to regulate our conduct by
any stable principle, if we do not create for ourselves a mental void,
whence our own views rarely emerge, and into which the opinions
of others never enter. I do not mean to say that man ought to live
absolutely alone; he is connected by his necessities with all mankind;
his labours are due to man: and he owes something too to the rest of
nature. But, as God has given to each of us organs perfectly adapted to
the elements of the globe on which we live,--feet for the soil, lungs
for the air, eyes for the light, without the power of changing the use
of any of these faculties, he has reserved for himself, as the Author of
life, that which is its chief organ,--the heart.

I thus passed my days far from mankind, whom I wished to serve, and by
whom I have been persecuted. After having travelled over many countries
of Europe, and some parts of America and Africa, I at length pitched my
tent in this thinly-peopled island, allured by its mild climate and its
solitudes. A cottage which I built in the woods, at the foot of a tree,
a little field which I cleared with my own hands, a river which glides
before my door, suffice for my wants and for my pleasures. I blend with
these enjoyments the perusal of some chosen books, which teach me to
become better. They make that world, which I have abandoned, still
contribute something to my happiness. They lay before me pictures of
those passions which render its inhabitants so miserable; and in the
comparison I am thus led to make between their lot and my own, I feel a
kind of negative enjoyment. Like a man saved from shipwreck, and thrown
upon a rock, I contemplate, from my solitude, the storms which rage
through the rest of the world; and my repose seems more profound from
the distant sound of the tempest. As men have ceased to fall in my way,
I no longer view them with aversion; I only pity them. If I sometimes
fall in with an unfortunate being, I try to help him by my counsels, as
a passer-by on the brink of a torrent extends his hand to save a
wretch from drowning. But I have hardly ever found any but the innocent
attentive to my voice. Nature calls the majority of men to her in vain.
Each of them forms an image of her for himself, and invests her with his
own passions. He pursues during the whole of his life this vain phantom,
which leads him astray; and he afterwards complains to Heaven of the
misfortunes which he has thus created for himself. Among the many
children of misfortune whom I have endeavoured to lead back to the
enjoyments of nature, I have not found one but was intoxicated with his
own miseries. They have listened to me at first with attention, in the
hope that I could teach them how to acquire glory or fortune, but when
they found that I only wished to instruct them how to dispense with
these chimeras, their attention has been converted into pity, because I
did not prize their miserable happiness. They blamed my solitary life;
they alleged that they alone were useful to men, and they endeavoured to
draw me into their vortex. But if I communicate with all, I lay myself
open to none. It is often sufficient for me to serve as a lesson to
myself. In my present tranquillity, I pass in review the agitating
pursuits of my past life, to which I formerly attached so much
value,--patronage, fortune, reputation, pleasure, and the opinions which
are ever at strife over all the earth. I compare the men whom I have
seen disputing furiously over these vanities, and who are no more, to
the tiny waves of my rivulet, which break in foam against its rocky
bed, and disappear, never to return. As for me, I suffer myself to
float calmly down the stream of time to the shoreless ocean of futurity;
while, in the contemplation of the present harmony of nature, I elevate
my soul towards its supreme Author, and hope for a more happy lot in
another state of existence.

Although you cannot descry from my hermitage, situated in the midst of
a forest, that immense variety of objects which this elevated spot
presents, the grounds are disposed with peculiar beauty, at least to
one who, like me, prefers the seclusion of a home scene to great and
extensive prospects. The river which glides before my door passes in a
straight line across the woods, looking like a long canal shaded by all
kinds of trees. Among them are the gum tree, the ebony tree, and that
which is here called bois de pomme, with olive and cinnamon-wood trees;
while in some parts the cabbage-palm trees raise their naked stems
more than a hundred feet high, their summits crowned with a cluster of
leaves, and towering above the woods like one forest piled upon another.
Lianas, of various foliage, intertwining themselves among the trees,
form, here, arcades of foliage, there, long canopies of verdure. Most
of these trees shed aromatic odours so powerful, that the garments of a
traveller, who has passed through the forest, often retain for hours the
most delicious fragrance. In the season when they produce their lavish
blossoms, they appear as if half-covered with snow. Towards the end
of summer, various kinds of foreign birds hasten, impelled by some
inexplicable instinct, from unknown regions on the other side of immense
oceans, to feed upon the grain and other vegetable productions of the
island; and the brilliancy of their plumage forms a striking contrast to
the more sombre tints of the foliage embrowned by the sun. Among these
are various kinds of parroquets, and the blue pigeon, called here the
pigeon of Holland. Monkeys, the domestic inhabitants of our forests,
sport upon the dark branches of the trees, from which they are easily
distinguished by their gray and greenish skin, and their black visages.
Some hang, suspended by the tail, and swing themselves in air; others
leap from branch to branch, bearing their young in their arms. The
murderous gun has never affrighted these peaceful children of nature.
You hear nothing but sounds of joy,--the warblings and unknown notes of
birds from the countries of the south, repeated from a distance by the
echoes of the forest. The river, which pours, in foaming eddies, over
a bed of rocks, through the midst of the woods, reflects here and there
upon its limpid waters their venerable masses of verdure and of shade,
along with the sports of their happy inhabitants. About a thousand paces
from thence it forms several cascades, clear as crystal in their fall,
but broken at the bottom into frothy surges. Innumerable confused sounds
issue from these watery tumults, which, borne by the winds across the
forest, now sink in distance, now all at once swell out, booming on the
ear like the bells of a cathedral. The air, kept ever in motion by
the running water, preserves upon the banks of the river, amid all the
summer heats, a freshness and verdure rarely found in this island, even
on the summits of the mountains.

At some distance from this place is a rock, placed far enough from the
cascade to prevent the ear from being deafened with the noise of its
waters, and sufficiently near for the enjoyment of seeing it, of feeling
its coolness, and hearing its gentle murmurs. Thither, amidst the heats
of summer, Madame de la Tour, Margaret, Virginia, Paul, and myself,
sometimes repaired, to dine beneath the shadow of this rock. Virginia,
who always, in her most ordinary actions, was mindful of the good of
others, never ate of any fruit in the fields without planting the seed
or kernel in the ground. "From this," said she, "trees will come, which
will yield their fruit to some traveller, or at least to some bird."
One day, having eaten of the papaw fruit at the foot of that rock, she
planted the seeds on the spot. Soon after, several papaw trees sprang
up, among which was one with female blossoms, that is to say, a
fruit-bearing tree. This tree, at the time of Virginia's departure, was
scarcely as high as her knee; but, as it is a plant of rapid growth, in
the course of two years it had gained the height of twenty feet, and
the upper part of its stem was encircled by several rows of ripe fruit.
Paul, wandering accidentally to the spot, was struck with delight at
seeing this lofty tree, which had been planted by his beloved; but the
emotion was transient, and instantly gave place to a deep melancholy,
at this evidence of her long absence. The objects which are habitually
before us do not bring to our minds an adequate idea of the rapidity of
life; they decline insensibly with ourselves: but it is those we behold
again, that most powerfully impress us with a feeling of the swiftness
with which the tide of life flows on. Paul was no less over-whelmed and
affected at the sight of this great papaw tree, loaded with fruit, than
is the traveller when, after a long absence from his own country, he
finds his contemporaries no more, but their children, whom he left at
the breast, themselves now become fathers of families. Paul sometimes
thought of cutting down the tree, which recalled too sensibly the
distracting remembrance of Virginia's prolonged absence. At other times,
contemplating it as a monument of her benevolence, he kissed its trunk,
and apostrophized it in terms of the most passionate regret. Indeed,
I have myself gazed upon it with more emotion and more veneration than
upon the triumphal arches of Rome. May nature, which every day destroys
the monuments of kingly ambition, multiply in our forests those which
testify the beneficence of a poor young girl!

At the foot of this papaw tree I was always sure to meet with Paul when
he came into our neighbourhood. One day, I found him there absorbed in
melancholy and a conversation took place between us, which I will relate
to you, if I do not weary you too much by my long digressions; they are
perhaps pardonable to my age and to my last friendships. I will relate
it to you in the form of a dialogue, that you may form some idea of the
natural good sense of this young man. You will easily distinguish the
speakers, from the character of his questions and of my answers.

_Paul._--I am very unhappy. Mademoiselle de la Tour has now been gone
two years and eight months and a half. She is rich, and I am poor;
she has forgotten me. I have a great mind to follow her. I will go
to France; I will serve the king; I will make my fortune; and then
Mademoiselle de la Tour's aunt will bestow her niece upon me when I
shall have become a great lord.

_The Old Man._--But, my dear friend, have not you told me that you are
not of noble birth?

_Paul._--My mother has told me so; but, as for myself, I know not what
noble birth means. I never perceived that I had less than others, or
that others had more than I.

_The Old Man._--Obscure birth, in France, shuts every door of access to
great employments; nor can you even be received among any distinguished
body of men, if you labour under this disadvantage.

_Paul._--You have often told me that it was one source of the greatness
of France that her humblest subject might attain the highest honours;
and you have cited to me many instances of celebrated men who, born in
a mean condition, had conferred honour upon their country. It was your
wish, then, by concealing the truth to stimulate my ardour?

