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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- 


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 
be excluded. 

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 


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. 

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 


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 


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 


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. 


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- 


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 
fresh misfortunes. 

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, 


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 


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 


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 


romantic and unfortunate adventure in Poland as the ideal 
of a poet's love. 

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

In his enthusiasm M. Sainte-Beuve loses sight of the 
melancholy sequel, Which must have left so sad a 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, 


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 
appeared intelligent. 

It is sad to think that misunderstanding should prevail 
to such an extent, and heart so seldom really speak to 
heart in the intercourse of the world, that the most humane 
may appear cruel and the sympathizing indifferent. 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 


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. 


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 


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 
and Humboldt. 

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. 


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 


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- 



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 


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 


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. 


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 


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 



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. 

fefiflilJI Ha/ 



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 

3 3". 


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. 




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 

o 7 


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- 



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- 


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 
belonged ?" 

" My son," replied the old man, " those heaps of rub- 


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 

v ^D 

of Normandy, after having in vain solicited a commission 


in the French army, or some support from his own family, 
at length determined to seek his fortune in this island, 
where he arrived in 1726. He brought hither a young 
woman, whom he loved tenderly, and by whom he was 
no less tenderly beloved. She belonged to a rich and 
ancient family of the same province : but he had married 
her secretly and without fortune, and in opposition to the 
will of her relations, who refused their consent because 
he was found guilty of being descended from parents 
who had no claims to nobility. Monsieur de la Tour, 
leaving his wife at Port Louis, embarked for Madagascar, 
in order to purchase a few slaves to assist him in forming 
a plantation on this island. He landed at Madagascar 
during that unhealthy season which commences about the 
middle of October, and soon after his arrival died of the 
pestilential fever which prevails in that island six months 
of the year, and which will 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 



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 
of subsistence. 

Desert as was 
the island and 

the ground left to the choice of the settler, she avoided 
those spots which were most fertile and most favorable to 


commerce ; seeking some nook of the mountain, some 
secret asylum, where she might live solitary and unknown, 
she bent her way from the town 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 



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, 


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 


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 


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 



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 



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 


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 



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- 
ever, very 

If you add to the personages already 

mentioned two goats, which were 

brought up with the children, and a great 

dog, which kept watch at night, you will have a complete 



idea of the household, as well as of the productions of 
these two little farms. 

Madame de la Tour and her friend were constantly 
employed in spinning cotton for the use of their families. 

Destitute of everything which their own industry could 
not supply, at home they went 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. 


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 

f- k 

'^"^^^^Slf^&W WiiM 



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 
received nourishment. 

" My friend," cried Madame de la Tour, " we shall 
each of us have two children, and each of our children 
will have two mothers." 

As two buds which remain on different trees of the 
same kind, after the tempest has broken all their branches 
produce more delicious fruit if each, separated from the 
maternal stem, be grafted on the 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 



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 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 
another's arms. 


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 


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, 




and indeed 
could neither 
read nor write. 
They were 
never disturb- 
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 



: - \ 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 

virtuous affections. 
All their early 

childhood passed 
thus like a beauti- 
-'' c '"~ ful dawn, the pre- 

lude of a bright day. Already they assisted their mothers 



in the duties of the household. As soon as the crowing 
of the wakeful cock announced the first beam of the 
morning, Virginia arose, and hastened 
to draw water from a 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 


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 


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 



no answer ; but, notwithstanding the high spirit natural 
to her character, she no longer feared exposing herself 
to mortification ; and although she knew her aunt would 
never pardon her for having married a man who was not 
of noble birth, however estimable, she continued to write 
to her, with the hope of awakening her compassion for 
Virginia. Many years, however, passed without receiving 
any token of her remembrance. 

At length, in 1738, three years after the arrival of 

Monsieur de la Bourdonnais in this island, Madame de la 
Tour was informed that the governor had a letter to give 


her from her aunt. She flew to Port Louis ; maternal 
joy raised her mind above all trifling considerations, 
and she was careless on this occasion of appearing in her 
homely attire. Monsieur de la Bourdonnais gave her a 
letter from her aunt, in which she informed her that she 
deserved her fate for marrying an adventurer and a libertine : 
that the passions brought with them their own 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 


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- 
tation !" 

