Imagens das páginas


that, as a general rule, the incumbents have gone into office on the same principle, with a fair understanding of the value of their tenure of the places which they were under no obligation to take-and in most cases supplanting predecessors under circumstances of private hardships fully equal to that which the revolving wheel of political fortune brings again home to themselves-when it is borne in mind that at each successive step of alternate retaliation it becomes more and more difficult, more and more impossible, for either to refuse to take the rent-it may be understood even by those who most heartily dislike this part of our system," how idle it is to expect, how unreasonable to demand, from any new party and administration coming into power, anything short of a very extensive change in the offices at its disposal. We dislike this as much as any, and much more than most. Nevertheless, as practical observers and reasoners, we see the present necessity out of which it grows; the impossibility of preventing it; and the folly of railing against it. It is in the bad system that the fault lies, and there alone can it be reached by any effective cure or prevention. Perhaps, too, it is best to let it have its full way, without tinkering at its eternal symptoms with palliatives and patches, tending only to delay that radical reform which may be best promoted by allowing its necessity most speedily and strongly to demonstrate itself. That reform is only to be found in reducing the Presidential term-taking away the power of removal without good cause assigned and we ought to add, transferring to local popular election a large proportion of the official patronage, now vested in the executive. Sooner or later this must be done;the later it is, the worse it will be, the sooner, the better.

The reform here proposed would open the chance of honorable Presidential aspiration to many men of the highest rank of ability and merit who now stand necessarily excluded from it. Any one can for himself easily make up at this moment a list of some fifteen or twenty eminent Democrats, in different sections of the Union, who may be said all to occupy what may be called a Presidential position, that is, to be fully worthy and suitable as possible candidates for that highest of human

political honors; yet not more than three or four of these are likely ever to attain it. The tendency of such a state of things to foster intrigue, combination, undue means even for legitimate ends, among public men of the highest grades, it is needless to dwell upon. A fair justice, too, would seem to require, that now, when the great and fast growing extension of our country produces the effect of bringing forward on the stage of public life so large a number of men of equal, or nearly equal pretensions, this honor should not be confined to two or three of a class embracing perhaps a dozen, to the necessary exclusion of all the rest. With annual elections, and reeligibility, restricted in practice so as to give each President not more than three, and perhaps on an average two years, the greater number of men of this class would be taken up by the people in succession, while the Presidency would move round in a healthy rotation through the different sections and States, to the satisfaction of all, and the avoidance of those sectional jealousies which are now so irritating and so mischievous.

This is the time to consider and to act upon this subject-just at the close of one Presidential contest, and before the candidates have been indicated for the next; while there are still, therefore, no special interests enlisted in opposing this suggestion for the purpose of securing a larger probable term of the Presidency to their own already selected candidate. There are already several eminent ornaments of our party who are looked to, with more or less of hope by their respective friends, as our candidate for 1848. If the proposed reduction of the term should be made, all could then come in, in timely order, while several others, now scarcely thought of, though no less meritorious, would also be brought in the scope of a legitimate chance. The Roman Consuls were annually selected-why not our Presidents? The executives of several of our States-why not the executive of the confederacy?

We shall be glad if the Democratic press generally would copy this article -which we have purposely made a short one-whether to express their concurrence or dissent is immaterial, provided, only, they bring the matter fairly before the consideration of their respective circle of readers.



THE timidest and gentlest of creatures was poor Esther (or Esteer as it was usually pronounced), when she presented herself one morning, for a place of domestic servitude, to a Christian lady who had become a resident at Swarrah, or Mogadore, as it is called by Europeans, on the coast of Morocco. The touching sadness of her faltering tones, with the expression of deep melancholy resting on her regular and singularly lovely features, could scarcely fail to win for her kind words and courteous reception from the Christian bosom she appealed to so pathetically for shelter and employment; and in defiance of the warnings given by the more initiated, in regard to the physical qualities of strength, and the habit of labor, adapted to the duties she was required to perform, that quick monitor which touches the chord of sympathy in a woman's heart was true to its own instincts. Esteer's tears, as they flowed from a fount long closed, down a cheek as smooth and pale as marble, and as finely moulded by the hand of God to the lines of beauty, as marble has ever been chiselled by that of man, came warm up from that hidden spring which gushes forth from the hearts of the unhappy, only when touched by the magic of unaccustomed tenderness. The result was, that, contrary to much sage advice, Esteer, with the white soft delicacy of her little taper fingers, which seemed never to have attempted any ruder task than that of braiding her own flowing luxuriance of raven tresses, with her gait of graceful repose, and and eyes into whose soft but richly beaming depth it seemed impossible to look and impose upon her any command of menial service was promptly received, by our young and perhaps unwise Christian dame, into the responsible post of a "maid of all work,"

