Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

them. I could at the same time distinguish between phantasms and real objects, and the calmness with which I examined them eoabled me to avoid the commission of the smallest mistake. I knew exactly when it only appeared to me that the door was opening and a phantasm entering the room, and when it actually opened and a real person entered.

“ These phantasms appeared equally clear and distinct at all times and all circumstances, both when I was by myself and when I was in company, and as well in the day as at night, and in my own house as well as abroad; they were, however, less frequent when I was in the house of a friend, and rarely appeared to me in the street; when I shut my eyes these phantasms would sometimes disappear entirely, though there were instances when I beheld them with my eyes closed, yet when they disappeared on such occasions, they generally reappeared when I opened my eyes.

“ I generally saw human forms of both sexes, but they usually ap peared not to take the smallest notice of each other, moving as in a market place, where all are eager to press through the crowd; at times, however, they seemed 10 be transacting business with each other: I also saw several times people on horseback, dogs and birds. All these phantasms appeared to me in their natural size, and as distinct as if alive, exhibiting different shades of carnation in the uncovered parts as well as in different colours and fashions in their dresses; though the colours seemed somewhat paler thau in real nature, none of the figures appeared particularly terrible, comical, or disgusting, most of them being of an indifferent shape, and some having a pleasing appearance.

“ I also began to hear them talk; the phantoms sometimes converscd among themselves, but more frequently adulressed their discourse to nie; their speeches were commonly short, and never of an unpleasant turn. At different times there appeared to me both dear and sensible friends of both sexcs, whose addresses tended to appease my grief, which liad pot yet wholly subsided: these consolatory speeches were in general addressed to me when I was alone: sometimes I was accosted by these consoling friends while I was in company, frequently while real persons were speaking to me. These consolatory addresses consisted sometimes of abrupt phrases, and at others they were regularly connected."

These phantoms continued till April 20, at eleven o'clock in the morning, when, after again losing blood,

« I perceived,” says he, “ that they began to move more slowly. Soon after, their colour began to fade, and at seven o'clock, they were entirely white. But they moved very little, through the forms were as distinct as before: growing, however, by degrees, more obscure; yet not fewer in number, as had generally been the case. The phantoms did not withdraw, nor did they vanish: which previous to that time had frequently happened. They now seemed to dissolve in the air: wiile fragments of them continued visible a considerable time. About eight o'clock the room was entirely cleared of my fantastic visitors."

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE

OF THE LATE LIEUTENANT BURROWS.

It is the laudable desire of every brave man to receive the praises of his countrymen: but there is a dearer and more cherish ed wish that grows closer to his heart; it is to live in the recollections of those he loves and honours; to leave behind him a name, at the mention of which the bosom of friendship shall glow, the eye of affection shall brighten; which shall be a legacy of honest pride to his family, causing it to dwell on his worthy deeds, and glory in his memory. The bravest soldier would not willingly expose himself to certain danger, if he thought that death were to be followed by oblivion ; he might rise above the mere dread of bodily pain, but human pride shrinks from the darkness and silence

of the grave.

It is the duty, and it is likewise the policy, therefore, of a nation, to pay distinguished honour to the memories of those who have fallen in its service. It is, after all, but a cheap reward for sufferings and death; but it is a reward that will prompt others to the sacrifice, when they see that it is faithfully discharged. The youthful bosom warms with emulation at the praises of departed heroes. The marble monument that bears the story of a nation's admiration and gratitude, becomes an object of ambition. Death, the great terror of warfare, ceases to be an evil when graced with such distinctions; and thus one hero may be said, like a phænix, to spring from the ashes of his predecessor.

In the gallant young officer who is the subject of the present memoir, we shall see these observations verified; he fought with the illustrious example of his brethren before his eyes, and died with the funeral honours of Lawrence fresh in his recollection.

Lieut. William Burrows was born in 1785, at Kinderton, near Philadelphia, the seat of his father, William Ward Burrows, Esq. of South Carolina. He was educated chiefly under the eye of his parent, who was a gentleman of accomplished mind and polished manners. It is not known whether he was intended for any par

•ners.

ticular profession; but great pains were taken to instruct him in the living languages; and at the age of thirteen he was as well acquainted with the German as with his mother tongue; he was likewis ekept rigidly at the study of the French, for which, however, he showed a singular aversion. The dawning of his character was pleasing and auspicious; to quickness of intellect he added an amiable disposition and generous sensibility of heart. His character, however, soon assumed more distinct and peculiar features; a shade of reserve began gradually to settle on his man

At an age when the feelings of other children are continually sallying forth, he seemed to hush his into subjection. He appeared to retire within himself: to cherish a solitary independence of mind, and to rely as much as possible on his own resources. It seemed as if his young imagination had already glanced forth on the rough scene of his future life, and that he was silently preparing himself for its vicissitudes. Nor is it improbable that such was the case. Though little communicative of his hopes and wishes, it was evident that his genius had taken its bias. Even among the gentle employments and elegant pursuits of a polite education, his family was astonished to perceive the rugged symptoms of the sailor continually breaking forth: and his drawing master would sometimes surprise him neglecting the allotted task, to paint the object of his silent adoration-a gallant ship of war.

