Page images
PDF
EPUB

windows of the "Rock House.” The music (for such it seemed to be) was said to have a most disquieting effect upon those who heard it; even the reverend pastor, Dr. McGinty himself, was seen to stop on his way and take most unseemly steps for one of his age and godly calling.

Such a state of affairs would never do! All concurred in one opinion, that the matter should be investigated, and a committee of church members appointed to make known to the public the nature of these profane sounds that were so disquieting to the God-fearing flock of Zion Church. It seemed most proper that an explanation should be demanded of 'Mr. Peyton Skipwith and Mistress Cornelia, his wife” (titles were abolished as savoring of earthly pride and not consistent with Republican teaching). This course having been adopted and not found satisfactory, it was agreed that on a certain evening the secret committee, composed of grave and reverend Presbyters, should conceal themselves beneath Sir Peyton Skipwith's open windows, and I will try to describe what they saw,

Seated at an instrument somewhat like our modern piano, with small spindle legs, and white shining ivory keys, sat Sir Peyton's bride. The light from innumerable silver candelabra fell upon the coils of her fair hair and the silk of her gown and delicate laces, while Sir Peyton, his tall form attired in full evening costume, with silk hose, knee buckles of brilliants, and low dancing shoes, turned pages from which she seemed to play. Her white jewelled fingers ran over the keys of the instrument, and brought forth sounds so delicious, so entrancing, that the world seemed to be floating off in melody, and the church committee, secreted beneath the open window, held their breath in rapt wonder ; but this was not all, for next, looking up into Sir Peyton's eyes, she sang in a voice like a flute:

"My ain laddie is a soger boy,

Oh, I will cast off my gay costly gown,
And follow him on from town to town,
And I will sell the Kaims from my hair,
And follow my true love for ever mair."

As her voice died away, a lady seated in the shadow, whom those watching had not before noticed, dressed in a pale silk gown and lace cap and kerchief, took her seat at the instrument, and Lady Cornelia, standing up, gaily threw her silk petticoat over her arm and made a deep courtesy to Sir Peyton, who stood opposite, bowing to the ground. Then they began to dance. The music had changed now, and the church delegation began to shuffle their feet uneasily, and take quick, uncertain steps until—"Tell it not in Gath,” for the oak that overshadowed Sir Peyton's doorway alone was the witnessthese staid, silent church members also began to bow and courtesy, and pirouette in the moonlight beneath Sir Peyton's window, while inside the house, with the light from the candelabra falling on their silk and jewels, Sir Peyton and his lady swept up and down the polished floor in the stately figures of the minuet. As the music continued, the dancers seemed to gain fresh inspiration, but at last, like a knight of old, Sir Peyton kissed his lady's hand, the lights went out in the "Rock House," and the church delegation, with exhilarated but somewhat sheepish countenances, parted company, and wended their ways to their respective homes.

Not many days after this occurrence, the following report was submitted with much solemnity to the pastor and presiding elders of Zion Church : Dr. MaGinty and keverend Sirs:

Being appointed by ye reverend gentlemen to investigate certain musick not consistent with ye pious teachings of ye church, said committee will state that they found this musick in their own minds most conducive to deep religious meditations, and much sobriety of thought and action. Howsoever, said committee advises ye congregation not to linger in ye pathway near ye seats of ye mighty in high places, for ye machinations of ye evil one are past ye understanding of man. Respectfully submitted,

JONAS FRIERSON,
OBADIAH DALE,
KEZIAH WITHERSPOON.

Notwithstanding this caution to Dr. McGinty's flock, they were still wont to linger near the "Rock House" and listen, until one night there was no light to be seen, nor sound issued from the darkened windows.

Lord Peyton's horse had returned riderless, and his lifeless body was found near a trysting place where he and "Lady Cornelia” were wont to meet.

The "Rock House" was closed now, and Lady Cornelia travelled in foreign lands. Years passed, and once more sounds of music, plaintive now, were heard—but these also ceased in time, and the house passed into other hands.

And now, nearly a hundred years after, with the generations that it has sheltered sleeping a dreamless sleep near by, this old house alone seems to preserve its pristine youth.

Once again it is occupied by a young couple, and the music that now floats from the open window is that of childish laughter.