The rest of the household consisted of an old woman, named Rammo, who was monarch of all she surveyed in the kitchen; and a giddy piece of masculine humanity, named Hadzar, whose chief employment was to break all those fragile articles of household indis

pensableness which could not be replaced for love or money in Swarrah; each such occasion, according to the superstition of the country, being always eagerly announced by him to his provoked and despairing mistress as a grand sign of "luck." The Christian lady who exhibited this reprehensible imprudence in the choice of a servant, was, though herself not yet "out of her teens," the wife of an American gentleman, whom commercial pursuits had brought to this part of the world. At the time of Esteer's introduction into her service, her husband was absent on a distant voyage, leaving her the charge of a large old Moorish house, two infant children, the younger of them still in the cradle-and the above described rather oddly assorted household. In addition to the above, I should mention an Emperor's soldier," whose duty was to officiate as a porter and guard at the gate. His name was Hassaun.

Esteer, however, soon fell in, and abundantly justified that confidence in her to which her sweet and melancholy beauty had been her sole title; and put to shame the warnings with which her young mistress had been cautioned against taking her. She knew little indeed about any of the duties of menial service; especially in a household conducted as much as possible on "Christian principles,"-if without profanity I may thus use the word in the sense in which it was commonly employed, to denote European in distinction from Mahcmetan. But the willing heart and the quick and docile intelligence soon triumphed over the disadvantages of the delicate and inexperienced hands; so that while still much as possible spared all severer tasks, in general usefulness as a personal attendant upon her mistress, Esteer became one of the most serviceable of "helps."

Yet still, with all her anxiety to please, and all the pain with which she appeared to feel the slightest failure in her offices, however unnoticed or unchided, no praise, no evidence of satisfaction, no mark of kindness even, seemed ever for a moment to withdraw

the veil of sadness that clouded her
lovely face. There was an idiot old
man who shortly after her installation
in her place, guided by the animal in-
stinct which alone remained to his
wretched and imbruted condition, estab-
lished his seat beneath the wall of the
house, to await a share of Esteer's daily
food; of which indeed she never par-
took herself until the larger and better
portion had been laid by the side of the
miserable drivelling being whom it was
poor Esteer's lot to call father. She
was indeed the daughter of the doubly
despised old idiot Jew who crouched
and gibbered all day there by the
Christian lady's gate. But the spirit
and the heart were gone, utterly gone,
that had once known her as such; and
no other sentiment, no other mental
sign of life remained to keep alive the
vital spark in what seemed but the very
ashes of humanity, than an avaricious
greed for money. If a few fluse were
cast to him, he would clutch them in his
attenuated hand with an iron grip that
defeated the often tried efforts of mis-
chievous Moorish boys to rob him of
and with a cunning that defied
scrutiny he would hide them, even
though, as had sometimes been the case
before he became fixed in his present
better quarters, he was himself half
starved for food.

And yet, to the young mistress of the young Jewess, there was a still profounder melancholy in the picture which the daughter herself presented, of an utterly frozen, blighted, withered spirit, still animating, as though with a sad mockery of life, that form and face of a beauty so young, so exquisite, so evidently meant by a lavish mood of nature for all the best and brightest blisses of human existence, alike for bestowal and enjoyment. Nothing, as I have already remarked, ever appeared to reach her, to soften her, to raise a smile on her hopelessly dejected features, to let through a single ray of the blue through the perpetual cloud whose shadow for ever rest

ed dark and cold upon her. She was ever gentle, ever uncomplaining, ever ready, willing and kind-ever anxious to satisfy, to exhaust herself in the labors of her service and grateful for the kindness which was bestowed upon her by her mistress. She was all this, but she was never, as it appeared, in the slightest degree less unhappy.