_The Old Man._--Never, my son, would I lower it. I told you the truth
with regard to the past; but now, every thing has undergone a great
change. Every thing in France is now to be obtained by interest alone;
every place and employment is now become as it were the patrimony of a
small number of families, or is divided among public bodies. The king
is a sun, and the nobles and great corporate bodies surround him like so
many clouds; it is almost impossible for any of his rays to reach you.
Formerly, under less exclusive administrations, such phenomena have been
seen. Then talents and merit showed themselves every where, as newly
cleared lands are always loaded with abundance. But great kings, who can
really form a just estimate of men, and choose them with judgment, are
rare. The ordinary race of monarchs allow themselves to be guided by the
nobles and people who surround them.

_Paul._--But perhaps I shall find one of these nobles to protect me.

_The Old Man._--To gain the protection of the great you must lend
yourself to their ambition, and administer to their pleasures. You would
never succeed; for, in addition to your obscure birth, you have too much

_Paul._--But I will perform such courageous actions, I will be so
faithful to my word, so exact in the performance of my duties, so
zealous and so constant in my friendships, that I will render myself
worthy to be adopted by some one of them. In the ancient histories, you
have made me read, I have seen many examples of such adoptions.

_The Old Man._--Oh, my young friend! among the Greeks and Romans, even
in their decline, the nobles had some respect for virtue; but out of
all the immense number of men, sprung from the mass of the people, in
France, who have signalized themselves in every possible manner, I
do not recollect a single instance of one being adopted by any great
family. If it were not for our kings, virtue, in our country, would
be eternally condemned as plebeian. As I said before, the monarch
sometimes, when he perceives it, renders to it due honour; but in the
present day, the distinctions which should be bestowed on merit are
generally to be obtained by money alone.

_Paul._--If I cannot find a nobleman to adopt me, I will seek to please
some public body. I will espouse its interests and its opinions: I will
make myself beloved by it.

_The Old Man._--You will act then like other men?--you will renounce
your conscience to obtain a fortune?

_Paul._--Oh no! I will never lend myself to any thing but the truth.

_The Old Man._--Instead of making yourself beloved, you would become an
object of dislike. Besides, public bodies have never taken much interest
in the discovery of truth. All opinions are nearly alike to ambitious
men, provided only that they themselves can gain their ends.

_Paul._--How unfortunate I am! Every thing bars my progress. I am
condemned to pass my life in ignoble toil, far from Virginia.

As he said this he sighed deeply.

_The Old Man._--Let God be your patron, and mankind the public body
you would serve. Be constantly attached to them both. Families,
corporations, nations and kings have, all of them, their prejudices and
their passions; it is often necessary to serve them by the practice of
vice: God and mankind at large require only the exercise of the virtues.

But why do you wish to be distinguished from other men? It is hardly a
natural sentiment, for, if all men possessed it, every one would be at
constant strife with his neighbour. Be satisfied with fulfilling your
duty in the station in which Providence has placed you; be grateful for
your lot, which permits you to enjoy the blessing of a quiet conscience,
and which does not compel you, like the great, to let your happiness
rest on the opinion of the little, or, like the little, to cringe to the
great, in order to obtain the means of existence. You are now placed
in a country and a condition in which you are not reduced to deceive or
flatter any one, or debase yourself, as the greater part of those who
seek their fortune in Europe are obliged to do; in which the exercise
of no virtue is forbidden you; in which you may be, with impunity, good,
sincere, well-informed, patient, temperate, chaste, indulgent to others'
faults, pious and no shaft of ridicule be aimed at you to destroy your
wisdom, as yet only in its bud. Heaven has given you liberty, health, a
good conscience, and friends; kings themselves, whose favour you desire,
are not so happy.

_Paul._--Ah! I only want to have Virginia with me: without her I have
nothing,--with her, I should possess all my desire. She alone is to me
birth, glory, and fortune. But, since her relations will only give her
to some one with a great name, I will study. By the aid of study and of
books, learning and celebrity are to be attained. I will become a man of
science: I will render my knowledge useful to the service of my country,
without injuring any one, or owning dependence on any one. I will become
celebrated, and my glory shall be achieved only by myself.

_The Old Man._--My son, talents are a gift yet more rare than either
birth or riches, and undoubtedly they are a greater good than either,
since they can never be taken away from us, and that they obtain for
us every where public esteem. But they may be said to be worth all
that they cost us. They are seldom acquired but by every species of
privation, by the possession of exquisite sensibility, which often
produces inward unhappiness, and which exposes us without to the malice
and persecutions of our contemporaries. The lawyer envies not, in
France, the glory of the soldier, nor does the soldier envy that of the
naval officer; but they will all oppose you, and bar your progress to
distinction, because your assumption of superior ability will wound
the self-love of them all. You say that you will do good to men; but
recollect, that he who makes the earth produce a single ear of corn
more, renders them a greater service than he who writes a book.

_Paul._--Oh! she, then, who planted this papaw tree, has made a more
useful and more grateful present to the inhabitants of these forests
than if she had given them a whole library.

So saying, he threw his arms around the tree, and kissed it with

_The Old Man._--The best of books,--that which preaches nothing but
equality, brotherly love, charity, and peace,--the Gospel, has served as
a pretext, during many centuries, for Europeans to let loose all their
fury. How many tyrannies, both public and private, are still practised
in its name on the face of the earth! After this, who will dare to
flatter himself that any thing he can write will be of service to his
fellow men? Remember the fate of most of the philosophers who have
preached to them wisdom. Homer, who clothes it in such noble verse,
asked for alms all his life. Socrates, whose conversation and example
gave such admirable lessons to the Athenians, was sentenced by them to
be poisoned. His sublime disciple, Plato was delivered over to slavery
by the order of the very prince who protected him; and, before them,
Pythagoras, whose humanity extended even to animals, was burned alive
by the Crotoniates. What do I say?--many even of these illustrious names
have descended to us disfigured by some traits of satire by which
they became characterized, human ingratitude taking pleasure in thus
recognising them; and if, in the crowd, the glory of some names is come
down to us without spot or blemish, we shall find that they who have
borne them have lived far from the society of their contemporaries;
like those statues which are found entire beneath the soil in Greece
and Italy, and which, by being hidden in the bosom of the earth, have
escaped uninjured, from the fury of the barbarians.

You see, then, that to acquire the glory which a turbulent literary
career can give you, you must not only be virtuous, but ready, if
necessary, to sacrifice life itself. But, after all, do not fancy that
the great in France trouble themselves about such glory as this. Little
do they care for literary men, whose knowledge brings them neither
honours, nor power, nor even admission at court. Persecution, it
is true, is rarely practised in this age, because it is habitually
indifferent to every thing except wealth and luxury; but knowledge and
virtue no longer lead to distinction, since every thing in the state
is to be purchased with money. Formerly, men of letters were certain
of reward by some place in the church, the magistracy, or the
administration; now they are considered good for nothing but to write
books. But this fruit of their minds, little valued by the world at
large, is still worthy of its celestial origin. For these books
is reserved the privilege of shedding lustre on obscure virtue, of
consoling the unhappy, of enlightening nations, and of telling the truth
even to kings. This is, unquestionably, the most august commission with
which Heaven can honour a mortal upon this earth. Where is the author
who would not be consoled for the injustice or contempt of those who are
the dispensers of the ordinary gifts of fortune, when he reflects that
his work may pass from age to age, from nation to nation, opposing a
barrier to error and to tyranny; and that, from amidst the obscurity
in which he has lived, there will shine forth a glory which will efface
that of the common herd of monarchs, the monuments of whose deeds perish
in oblivion, notwithstanding the flatterers who erect and magnify them?

_Paul._--Ah! I am only covetous of glory to bestow it on Virginia, and
render her dear to the whole world. But can you, who know so much, tell
me whether we shall ever be married? I should like to be a very learned
man, if only for the sake of knowing what will come to pass.

_The Old Man._--Who would live, my son, if the future were revealed
to him?--when a single anticipated misfortune gives us so much useless
uneasiness--when the foreknowledge of one certain calamity is enough
to embitter every day that precedes it! It is better not to pry too
curiously, even into the things which surround us. Heaven, which has
given us the power of reflection to foresee our necessities, gave us
also those very necessities to set limits to its exercise.

_Paul._--You tell me that with money people in Europe acquire dignities
and honours. I will go, then, to enrich myself in Bengal, and afterwards
proceed to Paris, and marry Virginia. I will embark at once.

_The Old Man._--What! would you leave her mother and yours?

_Paul._--Why, you yourself have advised my going to the Indies.

_The Old Man._--Virginia was then here; but you are now the only means
of support both of her mother and of your own.

_Paul._--Virginia will assist them by means of her rich relation.

_The Old Man._--The rich care little for those, from whom no honour is
reflected upon themselves in the world. Many of them have relations
much more to be pitied than Madame de la Tour, who, for want of their
assistance, sacrifice their liberty for bread, and pass their lives
immured within the walls of a convent.

_Paul._--Oh, what a country is Europe! Virginia must come back here.
What need has she of a rich relation? She was so happy in these huts;
she looked so beautiful and so well dressed with a red handkerchief or
a few flowers around her head! Return, Virginia! leave your sumptuous
mansions and your grandeur, and come back to these rocks,--to the shade
of these woods and of our cocoa trees. Alas! you are perhaps even now
unhappy!"--and he began to shed tears. "My father," continued he, "hide
nothing from me; if you cannot tell me whether I shall marry Virginia,
tell me at least if she loves me still, surrounded as she is by noblemen
who speak to the king, and who go to see her."

