NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES
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Dt I v\
BERNARDIN DE SAINT-PIERRE
VI RGI N I A
28 S. FOURTH STREET
ENTERED, ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS, IN THE YEAR 1891,
BY HENKY ALTEMUS.
TABLE OF FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS.
BEBNARDIN DE SAINT-PIERRE Frontispiece.
THE CHILDREN'S BATH
THE PETTICOAT UMBRELLA 61
THE SLAVE PARDONED . T5
THE PASSAGE OF THE RIVER
VIRGINIA TENDING THE SICK 10T
TABLE OF FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA DANCING 121
VIRGINIA ESCAPING FROM PAUL 139
VIRGINIA DRESSED 161
PAUL ON THE ROCK 179
VIRGINIA ON BOARD THE SHIP 249
THE FUNERAL 263
BERNARD1N DE SAINT-PIERRE,
T OVE OF NATURE, that strong feeling
of enthusiasm which leads to a 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 inci-
10 MEMOIR OF
dentally charming pictures of spring, of the setting sun,
of particular spots, and of favorite 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 regard Nature ; and
this remark applies as much to religious and philosophic
writers as to poets equally to Plato, St. Frangois 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
But before the days of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Buf-
fon, 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
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 11
new. He intuitively perceived the immensity of the sub-
ject 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 life.
HENRY-JACQUES BERNARDS 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 generously
offered himself as a victim to appease the wrath of
Edward the Third against Calais. He with his compan-
ions in virtue, it is also said, was saved by the intercession
of Queen Philippa. In one of his smaller works Ber-
nardin asserts this descent, and it was certainly one of
12 MEMOIR 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 father of the man ' has been sel-
dom more strongly illustrated. There is a story of a cat
which, when related by him many years afterward 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 afterward appeared in the
Fraisier. His sympathy with all living things was extreme.
In PAUL AND VIRGINIA he praises, with evident satis-
faction, 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
Brahmanical. St. Pierre's certainly was.
When quite young he advanced with a clenched fist
toward 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 ex-
claimed, " My God ! how high they fly !" Every one
present naturally laughed. Bernardin had only noticed
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 13
the flight of some swallows who had built their nests
there. He thus early revealed those instincts which after-
ward 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 now be
ascertained. It undoubtedly became afterward to St.
Pierre a fruitful source of misfortune and of woe.
The reading of voyages was with him, even in child-
hood, 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 favor of the sea,
he was sent by them with one of his uncles to Mar-
tinique. But St. Pierre had not sufficiently practised
the virtue of obedience to submit, as was necessary, to
the discipline of a ship. He was afterward placed with
the Jesuits at Caen, with whom he made immense prog-
ress in his studies. But it is to be feared he did not
conform too well to the regulations of the college, for
14 MEMOIR OF
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 suc-
ceeded 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 a
hundred louis. In this capacity he was sent (1760) to Dus-
seldorf, under the command of Count St. Germain. This
was a career in which he might have acquired both honor
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 won-
dered 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.
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 15
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 immor-
tality 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 Dussel-
dorf, some of the circumstances of which exhibited him
in an unfavorable 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 com-
16 MEMOIR OF
mission. He thus subjected himself to a thousand dis-
agreeables, 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
Not being able to obtain any assistance from the min-
istry 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 pro-
foundest skill in any one branch of science or art. All
minds, even to the youngest, require, while being taught,
the utmost compliance and consideration ; and these qual-
ities 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,
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 17
when he attempted in his youth to give lessons in music,
not knowing anything 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 Amster-
dam 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
IT. 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 Ville-
bois, 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 honorable illusions, though they were not 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
18 MEMOIR OF
imitation of Plato or Rousseau, he was to be the legislator.
Preoccupied 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 occu-
pations 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 surveyor.
On his return to St. Petersburg he found his pro-
tector, Villebois, disgraced. St. Pierre then resolved on
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 19
espousing the cause of the Poles. He went into Poland
with a high reputation that of having refused the favors
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, rilled 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 senti-
ment which surpassed it ! days of intoxication and of
happiness, adieu! adieu! We live but for a day, to die
during a whole life."
This letter appears to one of St. Pierre's most partial
biographers as if steeped in tears, and he speaks of his
20 MEMOIR OF
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 his enthusiasm M. Sainte-Beuve loses sight of the
melancholy sequel, Which must have left so sad a remem-
brance 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 resources.
The Baron de Breteuil at length obtained for him a
commission as engineer to the Isle of France, where he
returned in 1771. In this interval his heart and imagina-
tion doubtless received the germs of his immortal works.
Many of the events, indeed, of the Voyage a I lie de France
are to be found modified by imagined circumstances in
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. He returned to Paris poor in purse,
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 21
but rich in observations and mental resources, and resolved
to devote himself to literature. By the Baron de Breteuil
he was recommended to D'Alembert, who procured a pub-
lisher for his Voyage, and also introduced him to Mile, de
1'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
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. Judg-
ing of Mile, de 1'Espinasse from her letters and the testi-
mony of her contemporaries, it seems quite impossible
that she could have given pain to any one, more partic-
ularly 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
22 MEMOIR OF
an explanatory letter from D'Alembert, did not return
to it. The inflictors of all this pain in the mean time
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 I Arcadie has pathetically
and eloquently described the deplorable state of his health
and feelings after frequent humiliating disputes and dis-
appointments 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
CEdipus, 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 imme-
diately imagined they were speaking ill of me." It was
during this state of suffering that he devoted himself
with ardor to collecting and making use of materials for
that work which was to give glory to his name.
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 23
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 unwor-
thy 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 delin-
eating St. Preux he had not intended to represent him-
self. " 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 J&tudes, and with some
difficulty found a publisher for them. M. Didot, a cele-
brated typographer, whose daughter St. Pierre afterward
married, consented to print a manuscript which had
been declined by many others. He was well rewarded
24 MEMOIR OF
for the undertaking. The success of the iStudes de la
Nature surpassed the most sanguine expectation, even
of the author. Four years after its publication St. Pierre
gave to the world PAUL AXD 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
In 1789 he published Les Vceux d\m Solitaire and La
Suite des Vceux. By the Moniteur of the day these works
were compared to the celebrated pamphlet of Sieyes,
Qu'estce que le Tiers etat^ which then absorbed all the
public favor. In 1791, La Chaumiere indienne was pub-
lished, and in the following year, about thirteen days
before the celebrated 10th of August, Louis XVI. appointed
St. Pierre superintendent of the " Jardin des Plantes."
Soon afterward the king, on seeing him, complimented
him 011 his writings, and told him he was happy to have
found a worthy successor to Buffon.
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 25
Although deficient in exact knowledge of the sciences
and knowing little of the world, St. Pierre was, by sim-
plicity 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 Mile. Didot.
In 1795 he became a member of the French Acad-
emy, and, as was just, after his acceptance of this honor
he wrote no more against literary societies. On the sup-
pression 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
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
26 MEMOIR OF
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.
Among many other blessings, the elasticity of his
mind was preserved to the last. He died at Eragny sur
1'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 honors
due to its members. Mons. Parse val Grand-Maison pro-
nounced a deserved eulogium on his talents, and Mons.
Aignan also the customary tribute, taking his seat as his
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 naught in malice, is forced to the con-
templation 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 else-
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 27
where : " The best society seems to me bad if I find in
it one troublesome, wicked, slanderous, envious, or per-
fidious person." Now, taking into consideration that St.
Pierre sometimes imagined persons who were really good
to be deserving of these strong and very contumelious
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 con-
sciousness 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 elbow-
ing of that world, in the mean time, may have been to
28 MEMOIR OF
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
blinded, the undershuffling of the hands in the by-play
of the world ?
Through all his writings and throughout his corre-
spondence 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.
He returned to France, so fondly loved and deeply
cherished in absence, to experience only trouble and dif-
ficulty. 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
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 29
and irritation consequent on such a depth of disappoint-
ment on what must have then appeared to him such
immitigable 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 Vile de France and those in PAUL AND
VIRGINIA. That spot which, when peopled by the cher-
ished 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 hav-
ing darkened the one, and the exuberance of his imag-
ination 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 cir-
cumstances 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.
