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the realm. Let us divide our labors,' was the happy suggestion of
'Let us divide our labors, thou where choice
Crooked Branch, Missouri, July, 18 — .' • My Dearest Cousin: My last letter to you was dated at Buffalo, a year ago last month; and, as I well remember, was filled with regrets and gloomy anticipations. Yet, with all this depression of spirits, I was not insensible to the beauty of the country through which we passed. New worlds seemed to burst upon the view, at every step of our journey; and I could scarcely believe, that we were on our way to the ‘far west, of which I had previously entertained so great a horror. Here was a busy city; there a town just sprung into existence, which already numbered its thousand inhabitants; a little farther on, was another still larger, and all looking so fresh and young, as to show that they were not yet in their teens. We passed green fields, too, and fertile valleys, with far-spread prairies, and creeks that swelled into lakes, and rivers that were almost oceans. It was a beautiful sight; yet every step carried us farther from home, and, as I thought, happiness. When we arrived here, a spot sufficiently distant from duns and creditors, I could not help thinking, Walter proposed that we should tarry to look around us. in the heart of a most luxuriant state, with an abundance of wild land, which seemed to say, 'Come and plant me, and your labor will be rewarded an hundred fold. Here we met with a settler, who was anxious to dispose of a large and valuable tract, to go (only think !) to go ‘farther west !' • This, then, shall be our abiding place,' said my husband, when he returned from concluding the bargain ; 'and I think myself extremely fortunate in meeting with such an offer. He asks but a small advance, for two years' labor, and we shall have a house ready to go in.' My eyes were so blinded with tears, when, a few days afterward, Walier carried me to my new home, that I saw nothing When I did venture to look around, I was struck with its desolate appearance. We could see the sunshine through crevices in the logs, and there was but a single room, with a 'milk-room,' as it was called, and a loft over head. My heart sank within me. Only think, cousin, what a prospect! You, I recollect, used often to expatiate upon cottages, and retirement; but I thought a comfortable house and pleasant society good enough for me. Well, for some time I did nothing but cry, and coax little Willie, who begged to be taken away from here. Poor Walter! How resolutely he walked about his lots, and planned and thought — for this was all new business to him and then came in, without a reproachful word or look, and began cooking his own meals. I could not endure this; and drying my eyes, I determined to bear my part of the burden. I will not weary you with a repetition of the hardships we endured, or of my unfitness for labor, in kid slippers and gossamer dresses; nor how,
after we bought a cow, and Walter had assisted me in churning, I added salt to the butter with a salt-spoon, wondering why it did not have the proper
taste! • The fall was a busy season. Our crops yielded abundantly, and we were blessed with health. As the winter began to close around us, we contrived to render our abode tolerably comfortable, with the use of bark, and straw, and by making an embankment around the foundation. One night in November, after a hard day's work of drawing wood, Walter retired to bed, early in the evening. I followed in a short time, wearied with a large ironing, and soon slept profoundly. I was startled about midnight by the screams of the child. I awoke in terror; but what was my consternation, on beholding the room in a light blaze, and the flames already approaching the corner in which our bed stood. I called to Walter, and vainly endeavored to waken him. The flames came nearer ; the smoke was hot and suffocating. Distractedly I called his name, shook bim, and with infinite difficulty, succeeded at length in awakening'him, just as the blaze had caught a corner of the counterpane.
We escaped uninjured to the barn, which fortunately was at a safe distance; and clasping each other, thanked God for our miraculous deliverance ! We saw the roof fall in, and leaving it a smouldering heap of ruins, drove to our nearest neighbors, with only the addition of a horseblanket to our night garments,
We had not saved an article; and how can I express to you the kindness with which we were received, and made comfortable. Active exertions were immediately taken to renew our building. The men all joined on this occasion : some lent the use of their team for drawing logs, and gave a day's labor of their hired men ; others canie with their sons to assist, from a distance of many miles; and in a short time we had a dwelling larger and more convenient, with scarcely any expense. Nor were the women idle. From perfect strangers we received articles of clothing and bedding, for which they neither expected or would receive any remuneration. I was affected even to tears, when, after several days’ illness, occasioned by fright and exposure to cold, I assembled with the kind family who afforded us a shelter, and saw the many testimonies of benevolence sent by our most distant neighbors. A fine ham from one, a pot of honey from another, with a small firkin of butter from a third; every thing, in fact, was remembered, that our necessities could require; and you may well imagine the depth of our gratitude.