_The Old Man._--Oh, my dear friend! I am sure, for many reasons, that
she loves you; but above all, because she is virtuous. At these words he
threw himself on my neck in a transport of joy.

_Paul._--But do you think that the women of Europe are false, as they
are represented in the comedies and books which you have lent me?

_The Old Man._--Women are false in those countries where men are
tyrants. Violence always engenders a disposition to deceive.

_Paul._--In what way can men tyrannize over women?

_The Old Man._--In giving them in marriage without consulting their
inclinations;--in uniting a young girl to an old man, or a woman of
sensibility to a frigid and indifferent husband.

_Paul._--Why not join together those who are suited to each other,--the
young to the young, and lovers to those they love?

_The Old Man._--Because few young men in France have property enough
to support them when they are married, and cannot acquire it till the
greater part of their life is passed. While young, they seduce the wives
of others, and when they are old, they cannot secure the affections of
their own. At first, they themselves are deceivers: and afterwards, they
are deceived in their turn. This is one of the reactions of that eternal
justice, by which the world is governed; an excess on one side is sure
to be balanced by one on the other. Thus, the greater part of Europeans
pass their lives in this twofold irregularity, which increases
everywhere in the same proportion that wealth is accumulated in the
hands of a few individuals. Society is like a garden, where shrubs
cannot grow if they are overshadowed by lofty trees; but there is this
wide difference between them,--that the beauty of a garden may result
from the admixture of a small number of forest trees, while the
prosperity of a state depends on the multitude and equality of its
citizens, and not on a small number of very rich men.

_Paul._--But where is the necessity of being rich in order to marry?

_The Old Man._--In order to pass through life in abundance, without
being obliged to work.

_Paul._--But why not work? I am sure I work hard enough.

_The Old Man._--In Europe, working with your hands is considered a
degradation; it is compared to the labour performed by a machine. The
occupation of cultivating the earth is the most despised of all. Even an
artisan is held in more estimation than a peasant.

_Paul._--What! do you mean to say that the art which furnishes food for
mankind is despised in Europe? I hardly understand you.

_The Old Man._--Oh! it is impossible for a person educated according to
nature to form an idea of the depraved state of society. It is easy to
form a precise notion of order, but not of disorder. Beauty, virtue,
happiness, have all their defined proportions; deformity, vice, and
misery have none.

_Paul._--The rich then are always very happy! They meet with no
obstacles to the fulfilment of their wishes, and they can lavish
happiness on those whom they love.

_The Old Man._--Far from it, my son! They are, for the most part
satiated with pleasure, for this very reason,--that it costs them no
trouble. Have you never yourself experienced how much the pleasure of
repose is increased by fatigue; that of eating, by hunger; or that of
drinking, by thirst? The pleasure also of loving and being loved is
only to be acquired by innumerable privations and sacrifices. Wealth, by
anticipating all their necessities, deprives its possessors of all these
pleasures. To this ennui, consequent upon satiety, may also be added
the pride which springs from their opulence, and which is wounded by
the most trifling privation, when the greatest enjoyments have ceased to
charm. The perfume of a thousand roses gives pleasure but for a moment;
but the pain occasioned by a single thorn endures long after the
infliction of the wound. A single evil in the midst of their pleasures
is to the rich like a thorn among flowers; to the poor, on the contrary,
one pleasure amidst all their troubles is a flower among a wilderness
of thorns; they have a most lively enjoyment of it. The effect of every
thing is increased by contrast; nature has balanced all things. Which
condition, after all, do you consider preferable,--to have scarcely any
thing to hope, and every thing to fear, or to have every thing to hope
and nothing to fear? The former condition is that of the rich,
the latter, that of the poor. But either of these extremes is with
difficulty supported by man, whose happiness consists in a middle
station of life, in union with virtue.

_Paul._--What do you understand by virtue?

_The Old Man._--To you, my son, who support your family by your labour,
it need hardly be defined. Virtue consists in endeavouring to do all the
good we can to others, with an ultimate intention of pleasing God alone.

_Paul._--Oh! how virtuous, then, is Virginia! Virtue led her to seek for
riches, that she might practise benevolence. Virtue induced her to quit
this island, and virtue will bring her back to it.

The idea of her speedy return firing the imagination of this young man,
all his anxieties suddenly vanished. Virginia, he was persuaded, had not
written, because she would soon arrive. It took so little time to come
from Europe with a fair wind! Then he enumerated the vessels which had
made this passage of four thousand five hundred leagues in less than
three months; and perhaps the vessel in which Virginia had embarked
might not be more than two. Ship-builders were now so ingenious, and
sailors were so expert! He then talked to me of the arrangements he
intended to make for her reception, of the new house he would build for
her, and of the pleasures and surprises which he would contrive for her
every day, when she was his wife. His wife! The idea filled him with
ecstasy. "At least, my dear father," said he, "you shall then do no more
work than you please. As Virginia will be rich, we shall have plenty of
negroes, and they shall work for you. You shall always live with us, and
have no other care than to amuse yourself and be happy;"--and, his heart
throbbing with joy, he flew to communicate these exquisite anticipations
to his family.

In a short time, however, these enchanting hopes were succeeded by the
most cruel apprehensions. It is always the effect of violent passions to
throw the soul into opposite extremes. Paul returned the next day to my
dwelling, overwhelmed with melancholy, and said to me,--"I hear nothing
from Virginia. Had she left Europe she would have written me word of her
departure. Ah! the reports which I have heard concerning her are but
too well founded. Her aunt has married her to some great lord. She,
like others, has been undone by the love of riches. In those books which
paint women so well, virtue is treated but as a subject of romance. If
Virginia had been virtuous, she would never have forsaken her mother
and me. I do nothing but think of her, and she has forgotten me. I am
wretched, and she is diverting herself. The thought distracts me; I
cannot bear myself! Would to Heaven that war were declared in India! I
would go there and die."

"My son," I answered, "that courage which prompts us to court death is
but the courage of a moment, and is often excited by the vain applause
of men, or by the hopes of posthumous renown. There is another
description of courage, rarer and more necessary, which enables us to
support, without witness and without applause, the vexations of life;
this virtue is patience. Relying for support, not upon the opinions
of others, or the impulse of the passions, but upon the will of God,
patience is the courage of virtue."

"Ah!" cried he, "I am then without virtue! Every thing overwhelms me
and drives me to despair."--"Equal, constant, and invariable virtue,"
I replied, "belongs not to man. In the midst of the many passions which
agitate us, our reason is disordered and obscured: but there is an
everburning lamp, at which we can rekindle its flame; and that is,

"Literature, my dear son, is the gift of Heaven, a ray of that wisdom by
which the universe is governed, and which man, inspired by a celestial
intelligence, has drawn down to earth. Like the rays of the sun, it
enlightens us, it rejoices us, it warms us with a heavenly flame, and
seems, in some sort, like the element of fire, to bend all nature to
our use. By its means we are enabled to bring around us all things, all
places, all men, and all times. It assists us to regulate our manners
and our life. By its aid, too, our passions are calmed, vice is
suppressed, and virtue encouraged by the memorable examples of great and
good men which it has handed down to us, and whose time-honoured images
it ever brings before our eyes. Literature is a daughter of Heaven who
has descended upon earth to soften and to charm away all the evils of
the human race. The greatest writers have ever appeared in the worst
times,--in times in which society can hardly be held together,--the
times of barbarism and every species of depravity. My son, literature
has consoled an infinite number of men more unhappy than yourself:
Xenophon, banished from his country after having saved to her ten
thousand of her sons; Scipio Africanus, wearied to death by the
calumnies of the Romans; Lucullus, tormented by their cabals; and
Catinat, by the ingratitude of a court. The Greeks, with their
never-failing ingenuity, assigned to each of the Muses a portion of the
great circle of human intelligence for her especial superintendence;
we ought in the same manner, to give up to them the regulation of our
passions, to bring them under proper restraint. Literature in this
imaginative guise, would thus fulfil, in relation to the powers of
the soul, the same functions as the Hours, who yoked and conducted the
chariot of the Sun.

"Have recourse to your books, then, my son. The wise who have written
before our days are travellers who have preceded us in the paths of
misfortune, and who stretch out a friendly hand towards us, and invite
us to join in their society, when we are abandoned by every thing else.
A good book is a good friend."

"Ah!" cried Paul, "I stood in no need of books when Virginia was here,
and she had studied as little as myself; but when she looked at me, and
called me her friend, I could not feel unhappy."

"Undoubtedly," said I, "there is no friend so agreeable as a mistress
by whom we are beloved. There is, moreover, in woman a liveliness and
gaiety, which powerfully tend to dissipate the melancholy feelings of a
man; her presence drives away the dark phantoms of imagination produced
by over-reflection. Upon her countenance sit soft attraction and tender
confidence. What joy is not heightened when it is shared by her? What
brow is not unbent by her smiles? What anger can resist her tears?
Virginia will return with more philosophy than you, and will be quite
surprised to find the garden so unfinished;--she who could think of its
embellishments in spite of all the persecutions of her aunt, and when
far from her mother and from you."

