Page images
PDF
EPUB

who, after having united himself by indissoluble ties to a virtuous and amiable woman, wantonly lacerates her feelings by such profligate conduct, is surely worthy of detestation. Ignorance, inconsiderateness, vulgar habits, may afford a reason, and some slight palliation, for such barbarity, in the low and worthless; but what excuse can be offered for the man of better information, and filling a distinguished and respectable sphere of life? It is observable, that the natives who have been brought up in the island are most frequently guilty of this base contemptible conduct; though not all of those bred and educated in Great Britain, nor even the Europeans themselves, are always exempt from the reproach of it, though they 'have a greater regard to decency and appearances. The Creoles are in general far more temperate in drinking than the Europeans; and this, in spite of their other excesses, has the effect of preserving to many of them a pretty long life.

The white females of the West Indies are rather of a more slender form than the European women in general, although a tolerable proportion of them are pretty lusty. Their complexion is either a light olive, or pale unmingled white. The former has certainly the advantage :-brunettes, and beautiful ones too, are found in every part of the world, and to those of no country does the West India brunette yield in comeliness and beauty; but the pale white, not being ani. mated by the enchanting blooin that “ speaks-soeloquentlyin the cheek of the British fair, has a sickly and languid appearance. Their features are sweet and regular, their eyes rather expressive and sparkling, their hair a fine auburn, their voices soft and pleasing, and their whole air and looks tender, gentle, and feminine. With the appearance of languor and indolence, they are active and animated on occasion, particularly when dancing, an amusement of which they are peculiarly food, and in which they display an ease, gracefulness, and agility, which surprises and delights a stranger. They are fond of music, and there are few whose fine voices are not often employed in trilling the melting melody of song; though, after a while, it is observed they begin to grow more indifferent towards the piano-forte, and other instrumental music. They are accused of excessive indolence in general; and outré. examples of this are given by those who wish to exhibit them to ridicule. These exaggerations are like all others of a national description, and savour more of caricatura than faithful delineation. A degree of languor originates in the climate, and

may be increased by the still habits of a sedentary life; but those in middling situations of life are as industrious and alert in household concerns as the females of any country in the world; and this much may be added of the

whole, that there are few whose lives are wasted in that insipid round of fashionable frivolity and dissipation, which is the delight of the females of rank of more polished societies. In short, the West India ladies are in many respects very amiable, and a number are as lovely in person, as they are winning by their agreeable manners and friendly disposition. They are in general modest and decorous in their behaviour, sprightly and agreeable when occasion requires it--they are tender, generous, and hospitable (the two latter virtues may indeed be said to be proverbial of the Creoles of both sexes), and above all, they have the reputation of leading the most correct and virtuous lives. In short, they are formed to become faithful and affectionate wives, and tender and indulgent mothers. Pity it is then that so many of them are devoted to the solitary unsocial state of cold virginity, who, if they had had the opportunity, would have so well employed the conjugal and maternal virtues !

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness in the desert air !"

In paying this tribute to the West India fair, the author speaks from experience. He has had the happiness of being acquainted with individuals among them, who would have done' honour to any country; and in the different parts of the world he has traversed, he can truly say, that

woman.

never was kindness more freely shown him than those hospitable and generous attentions he has experienced from his female friends of this quarter of the world. Kindness and generosity are indeed possessed by the sex in a more eminent degree than by the proud“lords of the creation.” There is a charm in whatever they do, which enhances the value of their every act of kindness, of civility, and benevolence; and though we may sometimes meet with such as are haughty, conceited, and supercilious, yet, to console us for the disappointment, we much oftener meet with the truly sensible, friendly, polite, and amiable

How many happy moments do we pags in their sweet society! When satiated with the frivolity, the ignorance, the rudeness, and vulgarity of

many of our own sex, how gladly do we fly for relief to the company of the sensible and agreeable of the other ! often do we forget our cares, our troubles, and vexations, while conversing with them-we feel our bosoms enlivened with pleasure by their smiles, and animated with unwonted gaiety by their bewitching presence! We never enter but with gladness into their company-we never leave it with other sadness than the regret of so soon parting!

This eulogium on the sex, so justly due, cannot be better concluded than by that beautiful and sentimental one of Ledyard's the travellere I have always remarked,” says he, “that wor

men in all countries are civil, obliging, tender, and humane : that they are inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest; and that they do not hesitate, like men, to perform a generous action.

Not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious ; they are full of courtesy, and fond of society; more liable to error than man; but in general, also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. To a woman, whether civilized or savage, I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering through the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, and frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide-spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, the women have ever been friendly to me; and to add to this virtue (so worthy of the appellation of benevolence) their actions have been performed in so free, and so kind a manner, that if I was dry, I drank the sweetest draught; and, if hungry, I eat the coarsest morsel with a double relish."

But although there are few females that are more susceptible of a refined and delicate sensibility than those of the West Indies, yet it unfortunately happens, that their domestic education, or rather habits, and the scenes that are per

« PreviousContinue »