30 MEMOIR OF
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 Taubenheim ; and in Russia,
Mile, 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 child-
hood, 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 !
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
excellencies as a writer and a man, while his deficiencies
and defects were necessarily excluded. In no manner
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE. 31
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 con-
sider success to have been inseparable from the happy
selection of a story so entirely in harmony with the cha-
racter of the author, and that the most successful writers
might envy him so fortunate a choice. Bonaparte 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 honor 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 Pariah was, with St. Pierre, the
result 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
MEMOIR OF BERNARDIN BE ST. PIERRE.
have reached its summit you see heaven above your head
and at your feet the kingdom of Cashmere."
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 the writer
is 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 litter air e
of M. Sainte-Beuve.
T PEOJECTED a very grand de-
sign in this little book. I under-
took to describe in it a soil and a
vegetation different from those in
Europe. Our poets have long enough
placed their lovers on the borders of
streams, in meadows, and beneath
leafy beech trees. I have chosen to seat them by the
margin of the sea. at the foot of the rocks, beneath the
shade of cocoanut trees, banana trees, and flowering lemon
trees. A Theocritus and a Virgil are only needed in the
other hemisphere to give us scenes at least as interesting
as those in our own land. I am aware that travellers of
fine taste have given us charming descriptions of many
islands of the southern seas, but the manners of their
inhabitants, and still more those of the Europeans who
land there, spoil the Landscape. I wished to unite with
the beauties of Nature in the tropics the moral beauty of
a little community. I purposed also to bring out many
grand truths, and this amongst others : that our happiness
consists in living according to the dictates of Nature and
Virtue. Nevertheless, there has been no need for me to
go to fiction for my description of such happy families.
I can assert that those of whom I write actually existed,
and that their history is true in its principal incidents.
This has been certified by many residents known to me
in the Isle of France. I have only filled in some unim-
portant details, but which, being personal to myself, have
still the stamp of reality. When several years ago I
drew out a very imperfect sketch of this kind of pastoral,
1 requested a lady well known in society, and several
grave seigniors who lived far away from the great world,
to come and hear it read, so that I might estimate the
effect the tale would produce upon readers of such com-
pletely opposite characters. I had the satisfaction to see
them shed tears. This was the only criticism I could
obtain from them, and that was all I desired to know.
But as a great vice often follows a little talent, this
success inspired me with the conceit to call my work the
" Picture of Nature." Fortunately I recollected how great
a stranger I was to Nature even in my native land, and in
countries wherein I had merely seen her productions en
voyageur how rich, how varied, beautiful, wonderful, and
mysterious she is ; and how devoid I was of talent, taste,
and mode of expression to appreciate and to describe her !
I drew back into my shell again. Thus it happens that I
have included this feeble attempt under the name and in
the set of my Studies of Nature, which the public have
received so kindly ; so that this title, while recalling my
incapacity, will always be a memorial of their indulgence.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
QITUATE 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 culti-
vation, are seen the ruins of two small cot-
tages. These ruins are not far from the
centre of a valley, formed by immense rocks,
and which opens only toward the north. On the
left rises the mountain called the Height of Dis-
whence the eye marks the distant sail when it first
3-s PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ter-
minates in a forest extending to the farthest 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 Endeavor, which resem-
bles a bastion built upon the flood.
At the entrance of the valley which presents these vari-
ous objects, the echoes of the mountain incessantly repeat
the hollow murmurs of the winds that shake the neigh-
boring 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 majes-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
tic tops, where the clouds seem to repose. The showers,
which their bold points attract, often paint the vivid colors
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, spread-
40 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
ing 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 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 counte-
nance was dignified and interesting. I bowed to him
with respect ; he returned the salutation, and, after look-
ing at me with some earnestness, came and placed him-
self upon the hillock on which I was seated. Encour-
aged by this mark of confidence, I thus addressed him :
" Father, can you tell me to whom those cottages once
" My son," replied the old man, " those heaps of rub-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 41
bish 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 Euro-
pean, pursuing his way to the Indies, will pause one
moment to interest himself in the fate of a few obscure in-
dividuals ? 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 inhab-
itants 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
42 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 for ever 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 her-
self a widow in a country where she had neither credit
nor acquaintance, and no earthly possession, or rather
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
I^S\ her with courage, and she resolved
to cultivate, with her slave,
a little spot of ground, and
procure for herself the means
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
44 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
commerce ; seeking some nook of the mountain, some
secret asylum, where she might live solitary and unknown,
she bent her way from the town toward 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 friend.
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. Mar-
garet (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 neighborhood who promised her mar-
riage. He soon abandoned her, and, adding inhumanity
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
to seduction, refused to ensure a provision for the child
of which she was pregnant. Margaret then determined
to leave for ever 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 reputa-
tion. 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,
4i; PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 con-
dition and her present wants. Margaret was deeply
affected by the recital, and, more anxious to merit con-
fidence than to create esteem, she confessed without dis-
guise 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 toward 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 neighbor. In the cities of Europe a street, even a
simple wall, frequently prevents members of the same
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 47
family from meeting for years ; but in new colonies we
consider those persons as neighbors 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 toward 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 neighbor 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 inter-
esting, 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 chil-
dren, 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. Thev 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
48 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 those 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 seaso i it be-
comes marshy, and in dry weather is so hard and unyield-
ing that it will almost resist the stroke of the pickaxe.
When I had thus divided the property I persuaded my
neighbors 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 neighborhood, 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 remain but
too many traces for my re-
membrance! Time, which so
rapidly destroys the proud monuments of empires, seems
in this desert to spare those of friendship, as if to perpet-
uate 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 god-
father of Margaret's child, who was christened by the
name of Paul. Madame de la Tour desired me to perform
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 labors 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 culti-
vated indiscriminately, on both plantations, the spots of
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 51
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 cucum-
bers at the foot of the rocks, which they loved to climb
and decorate with their luxuriant foliage. In dry spots
he cultivated the sweet potato ; 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, cul-
tivated a few plants of tobacco. Sometimes he was em-
ployed in cutting wood for firing from the mountain, some-
times 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 labors 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 pre-
pare their meals, to rear the
poultry, and go sometimes to
Port Louis to sell the super-
fluous produce of these
^k little plantations, which
was not, how-
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 barefooted : shoes were a
convenience reserved for Sunday, on which day, at an
early hour, they attended mass at the church of the Shad-
dock 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.
54 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
But is there, in that external deference which fortune com-
mands, 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 spoi, perceive their mistresses on the road of the
Shaddock Grove, than they flew to the foot of the moun-
tain 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, independ-
ence, 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 morel
ardent than friendship awakened in their hearts the pang
of unavailing anguish, a pure religion, united with chaste
manners, drew their affections toward another life, as the
trembling flame rises toward heaven when it no longer
finds any aliment on earth.
The duties of maternity became a source of additional
THE CHILDREN'S BATH.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 57
happiness to these affectionate mothers, whose mutual
friendship gained new strength at the sight of their chil-
dren, 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
" 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 neighboring 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 look-
ing 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
marriage, those of the other from having submitted to its
laws. One had suffered by aiming to rise above her con-
dition, 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 AND VIRGINIA.
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 the constellation of the
Twins. At night these infants often refused to be sep-
arated, 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
When they began to ''
speak the first names
they learned to give each
other were those of broth-
er and sister, and child-
hood knows no softer ap-
pellation. Their educa-
tion, by directing them ever to consider each other's wants,
tended greatly to increase their affection. In a short
<><> PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
time all the household economy, the care of preparing
their rural repasts, became the task of Virginia, whose
labors 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 Avoods ; 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 chil-
dren 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 toward 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 toward 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 mv 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,
THE PETTICOAT UMBRELLA.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
read nor write.
ed by inqui-
ries 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 uncon-
scious of ill. They had never been taught not to steal,
because everything with them was in common ; or not
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
: - \ J.S-vrtOW . r^^-y^'^
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 natu-
rally from maternal tender-
ness. All they had been
taught of religion was to love
it, and if they did not offer
up long prayers in the church,
*Mf: wherever they were, in the
house, in the fields, in
; the woods, they raised to-
ward heaven their
Hnnocent hands and
hearts purified by
All their early
thus like a beauti-
-'' c '"~ ful dawn, the pre-
lude of a bright day. Already they assisted their mothers
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 neighboring
spring ; then returning to the house
she prepared the breakfast. When
the rising sun gilded the points of
the rocks which overhang the enclos-
ure in which they lived, Margaret
and her child repaired to the dwell-
ing of Madame de la Tour, where
they offered up their morning
prayer together. This sac-
rifice of thanksgiving always y
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 deli- *
cious tree afforded a grateful shade,
its fruit furnished a substantial food
ready prepared for them by nature, and its long glossy
Hi; PAUL AXD VIRGINIA.
leaves, spread upon the table, supplied the place of linen.