At length, however, the ice of her desolation did begin to yield. The instinct of womanly sympathy at length succeeded in teaching her mistress to find one remaining avenue to her heart yet unclosed, by which to let in one ray of something akin to a joy, one gleam of tender softening and warming natural feeling. She gave into her gentle keeping the charge of her young infant, so far as she was ever willing to surrender it out of her own. The smile that first played around its mouth was elicited by her soft, touching and most melodious voice-the eye of incipient recognition beamed first on the sad beauty of her face-the little lips pressed hers when nature first moved with the dim instinct of love in the holy purity of the breast of a little child-and ere long the round chubby arms learned to encircle in their embrace the neck of the till now lonely Jewess. Heaven triumphed, and the desolate daughter of Judah was once more warmed into life, and to an interest at once soothing and gently exciting to her heart.* So that while she cradled the precious head for slumber on her own pure bosom, she took pleasure in chanting forth, after the manner of her country, the beauty and graces, present and future, of the talisman that had thus touched the long silent chord of harmony in her soul-in notes so deeply thrilling that the happy mother shed not a few secret tears whilst Esteer, seated at her feet, hushed her babe to repose. When the frolic and restlessness of the manly boy sought mirth and play, he would creep from Esteer's knee to find it elsewhere; but he would rarely fail to creep soon back

* In correcting the proof-sheet of the present "Reminiscence," as it passes through the press, the Editor of this Review feels bound here to express his gratification at learning from it that he was made to serve so useful and agreeable a purpose at so early an age; having been the juvenile whose unconsciously pleasant performances are here recorded. And if another "Esteer" is to be found among the daughters of Judah, or any of the other eleven tribes, who should half match the description above given of the beautiful nurse of his teething days, we think he might be prevailed upon, with very slight urging, again to render a similar service by similar means. Ed. D. R.

again, wearied and disappointed, and pillow his little head for comfort or rest with her.

Secure from taunt and malice, Esteer thus went calmly on. The daily food-with a pious care which might put to the blush many a Christian daughter-never failed to be conveyed to the benighted old beggar at the gate. But a Christian's roof in Barbary could not always protect one of her degraded caste from insult. One morning when the Moorish guard or porter above mentioned happened to be out of the way, Esteer, having her little charge in her arms, chanced to look through an aperture in the wall opening on the street, from which it was usual to answer the ring of the bell of the door. At that moment a couple of Arabs were passing, who had come in from the desert to sell their fowls to the citizens of Swarrah; they caught a glimpse of Esteer's head, and rang. Her mistress's orders were never to answer the bell when the guard should be absent; and on this occasion, while poor Esteer's heart beat violently with agitation and terror, she of course made no response to the summons. The effect of this on the wild men without, was to throw them into a state of violent rage; and their clamors and threats, as they furiously besieged the door, at last constrained Esteer to draw the bolt and raise the latch. Pale, trembling from head to foot, and crouching to the ground from fear of the cruel enemies of her race, now so exasperated against herself, she flung herself before the terrified child, who clasped his arms round her neck and clung to her for the protection which she was so little able to give. But instead of receiving, the child itself bestowed protection, and by that embrace saved the life of the poor Jewess, its beautiful nurse; for one of the savage and infuriated Arabs, with raised cimeter, was in the act of striking when the child entwined its arms around her, interposing its body before the blow. The Arab dared not strike the Christian boy, and while his companion was in the act of tearing away the child from its close and struggling clasp, the mother, whom the sound of alarm had reached in a distant part of the house, entered, and accosted the Arabs with a mother's resolute courage. They paid no regard to her, and seemed not indeed to hear her, and yielding to terror, she

gazed powerless on the fearful scene. They would undoubtedly have executed their purpose, and struck the girl dead before her mistress's feet, but before they could disengage the child, the Moorish guard entered, his return (from some errand in the neighbourhood) having been hastened by the clamor of the Arabs at the gate. His presence was like oil upon the raging waters. The Arab sheathed his cimeter, though of course there was no apology to be made for so trifling an occurrence; while his companion, with the air of a rightful indignation which was very magnanimous and merciful in consenting to be appeased, related the offence of the dog of a Jewess in refusing entrance to a Musulman. As a peace-offering the lady suffered Hassaun to buy all their fowls at their own price, and they departed; but a stifled groan from the miserable old idiot outside, told of the ruthless kick, in passing, which had called it forth. Alas, for the Jews of Barbary! To be spit upon, or only struck with the hand, would have been borne without even the plaint of a groan.

Esteer was long in recovering from this fright; her mistress feared indeed for some time that it might permanently disorder her reason; and she has ever since fancied that it was at least in part owing to the soothing effect upon her heart of the love and caresses of the child, her little charge, that she did recover from it. That one little rill of pure and sweet nature laved the lone and chilled breast of poor Esteer, and set in motion one atom of that life without which drear indeed is the gift of existence to humanity.

