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Surely, now, after so many years of anxiety and sorrow, The odosia — still a young woman, not thirty years of age, still enjoying her husband's love — might have reasonably expected a happy life. Alas! there was no more happiness in store for her on this side of the grave.
The first letter which Burr received from his son-in-law after his arrival in New York con. tained news which struck him to the heart.
“A few miserable weeks since," writes Mr. Alston, “ and in spite of all the embarrassments, the troubles, and disappointments which have fallen to our lot since we parted, I would have congratulated you on your return in the language of happiness. With my wife on one side and my boy on the other, I felt myself superior to depression. The present was enjoyed, the future was anticipated with enthusiasm. One dreadful blow has destroyed us; reduced us to the veriest, the most sublimated wretchedness. That boy, on whom all rested, - our companion, our friend, - he who was to have transmitted down the mingled blood of Theodosia and myself, — he who was to have redeemed all your glory, and shed new lustre upon our families, – that boy, at once our happiness and our pride, is taken from us, - is dead. We saw him dead. My own hand surrendered him to the grave; yet we are alive. But it is past. I will not conceal from you that life is a burden, which, heavy as it is, we shall both support, if not with dignity, at least with decency and firmness. Theodosia has endured all that a human being could endure; but her admirable mind will triumph. She supports herself in a manner worthy of your daughter.'
The mother's heart was almost broken.
“ There is no more joy for me,” she wrote. 66 The world is a blank. I have lost my boy. My child is gone forever. May Heaven, by other blessings, make you some amends for the noble grandson you have lost Alas! my dear father, I do live, but how does it happen? Of what am I formed that I live, and why? Of what service can I be in this world, either to you or any one else, with a body reduced to premature old age, and a mind enfeebled and bewildered? Yet, since it is my lot to live, I will endeavor to fulfil my part, and exert myself to my utmost, though this life must henceforth be to me a bed of thorns. Whichever way I turn, the same anguish still assails me. You talk of consolation. Ah! you know not what you have lost. I think Omnip stence could give me no equivalent for my boy; no, none, - none.”
She could not be comforted. Her health gave way. Her my friend."
husbaud thought that if anything could restore her to tranquillity and health it would be the society of her father; and so, at the beginning of winter, it was resolved that she should attempt the dangerous voyage. Her father sent a medical friend from New York to attend her.
“ Mr. Alston,” wrote this gentleman,“ seemed rather hurt that you should conceive it necessary to send a person here, as he or one of his brothers would attend Mrs. Alston to New York. I told him you had some opinion of my medical talents; that you had learned your daughter was in a low state of health, and required unusual attention, and medical attention on her voyage; that I had torn myself from my family to perform this service for
And again, a few days after :
“I have engaged a passage to New York for your daughter in a pilot-boat that has been out privateering, but has come in here, and is refitting merely to get to New York. My only fears are that Governor Alston may think the mode of conveyance too undignified, and object to it; but Mrs. Alston is fully bent on going. You must not be surprised to see her very low, feeble, and emaciated. Her complaint is an almost incessant nervous fever.”
The rest is known. The vessel sailed. Off Cape Hatteras, during a gale that swept the coast from Maine to Georgia, the pilot-boat went down, and not one escaped to tell the tale. The vessel was never heard of more. So perished this noble, gifted, ill-starred lady.
The agonizing scenes that followed may be imagined. Father and husband were kept long in suspense. Even when many weeks had elapsed without bringing tidings of the vessel, there still remained a forlorn hope that some of her passengers might have been rescued by an outward-bound ship, and might return, after a year or two had gone by, from some distant port. Burr, it is said, acquired a habit, when walking upon the Battery, of looking wistfully down the harbor at the arriving ships, as if still cherishing a faint, fond hope that his Theo was coming to him
som the other side of the world. When, years after, the tale was brought to him that his daughter iad been carried off by pirates and might be still alive, he said. “No, no, no; if my Theo had survived that storm, she would have found her way to me Nothing could have kept my Theo from her father.”
