« VorigeDoorgaan »
a part and parcel of them. I have lived my life, brief though it was, and melancholy the close. I do not live; I only exist. A form, it is true, goes the accustomed rounds of duty; a voice, cold, unfaltering, speaks when necessity demands; a pale, motionless face, with dead, gray eyes, bends over any necessary form of labor; but the heart is dead and buried in the grave of my first, my only love-Roland! Roland!
"No other light has lighted up my heaven,
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life's hopes sleep in the grave with thee.”
MRS. BESSIE W. WILLIAMS.
MONG the Southern writers, there are many who never published a line until the disastrous state of affairs consequent upon the close of the war found them compelled to earn a living; and the pen, a delight in happier and prosperous days, was chosen by many as a means of livelihood. Articles written for the pleasure and amusement of a limited circle now saw light, that otherwise would never have been printed.
Mrs. Bessie W. Williams ("Constance") has not published a great deal, but in what she has published, in "Scott's Magazine" and "The Mobile Sunday Times," we think we see germs of great promise for future excellence. She may be now a "half-fledged birdling, but her wings will soon be sufficiently grown, and she will fly high."
Her real, breathing, moving life has been so full of stirring events, so made up of deepest sorrows and sweetest joys, that not until recently has she felt she could quietly sit down and write her thoughts.
Mrs. Williams is a native of the town of Beaufort, State of South Carolina. She is the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, of Hampton's Legion," who nobly yielded up his life on the field of the "First Manassas." The three names, Bee, Bartow, Johnson, were among the first which became immortal in the Confederate struggle for independence. Her husband was Henry S. Williams, of Marietta, Georgia, where she now resides. At the youthful age of twenty-one, Mrs. Williams was a widow. If it were possible for her to devote her time to reading and studying, we think, candidly, that as a writer she would take a high place among the literati of our country.
The following extract is from the concluding chapter of “Ciaromski and his Daughter," published in the "Mobile Sunday Times."
AFTER THE BATTLE.
Oh! what words can describe, what language can depict the horrors of a battle-field? Fearful it is when the booming of the cannon, the clash of
arms, the shouts of commanders, the cheering of the men, and the wild neighing of steeds, in a horrible medley, rend the skies; but when these sounds have passed away, when the bloody work is finished, and we are left alone with the dying and the dead then the human tongue fails, and language is powerless to portray.
On such a scene as this the setting sun now casts his last, lingering rays. The snow-covered plain, which in its spotless purity his early beams had gilded, now lies crimson and reeking with the blood of the slain. The battle is over the cries of victory have died away in murmuring echoes among the hills; and here, resting from their toils, lie the weary laborers in this bloody field.
All gory and mangled they lie. Some, whose hearts are beating still, though the tide of life is fast ebbing away; and others with the moisture of death upon their brows, his stiffening hand upon their limbs.
Oh, fond mother! here you will find your darling, the pride of your heart, him whom you have borne in your arms and pressed to your bosom. Come, look upon him now! Is this cold, lifeless form, with matted locks and distorted features, your gallant, fair-haired boy?
Loving wife! here too is your husband, the father of your children, the strong arm upon which you leaned, the true heart where you ever found love and sympathy; the lips are cold now — they return not your kiss.
Devoted daughter! come, seek thy father, for he, too, lies here! See, the gray locks are stained with blood, and the eyes are dim and sightless. Place thy hand upon his heart-it beats no more! Then he is dead, and from thy life hath passed away one of its greatest blessings. Long, long wilt thou mourn the loss of his protecting love-that love which was born in thy birth, and grew with thy growth, unselfish, untiring.
Yes; husbands, sons, fathers, lovers, brothers—all lie upon the red plain, weltering in their blood. My heart grows sick within me as I gaze upon the scene of carnage. O sun! withdraw thy lingering rays; and do thou, O night! envelop with thy sable mantle and shut out from my sight the horrid spectacle!