The idea of Virginia's speedy return reanimated the drooping spirits of
her lover, and he resumed his rural occupations, happy amidst his toils,
in the reflection that they would soon find a termination so dear to the
wishes of his heart.

One morning, at break of day, (it was the 24th of December, 1744,)
Paul, when he arose, perceived a white flag hoisted upon the Mountain
of Discovery. This flag he knew to be the signal of a vessel descried at
sea. He instantly flew to the town to learn if this vessel brought any
tidings of Virginia, and waited there till the return of the pilot,
who was gone, according to custom, to board the ship. The pilot did not
return till the evening, when he brought the governor information that
the signalled vessel was the Saint-Geran, of seven hundred tons burthen,
and commanded by a captain of the name of Aubin; that she was now
four leagues out at sea, but would probably anchor at Port Louis the
following afternoon, if the wind became fair: at present there was a
calm. The pilot then handed to the governor a number of letters which
the Saint-Geran had brought from France, among which was one addressed
to Madame de la Tour, in the hand-writing of Virginia. Paul seized upon
the letter, kissed it with transport, and placing it in his bosom, flew
to the plantation. No sooner did he perceive from a distance the family,
who were awaiting his return upon the rock of Adieus than he waved the
letter aloft in the air, without being able to utter a word. No sooner
was the seal broken, than they all crowded round Madame de la Tour,
to hear the letter read. Virginia informed her mother that she had
experienced much ill-usage from her aunt, who, after having in vain
urged her to a marriage against her inclination, had disinherited
her, and had sent her back at a time when she would probably reach
the Mauritius during the hurricane season. In vain, she added, had she
endeavoured to soften her aunt, by representing what she owed to her
mother, and to her early habits; she was treated as a romantic girl,
whose head had been turned by novels. She could now only think of the
joy of again seeing and embracing her beloved family, and would have
gratified her ardent desire at once, by landing in the pilot's boat, if
the captain had allowed her: but that he had objected, on account of the
distance, and of a heavy swell, which, notwithstanding the calm, reigned
in the open sea.

As soon as the letter was finished, the whole of the family, transported
with joy, repeatedly exclaimed, "Virginia is arrived!" and mistresses
and servants embraced each other. Madame de la Tour said to Paul,--"My
son, go and inform our neighbour of Virginia's arrival." Domingo
immediately lighted a torch of bois de ronde, and he and Paul bent their
way towards my dwelling.

It was about ten o'clock at night, and I was just going to extinguish my
lamp, and retire to rest, when I perceived, through the palisades round
my cottage, a light in the woods. Soon after, I heard the voice of Paul
calling me. I instantly arose, and had hardly dressed myself, when
Paul, almost beside himself, and panting for breath, sprang on my neck,
crying,--"Come along, come along. Virginia is arrived. Let us go to the
port; the vessel will anchor at break of day."

Scarcely had he uttered the words, when we set off. As we were passing
through the woods of the Sloping Mountain, and were already on the
road which leads from the Shaddock Grove to the port, I heard some one
walking behind us. It proved to be a negro, and he was advancing with
hasty steps. When he had reached us, I asked him whence he came, and
whither he was going with such expedition. He answered, "I come from
that part of the island called Golden Dust; and am sent to the port, to
inform the governor that a ship from France has anchored under the Isle
of Amber. She is firing guns of distress, for the sea is very rough."
Having said this, the man left us, and pursued his journey without any
further delay.

I then said to Paul,--"Let us go towards the quarter of the Golden Dust,
and meet Virginia there. It is not more than three leagues from hence."
We accordingly bent our course towards the northern part of the island.
The heat was suffocating. The moon had risen, and was surrounded by
three large black circles. A frightful darkness shrouded the sky; but
the frequent flashes of lightning discovered to us long rows of thick
and gloomy clouds, hanging very low, and heaped together over the centre
of the island, being driven in with great rapidity from the ocean,
although not a breath of air was perceptible upon the land. As we walked
along, we thought we heard peals of thunder; but, on listening more
attentively, we perceived that it was the sound of cannon at a distance,
repeated by the echoes. These ominous sounds, joined to the tempestuous
aspect of the heavens, made me shudder. I had little doubt of their
being signals of distress from a ship in danger. In about half an hour
the firing ceased, and I found the silence still more appalling than the
dismal sounds which had preceded it.

We hastened on without uttering a word, or daring to communicate to
each other our mutual apprehensions. At midnight, by great exertion, we
arrived at the sea shore, in that part of the island called Golden
Dust. The billows were breaking against the bench with a horrible noise,
covering the rocks and the strand with foam of a dazzling whiteness,
blended with sparks of fire. By these phosphoric gleams we
distinguished, notwithstanding the darkness, a number of fishing canoes,
drawn up high upon the beach.

At the entrance of a wood, a short distance from us, we saw a fire,
round which a party of the inhabitants were assembled. We repaired
thither, in order to rest ourselves till the morning. While we were
seated near the fire, one of the standers-by related, that late in
the afternoon he had seen a vessel in the open sea, driven towards the
island by the currents; that the night had hidden it from his view; and
that two hours after sunset he had heard the firing of signal guns
of distress, but that the surf was so high, that it was impossible to
launch a boat to go off to her; that a short time after, he thought he
perceived the glimmering of the watch-lights on board the vessel, which,
he feared, by its having approached so near the coast, had steered
between the main land and the little island of Amber, mistaking the
latter for the Point of Endeavour, near which vessels pass in order to
gain Port Louis; and that, if this were the case, which, however, he
would not take upon himself to be certain of, the ship, he thought,
was in very great danger. Another islander informed us, that he had
frequently crossed the channel which separates the isle of Amber from
the coast, and had sounded it, that the anchorage was very good, and
that the ship would there lie as safely as in the best harbour. "I
would stake all I am worth upon it," said he, "and if I were on board,
I should sleep as sound as on shore." A third bystander declared that
it was impossible for the ship to enter that channel, which was scarcely
navigable for a boat. He was certain, he said, that he had seen the
vessel at anchor beyond the isle of Amber; so that, if the wind rose
in the morning, she would either put to sea, or gain the harbour.
Other inhabitants gave different opinions upon this subject, which
they continued to discuss in the usual desultory manner of the indolent
Creoles. Paul and I observed a profound silence. We remained on this
spot till break of day, but the weather was too hazy to admit of our
distinguishing any object at sea, every thing being covered with fog.
All we could descry to seaward was a dark cloud, which they told us was
the isle of Amber, at the distance of a quarter of a league from the
coast. On this gloomy day we could only discern the point of land on
which we were standing, and the peaks of some inland mountains, which
started out occasionally from the midst of the clouds that hung around

At about seven in the morning we heard the sound of drums in the woods:
it announced the approach of the governor, Monsieur de la Bourdonnais,
who soon after arrived on horseback, at the head of a detachment of
soldiers armed with muskets, and a crowd of islanders and negroes. He
drew up his soldiers upon the beach, and ordered them to make a general
discharge. This was no sooner done, than we perceived a glimmering light
upon the water which was instantly followed by the report of a cannon.
We judged that the ship was at no great distance and all ran towards
that part whence the light and sound proceeded. We now discerned through
the fog the hull and yards of a large vessel. We were so near to her,
that notwithstanding the tumult of the waves, we could distinctly hear
the whistle of the boatswain, and the shouts of the sailors, who cried
out three times, VIVE LE ROI! this being the cry of the French in
extreme danger, as well as in exuberant joy;--as though they wished
to call their princes to their aid, or to testify to him that they are
prepared to lay down their lives in his service.

As soon as the Saint-Geran perceived that we were near enough to render
her assistance, she continued to fire guns regularly at intervals of
three minutes. Monsieur de la Bourdonnais caused great fires to be
lighted at certain distances upon the strand, and sent to all the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood, in search of provisions, planks,
cables, and empty barrels. A number of people soon arrived, accompanied
by their negroes loaded with provisions and cordage, which they had
brought from the plantations of Golden Dust, from the district of La
Flaque, and from the river of the Ram part. One of the most aged of
these planters, approaching the governor, said to him,--"We have heard
all night hollow noises in the mountain; in the woods, the leaves of the
trees are shaken, although there is no wind; the sea-birds seek refuge
upon the land: it is certain that all these signs announce a hurricane."
"Well, my friends," answered the governor, "we are prepared for it, and
no doubt the vessel is also."

Every thing, indeed, presaged the near approach of the hurricane. The
centre of the clouds in the zenith was of a dismal black, while their
skirts were tinged with a copper-coloured hue. The air resounded with
the cries of the tropic-birds, petrels, frigate-birds, and innumerable
other sea-fowl, which notwithstanding the obscurity of the atmosphere,
were seen coming from every point of the horizon, to seek for shelter in
the island.

