University of Virginia Library


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Now go we in content
To liberty, and not to banishment.

As You Like It.

Brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp?


Was I right in such a resolution? Was it proper
in me, because one had made me desolate, to make
others—and not that one—equally so? I know not.
I inquired not thus at the time, and the question is
unnecessary now. My resolution was taken at a leap.
It was a resolution made by my feelings, in which
my thoughts had little part. And yet I reasoned
upon it, and gave stubborn arguments in its defence
to others. It is strange how earnestly the mind will
devote itself to the exactions of the blood, and cog,
and connive, and cavil, in compliance with the appetites
and impulses of the body. The animal is no
small despot when it begins to sway.

In leaving home, however, and going abroad
among strangers, I did not purpose to go alone. My
arguments, which had not moved myself, had their


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influence upon another. A young man of the neighbourhood,
about my own age, with whom I had been
long intimate, consented to go along with me. His
situation and motives were alike different from mine.
He was not only a wealthy man, in the estimation of
the country, but he was fortunate—perhaps because
he was wealthy—in the favour and regard of a
young damsel to whom he had proffered vows which
had proved acceptable. He was an accepted man,
fortunate or not; and in this particular of fortune he
differed from me as widely as in his monied concerns.
His property consisted in negroes and ready
money. He had forty of the former, and some three
thousand dollars, part in specie, but the greater part
in United States Bank notes, then considered quite
as good. He wanted lands, and to supply this want
was the chief motive for his resolve to set out with
me. The damsel to whom he was betrothed was poor,
but she wore none of the deportment of poverty.
The neighbourhood thought her proud. I cannot say
that I thought with them. She was more reserved
than young women commonly at her time of life—
more dignified, thoughtful, and perhaps, more prudent.
She was rather pensive in her manner; and
yet there was a quickness of movement in the flashing
of her dark black eye, that bespoke sudden resolve,
and a latent character which needed but the
stroke of trial and the collision of necessity to give


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forth unquenchable flame. She said little, but that
little, when spoken, was ever to the point and purpose,
and seemed unavoidable. Yet, though thus
taciturn in language, there was speech in every movement
of her eyes—in all the play of her intelligent
and remarkable features. She was not beautiful,
scarcely pretty, if you examined her face with a design
to see its charms. But few ever looked at her
with such an object. The character which spoke in
her countenance was enough, and you forbore to look
for other beauties. Catharine Walker was a thinking
and intelligent creature, and her mind pre-occupied
yours at a glance, and satisfied you with her, without
suffering you to look farther. You felt—not as when
gazing on mere beauty—you felt that there was
more to be seen than was seen—that she had a
resource of wealth beyond wealth, and which, like
the gift of the fairy, though worthless in its outward
seeming, was yet inexhaustible in its supplies.

Her lover, though a youth of good sense, and
very fair education, was not a man of mind. He was
a man to memorise and repeat, not to reason and
originate. He could follow promptly, but he would
not do to lead. He lacked the thinking organs,
and admired his betrothed the more, as he discovered
that she was possessed of a readiness, the want of
which he had deplored in himself. It is no unfrequent
thing with us to admire a quality rather


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because of our own lack of it, than because of its
intrinsic value.

William Carrington was not without his virtues
of mind, as well as of heart. He was temperate in his
deportment, forbearing in his prejudices, modest in
correspondence with his want of originality, and
earnest in his desire of improvement. His disposition
was gentle and playful. He laughed too readily,
perhaps; and his confidence was quite as free and unrestrainable
as his mirth. While my nature, helped
by my experience, perhaps, made me jealous, watchful
and suspicious; his, on the other hand, taught
him to believe readily, to trust fearlessly, and to
derive but little value even from his own experience
of injustice. We were not unfit foils, and, consequently,
not unseemly companions for one another.

Carrington was seeking lands, and his intention
was to be at the land sale in Chocchuma, and to purchase
with the first fitting opportunity. Having
bought, he proposed to hurry back to Marengo,
marry, and set forth in the spring of the ensuing
year for his new home. His plans were all marked
out, and his happiness almost at hand. Catharine
offered no objection to his arrangements, and showed
no womanly weakness at his preparations for departure.
She gave my hand a gentle pressure
when I bade her farewell, and simply begged us to
take care of each other. I did not witness the separation


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between the lovers, but I am convinced that
Catharine exhibited far less, yet felt much more than
William, and that, after the parting, he laughed out
aloud much the soonest of the two. Not that he
did not love her. He loved quite as fervently as
it was in his nature to love; but his heart was of
lighter make and of less earnest temper than hers.
He could be won by new colours to a forgetfulness
of the cloud which had darkened his spirits; and
the moan of his affliction was soon forgotten in
gayer and newer sounds. Not so with her. If she
did not moan aloud, she could brood, in secret, like
the dove upon the blasted bough, over her own
heart, and, watching its throbs, forget that the world
held it a propriety to weep.