* The devouring element robbed me of many a valued keepsake from friends at home, but nothing grived me so much as the loss of your letters. Other things could be restored or dispensed with ; but how regain those faithful transcripts of a soul sincere and elevated ? I was less reconciled, too, when I recollected that it was occasioned by my own carelessness. The day of the fire, I consumed a quantity of wood in ironing, and took up the ashes in an old paper band-box, which I placed near the house, under a shed. This undoubtedly took fire, and communicating to the straw between the logs, caused the disaster, from which we only escaped with our lives. A neighbor's daughter staid with me this winter, for my health was delicate, and her presence greatly assisted in promoting cheerfulness in our
little dwelling. Occasionally, too, on long winter evenings, one or two neighbors, (the nearest lives two miles off,) called over, and I was much surprised at finding them so intelligent. Having but few objects of local interest, they all read the papers a great deal, and are conversant with the general state of affairs, both at home and abroad. I soon began to take an interest in these subjecte. I recollect that when in New York, had I been asked who was the mayor of the city, I could not have told; but now, I not only know who is in power, but understand something of their capabilities for office; and it is wonderful how much an attention to these matters has increased my patriotism. We receive the city papers regularly, and after giving them a perusal, exchange with our neighbors. A week or two after date, makes no difference; having, as Walter says, no stocks to look after. I am gratified to observe that Walter is regarded by them with much consideration. He possesses a vast amount of general information, which is highly valuable ; and his wife is looked upon as a very fine lady. Perhaps I have had some claim to that rather equivocal character; yet I am not ambitious of the appellation, and hope rather to win the esteem due to a fine woman.
• You will wonder how we employ ourselves on Sundays, in a place so remote from a house of worship. The Sabbath is with us a day of rest; not only to ourselves, but to our cattle, and to the stranger within our gates. We have several volumes of excellent sermons, and other religious books, from which one of us reads aloud; but above all do we study the Sacred Volume. We endeavor to read understandingly, and to make it the rule of our conduct, sitting low at the feet of our blessed Master. I never had my devotional feelings half so much exercised in church, as they have been in these unostentatious services. There, my attention was divided between prayers and people, and my thoughts far from the object of our assembling. In the afternoon, we walk; and at this season, when every shrub and plant is in full beauty, and trees which look as if they had been standing ever since the waters were separated from the dry land, clothed with verdant foliage, from which break forth the songs of a thousand unseen minstrels, we can scarcely refrain from crying aloud, in the language of the Psalmist, 'All thy works praise thee ! Our favorite resort is a very beautiful creek, about three quarters of a mile from here, and from which this place derives its name. Here, seated on a sloping bank, shaded by hazel bushes and the wild willow, we enjoy, in all its glorious perfection, the magnificence of nature. This is a picturesque spot, romantic enough to please even you; and I ardently hope, one day, to enjoy its beauties in your company. In the evening, several young people, provided with note-books, congregate at our cottage, and we conclude the day in singing hymns. I would not boast of myself, yet these employments have had the most beneficial effects upon my heart and temper; and to you, my dear -, I may say, that I trust I am a better Christian.
