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THE SECRET LOVER.
FROM THE PERSIAN OF JUAMI.
Lives there the soulless youth, whose eye
How unlike me!
Or see that cheek's pomegranate glow;
How unlike me!
Or see thee o'er the golden wire
How unlike me!
How unlike me!
Or hear thy hymn, at moonlight rise,
How unlike me!
Or see thee in thy simplest hour,
How unlike me!
But lives there one who vainly tries
Ah ! how like me!
THE OBEAH WOMAN.
A WEST INDIA NARRATIVE,
It was in the year 18— that I quitted England for the island of Antigua, my father, who was at the head of a mercantile house in this country, considering that a few months' local and practical knowledge of the state of society in the West Indies would better enable me to form a just estimate of the wants and condition of the colonies, than all the theoretical study that could be obtained in England. It was with these just views that he determined I should remain a year in the islands,
previous to my being admitted as a partner in the firm over which he presided.
On my arrival at Antigua, I took up my abode at the plantation-house of an old friend and correspondent of my father. He was a widower ; his only daughter had for some years been sent to England for her education. I had seen her but once, and that was a few days previous to my departure, when my father had directed me to call, and offer my services in taking charge of anything wbich she might wish to send out to Antigua. I was then in all the haste of a young man embarking in life, and on board of a ship at the same time, and my subsequent recollection of her was merely that she was rather a pretty and elegant young person.
I had been about four months on the island, and had gained a very tolerable insight into the habits and peculiarities of the negroes, when the circumstances occurred which I am now about to relate : but I must first describe the plantation and its inhabitants. The plantation house was situated at the end of a ravine, in the hollow of which were the cane plantations, extending from the house to within a hundred yards of the sea. On one side, on the rising ground, and about a quarter of a mile from the plantation house, stood the cottages of the negroes, with their provision grounds, running back towards the hill as far as the industry of the possessors induced them to put the land into the tillage. The mills and sugar-works were down by the sea-side, where there was a small bay with a wooden pier run out into deep water, for the droghers to come along-side and receive the casks of sugar which were, in these vessels, carried round to St. John's, and transferred to West India ships waiting for their cargoes. It was an isolated beautiful spot. The negroes were contented and happy ; I was constantly with them, and have, therefore, no hesitation in making the assertion, Sunday was their day of rest, or rather of pleasure, for they took no advantage of the former privilege, Before the sun had time to evaporate the dew-drops which glistened on the prickly pear-bushes, you would see them dressed in their smartest attire, loaded with the produce of their labor, gaily start off in a crowd to the market at St. John's, which is invariably held on the early part of that day. It was not only to sell their produce, but to meet their friends and supply their little wants, that they went to town. In the afternoon, most of them returned and attended the chapel, which was about two miles from the estate on the road to St. John's; the service being performed in the evening that it might be attended by the negroes after they had disposed of their produce,
Before I had been three months on the estate, I was acquainted with every negro upon the property, and many were the ruses employed by them to obtain from me some indulgence in the shape of rum, &c., when I went down in the evening to their cluster of cottages to witness their merriment-for seldom, if ever, did an evening pass away without their favorite amusement of dancing. There was one slave girl, about seventeen years old, who was considered the beauty of the plantation. I never could myself admire anything so decidedly black, but still I could not deny the extreme beauty of her teeth, the happy smile upon her face, and the neatness, as well as cleanliness, of her person and dress ; her figure was perfection, and compared with her own race, she certainly was a beauty.
