Page images

best success I have met with, personally, was to take forty, to three lines; -eighteen fish fell to my share of the sport ; my two oarsmen took the remainder. Thirty fish were all that the boat could conveniently contain ; - her gunwale was but a few inches above the water, and we slung the ten (which were de trop) along-side, by a rope. In this situation we were attacked by sharks. These "grim companions' would range up along-side, and make a rush at them to cut them off : and we were compelled to beat them off with boat-hooks. A little more boldness in their attack, and we must have fallen victims ; for a single blow from their tails would have filled our overloaded boat, — as it happened we were unattended by any other boat which could have rendered assistance, and were full three miles from shore. In the sport of this day, my gloves were torn into shreds by the friction of the line, and my fingers so blistered by the severity of the play, that I was incapable of renewing my sport for several days.” pp. 62 - 65.

The account of Bass-fishing is particularly agreeable for the graceful touches, which disclose a nice perception of the dispositions both of fish and men, and indicate the kindness of good-fellowship in sport. It is important, it seems, for the fisherman to “take his drop » with great accuracy, where the action of the water has left irregular masses on the rocky bed, " amidst whose crags and crannies the sea-weeds grow and shell-fish congregate,” and where “ the larger fish repair for subsistence.” Mr. Elliott gives his instructions with a precision worthy of the chief topographical engineer among fishermen.

“Let him row over from Bay Point towards the Hilton Head shore, - putting the last hammock (an umbrella-shaped cedar now marks the spot), on the south-western end of Edings' island, in line with the most northwardly point of the same island; and extend the chord of this arc, until he opens the first woods of Chaplin's island, beyond the Bay Point beach. Dropping his anchor at the precise intersection of these two lines, he has the best ground, probably, in the whole Southern country ; where he may, in their proper season, take black-fish, sheepshead, bass, and drum in abundance, and, occasionally, all of them on the same day." - p. 67.

Here follows a graphic sketch of the residence of a distinguished statesman and gentleman of the old school.

“A third line was formerly drawn in confirmation of the above: it was by placing the last pines on Hilton Head beach in VOL. LXIII. — NO. 133.


range with the mansion-house of Gen. C.C. Pinckney, on Pinckney island. But this mansion no longer exists: it was swept away in one of the fearful hurricanes that vex our coast! To this spot that sterling patriot and lion-hearted soldier retired from the arena of political life, to spend the evening of his days in social enjoyment and literary relaxation. On a small island, at. tached to the larger one, which bears his name, and which, jutting out into the bay, afforded a delightful view of the ocean, he fixed his residence. There, in the midst of forests of oak, laurel, and palmetto, the growth of centuries, his mansion-house was erected. There stood the laboratory, with its apparatus for chemical experiments, the library, stored with works of science in various tongues ; there bloomed the nursery for exotics; and there was found each other appliance with which taste and intelligence surround the abodes of wealth. It is melancholy to reflect on the utter destruction that followed, even before the venerable proprietor had been gathered to his fathers! The ocean swallowed up every thing: and it is literally true, that the sea-monster now flaps his wings over the very spot where his hearthstone was placed, where the rites of an elegant hospitality were so unstintedly dispensed, and where the delighted guest listened to many an instructive anecdote and unrecorded yet significant incident of the revolutionary period, as they flowed from the cheersul lips of the patriot.” — pp. 67 - 68.

While the ocean has swallowed up that beautiful abode, and the head of that magnificent old man who adorned its ball has been laid low, the advance of time, with the irresistible changes it has brought, has swept away the old school to which he belonged. The memory of that order of men who were reared in it still rises in the thought of the South Carolinian, and he occasionally drops an expression of regret, that the colony, to which he owes his birth as an American, should ever have taken part in that contest (for the rights of others, as he thinks, rather than her own) which made her one of these States. As he believes, she had no grievances that called very urgently for redress. It was from friendly regard, he thinks, and sympathy for her sister colonies, that she took part in the dispute. And what, he asks, has she gained by it ?

We do not know or suppose that Mr. Elliott entertains any such views ; but that they have found favor in South Carolina during the excitements of the last twenty years, we have good reason to believe. The change, by the way, is

not altogether peculiar to any part of this country ; for we hear regrets from the other side of the water for departed stateliness in the modes of life. But it is worth a moment's reflection to imagine what would probably have been the result, - especially in reference to one subject, to which allusion is so directly made in this book that we ought to take some notice of it, - if South Carolina had decided on a different course, and had kept clear of the struggle for independence.

Let us suppose her leading men to have foreseen something of what has followed : that her aristocracy of gentlemen was to disappear with the laws of primogeniture ; that the favored colony of England, after the contest should be over, was to become one of a cluster of States who would, in her view, get the advantage of her, and that her graceful performance of the duties of loyalty was to be exchanged for what they would then have considered as vulgar squabbles about the nullification of laws that she deemed to be unjust ; that, concluding it likely to be a bad bargain for them, even in case of success, they had addressed the English ministry in language something like this :-“We cannot take arms against our neighbours and friends, but we make no complaints. Suffer us to be passive spectators only of the approaching contest, and we are content to remain as we are. Deal with the other colonies as you please ; but do not require us to fight them.” We may easily believe that the ministry would have agreed to this, and have answered, — “ Be it so. Remain quiet and obedient, and we will manage the fight without your aid.”