On finding that such was the determined bent of his inclinations, care was immediately taken to instruct him in naval science. A midshipman's warrant was procured for him in November, 1799, and in the following January he joined the sloop of war Portsmouth, commanded by Captain M'Neale, in which he sailed to France. This cruise, while it confirmed his predilection for the life he had adopted, made him acquainted with his own deficiencies. Instead of the puerile vanity and harmless ostentation which striplings generally evince when they first put on their uniform, and feel the importance of command, it was with difficulty he could be persuaded to wear the naval dress, until he had proved himself worthy of it by his services. The same mixture of genuine diffidence and proud humility was observed in the discharge of his duties towards his inferiors ; he felt the novelty of his situation, and shrunk from the exercise of authority orer the

aged and veteran sailor, whom he considered his superior in-seamanship. On his return home, therefore, he requested a furlough of some months, to strengthen him in the principles of navigation. He also resumed the study of the French language, the necessity for which he had experienced in his late cruise, and from his knowledge of grammatical elements, joined to vigorous application, he soon learned to use it with fluency.

He was afterwards ordered on duty, and served on board of various ships until 1803, when he was ordered to the frigate Constitution, Commodore Preble. Soon after the arrival of that ship in the Mediterranean, the commodore, noticing his zeal and abilities, made him an acting lieutenant. In the course of the Tripolitan war he distinguished himself on various occasions by his intrepidity; particularly in one instance, when he rushed into the midst of a mutinous body, and seized the ringleader, at the imminent hazard of his life. After his return to the United States, in 1807, he was in different services, and among others, as first lieutenant of the Hornet. While in this situation, he distinguished himself greatly during a violent and dangerous gale, insomuch that his brother officers attributed the preservation of the ship entirely to his presence of mind and consummate seamanship.

The details of a sailor's life are generally brief, and little satisfactory. We expect miraculous stories from men who rove the deep, visit every corner of the world, and mingle in storms and battles; and are mortified to find them treating these subjects with provoking brevity. The fact is, these circumstances that excite our wonder, are trite and familiar to their minds. He whose whole life is a tissue of perils and adventures, passes lightly over scenes at which the landsman, accustomed to the security of his fireside, shudders even in imagination. Mere bravery ceases to be a matter of ostentation, when every one around him is brave; and hairbreadth 'scapes are common-place topics among men whose very profession consists in the hourly hazard of existence.

In seeking, therefore, after interesting anecdotes concerning Those naval officers whose exploits have excited public enthusiasm, our curiosity is continually bailed by general accounts, or meager particulars, given with the technical brevity of a log-book. We have thus been obliged to pass cursorily over several years

of Burrows' seafaring life, though doubtless chequered by many striking incidents.

From what we can collect, he seems to have been a marked and eccentric character. His peculiarity, instead of being smoothed and worn down by mingling with the world, became more and more prominent, as he advanced in life. He had centered all his pride in becoming a thorough and accomplished sailor, and regarded every thing else with indifference. His manners were an odd compound of carelesness and punctilio, frankness and taciturnity. He stood aloof from the familiarity of strangers, and in his contempt of what he considered fawning and profession, was sometimes apt to offend by blunt simplicity, or chill by reserve. But his character, when once known, seemed to attach by its very eccentricities, and though little studious of pleasing, he soon became a decided favourite. He had an original turn of thought and a strong perception of every thing ludicrous and characteristic. Though scarcely ever seen to laugh bimself, he possessed an exquisite vein of dry humour which he would occasionally indulge in the hours of hilarity, and, without moving a muscle of his own countenance, would sct the table in a roar.

When under the influence of this lurking drollery, every thing he said and did was odd and whimsical. His replies were remarkably happy, and, heightened by the peculiarity of his manner, and the provoking gravity of his demeanour, were sources of infinite merriment to his associates. It was his delight to put on the dress of the common sailor, and explore the haunts of low life, drawing from thence traits of character and comic scenes with which he would sometimes entertain his messmates.

But with all this careless and eccentric manner, he possessed a heart full of noble qualities. He was proud of spirit, but perfectly unassuming ; jealous of his own rights, but scrupulously considerate of those of others. His friendships were strong and sincere; and he was zealous in the performance of secret and important services for those to whom he was attached. There was a rough benevolence in his disposition that manifested itself in a thousand odd ways; nothing delighted him more than to surprise the distressed with relief, and he was noted for his kindness and condescension towards the humble and dependent. His companions were full of his generous deeds, and he was the darling

« AnteriorContinuar »