This girl was usually the delegate from the other slaves, when they would coax me out of an order for two or three bottles of rum, to enliven
their merriment-I might almost say, to enable them to keep it up; for although I seldom observed any sensible perspiration among the gang when they were at work, yet when they danced it was most profuse; it appeared as if they made a pleasure of labor and a labor of pleasure. Half the exertion employed in the field which they expended in their amusement, would have enabled them to have accomplished their tasks before the day was half over. This slave girl was the object of admiration of many a young Othello, but one appeared to me to be decidedly the favorite. This was John Pepper, a fine tall negro, about twentythree years of age, with a humorous expression of countenance, which he seldom lost, except when tiouted by his mistress; for it must not be supposed that there is any want of coquetry in the black damsels of Antigua. "Eh! you tink I lub you now-keep you distance, Massa Pepper,' would often be the rebuff, accompanied with a scornful toss of the head, which John would receive when he too closely pressed his suit. Now whether it was that Sally Mango thought that I was partial to her, or whether she had first taken a fancy to me, I cannot pretend to say, but certain it was that by degrees she entirely broke off with Mr. John Pepper, and took every opportunity of throwing herself in my way. At this conduct John Pepper became sullen and unhappy. One day I accosted him, and asked when the marriage was to take place. So help me Gad, Massa Compton, me tink it nebber take place while you here. When you go away back to your own country?'.
Not for some time, John; but what makes you think so ?-you do not suppose I want to stand in your way?"
Suppose then, Massa, no wish stand in my way, why always stand about negro but? White gentleman nebber come to negro hut.
I come down to negro huts because it amuses me to see you all so happy. : - Me no happy, Sar,' replied Pepper, shaking his head, and looking fierce.
"Well, then, John, I'll try and make you so; tell me how I can assist you with Sally. If I can, I will with pleasure.'
Suppose you really speak for true, Massa Compton, you do me much good. Massa Compton, you know dat dam old hag, Nelly, what you always give pistareen to,-she like you very much-me hear her say you real gentleman. Now, Massa Compton, tell old Nelly you wish Sally marry me, and then it all come true, sure as Gad Almighty in hebben.'
The old negress to whom Pepper referred, was perhaps one of the most miserable and disgusting objects that could be imagined. Her face was shrivelled up like a Norfolk biffin, her thin hair as white as snow, her eyes nearly closed with a running sore, her mouth toothless, her frame bone and skin, her hands withered, and her body trembling. She sat upon a large stone at the door of her hut during the greater part of the day, and muttering to herself as she basked in the sun. In fact, she appeared to be a remnant of existence, a thing alive and breathing, but nothing more. I seldom went down to the huts without putting into her hand a small piece of money, which she would receive with a nod of her head as her long fingers clasped over the gift.
And how will she bring this to pass ? ' continued I, Massa Compton, I tell you,' replied Pepper, who was standing by merrand he leant down over the back of my chair, until his mouth was close to my ear, and whispered— Massa Compton-she great, very great Obeah woman.'
Of this I had not been aware—it was a secret which never would have been confided to me by any negro, but one so violently in love as John Pepper. Obeah practices are punished with severity when discovered, the power that those people have over the slaves being enormous. However, it was no affair of mine, and what was imparted in confidence I felt myself bound in honor not to reveal, and as I did wish to help John Pepper, I promised him that I would speak to old Nelly that evening.
As usual, I went down to the huts, and having, to escape observation supplied the negroes with some rum, as soon as they were in the frenzy of their dance, I slipped away to old Nelly, who was, as usual, seated on the stone, rocking her body gently to and fro. I put a dollar into her hand to propitiate niy suit. She muttered something as she dropped it down her peck, and then, as if anticipating that my generosity implied a request, stretched out her long skinney throat towards me, as if to hear my petition. I made it in few words, and we separated after she had nodded ber head to give me to understand that she comprebended my wishes. During the following week, I observed that Sally was thoughtful, and when I met her, avoided me with a reproachful look. Three weeks after my application to old Nelly, John Pepper and Sally were married, and John kissed my hand in gratitude as he requested me to honor the nuptial ceremony, which was performed by a missionary, who Jived within three miles of us, and with whom I was well acquainted -a more simple, devout, worthy man, I believe never existed : he had been educated for the church, and had now continued in his vocation for more than forty years. Although he could seldom be persuaded to enter into society, he was a general favorite with the planters. He devoted himself to his calling ; and if all the missionaries had been like him, to what a state of advancement the negroes would have by this time arrived! To the slaves, he was mild in his expostulations, adapted his language to their comprehension, won them by his kindness and cheerfulness, and would never admit them to the sacred rites of Christianity until he was persuaded that they understood the nature of their engagement.