ISS MANHIEM was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1830. Her mother, whose maiden name was De Pass, was born in France, and emigrated to America when a child. She was a woman of fine endowments, and possessed great strength of character, which she constantly displayed in the judicious training of a large family of children amid the severest struggles of poverty. All of her children are men and women of eminent virtues and genius. Her five daughters are known in their social home-circle as writers: the two elder employ the pen merely as a means of pleasing recreation; the three younger have made it a means of pecuniary benefit. Their two brothers, the Hon. Judge S. and Elcan Heydenfeldt, are men whose eminence is too well known to the world to require notice from us otherwise than as the talented brothers of five gifted sisters.
The father of the three younger daughters (their mother having married the second time) was of Scotch and Irish descent; and though far more proud of his American birth, he often asserted with chivalric pride that the "blood of the Bruces " flowed in his veins. He was a man of quick, nervous temperament, and, though not having leisure to enter into "authorship," genius often rose superior, and the "poet" triumphed over the laborer. He died in his forty-fifth year. His talents were transmitted to his eldest child, Louise Manhiem, the subject of this sketch.
Miss Manhiem became Mrs. Herbert in 1853, but her husband dying immediately after his marriage, (three days,) she sought consolation in her studies. A few years after, she accompanied her brother to Europe, where he wished to educate his children, and where she remained for two years, visiting the principal cities of the Old World.
During the "war," Mrs. Herbert was a kind and efficient nurse to sick and wounded soldiers, and more than one "soldier in gray" owes his life to her gentle care. She is now in California, and urges in her pleasant, forcible letters emigration to that "grand and splendid country." Although separated by oceans, we hope and expect many pungent and pleasing articles will cross the Atlantic to brighten and gladden our firesides.
Mrs. Herbert possesses a lively, genial disposition, is a fluent talker, and fond of cheerful company, preferring the more congenial mind of learned men to the more versatile and light companionship of her own sex. Under all circumstances, she is an agreeable companion.
In person, she is of medium height, well formed, and peculiarly graceful. She has a little spice of temper, (as, by-the-by, all the sisters have, but one;) but she possesses a noble nature and kind heart, which we hope will beat long enough to add much to the general happiness and the wisdom of mankind.
Mrs. Herbert has never published a volume, her contributions being to the magazines and literary journals of the day. She is a splendid French scholar, translating that language with ease and fine diction.
Finished at last
sealed, directed, post-stamped! Very well— tie on your bonnet - fling on your shawl. Oh, never mind! don't stop to coax on those tedious gloves, pray! You have a long way to go, and you can put them on as you walk along. You are not the Countess of Blessington, you know; and now you have no tedious brothers to preach and tyrannize.
It is true that the race of slovenly blue-stockings is fast dying out, and I, for one, certainly do admire to see a woman who "goes in thoroughly for dress." Not, indeed, the order of painted popinjays or peacock tribe, who, bedecked in all the ornament for which she can find space, and brilliant in every coloring of the rainbow, spends her time in strutting from one mirror to another, admiring the effect of its charming tout ensemble — keeping the white hands constantly busy brushing off specks, arranging a stray ringlet or rebellious lock, (sometimes too with the pomatum which happens to be most handy, and not particularly odorous or perfumed should the digestion be impaired or the dentist's rooms unfrequented,) pulling out a puffing, a crumpled frill, a tumbled flounce, a creased ribbon, a crushed collarette or undersleeve; re-fastening a brooch, re-adjusting a bracelet, or re-arranging belt or buckle :—one of those “gentle creatures," who, upon an accident in the crowded street, where her trailing skirts are out of place and out of taste, deserving any amount of ill luck--if not ill treatment-from some awkward boot or spur, cannot forbear an expression of peevish regret, or a flash of malignant anger from beneath the "fringed lashes" at the miserable, luckless offender. No! not one of these worshippers at the feet of fashion, but one of those majestic and queenly or graceful and delicate creatures whom you involuntarily turn to look upon again—those who, once robed with due regard to delicacy of texture, to harmonious blendings of color, and an