Plentiful and wholesome nourishment gave early growth
and vigor to the persons of these children, and their counte-
nances 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 ha-
bitually turned upward, 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 eyelashes 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 67
Niobe, but for the glances of their eyes, which were con-
stantly 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 feel-
In the mean time Madame de la Tour, perceiving every
day some unfolding grace, some new beauty, in her daugh-
ter, felt her maternal anxiety increase with her tenderness.
She often said to me, " If I were to die, what will become 1
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 toward her niece
upon her marriage that Madame de la Tour had deter-
mined 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 over-
come bv the stronger feelings of maternal tenderness.
i ci O
She wrote to her aunt, informing her of the sudden death
of her husband, the birth of her daughter, and the dif-
ficulties in which she was involved, burdened as she was
with an infant and without means of support. She received
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 69
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 punish-
ment ; 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 dishonor 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 deter-
mined 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
70 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
de la Bourdonnais. This she had indeed done, but in a
manner of late too common, which renders a patron per-
haps 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
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, biassed as he was against her. When she
painted to him her own situation and that of her child, he
replied in abrupt sentences,
" We will see what can be done there are so manv
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 dis-
appointment. 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 expec-
Madame de la Tour being the only person in the little
circle who could read, she again took up the letter and
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
read it aloud. Scarcely had she finished when Margaret
" What have we to do with your relations ? Has God
then forsaken us ? He only is our Father ! Have we
not hitherto been happy 'I Why then this regret 1 You
have 110 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
72 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and heart ; while Paul, his eyes inflamed with anger,
cried, clasped his hands together, and stamped with 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
" Ah, madam! My good mistress! My dear mother!
Do not weep!"
These tender proofs of affection 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
as 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
itself daily. One Sunday, at daybreak, their mothers
having gone to mass at the church of the 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 gar-
ment than a piece of
coarse cloth thrown
around her. She
threw herself at the
feet of Virginia, who
was preparing the
family breakfast, and
" My good young
lady, have pity on a
poor runaway slave.
For a whole month
1 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
74 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 some-
thing 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 forgive-
ness 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 accom-
pany her. The slave led the way, by winding and dif-
ficult 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 exten-
sive plantations, and a number of slaves employed in
THE SLAVE PARDONED.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 77
their various labors. 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 ap-
proach her master, and instantly sprang away, followed
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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
^ left their
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 some-
times 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
" God will take care of us," replied Virginia ; " He
listens to the cry even of the little birds when they ask
Him for food."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Scarcely had she pronounced these
words when they heard the noise of
water falling from a neighboring
v( rock. They ran thither, and, hav-
ing quenched their thirst at this
crystal spring, they gathered
- *, ; i
and ate a few cresses
which grew on the bor-
der of the stream. Soon
el e r i n g
HfK and for -
11 o u r i s la-
ceived in the thickest part of the forest a young palm tree.
The kind of cabbage which is found at the top of the palm,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 fur-
nished even with
a knife. At length
he thought of set-
ting fire to the
palm tree ; but a
new difficulty oc-
curred : 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 81
inventions have arisen from men placed in the most destitute
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, afterward, 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 enclosed. 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 remem-
brance 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
82 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 recol-
lection 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
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
THE PASSAGE OF THE RIVER.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 85
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
" 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
" 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 burden 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
" 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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 87
In the mean time, 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 for-
gotten 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 backward and forward,
half frantic, in search of a path which might lead them
out of this thick wood ; but he fatigued himself to no
88 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 an-
swered 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 ;
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 89
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 weak-
ness, and began to weep.
Virginia said to him,
" Do not weep, my dear brother, or I shall be over-
whelmed 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
" 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Before they could recover from their surprise they saw
Domingo running toward 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 recov-
ered himself a little,
Oh, my dear children," said
he, "how miserable have you made vour 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
little distance, could not tell us where you were gone. I
ran backward and forward 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 four
good leagues from home. Come, eat, and recover your
!i-_> PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
While 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
the Black Eiver. 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 95
lighted torch, and then proceeded amidst the rejoicings
of the whole troop, who overwhelmed them with their
Virginia, affected by this scene, said to Paul, with
"Oh, my dear brother! God never leaves a good
It was midnight when they arrived at the foot of
their mountain, 011 the ridges of which several fires were
lighted. As soon as they began to ascend they heard
" 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 toward them with lighted sticks in
" Unhappy children," cried Madame de la Tour, " where
have you been 1 What agonies you have made us
" 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
96 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 suf-
Margaret in a transport of delight pressed Paul in her
" 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 rep-
utation 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 97
their names were unknown. The passer-by on the road
to the 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 natu-
rally 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
contemplation of Nature filled their
minds with enthusiastic delight. They
adored the bounty of that Providence
which, bv their instrumentality, had
/ V *
spread abundance and beauty amid these
barren rocks, and had enabled them to
v 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 em-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 99
bellished by him. He would go with the old negro into
the neighboring woods, where he would root up the young
plants of lemon, orange, and tamarind trees, the round
heads of which are so fresh and 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-colored branches ; the papaw 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 fig tree.
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 cir-
cumference. 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 101
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 cas-
cades, 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 inequal-
ities 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-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 grottoe,
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 find 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, 110 object
whatever could be perceived ; while the point of the adjoin-
ing 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
families frequently met in the evening, and enjoyed in
silence the freshness of the flowers, the gentle murmurs
the fountain, and the last blended har-
monies of light and
Nothing could be
more charming 1 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 dis-
tance, was called the Discovery
of Friendship. Paul and Virginia
had amused themselves by plant-
ing a bamboo on that spot, and
whenever they saw me coming
they hoisted a little white hand-
kerchief by way of signal of
my approach, as they had seen a
flag hoisted on a neighboring
mountain on the sight of a ves-
sel at sea. The idea struck me of engraving an inscription
on the stalk of this reed ; for I never, in the course of my
104 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
travels, experienced anything 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 Vir-
ginia's flag, the following lines of Horace :
Fratres Helense, lucida sidera,
Ventorumque regat pater,
Obstrictis, aliis, pra?ter lapiga.
"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 follow-
ing lines from Virgil :
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Fortunatus et ille deos qui novit agrestes!
" Happy art 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 flag-staff
was too long and too
" I should have liked bet-
ter," added she, "to have
seen inscribed, EVEE AGITATED,
" Such a motto," I answered,
"would have been still more
applicable to virtue." My re-
flection made her blush.
The delicacy of sentiment
of these happy families was
manifested in everything around
them. They gave the tenderest names to objects in
106 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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, straw-
berries, and peas. Domingo and Mary, wishing in imita-
tion of their mistresses, to recall to mind Angola and
Foullepointe, 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 pro-
ductions 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 but
called into life by the many charming appellations thus
bestowed upon them.
VIRGINIA TENDING THE SICK.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 109
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 Friend-
ship 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and tufts of wave-leaved hart's tongue, suspended like
long ribbons 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-ves-
sels of which are of the
color of blood and more
resplendent than coral.