• Our location is a very happy one. We command a beautiful prospect of field and meadow, on one side, with a fine wood on the other, which intervenes between us and our charming creek. The former owner, too, had the good taste to leave several stately old
oaks near the dwelling, for which I am vastly obliged. Willie is under obligations, also, for his father has attached a rope to two of them, which affords him occasional pastime in swinging his promising boy. I have now a hired girl, the daughter of an Englishman, whose large family of buys,' as he calls them, (by the way, they are more than half girls,) renders it necessary that they should all be doing some’at.' Her name is Hetty; I love soft names, and her temper is as pleasant as her name, and she is as merry as a lark. I never could endure low spirits in any one but you, my dear — , and I excused them in you, knowing there was some cause for them. I find full employment for my hands, I assure you ; and what between my dairy and poultry-yard, and matters in-doors, I have no idle time. Even little Willie does not eat the bread of idleness, but sings his ‘By O!' most manfully, while rocking the cradle of his little sister. You will probably be tempted to inquire, if we do not miss the refinements and elegancies to which we have been accustomed. We do miss them; for although we have found in our present neighborhood more of the sterling qualities that do honor to the human heart, than one meets with in large cities, where clashing interests render men selfish, there is yet a dearth of much that makes life desirable. But we are content to labor now, hoping to procure indulgences at some future day, for ourselves, as well as our children, whom we trust to educate without sending far from home, as excellent schools are being started in every direction. And moreover, as we never should have expatriated ourselves of choice, ought we not to be grateful and content, to have secured so safe a harbor, when driven by misfortunes from the place of our nativity? Truly, our lot has been cast in a pleasant land, which only requires us to appreciate, and to strengthen by wise legislation, to be the greatest boon of an indulgent heaven.
* And now, my dear ; may not my misfortunes be properly ascribed to a deficient education? In this we have both been unfortunate, although the plans pursued differed so widely. My mother, with mistaken fondness, thought only to promote my present enjoyment, to the neglect of domestic duties; and hence my unfitness to fulfil with judgment the obligations of a mistress. Nor was this all. By an attention to none but light accomplishments, my mind was neither properly disciplined, my understanding improved and strengthened, nor my views enlarged, in the manner that good sense imperiously demands, for those who are to have the care of the affections, and the formation of the first principles of future divines and statesmen. With yourself, the error consisted in the too exclusive confinement to a single department of the various duties which devolve upon us, in the different characters of sisters, wives, mothers, and friends, as well as mistresses. In my case, blind affection caused the error; in yours, mistaken and narrow views. Yet with you, the error was on the safe side, while my giddy career and thoughtless folly led to ruin; and had I not been blessed with a companion of a firm and virtuous mind, the consequences might have been fatal. Walter declares that he is perfectly happy: for this I cannot be sufficiently thankful; and could I conquer a few regrets, and reconcile myself to the absence of dear friends, I might be able to say the
same. When I have you with me, as I hope to, another season, I think I shall feel no wants. Till then, adieu ! And believe me your ever affectionate cousin,
Here then was a triumph of affection and virtuous resolution over the negligent habits fostered by ridiculous fondness. She was right, too, as respected myself; and although aware that a too great attention to domestic duties is not an error of the present day, yet in my particular instance, it was an error; and painfully was it felt, when the time arrived that I was to take my place in society, and was introduced to those in my own station, whose acquirements made me blush for my ignorance. True, I had been taught much that was extremely useful, and this knowledge I would not willingly be without; yet I look back to the years spent in acquiring that knowledge, as the saddest in my life; and those who undertook my guardianship, with the best intentions, I doubt not, succeeded in making me thoroughly uncomfortable. If I live, I intend that my daughter shall not only be made acquainted with the particular duties that belong to woman, nor yet acquire them to the neglect of the more important graces of mind, or at the cost of the elegancies and proprieties of life, which fit us as well to be the companion as the help-mate of man, and as much the instructress as the nurse of his children.
S. H. D.
In boyhood's hours, I've sometimes read
or witches, such as Shakspeare drew; And horrid hags, i garments red,
Portray'd, I think, by Schiller, too.
From such descriptions, I had thought
That witches were old, ugly creatures;
Mis-shapen, both in form and features.
With what surprise, then, did I view
A little witch, the other night;
Dazzling all 'round her with their light!
With red-ripe cherry, pouting lips,
Whose fragrant breath embalms the air ;
The dewy sweets concentred there !
And then her voice! Ah! if there is
One feature than the rest, more rich,
Of Nature's fairest 'Little Witch !
J. H. S.