It was these sad events, the loss of his daughter and her boy that severed Aaron Burr from the human race. Hope died with. in him. Ambition died. He yielded to his doom, and walkeu among men, not melancholy, but indifferent, reckless, and alone. With his daughter and his grandson to live and strive for, he right have done something in his later years to redeem his name and atone for his errors. Bereft of these, he had not in his moral nature that which enables men who have gone astray to repent and begin a better life.
Theodosia's death broke her husband's heart. Few letters are BO affecting as the one which he wrote to Burr when, at length, the certainty of her loss could no longer be resisted.
“My boy — my wife — gone both! This, then, is the end of all the hopes we had formed. You may well observe that you feel severed from the human race. She was the last tie that bound us to the species. What have we left? .... Yet, after all, he is a poor actor who cannot sustain his little hour upon the stage, be his part what it may. But the man who has been deemed worthy of the heart of Theodosia Burr, and who has felt what it was to be blessed with such a woman's, will never forget his elevation.”
He survived his wife four years. Among the papers of Theodosia was found, after her death, a letter which she had written a few years before she died, at a time when she supposed her end was near. Upon the envelope was written, -—“My husband. To be delivered after my death. I wish this to be read immediately, and before my burial.”
burial.” Her husband never saw it, for he never had the courage to look into the trunk that contained her treas
But after his death the trunk was sent to Burr, who found and preserved this affecting composition. We cannot conclude our narrative more fitly than by transcribing the thoughts that burdened the heart of Theodosia in view of her departure from the world. First, she gave directions respecting the disposal of her jewelry and trinkets, giving to each of her friends some token of her love. Then she besought her husband to provide at once for the support of “ Peggy,” an aged servant of her father, for
merly housekeeper at Richmond Hill, to whom, in her father's absence, she had contrived to pay a small pension. She then proceeded in these affecting terms :
s To you, my beloved, I leave our child; the child of my bosom, who was once a part of myself, and from whom I shall shortly be scparated by the cold grave. You love him now; henceforth love him for me also. And oh, my husband, attend to this last prayer of a doting mother. Never, never listen to what any other person tells you of him. Be yourself his judge on all occasions. He has faults; see them, and correct them yourself. Desist not an instant from your endeavors to secure his confidence. It is a work which requires as much uniformity of conduct as warmth of affection toward him. I know, my beloved, that you can perceive what is right on this subject as on every other. But recollect, these are the last words I can ever utter. It will tranquillize my last moments to have disburdened myself of them.
“I fear you will scarcely be able to read this scrawl, but I feel hurried and agitated. Death is not welcome to me. I confess it is ever dreaded. You have made me too fond of life. Adieu, then, thou kind, thou tender husband. Adieu, friend of my heart. May Heaven prosper you, and may we meet hereafter. Adieu; perhaps we may never see each other again in this world. You are away, I wished to hold you fast, and prevented you from going this morning. But He who is wisdom itself ordains events; we must submit to them. Least of all should I murmur. I, on whom so many blessings have been showered, — whose days have been numbered by bounties, - who have had such a husband, such a child, and such a father. O pardon me, my God, if I regret leaving these. I resign myself. Adieu, once more, and for the last time, my beloved. Speak of me often to our
Let him love the memory of his mother, and let him know how he was loved by her. Your wife, your fond wife,
THEO, “Let my father see my son sometimes. Do not be unkind toward bim whom I have loved so much, I beseech you. Burn all my papers except my father's letters, which I beg you to return him. Adieu, my sweet boy. Love your father; be grateful and affectionate to him while he lives; be the pride of his meridian, the support of his departing days. Be all that he wishes; for he made your mother happy. Oh! my heavenly Father, bless them both. If it is permitted, I will hover round you, and guard you, and intercede for you. I hope for bappiness in the next world, for I have not been bad in this.
“I had nearly forgotten to say that I charge you not to allow me to be stripped and washed, as is usual. I am pure enough thus to return to dust. Why, then, expose my person ? Pray see to this. If it does not appear contradictory or silly, I beg to be kept as long as possible before I am consigned to t) earth.”