Near them, the herb
balm, with its heart-
shaped leaves, and the
sweet basil, which has
the odor of the clove,
exhaled the most deli-
cious 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 sea-shore, 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Virginia took pleasure in resting herself upon the border
of this fountain, decorated with wild and sublime mag-
nificence. 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 clothed the steep
sides of the rock, and
hung suspended by one
of its cornices as on a ped-
estal. Paul, observing that
Virginia was fond of this spot,
brought thither from the
neighboring forest a great
variety of birds' 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
soft, the cardinal, with its flame-colored plumage, forsook
their bushes ; the parroquet, green as an emerald, descended
from the neighboring fan-palms; the partridge ran along
the grass; all advanced promiscuously toward her, like
a brood of chickens ; and she and Paul found an exhaust-
less 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 moth-
ers, pressing you
in their arms,
for the consolation your un-
folding 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 113
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 whole-
some 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 everything having a tendency to do harm. Paul
often talked of the labors of the day and of the morrow.
He was continually planning something for the accom-
modation of their little society. Here he discovered that
the paths were rugged, there that the seats were uncom-
fortable, sometimes the young arbors did not afford
sufficient shade, and Virginia might be better pleased
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
from the juice of the sugar-cane, the lemon, and the
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 toward such unfortunate persons.
When the time for repose arrived the two families sep-
arated 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
ihe 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
116 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
home more forcibly to their minds by the sound of remote
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 toward
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 holy day,
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 laboring under dejection,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
the rest assembled around and endeavored to banish her
painful thoughts by amusing the mind rather than by
this kind office in
their own appropriate manner : Mar-
garet, by her gayety ; Madame de 1*
Tour, by the gentle consolations of
religion ; Virginia, by her tender ca-
resses ; Paul, by his frank and engag-
ing cordiality. Even Mary and Do-
mingo hastened to offer their succor, a
to weep with those that wept. Thus
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
118 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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, calumni-
ating, 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 toward the unfortunate and the un-
happy, 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 neighbors. Sometimes a person \
troubled in mind sought their advice ; sometimes a child
begged them to visit its sick mother in one of the adjoin-
ing 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 favors. Above all, they met
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 119
with singular success in administering 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 sweet-
ness. 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 seashore 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
other kinds of shellfish. 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
W"'" VXj ' ^Vj4R
coming billows ; then, at their near approach,
would run back to the beach, closely pursued by the foam-
ing breakers, which threw themselves with a roaring noise
PAUL AND VIRGINIA DANCING.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
far on the sands. But Virginia at this sight uttered pierc-
ing 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
]_M PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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. Vir-
ginia, 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 toward
the source of a neighboring 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 succor, beat away the shepherds,
filled Virginia's pitcher, and placing it upon her head,
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 125
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 toward 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
li'i; PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
to the plains of Syria or of Palestine. We were not
unfurnished with decorations, lights, or an orchestra suit-
able 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 toward
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. Some-
times 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 trans-
formed 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 morn-
ing, hailed the star of day all together with innumerable
Night often overtook us during these rural entertain-
ments ; but the purity of the air and the warmth of the
climate admitted of our sleeping in the woods without
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 127
incurring any danger by exposure to the weather, and no
less secure from the molestation 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 man-
ners 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 birthdays 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
dare not look up, made their appearance. Virginia soon
put them at their ease ; she waited upon them with
refreshments, the excellence of which she endeavored
to heighten by relating some particular circumstance
which in her own estimation vastly improved them. One
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 129
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 Vir-
l.;o PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
uinia had neither clock, nor almanac, 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 ap-
proaches, the tamarinds are closing their leaves."
" When will you come and see us ?" inquired some
of her companions in the neighborhood.
" At the time of the sugar-canes," answered Virginia.
"Your visit will be then still more delightful," resumed
her young acquaintance.
When she was asked what was her own age and that
" 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 man-
goes have bore fruit twelve times, and the orange trees have
flowered four-and-twenty times since I came into the world."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 131
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 their orchards, and no other
philosophy than that of doing good and resigning them-
selves 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, inno-
cence, and piety, possessed their souls ; and those intel-
lectual 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
!.;_> PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and approached each other, and conversed together like
brother and sister. Virginia was gentle, modest, and con-
fiding 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
"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 rosebud. If you go toward 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 whereon 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 133
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 1 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 good-
ness. I shall never forget how you walked barefooted to
the Black River to ask pardon for the poor runaway 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 honeycomb
too, which I have taken for you from the top of a rock.
But first lean on my bosom and I shall be refreshed."
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
on the top of the mountain,
ipeat the words at the bottom
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 135
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 hand-
kerchief 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 languor. 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, wan-
dering about the most unfrequented parts of the plan-
tations, and seeking everywhere the rest which she could
nowhere 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
" The rocks are covered with verdure, our birds begin
136 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
to sing when you approach, everything around you is
gay, and you only are unhappy." He then endeavored
to soothe her by his embraces, but she turned away
her head, and fled, trembling, toward 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
endeavoring 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 everywhere 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 137
the sea : fiery vapors 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 droop-
ing cattle on the sides of the hills, stretching out their
necks toward heaven and panting for breath, made
the valleys re-echo with their melancholy lowings ; even
the CafTre 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 every-
where resounded with the buzzing noise of insects seek-
ing to allay their thirst with the blood of men and of
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, toward her fountain, and gazed
at its spring, which, notwithstanding the drought, still
trickled in silver threads down the brown sides of the
MS PAUL AND VIRGINIA
rock. She flung herself into the bash its coolness
reanimated her spirits and a thousand soothing remem-
brances 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
afterward, 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 odor of the blossoms, purer
than the waters of the fountain, stronger than the inter-
twining palm tree, and she sighed. Reflecting on the
hour of the night and the profound solitude, her imagina-
tion 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
VIRGINIA ESCAPING FROM PAUL.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 141
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 mean time raised vast masses
of vapor 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and bearing along with them a mingled wreck of soil,
trees, and rocks.
families meant! m e
addressed their pray-
ers to God all to-
gether in the cot-
\ tage of Madame de
M >-f ) 'i \ *2&^" '
*,* ^ v -.
la Tour, the roof of which cracked fearfully from the
force of the winds. So incessant and vivid were the
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 143
lightnings that, although the doors and window-shutters
were securely fastened, every object without could be dis-
tinctly 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 tem-
pest ; 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 south-east pursued their
ordinary course, the tempestuous clouds were driven away
to the northward, and the setting sun appeared in the
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 vapors 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 com-
pletely torn to pieces by deep water-courses, the roots
of most of the fruit trees were laid bare, and vast heaps
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 n o
turf or ar-
bors or birds, except a few
amadavid birds, which
upon the points of the
neighboring rocks were
lamenting, in plaintive
notes, the loss of their
At the sight of this
general desolation Vir-
'/ -_ ginia exclaimed to Paul,
" You brought birds
hither, and the hurri-
cane 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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 145
" Why," answered Paul, " cannot I give you something
that belongs to Heaven 1 But I have nothing of my own
even upon the earth."
Virginia with a blush replied,
"You have the picture of St. Paul."
As soon as she had uttered the words he flew in quest
of it to his mother's cottage. This picture was a minia-
ture 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 con-
stantly occupied in contemplating the image of this benev-
olent recluse, her offspring had contracted some resem-
blance 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."
146 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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, leav-
ing him astonished and unable to account for conduct so
Meanwhile Margaret said to Madame de la Tour,
" Why do we not unite our children by marriage 1
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 axe too young and too poor. What grief would
it occasion us to see Virginia bring into the world unfor-
tunate children whom she would not perhaps have suf-
ficient 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 mis-
fortune. Paul is our only hope : let us wait till he comes
to maturity, and his increased strength enables him to
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 147
support us by his labor : 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 Vir-
ginia ; for I am persuaded no one on earth would
render her so happy as your son. We will consult our
neighbor 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 favorable 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 neighborhood, where
he is much beloved. If we were only to supply him
with some raw cotton, of which we make 110 use for want
of mills to work it ; some ebonv, 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 deter-
148 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
mined 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 com-
merce 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 dur-
ing my absence above all to Virginia, who already suf-
fers 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
anything 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 149
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 con-
cluded by enjoining strict obedience to her will, in grat-
itude, she said, for her great kindness.
At the perusal of this letter general consternation
spread itself through the whole assembled party. Do-
mingo 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
150 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
deranged, my past misfortunes are the cause. My heart
has be-on 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 own country."