Towards nine in the morning we heard in the direction of the ocean the
most terrific noise, like the sound of thunder mingled with that of
torrents rushing down the steeps of lofty mountains. A general cry was
heard of, "There is the hurricane!" and the next moment a frightful
gust of wind dispelled the fog which covered the isle of Amber and its
channel. The Saint-Geran then presented herself to our view, her deck
crowded with people, her yards and topmasts lowered down, and her flag
half-mast high, moored by four cables at her bow and one at her stern.
She had anchored between the isle of Amber and the main land, inside
the chain of reefs which encircles the island, and which she had passed
through in a place where no vessel had ever passed before. She presented
her head to the waves that rolled in from the open sea, and as each
billow rushed into the narrow strait where she lay, her bow lifted to
such a degree as to show her keel; and at the same moment her stern,
plunging into the water, disappeared altogether from our sight, as if it
were swallowed up by the surges. In this position, driven by the winds
and waves towards the shore, it was equally impossible for her to return
by the passage through which she had made her way; or, by cutting her
cables, to strand herself upon the beach, from which she was separated
by sandbanks and reefs of rocks. Every billow which broke upon the coast
advanced roaring to the bottom of the bay, throwing up heaps of shingle
to the distance of fifty feet upon the land; then, rushing back, laid
bare its sandy bed, from which it rolled immense stones, with a hoarse
and dismal noise. The sea, swelled by the violence of the wind, rose
higher every moment; and the whole channel between this island and the
isle of Amber was soon one vast sheet of white foam, full of yawning
pits of black and deep billows. Heaps of this foam, more than six feet
high, were piled up at the bottom of the bay; and the winds which swept
its surface carried masses of it over the steep sea-bank, scattering it
upon the land to the distance of half a league. These innumerable white
flakes, driven horizontally even to the very foot of the mountains,
looked like snow issuing from the bosom of the ocean. The appearance of
the horizon portended a lasting tempest; the sky and the water seemed
blended together. Thick masses of clouds, of a frightful form, swept
across the zenith with the swiftness of birds, while others appeared
motionless as rocks. Not a single spot of blue sky could be discerned in
the whole firmament; and a pale yellow gleam only lightened up all the
objects of the earth, the sea, and the skies.

From the violent rolling of the ship, what we all dreaded happened at
last. The cables which held her bow were torn away: she then swung to a
single hawser, and was instantly dashed upon the rocks, at the distance
of half a cable's length from the shore. A general cry of horror issued
from the spectators. Paul rushed forward to throw himself into the
sea, when, seizing him by the arm, "My son," I exclaimed, "would you
perish?"--"Let me go to save her," he cried, "or let me die!" Seeing
that despair had deprived him of reason, Domingo and I, in order to
preserve him, fastened a long cord around his waist, and held it fast
by the end. Paul then precipitated himself towards the Saint-Geran,
now swimming, and now walking upon the rocks. Sometimes he had hopes of
reaching the vessel, which the sea, by the reflux of its waves, had left
almost dry, so that you could have walked round it on foot; but suddenly
the billows, returning with fresh fury, shrouded it beneath mountains of
water, which then lifted it upright upon its keel. The breakers at the
same moment threw the unfortunate Paul far upon the beach, his legs
bathed in blood, his bosom wounded, and himself half dead. The moment
he had recovered the use of his senses, he arose, and returned with new
ardour towards the vessel, the parts of which now yawned asunder from
the violent strokes of the billows. The crew then, despairing of their
safety, threw themselves in crowds into the sea, upon yards, planks,
hen-coops, tables, and barrels. At this moment we beheld an object
which wrung our hearts with grief and pity; a young lady appeared in the
stern-gallery of the Saint-Geran, stretching out her arms towards him
who was making so many efforts to join her. It was Virginia. She had
discovered her lover by his intrepidity. The sight of this amiable girl,
exposed to such horrible danger, filled us with unutterable despair. As
for Virginia, with a firm and dignified mien, she waved her hand, as
if bidding us an eternal farewell. All the sailors had flung themselves
into the sea, except one, who still remained upon the deck, and who
was naked, and strong as Hercules. This man approached Virginia with
respect, and, kneeling at her feet, attempted to force her to throw
off her clothes; but she repulsed him with modesty, and turned away
her head. Then were heard redoubled cries from the spectators, "Save
her!--save her!--do not leave her!" But at that moment a mountain
billow, of enormous magnitude, ingulfed itself between the isle of Amber
and the coast, and menaced the shattered vessel, towards which it rolled
bellowing, with its black sides and foaming head. At this terrible
sight the sailor flung himself into the sea; and Virginia, seeing death
inevitable, crossed her hands upon her breast, and raising upwards her
serene and beauteous eyes, seemed an angel prepared to take her flight
to Heaven.

Oh, day of horror! Alas! every thing was swallowed up by the relentless
billows. The surge threw some of the spectators, whom an impulse of
humanity had prompted to advance towards Virginia, far upon the beach,
and also the sailor who had endeavoured to save her life. This man,
who had escaped from almost certain death, kneeling on the sand,
exclaimed,--"Oh, my God! thou hast saved my life, but I would have given
it willingly for that excellent young lady, who had persevered in not
undressing herself as I had done." Domingo and I drew the unfortunate
Paul to the ashore. He was senseless, and blood was flowing from his
mouth and ears. The governor ordered him to be put into the hands of a
surgeon, while we, on our part, wandered along the beach, in hopes
that the sea would throw up the corpse of Virginia. But the wind having
suddenly changed, as it frequently happens during hurricanes, our search
was in vain; and we had the grief of thinking that we should not be able
to bestow on this sweet and unfortunate girl the last sad duties. We
retired from the spot overwhelmed with dismay, and our minds wholly
occupied by one cruel loss, although numbers had perished in the wreck.
Some of the spectators seemed tempted, from the fatal destiny of this
virtuous girl, to doubt the existence of Providence: for there are in
life such terrible, such unmerited evils, that even the hope of the wise
is sometimes shaken.

In the meantime Paul, who began to recover his senses, was taken to a
house in the neighbourhood, till he was in a fit state to be removed
to his own home. Thither I bent my way with Domingo, to discharge the
melancholy duty of preparing Virginia's mother and her friend for the
disastrous event which had happened. When we had reached the entrance of
the valley of the river of Fan-Palms, some negroes informed us that
the sea had thrown up many pieces of the wreck in the opposite bay. We
descended towards it and one of the first objects that struck my sight
upon the beach was the corpse of Virginia. The body was half covered
with sand, and preserved the attitude in which we had seen her perish.
Her features were not sensibly changed, her eyes were closed, and her
countenance was still serene; but the pale purple hues of death were
blended on her cheek with the blush of virgin modesty. One of her hands
was placed upon her clothes: and the other, which she held on her heart,
was fast closed, and so stiffened, that it was with difficulty that I
took from its grasp a small box. How great was my emotion when I saw
that it contained the picture of Paul, which she had promised him never
to part with while she lived! As for Domingo, he beat his breast, and
pierced the air with his shrieks. With heavy hearts we then carried the
body of Virginia to a fisherman's hut, and gave it in charge of some
poor Malabar women, who carefully washed away the sand.

While they were employed in this melancholy office, we ascended the hill
with trembling steps to the plantation. We found Madame de la Tour and
Margaret at prayer; hourly expecting to have tidings from the ship. As
soon as Madame de la Tour saw me coming, she eagerly cried,--"Where
is my daughter--my dear daughter--my child?" My silence and my tears
apprised her of her misfortune. She was instantly seized with a
convulsive stopping of the breath and agonizing pains, and her voice was
only heard in sighs and groans. Margaret cried, "Where is my son? I do
not see my son!" and fainted. We ran to her assistance. In a short time
she recovered, and being assured that Paul was safe, and under the care
of the governor, she thought of nothing but of succouring her friend,
who recovered from one fainting fit only to fall into another. Madame de
la Tour passed the whole night in these cruel sufferings, and I became
convinced that there was no sorrow like that of a mother. When she
recovered her senses, she cast a fixed, unconscious look towards heaven.
In vain her friend and myself pressed her hands in ours: in vain we
called upon her by the most tender names; she appeared wholly insensible
to these testimonials of our affection, and no sound issued from her
oppressed bosom, but deep and hollow moans.

During the morning Paul was carried home in a palanquin. He had now
recovered the use of his reason, but was unable to utter a word. His
interview with his mother and Madame de la Tour, which I had dreaded,
produced a better effect than all my cares. A ray of consolation gleamed
on the countenances of the two unfortunate mothers. They pressed close
to him, clasped him in their arms, and kissed him: their tears, which
excess of anguish had till now dried up at the source, began to flow.
Paul mixed his tears with theirs; and nature having thus found relief,
a long stupor succeeded the convulsive pangs they had suffered, and
afforded them a lethargic repose, which was in truth, like that of

Monsieur de la Bourdonnais sent to apprise me secretly that the corpse
of Virginia had been borne to the town by his order, from whence it was
to be transferred to the church of the Shaddock Grove. I immediately
went down to Port Louis, where I found a multitude assembled from all
parts of the island, in order to be present at the funeral solemnity,
as if the isle had lost that which was nearest and dearest to it. The
vessels in the harbour had their yards crossed, their flags half-mast,
and fired guns at long intervals. A body of grenadiers led the funeral
procession, with their muskets reversed, their muffled drums sending
forth slow and dismal sounds. Dejection was depicted in the countenance
of these warriors, who had so often braved death in battle without
changing colour. Eight young ladies of considerable families of the
island, dressed in white, and bearing palm-branches in their hands,
carried the corpse of their amiable companion, which was covered with
flowers. They were followed by a chorus of children, chanting hymns, and
by the governor, his field officers, all the principal inhabitants of
the island, and an immense crowd of people.

