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ingly in a spirit of sport, the insidious reptile slowly unwound himself from his coil, but only to gather himself up again into his muscular rings, his great flat head rising in the midst, and slowly nodding, as it were, toward her, the eye still peering deeply into her own ;-the rattle still slightly ringing at intervals, and giving forth that paralyzing sound, which, once heard, is remembered forever. The reptile all this while appeared to be conscious of, and to sport with, while seeking to excite, her terrors. Now, with his flat head, distended mouth, and curving neck, would it dart forward its long form toward her,—its fatal teeth, unfolding on either side of its upper jaws, seeming to threaten her with instantaneous death; while its powerful eye shot forth glances of that fatal power of fascination, malignantly bright, which, by paralyzing, with a novel form of terror and of beauty, may readily account for the spell it possesses of binding the feet of the timid, and denying to fear even the privilege of flight.
9. Could she have fled! She felt the necessity; but the power of her limbs was gone! and there still it lay, coiling and uncoiling, its arching neck glittering like a ring of brazed copper, bright and lurid; and the dreadful beauty of its eye still fastened, eagerly contem'plating the victim, while the pendulous rattle still rang the death-note, as if to prepare the conscious mind for the fate which is momently approaching to the blow. Meanwhile the stillnèss became death-like with all surrounding objects. The bird had gone, with its scream and rush. The breeze was silent. The vines ceased to wave. The leaves faintly quivered on their stems. The serpent once more lay still; but the eye was never once turned away from the victim. Its corded muscles are all in coil. They have but to unclasp suddenly, and the dreadful folds will be upon her, its full length, and the fatal teeth will strike, and the deadly venom which they secrete will mingle with the life-blood in her veins.
10. The terrified damsel, her full consciousness restored, but not her strength, feels all the danger. She sees that the sport of the terrible reptile is at an end. She can not now mistake the horrid expression of its eye. She strives to scream, but the voice dies away, a feeble gurgling in her throat. Her tongue is paralyzed; her lips are sealed. Once more she strives for flight, but her limbs refuse their office. She has nothing left of life but its fearful consciousness. It is in her despair, that, a last
effort, she succeeds to scream,—a single wild cry, fōrced from her by the accumulated agony: she sinks down upon the grass before her enemy,-her eyes, however, still open, and still looking upon those which he directs forever upon them. She sees him approach-now advancing, now receding-now swelling in every part with something of anger, while his neck is arched beautifully, like that of a wild horse under the curb; until, at length, tired as it were of play, like the cat with its victim, she sees his neck growing larger and becoming completely bronzed, as about to strike,-the huge jaws unclosing almost directly above her, the long tubulated fang, charged with venom, protruding from the cav'ernous mouth; and she sees no more. Insensibility came to her aid, and she lay almost lifeless under the very folds of the monster.
11. In that moment the copse parted; and an arrow, piercing the monster through and through the neck, bōre his head forward to the ground, alongside the maiden, while his spiral extremities, now unfolding in his own agony, were actually, in part, writhing upon her person. The arrow came from the fugitive Occonestoga, who had fortunately reached the spot in season, on the way to the Block-House. He rushed from the copse as the snake fell, and, with a stick, fearlessly approached him where he lay tossing in agony upon the grass. Seeing him advance, the courageous reptile made an effort to regain his coil, shaking the fearful rattle violently at every evolution which he took for that purpose; but the arrow, completely passing through his neck, opposed an unyielding obstacle to the endeavor; and finding it hopeless, and seeing the new enemy about to assault him, with something of the spirit of the white man under like circumstances, he turned desperately round, and striking his charged fangs, so that they were riveted in the wound they made, into a susceptible part of his own body, he threw himself over with a single convulsion, and, a moment after, lay dead beside the utterly unconscious maiden.
WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS was born at Charleston, South Carolina, April 17th, 1806. His mother died while he was an infant, and his father, failing soon after as a merchant, emigrated to the West, leaving him to the care of an aged and penurious grandmother, who withheld the appropriations necessary for his education. His love of books, industry, and richly endowed intellect, however, triumphed over every obstacle. He wrote for the press, at an early age, on a great variety of subjects, and was admitted to the bar, in his native city, at the age of twenty-one. He did not long practice law, but turned his peculiar train
ing to the uses of literature. He became editor and proprietor of the "Charleston City Gazette," which, though conducted with industry and spirit, proved a failure, owing to his opposition to the then popular doctrine of nullification. He published his first book, "Lyrical and other Poems," in 1825, when about eighteen years of age, followed the same year by "Early Lays." Atalantis," the third work following, a successful poem with the publishers, a rarity at the time, was published in New York, in 1832. It is written in smooth blank verse, interspersed with frequent lyrics. The next year appeared in New York his first tale, "Martin Faber," written in the intense passionate style, which secured at once public attention. Since that period he has written numerous novels, histories, biographies, and poems, and has contributed largely to reviews and magazines. In 1849 he became editor of "The Southern Quarterly Review," which was revived by his able contributions and personal influence. His writings are characterized by their earnestness, sincerity, and thoroughness. His shorter stories are his best works. Though somewhat wanting in elegance, they have unity, completeness, and strength. Mr. Simms now resides on his plantation at Midway, a town about seventy miles southwest of Charleston,