Madame de la Tour being the only person in the little 
circle who could read, she again took up the letter and 



read it aloud. Scarcely had she finished when Margaret 

" 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 


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 
distress : 

" 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 



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 


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 



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 
by Paul. 

They climbed up the steep they had descended, and, 
having gained the summit, seated themselves at the foot 
of a tree, overcome with fatigue, hunger, and thirst. 




They had 
^ left their 
home fast- 
ing, and 
walked five 
league s 

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 

refresh vou." 


" God will take care of us," replied Virginia ; " He 
listens to the cry even of the little birds when they ask 
Him for food." 



rfte : 


:>$L-S A 

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 

while they 
were wan- 
el e r i n g 

HfK and for - 

ward in 
search of 
more solid 
11 o u r i s la- 
ment, Vir- 
ginia per- 
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, 



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 


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 


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 



frightened Virginia, and she was afraid to wade through 
the current. Paul therefore took her up in his arms, and 
went thus loaded over the slippery rocks which formed 
the bed of the river, careless of the tumultuous noise of 
its waters. 

" Do not be afraid," cried he to Virginia ; "I feel very 
strong with you. If that planter at the Black River had 
refused you the pardon of his slave, I would have fought 
with him." 

" What !" answered Virginia, " with that great wicked 
man? To what have I exposed you! Gracious heaven! how 
difficult it is to do good ! and yet it is so easy to do wrong." 

When Paul had crossed the river he wished to continue 
the journey carrying his sister ; and he flattered himself 
that he could ascend in that way the mountain of the 
Three Breasts, which was still at the distance of half a 

league ; but his strength soon failed, and he was obliged 


to set down his 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 
our mothers." 



" Oh no," said Paul ; " I will not leave you. If night 
overtakes us in this wood, I will light a fire, and bring 

down another palm tree : you shall eat the cabbage, and 
I will form a covering of the leaves to shelter you." 


In the 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 


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 ; 


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. 



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 

V */ 

astonished they were when they returned with me from mass 
on not finding you at home. Mary, who was at work at a 



little distance, could not tell us where you were gone. I 
ran 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 


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." 



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 



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 


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 
action unrewarded." 

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 
voices exclaiming, 

" Is it you, my children?" They answered immediately, 
and the negroes also, 

" Yes, yes, it is." 

A moment after they could distinguish their mothers 
and Mary coming toward them with lighted sticks in 
their hands. 

" Unhappy children," cried Madame de la Tour, " where 
have you been 1 What agonies you have made us 
suffer !" 

" We have been," said Virginia, " to the Black River, 
where we went to ask pardon for a poor maroon slave, 
to whom I gave our breakfast this morning, because she 


seemed dying of hunger ; and these maroon negroes have 
brought us home." 

Madame de la Tour embraced her daughter, without 
being able to speak ; and Virginia, who felt her face wet 
with her mother's tears, exclaimed, 

"Now I am repaid for all the hardships I have suf- 

Margaret in a transport of delight pressed Paul in her 
arms, exclaiming, 

" And you also, my dear child, you have done a good 
action." When they reached the cottages with their 
children, they entertained all the negroes with a plentiful 
repast, after which the latter returned to the woods, 
praying Heaven to shower down every description of 
blessing on those good white people. 

Every day was to these families a day of happiness 
and tranquillity. Neither ambition nor envy disturbed 
their repose. They did not seek to obtain a useless 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 


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: 

' o 

that hatred under a false pretence of good feeling. 
Slander thus puts us ill at ease with others and with 
ourselves. In this little circle, therefore, the conduct 
of individuals was not discussed, but the best manner 
of doing good to all; and although they had but little 
in their power, their unceasing good-will and kindness 
of heart made them constantly ready to do what they 
could for others. Solitude, far from having blunted these 
benevolent feelings, had rendered their dispositions even 
more kindly. Although the petty scandals of the day 
furnished no subject of conversation to them, yet the 



contemplation of Nature filled their 
minds with enthusiastic delight. They 
adored the bounty of that Providence 
which, 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- 


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 



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 


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- 



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 



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 


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 : 



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 


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. 