This imposing funeral solemnity had been ordered by the administration
of the country, which was desirous of doing honour to the virtues of
Virginia. But when the mournful procession arrived at the foot of this
mountain, within sight of those cottages of which she had been so long
an inmate and an ornament, diffusing happiness all around them, and
which her loss had now filled with despair, the funeral pomp was
interrupted, the hymns and anthems ceased, and the whole plain resounded
with sighs and lamentations. Numbers of young girls ran from the
neighbouring plantations, to touch the coffin of Virginia with their
handkerchiefs, and with chaplets and crowns of flowers, invoking her as
a saint. Mothers asked of heaven a child like Virginia; lovers, a heart
as faithful; the poor, as tender a friend; and the slaves as kind a

When the procession had reached the place of interment, some negresses
of Madagascar and Caffres of Mozambique placed a number of baskets of
fruit around the corpse, and hung pieces of stuff upon the adjoining
trees, according to the custom of their several countries. Some Indian
women from Bengal also, and from the coast of Malabar, brought cages
full of small birds, which they set at liberty upon her coffin.
Thus deeply did the loss of this amiable being affect the natives
of different countries, and thus was the ritual of various religions
performed over the tomb of unfortunate virtue.

It became necessary to place guards round her grave, and to employ
gentle force in removing some of the daughters of the neighbouring
villagers, who endeavoured to throw themselves into it, saying that
they had no longer any consolation to hope for in this world, and that
nothing remained for them but to die with their benefactress.

On the western side of the church of the Shaddock Grove is a small copse
of bamboos, where, in returning from mass with her mother and Margaret,
Virginia loved to rest herself, seated by the side of him whom she then
called her brother. This was the spot selected for her interment.

At his return from the funeral solemnity, Monsieur de la Bourdonnais
came up here, followed by part of his numerous retinue. He offered
Madame de la Tour and her friend all the assistance it was in his power
to bestow. After briefly expressing his indignation at the conduct of
her unnatural aunt, he advanced to Paul, and said every thing which he
thought most likely to soothe and console him. "Heaven is my witness,"
said he, "that I wished to insure your happiness, and that of your
family. My dear friend, you must go to France; I will obtain a
commission for you, and during your absence I will take the same care
of your mother as if she were my own." He then offered him his hand; but
Paul drew away and turned his head aside, unable to bear his sight.

I remained for some time at the plantation of my unfortunate friends,
that I might render to them and Paul those offices of friendship that
were in my power, and which might alleviate, though they could not heal
the wounds of calamity. At the end of three weeks Paul was able to
walk; but his mind seemed to droop in proportion as his body gathered
strength. He was insensible to every thing; his look was vacant; and
when asked a question, he made no reply. Madame de la Tour, who was
dying said to him often,--"My son, while I look at you, I think I see my
dear Virginia." At the name of Virginia he shuddered, and hastened away
from her, notwithstanding the entreaties of his mother, who begged him
to come back to her friend. He used to go alone into the garden, and
seat himself at the foot of Virginia's cocoa-tree, with his eyes fixed
upon the fountain. The governor's surgeon, who had shown the most humane
attention to Paul and the whole family, told us that in order to cure
the deep melancholy which had taken possession of his mind, we must
allow him to do whatever he pleased, without contradiction: this, he
said, afforded the only chance of overcoming the silence in which he

I resolved to follow this advice. The first use which Paul made of his
returning strength was to absent himself from the plantation. Being
determined not to lose sight of him I set out immediately, and desired
Domingo to take some provisions and accompany us. The young man's
strength and spirits seemed renewed as he descended the mountain. He
first took the road to the Shaddock Grove, and when he was near the
church, in the Alley of Bamboos, he walked directly to the spot where
he saw some earth fresh turned up; kneeling down there, and raising
his eyes to heaven, he offered up a long prayer. This appeared to me
a favourable symptom of the return of his reason; since this mark of
confidence in the Supreme Being showed that his mind was beginning to
resume its natural functions. Domingo and I, following his example, fell
upon our knees, and mingled our prayers with his. When he arose, he bent
his way, paying little attention to us, towards the northern part of the
island. As I knew that he was not only ignorant of the spot where the
body of Virginia had been deposited, but even of the fact that it had
been recovered from the waves, I asked him why he had offered up his
prayer at the foot of those bamboos. He answered,--"We have been there
so often."

He continued his course until we reached the borders of the forest, when
night came on. I set him the example of taking some nourishment, and
prevailed on him to do the same; and we slept upon the grass, at the
foot of a tree. The next day I thought he seemed disposed to retrace his
steps; for, after having gazed a considerable time from the plain upon
the church of the Shaddock Grove, with its long avenues of bamboos, he
made a movement as if to return home; but suddenly plunging into the
forest, he directed his course towards the north. I guessed what was his
design, and I endeavoured, but in vain, to dissuade him from it. About
noon we arrived at the quarter of Golden Dust. He rushed down to the
sea-shore, opposite to the spot where the Saint-Geran had been wrecked.
At the sight of the isle of Amber, and its channel, when smooth as
a mirror, he exclaimed,--"Virginia! oh my dear Virginia!" and fell
senseless. Domingo and I carried him into the woods, where we had some
difficulty in recovering him. As soon as he regained his senses, he
wished to return to the sea-shore; but we conjured him not to renew his
own anguish and ours by such cruel remembrances, and he took another
direction. During a whole week he sought every spot where he had once
wandered with the companion of his childhood. He traced the path by
which she had gone to intercede for the slave of the Black River. He
gazed again upon the banks of the river of the Three Breasts, where she
had rested herself when unable to walk further, and upon that part of
the wood where they had lost their way. All the haunts, which recalled
to his memory the anxieties, the sports, the repasts, the benevolence
of her he loved,--the river of the Sloping Mountain, my house, the
neighbouring cascade, the papaw tree she had planted, the grassy fields
in which she loved to run, the openings of the forest where she used to
sing, all in succession called forth his tears; and those very echoes
which had so often resounded with their mutual shouts of joy, now
repeated only these accents of despair,--"Virginia! oh, my dear

During this savage and wandering life, his eyes became sunk and hollow,
his skin assumed a yellow tint, and his health rapidly declined.
Convinced that our present sufferings are rendered more acute by the
bitter recollection of bygone pleasures, and that the passions gather
strength in solitude, I resolved to remove my unfortunate friend from
those scenes which recalled the remembrance of his loss, and to lead him
to a more busy part of the island. With this view, I conducted him to
the inhabited part of the elevated quarter of Williams, which he had
never visited, and where the busy pursuits of agriculture and commerce
ever occasioned much bustle and variety. Numbers of carpenters were
employed in hewing down and squaring trees, while others were sawing
them into planks; carriages were continually passing and repassing on
the roads; numerous herds of oxen and troops of horses were feeding on
those wide-spread meadows, and the whole country was dotted with the
dwellings of man. On some spots the elevation of the soil permitted the
culture of many of the plants of Europe: the yellow ears of ripe corn
waved upon the plains; strawberry plants grew in the openings of
the woods, and the roads were bordered by hedges of rose-trees. The
freshness of the air, too, giving tension to the nerves, was favourable
to the health of Europeans. From those heights, situated near the middle
of the island, and surrounded by extensive forests, neither the sea, nor
Port Louis, nor the church of the Shaddock Grove, nor any other object
associated with the remembrance of Virginia could de discerned. Even
the mountains, which present various shapes on the side of Port
Louis, appear from hence like a long promontory, in a straight and
perpendicular line, from which arise lofty pyramids of rock, whose
summits are enveloped in the clouds.

Conducting Paul to these scenes, I kept him continually in action,
walking with him in rain and sunshine, by day and by night. I sometimes
wandered with him into the depths of the forests, or led him over
untilled grounds, hoping that change of scene and fatigue might divert
his mind from its gloomy meditations. But the soul of a lover finds
everywhere the traces of the beloved object. Night and day, the calm
of solitude and the tumult of crowds, are to him the same; time itself,
which casts the shade of oblivion over so many other remembrances, in
vain would tear that tender and sacred recollection from the heart. The
needle, when touched by the loadstone, however it may have been moved
from its position, is no sooner left to repose, than it returns to the
pole of its attraction. So, when I inquired of Paul, as we wandered
amidst the plains of Williams,--"Where shall we now go?" he pointed to
the north, and said, "Yonder are our mountains; let us return home."

I now saw that all the means I took to divert him from his melancholy
were fruitless, and that no resource was left but an attempt to
combat his passion by the arguments which reason suggested I answered
him,--"Yes, there are the mountains where once dwelt your beloved
Virginia; and here is the picture you gave her, and which she held, when
dying, to her heart--that heart, which even in its last moments only
beat for you." I then presented to Paul the little portrait which he
had given to Virginia on the borders of the cocoa-tree fountain. At this
sight a gloomy joy overspread his countenance. He eagerly seized the
picture with his feeble hands, and held it to his lips. His oppressed
bosom seemed ready to burst with emotion, and his eyes were filled with
tears which had no power to flow.