77. IRVING AND MACAULAY.
LMOST the last words which Sir Walter Scott spoke to Lockhart, his son-in-law and biographer, were, "Be a good man, my dear!" and with the last flicker of breath on his dying lips, he sighed a farewell to his family, and passed away blessing them. Two men, famous, admired, beloved, have just left us, the Goldsmith and the Gibbon of our time. Ere a few weeks are over, many a critic's pen will be at work, reviewing their lives, and passing judgment on their works.
2. This is no review, or history, or criticism; only a word in testimony of respect and regard from a man of letters, who owes to his own professional labor the honor of becoming acquainted with these two eminent literary men. One was the first ambassador whom the New World of Letters sent to the Old. He was born almost with the Republic; the pater patriæ1 had laid his hand on the child's head. He bōre Washington's2 name :
'Pa' ter patriæ, father of his country.
er-in-chief of the army of independence during the American Revolution, "George Washington, command- first President of the United States,
he came among us bringing the kindest sympathy, the most artless, smiling good-will.
3. His new country (which some people here might be disposed to regard rather superciliously) could send us, as he showed in his own person, a gentleman, who, though himself born in no very high sphere, was most finished, polished, easy, witty, quiet, and, socially, the equal of the most refined Europe'ans. If Irving's welcome in England was a kind one, was it not also gratefully remembered? If he ate our salt, did he not pay us with a thankful heart?
4. In America the love and regard for Irving was a nătional sentiment. It seemed to me, during a year's travel in the country, as if no one ever aimed a blow at Irving. All men held their hand from that harmlèss, friendly peacemaker. I had the good fortune to see him at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, and remarked how in every place he was honored and welcomed. Every large city has its "Irving House." The country takes pride in the fame of its men of letters.
5. The gate of his own charming little domain on the beautiful Hudson River was forever swinging before visitors who came to him. He shut out no one. I had seen many pictures of his house, and read descriptions of it, in both of which it was treated with a not unusual American exaggeration. It was but a pretty little cabin of a place; the gentleman of the press who took notes of it, while his kind old hōst was sleeping, might have visited the house in a couple of minutes.
6. And how came it that this house was so small, when Mr. Irving's books were sold by hundreds of thousands, nay, millions, -when his profits were known to be large, and the habits of life of the good old bachelor were notoriously modest and simple? He had loved once in his life. The lady he loved died; and he, whom all the world loved, never sought to replace her.
7. I can't say how much the thought of that fidelity has touched me. Does not the very cheerfulness of his after life add to the pathos of that untold story? To grieve always was not in his nature; or, when he had his sorrow, to bring all the world in to condole with him and bemoan it. Deep and quiet
styled the "Father of his Country," He retired from public life in 1796, was born in Westmoreland, Vir- and died December 14th, 1799, leav ginia, on the 22d of February, 1732. ing a reputation without a stain.
he lays the love of his heart, and buries it, and grass and flowers grow over the scarred ground in due time.
8. Irving had such a small house and such narrow rooms because there was a great number of people to occupy them. He could only live věry modestly because the wifelèss, childless man had a number of children to whom he was as a father. He had
as many as nine nieces, I am told,-I saw two of these ladies at his house, with all of whom the dear old man had shared the produce of his labor and genius. "Be a good man, my dear." One can't but think of these last words of the veteran Chief of Letters, who had tasted and tested the value of worldly success, admiration, prosperity. Was Irving not good, and, of his works, was not his life the best part?
9. In his family, gentle, generous, good-humored, affectionate, self-denying; in society, a delightful example of complete gentlemanhood; quite unspoiled by prosperity; never obsequious to the great (or, worse still, to the base and mean, as some public men are forced to be in his and other countries); eager to acknowledge every contemporary's merit; always kind and affable with the young members of his calling; in his professional bargains and mer'cantile dealings delicately honest and grateful; he was at the same time one of the most charming masters of our lighter language; the constant friend to us and our nation; to men of letters doubly dear, not for his wit and genius merely, but as an exemplar of goodness, probity, and a pure life!
78. IRVING AND MACAULAY.
S for Macaulay, whose departure many friends, some few most dearly-loved relatives, and multitudes of admiring readers deplore, our Republic' has already decreed his statue, and he must have known that he had earned this post'humous' honor. He was not a poët and man of letters merely, but a citizen, a statesman, a great British worthy. All sorts of successes are easy to him as a lad he goes down into the arēna 2 Post' hu moŭs, continuing after one's death.
1 Our Republic, meaning Republic of letters."