Welcome to PhiloLogic  
   home |  the ARTFL project |  download |  documentation |  sample databases |   
Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
To look up a word in a dictionary, select the word with your mouse and press 'd' on your keyboard.

Previous section

Next section


_____Epistles, wet
With tears that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charg'd with am'rous sighs of absent swains.

[figure description] Page 124.[end figure description]

On this day there was business and rejoicing
through every corner of the settlement. Among all
the daring souls, who left honor, comfort, and independence,
for the sake of worshipping God according
to the dictates of their own consciences, there was no
one more highly or more deservedly respected than
Mr. Johnson. In the bloom of life, a gentleman, a
scholar, and nearly allied to a noble family, he left
his own wise, wealthy, and happy land, to join a poor,
despised, and almost discouraged remnant in this western
wilderness. Could his prophetic eye have foreseen
that the wild and desolate peninsula where he
first purchased, would become the proud and populous
emporium of six flourishing states; could he have
realized that the transfer of government from London
to Massachusetts, was but the embryo of political
powers, which were so soon to be developed before
the gaze of anxious and astonished Europe; how
great would have been the reward of the high-minded
Englishman. But his self-denying virtue had not these
powerful excitements. Who in those days of poverty
and gloom, could have possessed a wand mighty
enough to remove the veil which hid the American
empire from the sight? Who would have believed
that in two hundred years from that dismal period,

-- 125 --

[figure description] Page 125.[end figure description]

the matured, majestic, and unrivalled beauty of England,
would be nearly equalled by a daughter, blushing
into life with all the impetuosity of youthful vigor?
But though Johnson and his associates could not foresee
the result of the first move which they were unconsciously
making in the great game of nations—a
game which has ever since kept kings in constant
check—he, at least, was amply rewarded by an approving
conscience, and the confiding admiration of
his brethren, which almost amounted to idolatry. All
was life and activity during the day of his arrival.
In one place might be seen boats, passing and repassing
from the vessel, the ripples breaking against their
oars, as they glistened in the sun. In another, the
hearty interchange of salutation between seamen and
landsmen; or a group of gentlemen, busy in the delivery
of letters, and already eagerly engaged in discussions
concerning the extent of the government
wherewith they had been entrusted.

While all this bustle was going on without doors,
there were questions enough to be asked and answered
by the female inmates of Mr. Conant's dwelling.
Several hours past before the Lady Arabella's chest
was brought on shore; and though Mary's heart was
throbbing high with expectation, she made no inquiries
concerning letters from England. At length, however,
a sailor arrived with the long expected treasures.

“This is from your father, Lady Mary,” said Mrs.
Johnson as she placed a letter in her hand. With
provoking delay, she handed another package to
Mary, as she said, “This is from brother George.”

It was a neat edition of Spenser's Fairy Queen,
written within, in his lordship's own hand, “To Miss
Mary Conant. This cometh to reminde her of bye
past daies, from her olde friende George—Earl

-- 126 --

[figure description] Page 126.[end figure description]

“And this,” continued Lady Arabella, “is likewise
from Earl Rivers, who desired that Mary would open
it in her own apartment.”

Every one acquainted with the mazes of love, is
aware of a strange perversity in the female heart with
regard to such matters. Mary half suspected that
her friend noticed the painful suffusion which covered
her face and neck, and the package which she supposed
contained news, to her more important than any
thing else in the world, was placed in her little bedroom
with affected indifference, and was not touched
till every article of household work was completed
with even more deliberate neatness than usual. Not
so Mrs. Conant—she eagerly caught her letter, and
tearing open the envelope, devoured with painful
pleasure the only words which her father had addressed
to her since her marriage. They were as

“Deare Daughtere,

“Manie thoughts crowde into my hearte, when I
take upp my pen to write to you. Straightwaye my
deare wife, long in her grave, cometh before me, and
bringeth the remembrance of your owne babie face,
as you sometime lay suckling in her arms. The
bloode of anciente men floweth slow, and the edge of
feeling groweth blunte: but heavie thoughts will rise
on the surface of the colde streame, and memorie will
probe the wounded hearte with her sharpe lancett.
There hath been much wronge betweene us, my deare
childe, and I feel that I trode too harshlie on your
young hearte: but it maye nott be mended. I have
had many kinde thoughts of you, though I have locked
them up with the keye of pride. The visit of Mr.
Brown was very grievious unto me, inasmuch as he
tolde me more certainly than I had known before.