At this soothing language every eye overflowed with
tears of delight.
Paul, pressing Madame de la Tour in his arms, ex-
" Neither will I leave you. I will not go to the Indies.
We will all labor 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
gayety which flowed from her heart, and proved that,
her peace of mind was restored, completed the general
At sunrise the next day, just as they had concluded
offering up, as usual, their morning prayer before break-
fast, Domingo came to inform them that a gentleman
on horseback, followed by two slaves, was coming toward
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
the plantation. It was Monsieur de la Bourdonnais. He
entered the cottage, where he found the family at break-
fast. 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 cala-
bash shells, split in two, served for cups.
The governor exhibited, at first, some astonishment
L52 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
at the homeliness of the dwelling ; then, addressing him-
self to Madame de la Tour, he observed that, although
public affairs drew his attention too much from the con-
cerns 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
" 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 153
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
"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."
154 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, at the request of Madame
do la Tour, placed himself next to her at table, and break-
fasted 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 155
"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. Con-
sult 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 entirely to her own inclination.
Madame de la Tour was not sorry to find an oppor-
tunity 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
" 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
vou, 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
labor without ceasing as a hired servant in order to sup-
port your wretched existence. This idea overcomes me
[56 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
" God has appointed us to labor 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 prov-
idence 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
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 157
of an affectionate mother, who approved of her attach-
ment, and would guide her by her counsels ; and as she
was now strengthened by such support, every considera-
tion 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 them-
selves 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
lady, are without excuse. We must obey the
direction of Providence, and we must also obey our aged
relations, even when they
are unjust. A sacrifice is
required of you, but it is
the will of God. Our
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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 159
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 mean time, 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 con-
sider 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 1 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 had 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 posses-
sion of Virginia's fortune, had hitherto opposed her depart-
ure made no further objections.
160 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
As for Paul, in ignorance of what had been deter-
mined, 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 everything from me."
A report having in the mean time 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 Gon-
delore ; 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 colors. They also brought
with them the gorgeous silks of China, satin damasks,
some white, and others grass-green and bright red ; pink
taffetas, with a profusion of satins and gauze of Tonquin,
both plain and decorated with flowers ; soft pekins, downy
as cloth ; with white and yellow nankeens and the calicoes
Madame de la Tour wished her daughter to purchase
whatever she liked ; she only examined the goods and
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 163
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 Do-
mingo." 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
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." 1 could not refuse the young man's
solicitations, although well convinced that my representa-
tions would be unavailing.
Virginia had ever appeared to me charming when clad
in the coarse cloth of Bengal, with a red handkerchief
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ar-
of her hair accorded admirably with the form of her head.
Her fine blue eyes were filled with an expression of
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 165
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 ren-
dered 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 illegitimate."
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,
166 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and by my flight from home you have also lost that of
your mother's. Unfortunate child ! you have no relation
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 deter-
mined 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 deli-
cious 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 167
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 lucid 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 harbor a light and a shadow ; these were the watch-
lights 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 AND VIRGINIA.
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 ter-
" I must perform my duty," answered Virginia, " by
obeying my parent."
" You leave us," resumed Paul, " for a distant relation,
whom vou have never seen."
"Alas!" cried Virginia, "I would have remained here
my whole life, but my mother would not have it so.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 169
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. Eiches 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 beloved ? How will
you bear to live without your mother's caresses, to which
vou 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 1 What will become of my
mother, who loves you with the same affection '? What
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ITS'? when I shall gaze on these
two palm trees, planted at our birth and so long the wit-
nesses of our mutual friendship ? Ah ! since your lot is
changed, since you seek in a far country other possessions
than the fruits of my labor, let me go with you in the
vessel in which you are about to embark. I will sustain
your spirits in the midsts of those tempests which terrify
you so much even on shore. I will lay my head upon
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 171
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 labor of sustaining two help-
less 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 1 Why do you talk about your birth 7
Ah! if it were possible for me still to have a brother,
should I make choice of any other than you 1 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. Un-
172 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
happy 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 pierc-
" I will go with her nothing shall ever part us."
We all ran toward him ; and Madame de la Tour said
"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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
she goes, 1 ^
will follow ***
me ? Will he prevent me from fling-
ing myself into the sea I will he pre-
vent me from following her by swim-
ming ? 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!
Ma} 7 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 1 go 1 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 175
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 sallied by a falsehood."
As the sun softens and precipitates an icy rock from
the summit of one of the Apennines, 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,
" 1 can bear this no longer. My heart is quite broken.
This unfortunate voyage shall not take plare. Do take
my son home with you. Not one of us has had any
rest the whole week."
1 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.
176 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
But why should I continue any longer to you the recital
of this history ? There is but one aspect of human exist-
ence which we can ever contemplate with 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 toward the sea. As soon as he perceived
her, he called to her from a distance,
" Where is Virginia?"
Mary turned her head toward her young master, and
began to weep. Paul, distracted, retracing his steps, ran
to the harbor. He was there informed that Virginia had
embarked at the break of dav. and that the vessel had
immediately set sail, and was now out of sight. He
PAUL AND \ 7 IRGINIA.
instantly returned to the plantation, which he crossed with-
out uttering a word.
Quite perpendicular as ap-
pears 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 slop-
ing and inacessible rocks
which is called The Thumb. At
the foot of that cone is an ex-
tended slope of ground covered with lofty trees, and so
178 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 vallev 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 con-
siderable 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 west-
ward. 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 imag-
ination were lost in the mists of the horizon, he seated
himself on that wild point, for ever 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,
PAUL ON THE ROCK.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 181
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 favorable wind having sprung up at three o'clock in
the morning, and the vessel being ready to sail, the gov-
ernor, 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,
1 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 for ever tell me that you forgive me.' I
would have said to her, ' Since I am destined to see you
182 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
" 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 vou 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 backward
and forward 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 over-
flowed with anguish and he wept bitterly.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
184 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 was 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 everything which had be-
longed to Virginia the last nosegays she had worn, the
cocoa-shell from which she used to drink and after kiss-
ing 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
labor, he began, with the assistance of Domingo, to repair
the damage done to the garden.
But soon after this voung man, hitherto indifferent as
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
a Creole to everything 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 afterward
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 in-
structed him in agricul-
ture 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 man-
kind are indebted for most of the arts and sciences,
while its disappointments have given birth to philoso-
phy, 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 pleasure.
186 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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, in-
terested him little more. He there saw only general and
periodical evils, the causes of which he could not dis-
cover ; wars without either motive or reason ; uninter-
esting 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 187
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
accidentally heard that Virginia had safely arrived in
France. At length, however, a vessel which stopped here
in 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 cha-
racter that 1 have retained it almost word for word :
' r ::4V
HS -,~-~< "MY DEAR AND BELOVED MOTHER :
" I have already sent vou 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 separa-
tion, I who never used to weep but for the
misfortunes of others ! My aunt was much
astonished when, having upon my arrival in-
quired 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
v ^- *
^ii^^^a ; ;^s
j^^^-^-" > -^ t; -; - ' - < 'V tJ j ','
have masters of all kinds, who teach me,
among other things, history, geography,
grammar, mathematics, and riding on horse-
back. But I have so little capacity for all
these sciences that 1 fear I shall make but
small progress with my masters. 1 feel that
1 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
has placed two waiting-women with me, who
are dressed like line 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 en-
dured 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 splen-
did 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 endeavored upon my ar-
rival 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 Heaver,
who saw my motive for learning, no doubt
assisted my endeavors, 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 y^tglSg
is my friend. I send you her direction, by
means of which I shall receive your answer.
My aunt has forbid me holding any corre-
spondence 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 T 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 splendor of affluence,
and have not a sou 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
f 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
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 foli-
age with that of our cocoa trees. You will
fancy yourself in Normandy, which you love
" You desired me to relate to you my joys
and my griefs. I have no joys far from you.
As for my griefs, I endeavor 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
yi" 1 .
- "" P 1 V:':. , , !'. .'.'
^ssr'- 1 - i-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 coun-
try 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.
" My dearest and beloved mother,
" Your affectionate and dutiful daughter,
"VlRGINIE DE LA TOUR."