"My son," said I, "listen to one who is your friend, who was the friend
of Virginia, and who, in the bloom of your hopes, has often endeavoured
to fortify your mind against the unforeseen accidents of life. What
do you deplore with so much bitterness? Is it your own misfortunes, or
those of Virginia, which affect you so deeply?

"Your own misfortunes are indeed severe. You have lost the most amiable
of girls, who would have grown up to womanhood a pattern to her sex, one
who sacrificed her own interests to yours: who preferred you to all that
fortune could bestow, and considered you as the only recompense worthy
of her virtues.

"But might not this very object, from whom you expected the purest
happiness, have proved to you a source of the most cruel distress?
She had returned poor and disinherited; all you could henceforth
have partaken with her was your labour. Rendered more delicate by her
education, and more courageous by her misfortunes, you might have beheld
her every day sinking beneath her efforts to share and lighten your
fatigues. Had she brought you children, they would only have served to
increase her anxieties and your own, from the difficulty of sustaining
at once your aged parents and your infant family.

"Very likely you will tell me that the governor would have helped you;
but how do you know that in a colony where governors are so
frequently changed, you would have had others like Monsieur de la
Bourdonnais?--that one might not have been sent destitute of good
feeling and of morality?--that your young wife, in order, to procure
some miserable pittance, might not have been obliged to seek his favour?
Had she been weak you would have been to be pitied; and if she had
remained virtuous, you would have continued poor: forced even to
consider yourself fortunate if, on account of the beauty and virtue of
your wife, you had not to endure persecution from those who had promised
you protection.

"It would have remained to you, you may say, to have enjoyed a pleasure
independent of fortune,--that of protecting a loved being, who, in
proportion to her own helplessness, had more attached herself to you.
You may fancy that your pains and sufferings would have served to endear
you to each other, and that your passion would have gathered strength
from your mutual misfortunes. Undoubtedly virtuous love does find
consolation even in such melancholy retrospects. But Virginia is no
more; yet those persons still live, whom, next to yourself, she held
most dear; her mother, and your own: your inconsolable affliction is
bringing them both to the grave. Place your happiness, as she did hers,
in affording them succour. My son, beneficence is the happiness of the
virtuous: there is no greater or more certain enjoyment on the earth.
Schemes of pleasure, repose, luxuries, wealth, and glory are not suited
to man, weak, wandering, and transitory as he is. See how rapidly one
step towards the acquisition of fortune has precipitated us all to the
lowest abyss of misery! You were opposed to it, it is true; but who
would not have thought that Virginia's voyage would terminate in her
happiness and your own? an invitation from a rich and aged relation, the
advice of a wise governor, the approbation of the whole colony, and the
well-advised authority of her confessor, decided the lot of Virginia.
Thus do we run to our ruin, deceived even by the prudence of those who
watch over us: it would be better, no doubt, not to believe them, nor
even to listen to the voice or lean on the hopes of a deceitful world.
But all men,--those you see occupied in these plains, those who go
abroad to seek their fortunes, and those in Europe who enjoy repose from
the labours of others, are liable to reverses! not one is secure from
losing, at some period, all that he most values,--greatness, wealth,
wife, children, and friends. Most of these would have their sorrow
increased by the remembrance of their own imprudence. But you have
nothing with which you can reproach yourself. You have been faithful in
your love. In the bloom of youth, by not departing from the dictates of
nature, you evinced the wisdom of a sage. Your views were just,
because they were pure, simple, and disinterested. You had, besides, on
Virginia, sacred claims which nothing could countervail. You have lost
her: but it is neither your own imprudence, nor your avarice, nor your
false wisdom which has occasioned this misfortune, but the will of God,
who had employed the passions of others to snatch from you the object of
your love; God, from whom you derive everything, who knows what is most
fitting for you, and whose wisdom has not left you any cause for the
repentance and despair which succeed the calamities that are brought
upon us by ourselves.

"Vainly, in your misfortunes, do you say to yourself, 'I have not
deserved them.' Is it then the calamity of Virginia--her death and her
present condition that you deplore? She has undergone the fate allotted
to all,--to high birth, to beauty, and even to empires themselves. The
life of man, with all his projects, may be compared to a tower, at whose
summit is death. When your Virginia was born, she was condemned to die;
happily for herself, she is released from life before losing her mother,
or yours, or you; saved, thus from undergoing pangs worse than those of
death itself.

"Learn then, my son, that death is a benefit to all men: it is the night
of that restless day we call by the name of life. The diseases, the
griefs, the vexations, and the fears, which perpetually embitter our
life as long as we possess it, molest us no more in the sleep of death.
If you inquire into the history of those men who appear to have been the
happiest, you will find that they have bought their apparent felicity
very dear; public consideration, perhaps, by domestic evils; fortune,
by the loss of health; the rare happiness of being loved, by continual
sacrifices; and often, at the expiration of a life devoted to the good
of others, they see themselves surrounded only by false friends, and
ungrateful relations. But Virginia was happy to her very last moment.
When with us, she was happy in partaking of the gifts of nature; when
far from us, she found enjoyment in the practice of virtue; and even at
the terrible moment in which we saw her perish, she still had cause
for self-gratulation. For, whether she cast her eyes on the assembled
colony, made miserable by her expected loss, or on you, my son, who,
with so much intrepidity, were endeavouring to save her, she must have
seen how dear she was to all. Her mind was fortified against the future
by the remembrance of her innocent life; and at that moment she received
the reward which Heaven reserves for virtue,--a courage superior to
danger. She met death with a serene countenance.

"My son! God gives all the trials of life to virtue, in order to show
that virtue alone can support them, and even find in them happiness and
glory. When he designs for it an illustrious reputation, he exhibits it
on a wide theatre, and contending with death. Then does the courage of
virtue shine forth as an example, and the misfortunes to which it has
been exposed receive for ever, from posterity, the tribute of their
tears. This is the immortal monument reserved for virtue in a world
where every thing else passes away, and where the names, even of the
greater number of kings themselves, are soon buried in eternal oblivion.

"Meanwhile Virginia still exists. My son, you see that every thing
changes on this earth, but that nothing is ever lost. No art of man can
annihilate the smallest particle of matter; can, then, that which
has possessed reason, sensibility, affection, virtue, and religion be
supposed capable of destruction, when the very elements with which it is
clothed are imperishable? Ah! however happy Virginia may have been with
us, she is now much more so. There is a God, my son; it is unnecessary
for me to prove it to you, for the voice of all nature loudly proclaims
it. The wickedness of mankind leads them to deny the existence of a
Being, whose justice they fear. But your mind is fully convinced of
his existence, while his works are ever before your eyes. Do you then
believe that he would leave Virginia without recompense? Do you
think that the same Power which inclosed her noble soul in a form so
beautiful,--so like an emanation from itself, could not have saved her
from the waves?--that he who has ordained the happiness of man here, by
laws unknown to you, cannot prepare a still higher degree of felicity
for Virginia by other laws, of which you are equally ignorant? Before
we were born into this world, could we, do you imagine, even if we were
capable of thinking at all, have formed any idea of our existence here?
And now that we are in the middle of this gloomy and transitory life,
can we foresee what is beyond the tomb, or in what manner we shall be
emancipated from it? Does God, like man, need this little globe,
the earth, as a theatre for the display of his intelligence and his
goodness?--and can he only dispose of human life in the territory of
death? There is not, in the entire ocean, a single drop of water which
is not peopled with living beings appertaining to man: and does there
exist nothing for him in the heavens above his head? What! is there no
supreme intelligence, no divine goodness, except on this little spot
where we are placed? In those innumerable glowing fires,--in those
infinite fields of light which surround them, and which neither storms
nor darkness can extinguish, is there nothing but empty space and an
eternal void? If we, weak and ignorant as we are, might dare to assign
limits to that Power from whom we have received every thing, we might
possibly imagine that we were placed on the very confines of his empire,
where life is perpetually struggling with death, and innocence for ever
in danger from the power of tyranny!