-- 127 --

[figure description] Page 127.[end figure description]

that you were going downe to the grave. Well, my
childe, `it is a bourne from whence no traveller returns.
' My hande trembleth while I write this, and I
feel that I too am hastening thither. Maye we meete
in eternitie. The tears dropp on the paper when I
think we shall meete no more in time. Give my fervente
love to Mary. She is too sweete a blossom to
bloome in the deserte. Mr. Brown tolde me much
that grieved me to hear. He is a man of porte and
parts, and peradventure she maye see the time when
her dutie and inclination will meete together. The
greye hairs of her olde Grandefather maye be laide
in the duste before that time; but she will finde he
hath nott forgotten her sweete countenance and gratious
behaviour. I am gladd you have founde a kinde
helpe-meete in Mr. Conant. May God prosper him
according as he hath dealte affectionately with my
childe. Forgive your olde father as freelie as he forgiveth
you. And nowe, God in his mercie bless you,
dere childe of my youthe. Farewell.

“Your Affectionate fathere,

“N.B. I have sente you a Bible, (which please
to accept as a token of love) by Mr. Isaac Johnson;
whome I esteeme a right honorable gentleman, though
it grieveth me to see the worthies and nobles of the
lande giving their countenance to the sinn of Non-conformitie.”

The unqualified kindness of her repenting father
proved too much for the weak nerves of his disobedient
child; and for a long time Mary and her friend
hung over her in a fearful anxiety, lest the blow
should hasten a departure, which they all saw must
soon come. Lady Arabella brought forward some

-- 128 --

[figure description] Page 128.[end figure description]

cordials which she had brought with her, and presently
her highly excited system sunk exhausted into
slumber. Mrs. Johnson laid herself down beside the
sleeping invalid, and gladly sought repose after the
fatigue of a long and wearisome voyage. Mary
willingly improved this opportunity to examine the
contents of her package. A prayer book, bound in
the utmost elegance of the times, first met her view.
It was ornamented with gold clasps, richly chased;
the one representing the head of king Charles, the
other the handsome features of his French queen;
and the inside of both adorned with the arms of England.
Mary hardly paused to look at the valuable
present in her eagerness to read the following lines.

“Deare Mary,

“How many times I should have written to you,
could I have devised any waye for it to come safely
into your hands, I leave your own hearte to judge.
God knoweth howe much more I have beene in the
deserte since I came hither, than while I was in the
wildernesse of Newe England. It was a trial I needed,
to showe me howe very deare you were unto my
soule. I often think of the sicknesse, wante, and misery
I founde you in, when Hobomok first guided me
from Plymouth to Naumkeak; and although since the
company hathe sente many vessels, there hathe been
an alteration in the state of affairs, yet my hearte is
readie to burste when I thinke to what you are nowe
exposed. God willing, I would have shared any difficulties
with you, soe as I might have called you
wife; but I loved you the better in that you forgot
not your dutie to your mother in your love for me. I
live only on the hope of againe seeing the lighte of
your countenance, but I nowe feare it cannot be until
a yeare from hence. Before this reacheth you, I

-- 129 --

[figure description] Page 129.[end figure description]

shall be on my waye to the East Indies, where wealthe
promiseth to pour forth many treasures. For your
sake I will toyle for the glittering duste, and many
hardships would I endure so as I might throwe it at
your feete, and saye, 'Tis all for thee. Your grandfather
received your letter with much kindnesse. He spoke
with greate love, of your mother, but made no remarks
concerning your father. He shooke his head
mournfully when I parted from him, and saide, when
he was in the grave peradventure you would finde
you had not been forgotten by the olde Earle: and
he added, `I hope you will live long and be happie
together.' You see there is no need of having any
heavy thoughts; for in the Spring I shall return unto
you, if God spares my life: and whenever it pleaseth
him to take your goode mother (and I sincerely hope
it be not soone, much as I desire to call you mine),
you will come and share my home, in England or
America, as circumstances may be. To that home your
father will alwayes have a wellcome, and if he chooseth
not to accept it, I know nott that your dutie extendeth
furthere. Some time or other I maye make
New England my abode. My hearte woulde incline
to staye here; but England, like the pelican we have
read of, is mangling her owne bosome: though unlike
that birde, she doth not give nourishment to her childrene.
The Protestants banished by Mary, thirste
for the bloode of Charles; sending out their poisoned
arrows from Geneva and the Netherlands with all the
acrimonie of exile. Our goode king Charles and his
beautiful consorte are perplexed and embarrassed on
every side, and it needeth no very keene eye to see
that a terrible crisis draweth neare. For these reasons
I would fain seeke tranquillity on the other side
of the vaste ocean, if so be that an Episcopalian dove,
flying from the deluge which he seeth approaching,