" I recommend to your goodness Mary and
Domingo, who took so much care of my in-
fancy ; caress Fidele for me, who found me
in the wood."
194 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 senti-
ments for the end.
Tn 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 color, which
delights to conceal itself beneath the bushes ; but it is
soon discovered by its widespreading perfume." She de-
sired 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 hence-
forth give it the name of the Rock of Adieus.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 return as she &
thought proper, and
assuring her that
happiness had left
their dwelling since
her departure, and
that for herself she
was inconsolable, ' ; ' ^^'^&^*5iy J
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
196 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 unfavorable to their growth, for a very small number
of them even came up, and not one arrived at full per-
In the mean time, 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 197
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 acquire-
ments had already only served to render him more mis-
erable ; 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.
198 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 slaves.
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 wretched-
ness 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA
and contradictor} 7 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 ver-
dure of the earth and the light
of heaven. Thus does solitude re-
cruit the powers of the body as well as
those of the mind. It is among her-
mits that are found the men who carry human existence to
its extreme limits ; such are the Brahmans 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 stable principle, if we do
not create for ourselves a mental void whence our own
200 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 labors 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 T 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 happi-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
ness. They lay before me pictures of those passions which
render its inhabitants so miserable ; and in the compar-
ison I am thus led to make between their lot and my
own I feel a kind of
Like a man saved
and thrown upon a rock, 1 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, 1 try to help him by my
202 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 afterward complains to Heaven of the
misfortunes which he has thus created for himself. Among
the many children of misfortune whom I have endeavored
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
endeavored to draw me into their vortex. But if 1 com-
municate 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 pur-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 20)3
suits 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 contem-
plation of the present harmony of Nature I elevate my
soul toward its supreme Author, and hope for a more happy
lot in another state of existence.
Although you cannot descry from my hermitage, situ-
ated 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 exten-
sive 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
204 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ver-
dure. Most of these trees shed aromatic odors 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. Toward 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 con-
trast to the more sombre tints of the foliage embrowned
by the sun. Among these are various kinds of parro-
quets and the blue pigeon, called here the pigeon of
Holland. Monkeys, the domestic inhabitants of our for-
ests, 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
branch to branch, bearing their young in their arms. The
murderous gun has never affrighted these peaceful chil-
dren of Nature. You hear nothing but sounds of joy
tries 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 thou-
sand paces from hence it forms sev-
eral 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 run-
ning water, preserves upon the banks
of the river, amid all
'. -e , - jr - '
the summer heats, a
freshness and verdure
rarely found in this
island even on the sum-
mits of the mountains.
At some distance from this place is a rock, placed far
enough from the cascade to prevent the ear from being
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 207
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 blos-
soms ; 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
Avas transient, and instantly gave place to a deep melan-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
choly at this evidence of her long absence. The objects
which are habitually
before us do not bring
to our minds an ade-
quate idea of the ra-
pidity of life ; they
decline insensibly with
ourselves : but it is
those we behold again,
after having for some
years lost sight of them, that most power-
fully impress us with a feeling of the
swiftness with which the tide of life flows
on. Paul was no less overwhelmed 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 sen-
sibly the distracting remembrance of Virginia's prolonged
J ET-al**K Ma V i f. <? </
7?; v' ^"#1 ?v nr ' C- - *
/nltLt, ^ *i ; |/ ,' i', ^ 1 U^ -x J*- :&
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ven-
eration than upon the triumphal
arches of Eome. 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 neigh-
borhood. One day I found him there absorbed in melan-
choly, 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
210 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 we
have heard no tidings of her for 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 Made-
moiselle 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
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
labor under this disadvantage.
PAUL. You have often told me that it was one source
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 211
of the greatness of France that her humblest subject
might attain the highest honors ; and you have cited to
me many instances of celebrated men who, born in a
mean condition, had conferred honor upon their country.
It was your wish, then, by concealing the truth to stim-
ulate mv ardor ?
THE OLD MAN. Never, my son, would I lower it.
1 told you the truth with regard to the past; but now
everything has undergone a great change. Everything
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 administra-
tions, such phenomena have been seen. Then talents and
merit showed themselves everywhere, 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.
212 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
PAUL. But perhaps 1 shall find one of these nobles
to protect me.
THE OLD MAX. To gain the protection of the great
you must lend yourself to their ambition and admin-
ister to their pleasures. You would never succeed ; for,
in addition to your obscure birth, you have too much
PAUL. But T will perform such courageous actions,
1 will be so faithful to my word, so exact in the per-
formance 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
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. Tf it were not for our
kings, virtue in our country would be eternally condemned
as plebeian. As I said before, the monarch sometimes,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 213
when he perceives it, renders to it due honor ; but in
the present day the distinctions which should be bestowed
on merit are generally to be obtained by money alone.
PAUL. If 1 cannot find a nbbleman to adopt me,
I will seek to please some public body. I will espouse
its interests and its opinions : I will make myself beloved
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 anything
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
PAUL. How unfortunate I am ! Everything 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 man-
kind the public body you would serve. Be constantly
214 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 exer-
cise 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 neighbor. Be satisfied with fulfilling your duty in
the station in which Providence has placed you ; be grate-
ful 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 your-
self, 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 215
only in its bud. Heaven has given you liberty, health,
a good conscience, and friends ; kings themselves, whose
favor 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 for-
tune. But since her relation 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 know-
ledge useful to the service of my country, without injuring
any one or owning dependence on any one. I will be-
come celebrated, and my glory shall be achieved only by
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ser-
vice than he who writes a
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 round the tree and kissed
it with transport.
THE OLD MAN. The best of books that which
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
actised in its name on the face of the
irth ! After this who will dare to flatter
himself that anything he
can write will be of ser-
vice to his fellow-men?
Remember the fate of most
of the philosophers who have
preached to them wisdom.
Homer, who clothed it in such
noble verse, asked for alms all his
life. Socrates, whose conversa-
tion and example gave such ad-
mirable lessons to the Athenians,
was sentenced bv 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 Pythag-
oras, whose humanity extended even to animals, was
burned alive by the Crotoniates. What do I say ? Many
218 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
even of these illustrious names have descended to us dis-
figured by some traits of satire by which they became
characterized, human ingratitude taking pleasure in thus
recognizing 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 bar-
You see, then, that to acquire the glory which a tur-
bulent 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 honors nor power, nor even admission at court.
Persecution, it is true, is rarely practised in this age,
because it is habitually indifferent to everything except
wealth and luxury ; but knowledge and virtue no longer
lead to distinction, since everything in the state is to be
purchased with money. Formerly, men of letters were
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 219
certain of reward by some place in the Church, the magis-
tracy, 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
honor 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 mon-
archs, the monuments of whose deeds perish in obliv-
ion, notwithstanding the flatterers who erect and magnify
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
220 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
shall ever be married ? I should like to be a very learned
man, if only for the sake of knowing what will come
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 neces-
sities to set limits to its exercise.
PAUL. You tell me that with money people in Europe
acquire dignities and honors. I will go, then, to enrich
myself in Bengal, and afterward 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 AND VIRGINIA. 221
PAUL. Virginia will assist them by means of her rich
THE OLD MAN. The rich care little for those from
whom no honor 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 im-
the walls of a
r\i i 29K'" - ''""''*':. ,^PI.'"-.'-
rAUL. Oh, what a o^/?
'v - v^VvJSi *~+s
, ,.-, ,^ ^, ,, ^^ J
?&* -: : i: : ^mfK
\ ; --- -
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 ! Eeturn, 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 ;
222 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
PAUL.- -Why not join together those who are suited
to each other the young to the young, and lovers to those
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 223
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 afterward 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 pro-
portion 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
PAUL. But where is the necessity of being rich in
order to marry ?
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
THE OLD MAN. In order to pass through life in
abundance, without being obliged to work.
PAUL. But why not work ? 1 am sure 1 work hard
THE OLD MAN. In Europe working with your hands
is considered a degradation ; it is compared to the labor
performed by a machine. The occupation of cultivating
the earth is the most de-
spised of all. Even an
artisan is held in more
estimation than a peas-
^^^^^^^ PAUL. What! do
you mean to say that the art which furnishes food for man-
kind is despised in Europe 1 I hardly understand you.