As in the cuntinuation of this narrative, the conduct of a missionary will afford much interest, I will take this opportunity of making a few remarks upon this class of persons, as they appeared to me during my residence in the West Indies.
It is a matter of deep regret, that a more careful selection is not made by those who appoint missionaries from the mother country. Such as I bave described Mr. Wilson to be, (and there are many like him,) assist, and often set an example to ministers of the Established Church in their efforts to enlighten the negroes; but it appears to me, that there is no medium-either they are invaluable, or they are dangerous to society, from their over-zeal and precipitation. The religious enthusiasm which induces a man to devote his life to the extension of the gospel, often runs into extremes and becomes fanaticism. This is bad; but what is worse, with that fanaticism there is combined the jesuistical and dangerous creed-that the end justifies the means. Thus it is that we have two descriptions of missionaries in the Colonies-the one, which is the most rare, prepares the slave for emancipation—the other, tells bim that he ought to be free ; the one, that he must prove by his conduct that he is a Christian-the other, that he must only believe, and he is
saved. Unfortunately, one of the latter description will do more mischief in his own person than three of the former can remedy ; and thus it is, froin the want of a careful selection by those who sent them out with the best intentions, the whole body of missionaries have been stig. matised as preaching rebellion and insubordination instead of those divine precepts which would render the negro content in that situation to which it pleased God to call him. It is easy to suppose that a negro, coarse in his appetites, and indolent in his nature, will more readily embrace the dogmas of him who preaches faith, yet permits immoral works, and who points out to the negro that he ought to be free, (which, with the vegro, implies that he ought not to labor,) in preference to the creed of that religious and conscientious man who inculcates mortification of the grosser appetites, and diligence in their avocations. One fanatic will, therefore, carry away hundreds of proselytes from every conscientious teacher of the revealed religion. But to continue.
T'he marriage of Pepper and Sally had taken place about three weeks when Mr. I- , who had a commercial house, and spent a great portion of time at St. Johns, informed me that several missionaries had arrived in the ship from Liverpool, and that he understood that it was the intention that one should be established near the plantation. He appeared vexed at the circumstance, as the conduct of Mr. Wilson had obtained universal respect; and he had been informed that those who had arrived were of a sect not very likely to assimilate with him in their communication with the slaves. What he reported was correct; a day or two afterwards, as I sauntered past the huts, I perceived a white man in earnest conversation with the slaves. His appearance and dress at once told me who he was, but wishing to be certain, I walked up to him, and without ceremony, requested his name, and his reasons for appearing in the plantation,
My name is Saul Fallover,' replied he, in a sanctified tone ; 'my calling is of the Lord, to teach salvation to those poor deluded brethren.'
They attend Mr. Wilson,' replied I, who is a deputed minister of the gospel ; and obliged as we are to you for your good intentions, you will surely not interfere with the congregation of another preacher?
I must obey the calling of the Lord,' replied he ; ' and 'heed not the scoffing of those who are not in Christ, or who seek not diligently.' He then turned and walked away.
During our short conference, I had ample time for surveying his outward appearance. He was a very well looking man, with black hair combed flat on his forehead, dark eyes, pale complexion, large mouth, and splendid set of teeth. He was however maimed, baving lost his left hand at the wrist, and by the manner in which his arm hung down, it appeared to have also suffered injury. I afterwards discovered that he had been a cotton-spinner at Manchester, and having lost his hand in the machinery, had turned methodist, as much for a livelihood as from a desire to extend the gospel. Amongst the slaves who had been listening to his exhortation was my friend John Pepper, who, turning round to me as soon as the missionary was out of hearing,' said_Very fine man, Massa Compton,-talk all about grace, and faith, and the debil. He say, he come to my hut and show me new light,'
"Take my advice, Pepper, and have nothing to do with 'new lights ;' and if he comes to your hut, tell him to go home again.'
Poor Pepper! he turned a deaf ear to my request. Mr. Saul Fallover