But on one occasion the children grow serious, when they are trying to spell the name cut in the rock on which the house is built; and as with chubby fingers they point out and spell L-a-d-y C-o-r-n-e-l-i-a S-k-i-p-w-i-t-h, one older than the rest, holding up a warning finger tells them to—"Listen." Do you not hear Lady Cornelia's spinet? She is singing:

“My ain laddie is a soger boy,
And I will sell the Kaimes from my hair,

And follow my true love for ever mair.” And then they all listen, and—who can tell? We all know that the refrain in Lady Cornelia's song will never pass awaythat love is the secret spring of perennial youth, and will be with us until time is no more.

MARY POLK WINN.

GEORGE WALTON, PATRIOT SOLDIER AND

STATESMAN.

The ancestor of George Walton came from England and to the American Colonies as early as the year 1682, and from them inherited that intolerance of tyranny and oppression which characterized his eventful life. He was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in the year 1741, but after the death of his parents, he left his native State and settled in Savannah, Georgia. His talents and literary taste attracted the interest of influential friends who aided him in the study of law, and while yet a youth he was admitted to the Georgia bar. His gift of eloquence he devoted to the cause of liberty and with its electric thrill he roused to patriotism and action the people of the struggling colony. Before the memorable battle of Bunker Hill he was elected a member of the Council of Safety, and from that time until the close of his life he was in the service of his country. In 1777 he married Dorothy Camber, daughter of an English nobleman, who resided in Chatham County, Georgia. The following year we find him bravely leading his regiment in the defense of Savannah. Here he was desperately wounded, and taken prisoner by the enemy. General Robert Howe addressed him a letter of sympathy and commended him for his bravery. In a letter written by Walton at this time to his young wife, with the probabilities of death threatening him he says, "Remember that you are the beloved wife of a man who has made honor and reputation the ruling motive of every action of his life.” He lived, but his career as a soldier had ended, and his record as a statesman began. He was twice Governor of Georgia, six times a Representative to Congress, once a Senator of the United States, once Chief Justice of the State of Georgia, several times a member of the Legislature, and four times Judge of the Supreme Court. After enumerating this list, Sanders in his Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence says of him: “There are indeed few men in the United States upon whom more solid proofs of public confidence have been conferred." In 1791 we find him living at “Meadow Garden,” Augusta, Georgia. This was his home until the year of his death, 1804. Under its hospitable roof were entertained the best, the bravest and the most cultured in the land. President George Washfington was George Walton's guest at “Meadow Garden” when he visited Augusta in May, 1791. The illustrious Madam Octavia Walton Le Vert was George Walton's granddaughter and was frequently a guest in his house. When the Marquis de Lafayette was in Augusta in 1824 he was taken to Meadow Garden because it had been the home of his "valued friend, George Walton." In time of trouble the hand of sympathy opened wide the doors of Meadow Garden to the unfortunate and distressed. A shadow fell across its threshold, however, when the husband, father and loyal friend was borne to his silent resting place on Rosney Hill.

Meadow Garden is stronger to-day than many of the modern wooden dwellings. Of course a great deal of painting, and some slight repairing will have to be done, but the wood work, etc., especially that of the quaint old carved fireplace is in excellent condition. There are eleven rooms in all, four upstairs, five on the first floor, and two in the basement. The large room on the right of the doorway will be perfect as a reception room.

The following beautiful lines were dedicated to George Walton by his gifted and beautiful descendant, Miss Catherine Elizabeth Walton, who entered into rest October 26, 1898:

The struggle o'er, the contest done,

The warrior sought a place of rest;
He chose the sweetest, fairest one,

Where meadows left their golden rest.

Forgotten are the cares of State;

His loved ones gather round him now,
Gladness and pleasure on him wait

To chase the shadows from his brow.

Stranger, withhold thy ruthless hand;

Truth will defend this home-forbear,
Thou can'st not rend nor break the band

That links the name of Walton there.

Oh, Spirit of the sacred past!

Enfold within thy mighty wings
Name, honor, love, our precious things;
They only death and time outlast.

Harrie GOULD JEFFERIES.

THE PECULIAR GHOST OF MEADOW GARDEN.

The Registrar and several other members of the Augusta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution-who have very closely at heart everything pertaining to Meadow Garden, which has lately been purchased by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution-have re

« PreviousContinue »