THE OLD MAN. Oh, it is impossible for a person
educated according to nature to form an idea of the de-
praved 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 225
and they can lavish happiness on those whom they
THE OLD MAX. 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 beloved 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
everything is increased by contrast ; Nature has balanced
-2'2(> PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
all things. Which condition, after all, do you consider
preferable to have scarcely anything to hope and every-
thing to fear, or to have everything 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 1
THE OLD MAN. To you, my son, who support your
family by your labor, it need hardly be defined. Virtue
consists in endeavoring 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 benev-
olence. 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 ves-
sels which had made this passage of four thousand five
hundred leagues in less than three months ; and perhaps
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 227
the vessel in which Virginia had embarked might not be
more than two. Shipbuilders 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
rilled 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
too well founded. Her aunt has married her to some
gre'at 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 for-
saken her mother and
me. I do nothing but
think of her, and she
has forgotten me. I am
wretched, and she is di-
verting herself. The
thought distracts me ; I
cannot bear myself.
Would to Heaven that
war were declared in
India ! I would go there
"My son," I an-
swered, " that courage which prompts us on to court
death is but the courage of a moment, and is often excited
only by the vain applause of men or by the hopes of
posthumous renown. There is another description of
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 229
courage, rarer and more necessary, which enables us to
support, without witness and without applause, the vexa-
tions 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
"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 pas-
sions which agitate us our reason is disordered and
obscured : but there is an ever-burning lamp at which
we can rekindle its flame ; and that is literature.
" 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 en-
lightens 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,
230 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
vice is suppressed, and virtue encouraged by the memor-
able examples of great and good men which it has handed
down to us, and whose time-honored 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 intelli-
gence 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. Liter-
ature in this imaginative guise would thus fulfil, in re-
lation to the powers of the soul, the same functions as the
Hours, who yoked and conducted the chariot of the Sun.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
" Have recourse to your books, then, my son. The
wise men who have written before our days are travellers
who have preceded us in the paths of misfortune, and
who stretch out a friendly hand toward us, and invite
us to join their society when we are abandoned by every-
thing else. A good book is a good friend."
U fc_ "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
" Undoubtedly," said I, " there is no friend so agree-
able as a mistress bv whom we are beloved. There
is, moreover, in woman a liveliness and gayety which
232 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 instantlv 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 cus-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
torn, 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 him-
dred tons burden, and commanded by a captain of the
name of Aubin that she was now four
leagues out at sea, but would probably an-
chor 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 handwriting 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 dis-
tance 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 thev all crowded round Madame de la Tour to hear
the letter read. Virginia informed her mother that she
234 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
had experienced much ill-usage from her aunt, who, after
having in vain urged her to a marriage against her in-
clination, 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 endeavored 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, " Vir-
ginia is arrived!" and mistresses and servants embraced
each other. Madame de la Tour said to Paul,
' ' My son, go and inform our neighbor of Virginia's
Domingo immediately lighted a torch of bois de ronde,
and he and Paul bent their way toward my dwelling.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
236 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
us go to the port ; the vessel will anchor at break of
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 walk-
ing 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
Having said this, the man left us and pursued his
journey without any further delay.
I then said to Paul,
" Let us go toward the quarter of the Golden Dust,
and meet Virginia there. It is not more than three leagues
from hence." We accordingly bent our course toward
the northern part of the island. The heat was suffocating.
The moon had risen, and was surrounded by three large
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 237
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 per-
ceived 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 shud-
der, 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
<;o 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.
Th^ billows were breaking against the beach with a hor-
rible noise, covering the rocks and the strand with foam
of a dazzling whiteness, blended with sparks of fire.
By these phosphoric gleams we distinguished, notwith-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
standing the darkness, a number of fishing canoes drawn
Up high upon the beach.
At the entrance of a wood, a short dis-
tance from us, we saw a fire round which a
party of the inhabitants were assembled.
We repaired thither in order to rest our-
selves till the morning. While we
were seated near this fire one
of the standers-by related that
late in the af-
ternoon he had seen a vessel
in the open sea driven toward the island by the currents ;
that the night had hidden it from his view ; and that
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 239
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 glimmer-
ing 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 Endeavor,
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 then informed us that he had fre-
quently 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 harbor. " I would stake all
1 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 ;
240 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
so that if the wind arose in the morning she could either
put to sea or gain the harbor. Other inhabitants gave
different opinions upon this subject, which they continued
to discuss in the usual desultory manner of the indolent
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,
everything 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
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 toward 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
three times VIVE LE Eoi ! this being the cry of the
French in extreme danger as well as in exuberant joy,
as though they wished to call their prince 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 assist-
ance she continued to tire guns regularly at intervals of
three minutes. Monsieur de la Bourdonnais caused great
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 243
fires to be lighted at certain distances upon the strand,
and sent to all the inhabitants of the neighborhood 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, approach-
ing the governor, said to him,
" We have heard all night hollow noises in the moun-
tain ; 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
" Well, my friends," answered the governor, " we are
prepared for it, and no doubt the vessel is also."
Everything, 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-colored hue. The air resounded with the
cries of the tropic-birds, petrels, frigate-birds, and in-
numerable other sea-fowl, which notwithstanding the
obscurity of the atmosphere were seen coming from
244 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
every point of the horizon to seek for shelter in the
Toward 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 fright-
ful 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 toward the shore,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
246 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 va>st 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
Deemed blended together. Thick masses of clouds of
a frightful form swept across the zenith with the swift-
ness 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 light-
ened up all the objects of the earth, the sea, and the
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
of half a cable's length from the shore. A general
cry of horror issued from the spectators.
Paul rushed for-
i ..i !,
ward to throw nim-
self into the sea, when,
seizing him by the an
" My son," I exclaimed,
u 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.
248 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Paul then precipitated himself toward the Saint-Geran,
now swimming 1 and now walking upon the rocks. Some-
times 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 sud-
denly the billows, returning with fresh fury, shrouded
it beneath mountains of water, which then lifted it up-
right 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 ardor toward the
vessel, the parts of which now yawned asunder from
the violent strokes of the billows. The crew then, despair-
ing 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 toward 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.
VIRGINIA ON BOARD THE SHIP.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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.
252 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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,
c'lio-ulfed itself between the isle of Amber and the coast,
and menaced the shattered vessel, toward 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 upward her serene and
beauteous eyes, seemed an angel prepared to take her
night to Heaven.
Oh, day of horror ! Alas ! everything was swallowed
up by the relentless billows. The surge threw some of the
spectators, whom an impulse of humanity had prompted
to advance toward Virginia, far upon the beach, and also
the sailor who had endeavored 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
Domingo and I drew the unfortunate Paul to the shore.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 253
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 unfor-
tunate 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 exist-
ence of Providence, for there are in life such terrible,
such unmerited evils that even the hope of the wise is
In the mean time Paul, who began to recover his
senses, was taken to a house in the neighborhood, till he
was in a fit state to be removed to his own home. Thither
T bent my way with Domingo, to discharge the melan-
choly 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
Fan-Palms, some negroes informed us
that the sea had thrown up many
pieces of the wreck in the opposite
bay. We descended toward it, and
one of the first objects that struck
my sight upon the beach was
. % * - ^- .-. '
^. . V": >>'1:LV .. "-
%ijk> - ' """
the corpse of Virginia. The body was half covered with
sand, and preserved the attitude in which we had seen
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 255
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. At the sight of
this last mark of the fidelity and tenderness of the unfor-
tunate girl I wept bitterly. 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 fisher-
man'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 planta-
tion. 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
" Where is my daughter, my dear daughter, my child ?"
256 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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.
''Where is my son? I do not see my son," and
We ran to her assistance. In a short time she recov-
ered, and, being assured that Paul was safe and under
the care of the governor, she thought of nothing but
of succoring her friend, who recovered from one faint-
ing-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 toward 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,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 consola-
tion gleamed on the counte-
nances 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
dried up at the source, began to flow. Paul mixed
his tears with theirs ; and Nature having thus found
relief, a long stupor sue- , s^^
ceeded the convulsive pangs ^ " r ' '-M'%*
they had suffered, and af-
g| , H
forded them a ^lethargic repose which was in truth like
that of death.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 259
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 harbor 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 color.
