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interrupted by no roads or fences. The prospect is enlivened at intervals by the small clusters of buildings which stand in the center of each plantation. The view reminds the New Englander of the meadows of the Connecticut, as seen from Mount Holyoke, at the close of summer. is chiefly cocoas and palms, towering here and there on the plain like stately columns, that mark the scenery as tropical. The palm is the only tree I would steal for our own scenery. Much of the beauty and almost the whole of the peculiar character of the landscape comes from that single magnificent vegetable. There is a lustre in the atmosphere and a vigor in the vegetation beyond what nature attains in our latitudes. But there is also a drowsiness over all the landscape: there are no bright contrasts of colors; few insects are on the wing; the birds have no song, and we miss the brilliant variety and the high spirits of a northern summer. Many flowers cultivated in our gardens and greenhouses are among the most common weeds. Sensitive plants and prickly pear overrun the ground, and the ipecacuanha grows wild in profusion.
In the city I felt homesick, after the novelty was a little worn off. I tired of square houses open to the air in the middle; of oranges and sweetmeats; of negroes and negresses; of Dons and Senoras; and felt like a prisoner within those massive walls, forever under the eye of a sentinel. So I came to Santa Barbara, a plantation of Mr. M.'s, and have, for the time being, a whole house to myself. The house looks like one of our northern barns, which somebody from whim had furnished with sideboard, tables, and chairs. But my barn is like Cinderella's pumpkin, which at a word was changed into a chariot and six. For I have only to open shutters and let down the sides of the building, which turn on hinges, and the beauty of the fields and the glory of the skies and mountains pour in, and my shed becomes a palace. Make Nature your friend and she will not fail you at your need, but wherever you go, the intimacy, like the masonic tie, will be acknowledged, and you will find in it comfort and support. The air, the fresh green, the flowers, the fruits, the goodly prospect, the silence, and again the sounds of rustic life, soothe and entertain me. I ride morning and evening, and these little pacing ponies are very good things: they scale hills and
pierce thickets, where it would not be easy to manage one of our stately beasts.
In a fine afternoon, in the midst of clouds and showers, I went to see an old negro who brings vegetables here for sale, and who lives by himself on the top of a hill in the corner of his master's plantation, being, as it were, an Emeritus, and no longer called on for work. We crept along a tunnel rather than an open road, through woods and bushes, with now and then a window on our side, from which we could see far off palmy plains, like painted pictures, until we gained the summit of the hill, and found the little peaked hut of the old man, as lone and romantic a hermitage as ever I fancied. It was such a place and person as Wordsworth loves to paint. One feels a strong interest that is almost pathetic, in a solitary being, white-haired, living so independent of everything but the pension great Nature allows him. Old Tita, so they call my new acquaintance, built his own house, roofed it with the jagua of the palm, and it sits perched upon the hill-top, like the nest of a bird. The woods are left uncut upon one side at a little distance from his door, while the other side is cleared and planted. Here he raises plantains, yams, potatoes, beans, ochre, and other vegetables in request on the plantations. He has a cross erected just outside his door, "so that when thunder roll, he no knock 'ee." No persuasion, I suppose, could induce him to exchange his cross for a lightning rod. His only companions, his dog and kitten, he seems to make much of. What struck me, standing on the threshold of his cot, was the contrast between his lowly condition and dwelling, and the grandeur of the spot, which some fine instinct led him to choose for his abode, looking down over all the neighboring hills, and over the intervening valleys and fields, to the distant mountains and the blue ocean. It was a prospect which made the gazer involuntarily feel high and stately.
WE should read history as little critically as we consider the landscape, and be more interested by the atmospheric tints, and various lights and shades which the intervening spaces create, than by its groundwork and composition. It is the morning now turned evening and seen in the west,the same sun, but a new light and atmosphere. Its beauty is like the sunset; not a fresco painting on a wall, flat and bounded, but atmospheric and roving or free. In reality history fluctuates as the face of the landscape from morning to evening. What is of moment is its hue and color. Time hides no treasures; we want not its then but its now. We do not complain that the mountains in the horizon are blue and indistinct; they are the more like the heavens.
