The Tombs of Paul and Virginia by Mrs. Hemans

Letter T.

This delicious retreat in the island of Mauritius has no claims to the celebrity it has attained. It is not the burial-place of Paul and Virginia; and the author of "Recollections of the Mauritius" thus endeavours to dispel the illusion connected with the spot:—

"After having allowed his imagination to depict the shades of Paul and Virginia hovering about the spot where their remains repose—after having pleased himself with the idea that he had seen those celebrated tombs, and given a sigh to the memory of those faithful lovers, separated in life, but in death united—after all this waste of sympathy, he learns at last that he has been under a delusion the whole time—that no Virginia was there interred—and that it is a matter of doubt whether there ever existed such a person as Paul! What a pleasing illusion is then dispelled! How many romantic dreams, inspired by the perusal of St. Pierre's tale, are doomed to vanish when the truth is ascertained! The fact is, that these tombs have been built to gratify the eager desire which the English have always evinced to behold such interesting mementoes. Formerly only one was erected; but the proprietor of the place, finding that all the English visitors, on being conducted to this, as the tomb of Virginia, always asked to see that of Paul also, determined on building a similar one, to which he gave that appellation. Many have been the visitors who have been gratified, consequently, by the conviction that they had looked on the actual burial-place of that unfortunate pair. These 'tombs' are scribbled over with the names of the various persons who have visited them, together with verses and pathetic ejaculations and sentimental remarks. St. Pierre's story of the lovers is very prettily written, and his description of the scenic beauties of the island are correct, although not even his pen can do full justice to them; but there is little truth in the tale. It is said that there was indeed a young lady sent from the Mauritius to France for education, during the time that Monsieur de la Bourdonnais was governor of the colony—that her name was Virginia, and that she was shipwrecked in the St. Geran. I heard something of a young man being attached to her, and dying of grief for her loss; but that part of the story is very doubtful. The 'Bay of the Tomb,' the 'Point of Endeavour,' the 'Isle of Amber,' and the 'Cape of Misfortune,' still bear the same names, and are pointed out as the memorable spots mentioned by St. Pierre."

Tombs of Paul and Virginia.
Letter O.

Oh! gentle story of the Indian Isle!

I loved thee in my lonely childhood well,

On the sea-shore, when day's last purple smile

Slept on the waters, and their hollow swell

And dying cadence lent a deeper spell

Unto thine ocean pictures. 'Midst thy palms

And strange bright birds my fancy joy'd to dwell,

And watch the southern Cross through midnight calms,

And track the spicy woods. Yet more I bless'd

Thy vision of sweet love—kind, trustful, true—

Lighting the citron-groves—a heavenly guest—

With such pure smiles as Paradise once knew.

Even then my young heart wept o'er this world's power,

To reach and blight that holiest Eden flower.