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
of doing honor to the virtues of Virginia. But when
the mournful procession arrived at the foot of this moun-
f .. ",.
>^r,---- '';,>!"* * i -
? -''^ x'^- 'v C > 'ii-'^ *- --/'''""-"r'TT . ?;-.
:- v i^4SfK :
" \S^ ~ I C-~^-"^ , ' ~ L&"^-~- A--'" f ' -"- IV " ".-
r . . -^1 ^*^ ^. -r* & ~ ' / f -;> ' " ' " ' ' j , - '-
,-v.;- ' / /: ^/r fe^la
l \\w^V f IV
tain, within sight of those cottages of which she had
been so long an inmate and an ornament, diffusing happi-
ness all around them, and which her loss had now filled
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
with despair, the funeral pomp was interrupted, the
hymns and anthems ceased, and the whole plain re-
sounded with sighs and lamentations. Numbers of young
girls ran from the neighboring plantations to touch the
coffin of Virginia with their
handkerchiefs, and with
chaplets and crowns
of flowers, in-
voking her as a
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 inter-
262 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
ment, 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 coun-
tries, 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 neighboring villagers, who endeavored
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
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 brother. This was the spot selected for her inter-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 assist-
ance 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 everything which he
thought most likely to soothe and console him.
" Heaven is my witness," said he, " that I wished to
266 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
ensure 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 insen-
sible to everything ; 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
"VT* ' *
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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 267
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 persevered.
I resolved to follow this advice. The first use which
Paul made of his returning strength was to absent him-
self 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 favorable 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 ex-
ample, fell upon our knees and mingled our prayers with
268 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
his. When he arose he bent his way, paying little
attention to us,
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
" We have been there so
He continued his course un-
til 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
- PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 toward the
north. I guessed ^P what was his de-
sign, and I endeavored, but in vain, to dis-
suade him from it. About noon we arrived
at the quarter of Golden Dust. He rushed %^
down to the seashore, opposite to the spot where the Saint-
Geran had been wrecked. At the sight of the isle of Amber
and its channel, then smooth as a mirror, he exclaimed,
" Virginia ! oh, mv dear Virginia !" and fell senseless.
270 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 seashore;
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 farther,
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 neighboring 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 Virginia!"
During this savage and wandering life his eyes be-
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
came 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 un-
fortunate 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 saw-
ing them into planks ; carriages were continually passing
272 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and repassing on the roads; numerous herds of oxen and
troops of horses were feeding on those widespread
iiH'udmvs; 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 favorable to the health of Europeans. From those
heights, situated near the middle of the island and sur-
rounded 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 be 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 perpen-
dicular line, from which arise lofty pyramids of rock
whose summits are enveloped in the clouds.
Conducting Paul to these scenes, . I kept him con-
tinually 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 273
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 remem-
brances, in vain would tear that tender and sacred recol-
lection 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
" 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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
"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 endeavored to fortify
your mind against the un-
foreseen 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 275
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 labor. Rendered more
delicate by her education and more courageous by her
misfortunes, you might have beheld her every day sink-
ing 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
whose 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 favor? Had she been weak, you
27(i PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 persecu-
tion from those who had promised you protection.
" It would still have remained to you, you may say,
to have enjoyed a pleasure independent of fortune that
of protecting a beloved 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 misfor-
tunes. 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 toward
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 277
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 labors 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,
278 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 has 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 our-
"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 Vir-
ginia 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
dear ; public consider- k
ation, perhaps, by domestic
evils ; fortune, by the loss
of health ; the rare happiness of being
beloved, 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
280 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 miser-
able by her expected loss, or on you, my son, who
with so much intrepidity were endeavoring to save her,
she must have seen how dear she was to all. Her
mind was fortified against the future by the remem-
brance 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
" 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 mis-
fortunes to which it has been exposed receive for ever
from posterity the tribute of their tears. This is the im-
mortal monument reserved for virtue in a world where
everything else passes away, and where the names even
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 281
of the greater number of kings themselves are soon buried
iu eternal oblivion.
" Meanwhile Virginia still exists. My son, you see
that everything 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 sup-
posed capable of destruction when the very elements with
which it is clothed are imperishable 1 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 lead them to denv the exist-
ence of a Being; whose justice thev fear. But vour mind
\) j *
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 enclosed 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 igno-
282 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
rant ? 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 midst of this gloomy and tran-
sitory 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 apper-
taining 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 sur-
round 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 everything, we might possibly im-
agine that we were placed on the very confines of His
empire, where life is perpetually struggling with death
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
and innocence for ever in danger from the power of
" 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,
'Oh, Paul! life is but a scene of trial. T have been
obedient to the laws of nature, love, and virtue. I crossed
284 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 ! Oh, Paul ! Oh, my beloved friend ! recol-
lect 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 si^ht,
to enjoy the rich colors 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, tastes, hears, touches,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 285
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 eter-
nal. There I will calm your regrets, I will wipe away
your tears. Oh, my beloved friend ! my youthful hus-
band ! raise your thoughts toward the infinite, to enable
you to support the evils of a moment.'
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 him-
self, he said, " Since death is a 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
jsi; PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 calam-
" Oh, 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."
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
" 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
(fZS-^n^PI f' - -
as Margaret's in every particular ; and -' x: ^;iPf t'SW-
as I had never observed in
either of these ladies any pro-
pensity to superstition, I was
struck with the singular coin-
and I felt con-
soon be real-
times 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
288 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 Testa-
ment 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 I One friend
consoles another by a letter, which, after passing through
many kingdoms and being in the hands of various in-
dividuals at enmity with each other, brings at last joy
and hope to the breast of a single human being. Mav
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 occa-
sion to employ visible means to effect His purpose
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
in this, whose ways are hidden in all His ordinary
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
290 PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 reunion." " 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 labor, 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 endeavored to console Paul
and Margaret till their last moments, as if she herself
had no misfortunes of her own to bear. When they were
no 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 re-
proaching 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA,
her as soon as she had sent Virginia away with so much
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 congrat-
ulated herself for having repulsed far from her two
wretched creatures, who, she said, had both dishonored
their family by their grovelling inclinations. Sometimes,
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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,
It which filled her with
mortal fears. She would
then give abundant alms
to the wealthy ecclesi-
astics who governed her,
beseeching them to ap-
pease 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.
PAUL AND VIRGINIA. 293
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 exist-
ence was that very object to which she had sacrificed
every natural affection. She was deeply annoyed at per-
ceiving 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 reason enough at last to be sen-
sible that she was plundered and despised by the very
persons whose opinions had been her rule of conduct dur-
ing her whole life.
On the same spot and at the foot of the same shrubs
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
as his Virginia was deposited the body of Paul, a
about them lie the remains of their tender mo
their faithful servants. No marble marks the
their humble graves, no inscription records thei|
but their memory is engraven in indelible chara<
the hearts of those whom they have befriend)
spirits have no need of the pomp which the;
during their life ; but if they still take an interei
passes upon earth, they no doubt love to wande;
the roofs of these humble dwellings, inhabits!
dustrious virtue, to console poverty disconten
its lot, to cherish in the hearts of lovers the sa<
of fidelity, and to inspire a taste for the blej
Nature, a love of honest labor, and a drea<
allurements of riches.
The voice of the people, which is often si|
regard to the monuments raised to kings, ha;
some parts of this island names which will in
the loss of Virginia. Near the isle of Amb<
midst of sandbanks, is a spot called The Pa;
Saint-Geran, from the name of the vessel which
lost. The extremity of that point of land
see yonder, three leagues off, half covered w
i ,nt with
r as there
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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
Joined thus in death, ye faithful lovers who were so
tenderly united ! unfor-
tunate mothers ! beloved
family ! these woods
which sheltered you with
their foliage, these foun-
tains which flowed for
you, these hillsides 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
PAUL AND VIRGINIA.
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 mv own, too, had flowed more than
once during this melancholy recital.