The revolutionary war would have proceeded. The result would probably have been the same as it proved to be, without the aid of South Carolina, efficient as that was ; and she would have remained in the enjoyment of all her privileges as a loyal colony, under the direction and care of a governor by royal appointment; while the States that were formed about her would have managed their own concerns. Affairs would have gone on accordingly, to the entire satisfaction, for aught we know, of the liege subjects of the crown throughout this province of South Carolina, until that period, some fifteen years since, when the government “at home” must have spoken very nearly as it did to the colonies of the West Indies : -"You have among you a certain in

stitution' which is offensive to the age. It is imputed as a disgrace to the British name, and we so regard it. We must rid ourselves of the stigma that is attached to it. If you require laborers of African blood for the cultivation of any part of your grounds, hire them and pay them. But that peculiar institution must be abolished. Here are twenty millions of pounds sterling, which we appropriate to compensate for its abolition. Your share of it is ready. You may take it or leave it. But complaints are idle, and we will have no words. Whatever may be said of the wise and patriarchal use of slavery, its abuses are intolerable to humanity. This must be the end of it among you."

As the permanence of slavery is supposed at the South to be important to the prosperity of that region, for reasons that are hinted at by the author, an imperial edict of this character would probably have been thought to place the colony on a footing of great disadvantage in comparison with the States in that neighbourhood. Without favoring in any way the supposed designs of abolitionists, we think differently as to the comparative advantage that would ensue in any community from the extinction or continuance of the system of slave labor. But, however that may be, abolition, come how it might, would appear to the present leaders of South Carolina as an event earnestly to be deprecated. And while they are disposed somewhat to disparage the value of the Union, it is as well to present for consideration the inevitable consequences of the only alternative that would have remained to her, if she had not become one of us. In the case supposed, she would probably have stood, in the end, an humble applicant for " annexation” to this Union on which she now is thought to look so coldly.

But let us turn from these surmises of difference on grave matters to more attractive subjects. The book contains spirited sketches of the wild-cat hunt, the deer hunt, and other sports of the woods, from which we should be glad to make extracts ; but we have hardly room to do more than to thank Mr. Elliott for the interesting account which he has given of Southern sports in the forest. Veteran as he is becoming now, may he still live to share in the excitement of his favorite recreations as long as he desires ; and when Hilton Head and the waters of Port Royal sound shall cease to know him, may some descendant, worthy of such parentage, survive to recount his exploits, and especially that which follows here. We commend it to the cautious consideration of all those who are inclined to wade into an investigation of the habits of sharks.

“I used to push over from Bay Point at early flood, — land on the inner side of the bank, — and, leaving a few oarsmen to take charge of the boat, walk over to the sea-side of the bank, with a servant or two to carry bait and lines, — and, wading out into the surf waist-deep, toss my line into the breakers in quest of bass. I was usually armed with a light spear; for as the clear, transparent wave came rolling in from the deep, — and as the pearly fragments of sea-shell passed glittering by you with the flux and reflux of the tide, – objects were occasionally encountered, as brilliant, perhaps, but by no means as pleasant to look upon: the eyes and jagged spines of immense stingrays, buried in the sand, and lying in wait for their prey ! One incautious step, and your leg may be transfixed by the venomed weapon! Sometimes, indeed, the bass would approach close to your feet, in couples, and gaze upon you, seemingly, with curiosity and alarm! You might perceive their pectoral fins in rapid play, as if they panted; while, at the lightest movement of your arm to hurl your spear, they vanished in an instant, and left your weapon buried innocently in the sand. On one delightful day, I was tempted to wade deeper than usual into the sea, which was beautifully clear. I passed along the narrow ridge of a reef, which extended eastwardly to a considerable distance from the main bank, while a swash of some depth lay close within. I had unsconsciously remained, until the advancing tide had covered the highest parts of the ridge full waist-deep. Behind me stood my servant Cain,' with my spear and a wicker-basket of bait. An exclamation of terror from him made me turn, — when I beheld, but a few yards distant, between us and the shore, and intercepting our retreat, a large shark, close on the side of the ridge, head on for us, and waving his tail backwards and forward, with a deliberate sculling motion! My spear, said I, -- keep close to me, and shout when I do.' Great God,' said Cain, (his eyes almost starting from their sockets,)

another one!' I looked, and saw, not one, but two other sharks, lying behind the first, all in line, and in the same attitude! Doubtless the bait in the wicker-basket had attracted them,

- the advancing tide had carried them the scent, and these grim pointers had paused to reconnoitre, before they rushed on their prey! If they attacked us, we were gone! Not a moment was to be lost! It was one of those frequent cases in which we find

« PreviousContinue »