Of what moment are facts that can be lost, - which need to be commemorated? The monument of death will outlast the memory of the dead. The pyramids do not tell the tale that was confided to them; the living fact commemorates itself. Why look in the dark for light? Strictly speaking, the historical societies have not recovered one fact from oblivion, but are themselves instead of the fact that is lost. The reseacher is more memorable than the researched. The crowd stood admiring the mist, and the dim outlines of the trees seen through it, when one of their number advanced to explore the phenomenon, and with fresh admiration, all eyes were turned on his dimly retreating figure. It is astonishing with how little coöperation of the societies, the past is remembered. Its story has indeed had a different muse than has been assigned it. There is a good instance of the manner in which all his66 "I was tory began, in Alwákidi's Arabian Chronicle. informed by Ahmed Almatin Aljorhami, who had it from Rephaa Ebn Kais Alamiri, who had it from Saiph Ebn Fabalah Alchátquarmi, who had it from Thabet Ebn Alkamah, who said he was present at the action." These fathers of history were not anxious to preserve, but to learn the fact; and hence it was not forgotten. Critical acumen is exerted in vain to uncover the past; the past cannot be presented; we cannot know what we are not. But one veil hangs over past, present,
and future, and it is the province of the historian to find out not what was, but what is. Where a battle has been fought, you will find nothing but the bones of men and beasts; where a battle is being fought there are hearts beating. We will sit on a mound and muse, and not try to make these skeletons stand on their legs again. Does nature remember, think you, that they were men, or not rather that they are bones?
Ancient history has an air of antiquity; it should be more modern. It is written as if the spectator should be thinking of the backside of the picture on the wall, or as if the author expected the dead would be his readers, and wished to detail to them their own experience. Men seem anxious to accomplish an orderly retreat through the centuries, earnestly rebuilding the works behind, as they are battered down by the encroachments of time; but while they loiter, they and their works both fall a prey to the arch enemy. It has neither the venerableness of antiquity, nor the freshness of the modern. It does as if it would go to the beginning of things, which natural history might with reason assume to do; but consider the Universal History, and then tell us when did burdock and plantain sprout first? It has been so written for the most part, that the times it describes are with remarkable propriety called dark ages. They are dark, as one has observed, because we are so in the dark about them. The sun rarely shines in history, what with the dust and confusion; and when we meet with any cheering fact which implies the presence of this luminary, we excerpt and modernize it. As when we read in the history of the Saxons, that Edwin of Northumbria "caused stakes to be fixed in the highways where he had seen a clear spring," and "brazen dishes were chained to them, to refresh the weary sojourner, whose fatigues Edwin had himself experienced." This is worth all Arthur's twelve battles.
But it is fit the past should be dark; though the darkness is not so much a quality of the past, as of tradition. It is not a distance of time but a distance of relation, which makes thus dusky its memorials. What is near to the heart of this generation is fair and bright still. Greece lies outspread fair and sunshiny in floods of light, for there is the sun and day-light in her literature and art, Homer does not
allow us to forget that the sun shone-nor Phidias, nor the Parthenon. Yet no era has been wholly dark, nor will we too hastily submit to the historian, and congratulate ourselves on a blaze of light. If we could pierce the obscurity of those remote years we should find it light enough; only there is not our day. Some creatures are made to see in the dark. There has always been the same amount of light in the world. The new and missing stars, the comets and eclipses do not affect the general illumination, for only our glasses appreciate them. The eyes of the oldest fossil remains, they tell us, indicate that the same laws of light prevailed then as now. Always the laws of light are the same, but the modes and degrees of seeing vary. The gods are partial to no era, but steadily shines their light in the heavens, while the eye of the beholder is turned to stone. There was but the eye and the sun from the first. The ages have not added a new ray to the one, nor altered a fibre of the other.