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, 



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. 



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 



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, 
blessed Heaven 
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 


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 



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 



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 

,,- f. 

iv * 

M ' 


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 


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, 



the rest assembled around and endeavored to banish her 
painful thoughts by amusing the mind rather than by 
grave arguments 
against them. 
Each performed 
this kind office in 

their own appropriate manner : 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 


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 


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 



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 

v ., 
W"'" VXj ' ^Vj4R 

V' 1 


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 






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 


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 
in marriage. 


Another time Virginia would represent the unhappy 
Ruth, returning poor and widowed with her mother-in-law, 
who after so prolonged an absence found herself as 
unknown as in a foreign land. Domingo and Mary 
personated the reapers. The supposed daughter of Naomi 
followed their steps, gleaning here and there a few ears 
of corn. When interrogated by Paul a part which he 
performed with the gravity of a patriarch she answered 
his questions with a faltering voice. He then, touched 
with compassion, granted an asylum to innocence and 
hospitality to misfortune. He filled her lap with plenty, 
and, leading her 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 


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 


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. 



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 


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- 


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 
of Paul, 

" My brother," said she, "is as old as the great cocoa tree 
of the fountain, and I am as old as the little one : the man- 
goes have bore fruit twelve times, and the orange trees have 
flowered four-and-twenty times since I came into the world." 


Their lives seemed linked to that of the trees, like 
those of fauns or dryads. They knew no other historical 
epochs than those of the lives of their mothers, no other 
chronology than that of 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 


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 


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 





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 


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 
to her, 

" The rocks are covered with verdure, our birds begin 


to sing when you approach, everything around you is 
gay, and you only are unhappy." He then 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 


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 


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 



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, 



and bearing along with them a mingled wreck of soil, 

trees, and rocks. 

The trembling 

families meant! m e 
addressed their pray- 
ers to God all to- 
gether in the cot- 
\ tage of Madame de 

^K'- ^ 


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 


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 



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 
longer sur- 
rounded by 
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." 


" 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." 



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 


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- 


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, 


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 


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 



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 


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. 


Wherefore do we come to these islands ? Is it not to 
acquire a fortune ? And will it not be more agreeable 
to return and find it in your own country ?" 

He then took a large bag of piastres from one of 
his slaves and placed it upon the table. " This sum," 
he continued, " is allotted by your aunt to defray the 
outlay necessary for the equipment of the young lady 
for her voyage." Gently reproaching Madame de la Tour 
for not having had recourse to him in her difficulties, he 
extolled at the same time her noble fortitude. 

Upon this Paul said to the governor, 

" My mother did apply to you, sir, and you received 
her ill." 

"Have you another child, madam'?" said Monsieur 
de la Bourdonnais to Madame de la Tour. 

"No, sir," she replied; "this is the son of my friend; 
but he and Virginia are equally dear to us, and we mutually 
consider them both as our own children." 

" Young man," said the governor to Paul, " when you 
have acquired a little more experience of the world, you 
will know that it is the misfortune of people in place to 
be deceived, and bestow in consequence upon intriguing 
vice that which they would wish to give to modest merit." 


Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, at the request of Madame 
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. 


"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 
with sorrow." 


Virginia answered, 

" 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 


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, 



lady, are without excuse. We must obey the 

J ' 

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 
Lord devot- 
ed Himself 
for you, and 

you, in imitation of His example, must give up something for 
the welfare of your family. Your voyage to France will end 
happily. You will surely consent to go, my dear young lady." 


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

The priest went away in order to inform the governor 
of the success of his mission. In the 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. 


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 
of Madagascar. 

Madame de la Tour wished her daughter to purchase 
whatever she liked ; she only examined the goods and 




inquired the price, to take care that the dealers did not 
cheat her. Virginia made choice of everything she thought 
would be useful or agreeable to her mother or to Margaret 
and her son. 

"This," said she, "will be wanted for furnishing the 
cottage, and that will be very useful to Mary and 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 
family circle. 

