Clotel; or, The President's Daughter
Chapter 4. The Quadroon's Home
"How sweetly on the hill-side sleeps
The sunlight with its quickening rays!
The verdant trees that crown the steeps,
Grow greener in its quivering blaze."
ABOUT three miles from Richmond is a pleasant plain, with here and there a beautiful
cottage surrounded by trees so as scarcely to be seen. Among them was one far retired
from the public roads, and almost hidden among the trees. It was a perfect model of rural
beauty. The piazzas that surrounded it were covered with clematis and passion flower.
The pride of China mixed its oriental looking foliage with the majestic magnolia, and the
air was redolent with the fragrance of flowers, peeping out of every nook and nodding
upon you with a most unexpected welcome. The tasteful hand of art had not learned to
imitate the lavish beauty and harmonious disorder of nature, but they lived together in
loving amity, and spoke in accordant tones. The gateway rose in a gothic arch, with
graceful tracery in iron work, surmounted by a cross, round which fluttered and played
the mountain fringe, that lightest and most fragile of vines. This cottage was hired by
Horatio Green for Clotel, and the quadroon girl soon found herself in her new home.
The tenderness of Clotel's conscience, together with the care her mother had with her and
the high value she placed upon virtue, required an outward marriage; though she well
knew that a union with her proscribed race was unrecognised by law, and therefore the
ceremony would give her no legal hold on Horatio's constancy. But her high poetic nature
regarded reality rather than the semblance of things; and when he playfully asked how
she could keep him if he wished to run away, she replied, "If the mutual love we have for
each other, and the dictates of your own conscience do not cause you to remain my
husband, and your affections fall from me, I would not, if I could, hold you by a single
fetter." It was indeed a marriage sanctioned by heaven, although unrecognised on earth.
There the young couple lived secluded from the world, and passed their time as happily
as circumstances would permit.
It was Clotel's wish that Horatio should purchase her mother and sister, but the young
man pleaded that he was unable, owing to the fact that he had not come into possession of
his share of property, yet he promised that when he did, he would seek them out and
purchase them. Their first-born was named Mary, and her complexion was still lighter
than her mother. Indeed she was not darker than other white children. As the child grew
older, it more and more resembled its mother. The iris of her large dark eye had the
melting mezzotints, which remains the last vestige of African ancestry, and gives that
plaintive expression, so often observed, and so appropriate to that docile and injured race.
Clotel was still happier after the birth of her dear child; for Horatio, as might have been
expected, was often absent day and night with his friends in the city, and the edicts of
society had built up a wall of separation between the quadroon and them.
Happy as Clotel was in Horatio's love, and surrounded by an outward environment of
beauty, so well adapted to her poetic spirit, she felt these incidents with inexpressible
pain. For herself she cared but little; for she had found a sheltered home in Horatio's