-- 130 --

[figure description] Page 130.[end figure description]

and bringing an olive branch in his mouthe, maye
there finde refuge. My hearte bleedeth for olde England,
torne with religious commotions, as she hath
beene, from the time of the second Tudor: but my
feeble hande may not stop her wounds, gushing
though they be at every pore. In the Spring I shall
more certainlie knowe concerning what I have mentioned
in general terms: but wheresoever I may
abide, my hearte leapeth for joye, when I think I
shall then be permitted to kiss your hande. I have
sent a pipe to Hobomok, inasmuch as I thoughte it
mighte please him to knowe that I remembered him
in the big island across the water. In remembrance
of our last interview at dame Willet's, I have likewise
sent her a Bible, which I thought she would value
more than anything wherewith I coulde furnish her.
And to you my dear girle, I sende what I knowe will
be more wellcome than anything but myself. Remember
me kindly to Sally and dame Willet, and with
much dutifull love to your mother. I remaine through

“Your affectionate and humble servante,
Charles Brown.”

A pipe gaudily decorated, and carefully enveloped
in several wrappings of paper, accompanied this package.
Another contained a largely lettered Bible,
written within “For my olde friende Mistress Willet.”
On the outside of the third parcel was written, “I had
almoste forgotten my promise to Sally: if she be at
Plimouth, sende this to her.” It contained a handsome
gown, which Brown had once playfully promised
her for a wedding dress. A letter from the Earl of
Rivers was bound up with the prayer book which he
sent to his “Deare grandedaughtere;” but the import
of it was so similar to her mother's, that I forbear to

-- 131 --

[figure description] Page 131.[end figure description]

copy it. Last of all, though the first opened, was a
miniature likeness of Brown; and Mary gazed upon
it till the eyes seemed laughing and beaming, in all
the brilliancy of life, then turned away and wept that
the mockery of the pencil had such power to cheat
the heart. There was a strange contrast between
these presents, and every thing around them. A
small rough box placed upon a trunk, was all Mary's
toilette. And now there reposed upon it the miniature
of her lover, in its glittering enclosure; and a
splendid prayer-book printed for the royal family.
As Mary looked upon them, and thought of her present
situation, she felt that it was ill-judged kindness
thus forcibly to remind her of what she had left. Her
meditations were interrupted by the sound of Lady
Arabella's footsteps, and she hastily removed the rich
articles which covered her table. However, the precaution
was needless; for Mr. Johnson and his wife
were perfectly aware of Brown's reciprocated attachment;
and both supposed that the earl's private parcel
contained intelligence from him. No one could
have more conscientious horror of the form of church
worship established by the first defender of the faith,
and either from opinion or policy, supported by three
successive monarchs; but personal respect for Mr.
Brown, and affectionate interest in Mary, overcame
in some degree the narrow prejudices of the times,
and the secret was faithfully preserved.

In the evening Mr. Johnson brought up another
package from the Earl of Rivers. It contained, as he
had mentioned, a large, handsome Bible, written within,
in the trembling hand of age, “For my beloved
daughtere, the Ladye Mary.” Beneath, a blistered
spot announced that the name had aroused the cold
sympathies of advanced years, and given to the stainless
page the peace-offering of a father's heart. It

-- 132 --

[figure description] Page 132.[end figure description]

were but mockery of nature's power, to define the
complicated tissue of pain and pleasure, in the mind
of mother or daughter. Even the stern nerves of
Mr. Conant relaxed a little, when he read the old
gentleman's letter. He turned to the window, and
drummed a psalm tune for a few moments, then cast
round an inquiring glance, too see if any one had noticed
this moment of weakness. He met the anxious
look of Mary, who was timidly watching the changes
of his countenance. From his softened mood she argued
that her grandfather's expressions concerning
Brown, had met with no very unfavorable reception;
but however the old man's worldly pride might have
been affected by such honorable mention of his name,
it was all concealed, beneath a deep shade of rigidity,
as he said,

“I have but two things whereof to complain,—the
one in the letter, the other in the book; and they are
both things which my soul hateth. I mean the standing
of the Apocrypha in the Bible, and what is said
concerning that son of Belial.”

-- 133 --

Previous section

Next section

Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
Powered by PhiloLogic