Paul, overcome with sorrow at the sight of these gifts 
of fortune, which he felt were a presage of Virginia's 
departure, came a few days after to my dwelling. With 
an air of deep despondency he said to me, 

"My sister is going away; she is already making 
preparations for her voyage. I conjure you to come and 
exert your influence over her mother and mine, in order 
to detain her here." 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 



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 


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, 


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 


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 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. 


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 



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 


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- 


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- 
ing tone, 

" I will go with her nothing shall ever part us." 
We all ran toward him ; and Madame de la Tour said 
to him, 

"My son, if you go, what will become of us?" 
He, trembling, repeated after her the words : 
"My son! my son ! You my mother!" cried he, 
"you who would separate the brother from the sister! 
We have both been nourished at your bosom ; we have 
both been reared upon your knees ; we have learnt of 
you to love another ; we have said so a thousand times ; 
and now you would separate her from me ! you would 
send her to Europe, that inhospitable country which 
refused you an asylum, and to relations by whom you 
yourself were abandoned. You will tell me that I have 
no right over her and that she is not my sister. She is 
everything to me my riches, my birth, my family all 
that I have ! I know no other. We have had but one 
roof, one cradle, and we will have but one grave ! If 



she goes, 1 ^ 
will follow *** 
her. The 
will prevent 

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 



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 


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. 


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 



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 



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, 



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 


no more, farewell, my dear Virginia, farewell ! Live far 
from me, contented and happy !' 

When he saw that his mother and Madame de la Tour 
were weeping, 

" You must now," said he, " seek some other hand to 
wipe away your tears ;" and then, rushing out of the house 
and groaning aloud, he wandered up and down the plantation. 

He hovered in particular about those spots which had 
been most endeared to Virginia. He said to the goats 
and their little ones, which followed him, bleating, 

" What do you want of me ? You will see with me 
no more her who used to feed 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. 



We continually watched his movements, apprehensive 
of some fatal consequence from the violent agitation of 

his mind. His mother and Madame de la Tour conjured 
him in the most tender manner not to increase their 
affliction by his despair. At length the latter soothed 


his mind by lavishing upon him epithets calculated to 
awaken his hopes, calling him her son, her dear son, her 
son-in-law, whom she destined for her daughter. She 
persuaded him to return home and to take some food. 
He seated himself next to the place which used to be 
occupied by the companion of his childhood, and, as if 
she had still been present, he spoke to her and made as 
though he would offer her whatever he knew 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 



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. 


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 


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 

,*: ri 


" 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 ^- * 


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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 



J>-J.i ->.*'' 

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 
so much. 

" 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 . 

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l ^|pS^lf5l 


f$^v?*jkp $*&* 

s '^\'\if(^i-'^i^,y 

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^ssr'- 1 - i-i 



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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. 
I am, 
" My dearest and beloved mother, 

" Your affectionate and dutiful daughter, 


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



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



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 


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 


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. 


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 


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 


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- 



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 
negative enjoyment. 
Like a man saved 
from shipwreck 

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 


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- 


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 


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 



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 
the war- 
blings and 
notes of 
birds from 
the coun- 
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 



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 


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- 



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 



%s&9ffLf\ /\v~*i^ 



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*- :& 



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 



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 
than I. 

THE OLD MAN. Obscure birth in France shuts every 
door of access to great employments ; nor can you even 
be received among any distinguished body of men if you 
labor under this disadvantage. 

PAUL. You have often told me that it was one source 


of the greatness of France that her humblest subject 
might attain the highest 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. 


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 

/ V 


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 
such adoptions. 

THE OLD MAN. Oh, my young friend, among the 
Greeks and Romans, even in their decline, the nobles 
had some respect for virtue ; but out of all the immense 
number of men sprung from the mass of the people in 
France who have signalized themselves in every possible 
manner, I do not recollect a single instance of one being 
adopted by any great family. Tf it were not for our 
kings, virtue in our country would be eternally condemned 
as plebeian. As I said before, the monarch sometimes, 


when he perceives it, renders to it due 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 
by it. 