"Somewhere, then, without doubt, there is another world, where virtue
will receive its reward. Virginia is now happy. Ah! if from the abode of
angels she could hold communication with you, she would tell you, as she
did when she bade you her last adieus,--'O, Paul! life is but a scene of
trial. I have been obedient to the laws of nature, love, and virtue. I
crossed the seas to obey the will of my relations; I sacrificed
wealth in order to keep my faith; and I preferred the loss of life to
disobeying the dictates of modesty. Heaven found that I had fulfilled my
duties, and has snatched me for ever from all the miseries I might have
endured myself, and all I might have felt for the miseries of others. I
am placed far above the reach of all human evils, and you pity me! I
am become pure and unchangeable as a particle of light, and you would
recall me to the darkness of human life! O, Paul! O, my beloved friend!
recollect those days of happiness, when in the morning we felt the
delightful sensations excited by the unfolding beauties of nature; when
we seemed to rise with the sun to the peaks of those rocks, and then
to spread with his rays over the bosom of the forests. We experienced a
delight, the cause of which we could not comprehend. In the innocence of
our desires, we wished to be all sight, to enjoy the rich colours of
the early dawn; all smell, to taste a thousand perfumes at once; all
hearing, to listen to the singing of our birds; and all heart, to be
capable of gratitude for those mingled blessings. Now, at the source
of the beauty whence flows all that is delightful upon earth, my soul
intuitively sees, hears, touches, what before she could only be made
sensible of through the medium of our weak organs. Ah! what language can
describe these shores of eternal bliss, which I inhabit for ever! All
that infinite power and heavenly goodness could create to console the
unhappy: all that the friendship of numberless beings, exulting in the
same felicity can impart, we enjoy in unmixed perfection. Support,
then, the trial which is now allotted to you, that you may heighten the
happiness of your Virginia by love which will know no termination,--by a
union which will be eternal. There I will calm your regrets, I will wipe
away your tears. Oh, my beloved friend! my youthful husband! raise your
thoughts towards the infinite, to enable you to support the evils of a

My own emotion choked my utterance. Paul, looking at me steadfastly,
cried,--"She is no more! she is no more!" and a long fainting fit
succeeded these words of woe. When restored to himself, he said, "Since
death is good, and since Virginia is happy, I will die too, and be
united to Virginia." Thus the motives of consolation I had offered,
only served to nourish his despair. I was in the situation of a man
who attempts to save a friend sinking in the midst of a flood, and who
obstinately refuses to swim. Sorrow had completely overwhelmed his
soul. Alas! the trials of early years prepare man for the afflictions of
after-life; but Paul had never experienced any.

I took him back to his own dwelling, where I found his mother and Madame
de la Tour in a state of increased languor and exhaustion, but Margaret
seemed to droop the most. Lively characters, upon whom petty troubles
have but little effect, sink the soonest under great calamities.

"O my good friend," said Margaret, "I thought last night I saw Virginia,
dressed in white, in the midst of groves and delicious gardens. She said
to me, 'I enjoy the most perfect happiness:' and then approaching Paul
with a smiling air, she bore him away with her. While I was struggling
to retain my son, I felt that I myself too was quitting the earth, and
that I followed with inexpressible delight. I then wished to bid my
friend farewell, when I saw that she was hastening after me, accompanied
by Mary and Domingo. But the strangest circumstance remains yet to be
told; Madame de la Tour has this very night had a dream exactly like
mine in every possible respect."

"My dear friend," I replied, "nothing, I firmly believe, happens in this
world without the permission of God. Future events, too, are sometimes
revealed in dreams."

Madame de la Tour then related to me her dream which was exactly the
same as Margaret's in every particular; and as I had never observed in
either of these ladies any propensity to superstition, I was struck with
the singular coincidence of their dreams, and I felt convinced that
they would soon be realized. The belief that future events are sometimes
revealed to us during sleep, is one that is widely diffused among the
nations of the earth. The greatest men of antiquity have had faith in
it; among whom may be mentioned Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar,
the Scipios, the two Catos, and Brutus, none of whom were weak-minded
persons. Both the Old and the New Testament furnish us with numerous
instances of dreams that came to pass. As for myself, I need only, on
this subject, appeal to my experience, as I have more than once had good
reason to believe that superior intelligences, who interest themselves
in our welfare, communicate with us in these visions of the night.
Things which surpass the light of human reason cannot be proved by
arguments derived from that reason; but still, if the mind of man is an
image of that of God, since man can make known his will to the ends of
the earth by secret missives, may not the Supreme Intelligence which
governs the universe employ similar means to attain a like end? One
friend consoles another by a letter, which, after passing through many
kingdoms, and being in the hands of various individuals at enmity with
each other, brings at last joy and hope to the breast of a single human
being. May not in like manner the Sovereign Protector of innocence come
in some secret way, to the help of a virtuous soul, which puts its trust
in Him alone? Has He occasion to employ visible means to effect His
purpose in this, whose ways are hidden in all His ordinary works?

Why should we doubt the evidence of dreams? for what is our life,
occupied as it is with vain and fleeting imaginations, other than a
prolonged vision of the night?

Whatever may be thought of this in general, on the present occasion the
dreams of my friends were soon realized. Paul expired two months after
the death of his Virginia, whose name dwelt on his lips in his expiring
moments. About a week after the death of her son, Margaret saw her last
hour approach with that serenity which virtue only can feel. She bade
Madame de la Tour a most tender farewell, "in the certain hope," she
said, "of a delightful and eternal re-union. Death is the greatest of
blessings to us," added she, "and we ought to desire it. If life be a
punishment, we should wish for its termination; if it be a trial, we
should be thankful that it is short."

The governor took care of Domingo and Mary, who were no longer able to
labour, and who survived their mistresses but a short time. As for poor
Fidele, he pined to death, soon after he had lost his master.

I afforded an asylum in my dwelling to Madame de la Tour, who bore
up under her calamities with incredible elevation of mind. She had
endeavoured to console Paul and Margaret till their last moments, as if
she herself had no misfortunes of her own to bear. When they were not
more, she used to talk to me every day of them as of beloved friends,
who were still living near her. She survived them however, but one
month. Far from reproaching her aunt for the afflictions she had caused,
her benign spirit prayed to God to pardon her, and to appease that
remorse which we heard began to torment her, as soon as she had sent
Virginia away with so much inhumanity.

Conscience, that certain punishment of the guilty, visited with all its
terrors the mind of this unnatural relation. So great was her torment,
that life and death became equally insupportable to her. Sometimes she
reproached herself with the untimely fate of her lovely niece, and with
the death of her mother, which had immediately followed it. At other
times she congratulated herself for having repulsed far from her two
wretched creatures, who, she said, had both dishonoured their family
by their grovelling inclinations. Sometimes, at the sight of the many
miserable objects with which Paris abounds, she would fly into a rage,
and exclaim,--"Why are not these idle people sent off to the colonies?"
As for the notions of humanity, virtue and religion, adopted by all
nations, she said, they were only the inventions of their rulers, to
serve political purposes. Then, flying all at once to the other extreme,
she abandoned herself to superstitious terrors, which filled her
with mortal fears. She would then give abundant alms to the wealthy
ecclesiastics who governed her, beseeching them to appease the wrath of
God by the sacrifice of her fortune,--as if the offering to Him of the
wealth she had withheld from the miserable could please her Heavenly
Father! In her imagination she often beheld fields of fire, with burning
mountains, wherein hideous spectres wandered about, loudly calling on
her by name. She threw herself at her confessor's feet, imagining every
description of agony and torture; for Heaven--just Heaven, always sends
to the cruel the most frightful views of religion and a future state.

Atheist, thus, and fanatic in turn, holding both life and death in equal
horror, she lived on for several years. But what completed the torments
of her miserable existence, was that very object to which she had
sacrificed every natural affection. She was deeply annoyed at perceiving
that her fortune must go, at her death, to relations whom she hated, and
she determined to alienate as much of it as she could. They, however,
taking advantage of her frequent attacks of low spirits, caused her to
be secluded as a lunatic, and her affairs to be put into the hands of
trustees. Her wealth, thus completed her ruin; and, as the possession
of it had hardened her own heart, so did its anticipation corrupt the
hearts of those who coveted it from her. At length she died; and, to
crown her misery, she retained enough reason at last to be sensible that
she was plundered and despised by the very persons whose opinions had
been her rule of conduct during her whole life.

On the same spot, and at the foot of the same shrubs as his Virginia,
was deposited the body of Paul; and round about them lie the remains of
their tender mothers and their faithful servants. No marble marks the
spot of their humble graves, no inscription records their virtues;
but their memory is engraven upon the hearts of those whom they have
befriended, in indelible characters. Their spirits have no need of the
pomp, which they shunned during their life; but if they still take an
interest in what passes upon earth, they no doubt love to wander beneath
the roofs of these humble dwellings, inhabited by industrious virtue, to
console poverty discontented with its lot, to cherish in the hearts
of lovers the sacred flame of fidelity, and to inspire a taste for
the blessings of nature, a love of honest labour, and a dread of the
allurements of riches.

The voice of the people, which is often silent with regard to the
monuments raised to kings, has given to some parts of this island names
which will immortalize the loss of Virginia. Near the isle of Amber, in
the midst of sandbanks, is a spot called The Pass of the Saint-Geran,
from the name of the vessel which was there lost. The extremity of that
point of land which you see yonder, three leagues off, half covered with
water, and which the Saint-Geran could not double the night before the
hurricane, is called the Cape of Misfortune; and before us, at the end
of the valley, is the Bay of the Tomb, where Virginia was found buried
in the sand; as if the waves had sought to restore her corpse to her
family, that they might render it the last sad duties on those shores
where so many years of her innocent life had been passed.

Joined thus in death, ye faithful lovers, who were so tenderly united!
unfortunate mothers! beloved family! these woods which sheltered you
with their foliage,--these fountains which flowed for you,--these
hill-sides upon which you reposed, still deplore your loss! No one has
since presumed to cultivate that desolate spot of land, or to rebuild
those humble cottages. Your goats are become wild: your orchards are
destroyed; your birds are all fled, and nothing is heard but the cry of
the sparrow-hawk, as it skims in quest of prey around this rocky basin.
As for myself, since I have ceased to behold you, I have felt friendless
and alone, like a father bereft of his children, or a traveller who
wanders by himself over the face of the earth.

Ending with these words, the good old man retired, bathed in tears; and
my own, too, had flowed more than once during this melancholy recital.

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