A few weeks after this occurrence, at the early call of the muezzin from the mosques, to warn the sleeping city of the Great God and Mahomet his Prophet, a cavalcade of eight or ten Christians, in the fresh and delicious early morning, were making active preparations for an excursion into the country. Camels laden with tents and bedding towered mountain high, beside the patient asses, whose more gentle and ambling gait was better adapted to the transportation of the delicacies which were amply provided to regale the bright and merry party during their sojourn. Strong, active mules, of a beauty and size only seen in Barbary, ventured to snuff the cool fresh air of heaven with upturned ncses, in pre

sence of their noble betters, the fleet symmetrical Arab horses, that pawed the ground, and neighed loudly their impatience to bound it over the smooth and compact sea-beach, on whose surface their light hoofs would scarcely leave a print. One had been taught to cower his graceful body to receive the weight of his young mistress, the Christian lady above mentioned, and who is the narrator of these reminis cences of another day and a distant land. Another, gentle as a lamb and fleet as an arrow, seemed delighted to bear the fair burthen it was his lot to carry. These two were the only ladies of the party. At length all seemed in readiness for a general start. The Moorish soldier as a guard, on his mettlesome and powerful steed, adjusted gracefully his flowing haick, and looked the very impersonation of bravery and manly prowess, as he raised high his turbaned head, and placed himself at the head of the party, which then rode slowly out through the streets of the city towards the gate opening upon the beach, called the Bebel Exemo, or Gate of Entrance.

The gate was soon passed, and saalams exchanged with the guard on duty there, and the little party cantered gaily on, with a perfect enjoyment of all the exhilaration of the occasion, when it was discovered that something was for gotten. A halt was made, but the two ladies with Esteer and the child in an armuga (or a frame-work like a pannier, borne on a mule, with a seat on each side), with Hadzar to run beside, continued on. The fresh breeze from the gently heaving bosom of the blue ocean at their feet, courted them onward and onward, expecting to be followed closely by the rest of the party, until at last they found themselves at the end of this most perfect beach, a distance of not less than six miles from the city. In full confidence of seeing their friends and guard behind them, they looked back across the long open expanse of the distance they had come -but in vain; some unexpected delay had detained them, and the little party of unprotected females, an infant, and the young Jew Hadzar, who was the least available of the whole for any purpose of defence, felt themselves to be in a situation of very serious peril.

No Christian ever dared to venture a mile beyond the city without an escort;

he would run great risk of encountering Arabs, who would be very apt to murder as well as plunder him if they could. In the present instance, the gentlemen of the party would never have permitted the thoughtlessness of the ladies to lead them into such a situation, but they had turned back in quest of the forgotten articles for the expedition, never imagining that the latter would have proceeded thus unguarded on their way. To dismount, tie the horses to a tree (for they had come to the entrance of the wood), and, taking shelter under the branches of another from the now risen sun, which lent to the fresh fallen dew more than the glitter of myriads of diamonds, to await the arrival of the rest, was all that could be done. The two ladies, indeed, could not be prevailed upon, in the buoyant spirits of youth, to feel much real alarm, confident as they were every moment of their being joined by their party; but Esteer with the child stayed close to her mistress's feet, in a seeming agony of fear, though she spoke not, for who listened to the warnings of a Jewess ?-while Hadzar chaffered his terror in audible mutterings, and invoked the God of Israel to preserve us from the wild Bedouins. It was in vain that Hadzar's mistress reminded him that he had broken a glass that very morning, but the charm of this omen of good luck could not stand such a test as this; and had he smashed the whole of the stock of crystal and china which he had sadly reduced, it would have yielded him but little comfort in his present situation.

Nor were the fears of our Jewish attendants unfounded. Presently was heard a quick, light rustling of leaves, which broke with a startling effect on the breathless stillness of the place, and a gazelle, swift as a thought, darted past them; and before they had rallied from this alarm, there appeared in sight, at a short distance,three monsters in human shape, wild Arabs, on their way, doubtless, to Swarrah, whose approach had frightened the gazelle, and had struck a no less degree of terror into the little defenceless party, who, paralyzed and motionless, awaited their approach. Their loins only were covered; their stiff, black hair, standing out on end, gave a savage hideousness to their faces, inexpressibly terrific. A moment or two of surprise and wonder checked

« AnteriorContinuar »