THE OLD MAN. You will act then like other men ? 
you will renounce your conscience to obtain a fortune ? 

PAUL. Oh no ! I will never lend myself to 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 


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 


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 



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 



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 


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 


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 
them ? 

PAUL. Ah! I am only covetous of glory to bestow 
it on Virginia and render her dear to the whole world. 


But can you, who know so much, tell me whether we 


shall ever be married ? I should like to be a very learned 
man, if only for the sake of knowing what will come 
to pass. 

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


and he began to shed tears. My father, continued he, 
hide nothing from me ; if you cannot tell me whether 
I shall marry Virginia, tell me at least if she loves me 
still, surrounded as she is by noblemen who speak to the 
king and who go to see her. 

THE OLD MAN. Oh, my dear friend, I am sure, for 
many reasons, that she loves you, but, above all, because 
she is virtuous. At these words he threw himself on my 
neck in a transport of joy. 

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

THE OLD MAN. Women are false in those countries 
where men are tyrants. Violence always engenders a 
disposition to deceive. 

PAUL. In what way can men tyrannize over women ? 

THE OLD MAN. In giving them in marriage without 
consulting their inclinations in uniting a young girl to 
an old man or a woman of sensibility to a frigid and 
indifferent husband. 

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


THE OLD MAN. Because few young men in France 
have property enough to support them when they are 
married, and cannot acquire it till the greater part of 
their life is passed. While young they seduce the wives 
of others, and when they are old they cannot secure the 
affections of their own. At first they themselves are 
deceivers, and 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 ? 



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, 


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 



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 


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 



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 
and die." 

"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 


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 
of virtue." 

"Ah!" cried he, "I am then without virtue! Every- 
thing overwhelms me and drives me to despair." 

" Equal, constant, and invariable virtue," I replied, 
" belongs not to man. In the midst of the many 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, 


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. 



" 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 
feel unhappy." 

" 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 


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- 



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 


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. 



It was about ten o'clock at night, and I was just going 
to extinguish my lamp and retire to rest, when I perceived 
through the palisades round my cottage a light in the 

woods. Soon after 

I heard the voice of Paul calling 

me. I instantly arose, and had hardly 

dressed myself when Paul, almost beside himself and 

panting for breath, sprang on my neck, crying, 

" Come along, come along ! Virginia is arrived. Let 


us go to the port ; the vessel will anchor at break of 

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 
very rough." 

Having said this, the man left us and pursued his 
journey without any further delay. 

I then said to Paul, 

" Let us go 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 


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- 



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 


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 ; 


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 
around them. 

At about seven in the morning we heard the sound 
of drums in the woods : it announced the approach of 
the governor, Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, who soon after 
arrived on' horseback at the head of a detachment of 
soldiers armed with muskets, and a crowd of islanders 
and negroes. He drew up his soldiers upon the beach 
and ordered them to make a general discharge. This 



was no sooner done than we perceived a glimmering 
light upon the water which was instantly followed by 
the report of a cannon. We judged that the ship was 
at no great distance, and all ran 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 




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 


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 
a hurricane." 

" 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 


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, 



it was equally impossible for her to return by the passage 
through which she had made her way, or by cutting her 
cables to strand herself upon the beach, from which she 
was separated by sandbanks and reefs of rocks. Every 


billow which broke upon the coast advanced roaring to 
the bottom of the bay, throwing up heaps of shingle to 
the distance of fifty feet upon the land ; then, rushing 
back, laid bare its sandy bed, from which it rolled immense 
stones with a hoarse and dismal noise. The sea, swelled 


by the violence of the wind, rose higher every moment, 
and the whole channel between this island and the isle 
of Amber was soon one 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 



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. 


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. 




As for Virginia, with a firm and dignified mien she waved 
her hand, as if bidding us an eternal farewell. All the 

sailors had flung themselves into the 
sea except one, who still remained 
upon the deck, and who was naked 
and strong as Hercules. This man 
approached Virginia with respect, 
and, kneeling at her feet, 

attempted to force her to throw off her clothes ; but she 
repulsed him with modesty and turned away her head. 


Then were heard redoubled cries from the spectators, 
" Save her ! save her ! do not leave her !" But at that 
moment a mountain billow, of enormous magnitude, 
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. 


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 
sometimes shaken. 

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 



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 


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 
eagerly cried, 

" Where is my daughter, my dear daughter, my child ?" 


My silence and my tears apprised her of her misfortune. 
She was instantly seized with a convulsive stopping of the 
breath and agonizing pains, and her voice was only heard 
in sighs and groans. 

Margaret cried, 

''Where is my son? I do not see my son," and 

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, 



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 




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'%* 

^'$& U3& 

they had suffered, and af- 

^ vf|E;,?;ii-: 

g| , H 
.MJAk M^^^fy 

forded them a ^lethargic repose which was in truth like 
that of death. 


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 



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 



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 
saint. Mothers 
asked of 

*| '% 

" "' 

heaven a child like Virginia ; lovers, a heart as faithful ; 
the poor, as tender a friend ; and the slaves, as kind a 

When the procession had reached the place of inter- 


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- 




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 


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 


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 


his. When he arose he bent his way, paying little 
attention to us, 

toward the 
northern part 
of the island. 
As I knew that he was not only 

ignorant of the spot where the 
body of Virginia had been deposited, 
but even of the fact that it had been 
recovered from the waves, I asked 
him why he had offered up his prayer 
at the foot of those bamboos. He 

" We have been there so 
often." ' 

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 




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. 

O / 


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- 



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 


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 


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 
and said, 

" Yonder are our mountains ; let us return home." 

I now saw that all the means I took to divert him 
from his melancholy were fruitless, and that no resource 
was left but an attempt to combat his passion by the 
arguments which reason suggested. I answered him, 

" Yes, there are the mountains where once dwelt your 
beloved Virginia ; and here is the picture you gave her, 
and which she held when dying to her heart that heart 
which even in its last moments only beat for you." 




I then presented to Paul the little portrait which he 
had given to Virginia on the borders of the cocoa tree 
fountain. At this sight a gloomy joy overspread his 
countenance. He eagerly seized the picture with his feeble 

hands and held it to his lips. 
His oppressed bosom seemed 
ready to burst with emotion, 
and his eyes were filled with 
tears which had no power to 

"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 


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 


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 


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, 


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 



men : it is the night of that restless day we call by the 

name of life. The diseases, the griefs, the vexations, 

and the fears which perpetually embitter our life as long 

as we possess it molest us no more in the sleep of death. 

If you inquire 

into the history 

of those men 

who appear to 

have been the 

happiest, you will 

find that they 

have bought 

their apparent 

felicity very 

dear ; public 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 


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 


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- 


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 



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 


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, 

<T? ' 

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, 


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 


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." 



" 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- 
cidence of 
their dreams, 
and I felt con- 
vinced that 
they would 
soon be real- 
ized. The 
belief that 
future events 
are some- 
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 



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 

O C? 

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 



in this, whose ways are hidden in all His ordinary 
works ? 

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

Whatever may be thought of this in general, on the 
present occasion the dreams of my friends were soon 
realized. Paul expired two months after the death of his 
Virginia, whose name dwelt on his lips in his expiring 
moments. About a week after the death of her son 



Margaret saw her last hour approach with that serenity 
which virtue only can feel. She bade Madame de la Tour 
a most tender farewell, " in the certain hope," she said, 
"of a delightful and eternal 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 



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, 



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. 


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 



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 

lers and 
spot of 
virtues ; 
;ers upon 
in what 
by in- 
ted with 
id flame 
rings of 
of the 

i ,nt with 
given to 

in the 

of the 
r as there 
iich you 





and which the Saint-Geran could not double the night 
before the hurricane, is called the Cape of Misfortune ; 
and before us, at the end of the valley, is the Bay of 
the Tomb, where Virginia was found buried in the sand, 
as if the waves had sought to restore her corpse to her 
family, that they might render it the last sad duties on 
those shores where so many years of her innocent life had 
been passed. 

Joined thus in death, ye faithful lovers who were so 
tenderly united ! 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 



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. 

97 87