Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter I: Introductory — The Where and When >> Page 4

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 4JOSCELYN
first bold adventurers from the Old World penetrated the mighty
thickets which once overspread these plains. Memory, calling im-
agination to her aid, portrayed for us the aspects of the scene, at
that inspiring moment when the brilliant cavalcade of Hernando De
Soto wound its way 'beneath these hills, and moved down upon the
plain, passing in gorgeous procession beneath the gigantic avenues
of oak and pine, and cypress, on his way to the waters of the
Mechachebi, ( Mississippi,) pursuing that magnificent, but melan-
choly march, to the grandest of all his discoveries, in the great river
which was to yield him nothing but a grave !
There it was there in the very heart of yonder city, in a blended
empire of forest and morass, that he encamped, for a space, with his
gay and gallant cavaliers �a thousand knights in armour, shining in
the sun all well mounted, on coursers, mailed like their riders, and
brilliantly caparisoned, as well for pageantry as war.
Never, down to that period, had Spanish adelantado set foot in
the New World with such a glorious cavalcade, surpassing far the
petty bands which followed to wondrous triumph the lead of Cortez
and Pizarro. They had caught the inspiration of war in all its gran-
deur from the long-protracted conflicts of their people with the no
less chivalrous Saracens of Granada; and, wild with miraculous deeds
and chimerical hopes, they had rushed to join the train of De Soto,
on the saddest expedition that ever baffled the hopes and fortunes
of the most sanguine of all self-deluded adventure ! But we are not
to pursue their history.*
Enough that it was all vividly recalled to us, as we sate upon the
slope of the sand-hills, and gazed down upon the spacious city of
There had De Soto made his encampment. Thence had he sent
forth his pioneers. Hither had the prince of the land sought him
either in hate or amity; and it was just across the river that he had
been guilty of that greatest crime in his career the seizure and
imprisonment of the gentle and loving princess of the Indian Prov-
* Let the reader look for it in the new and beautiful edition, published by the "Bradford Club," of New York, of the Portuguese narrative of De Soto's expedition, as found in the supplement to Hakleigh, but here given to us in a new and excellent translation from the pen of Mr. J. Buckingham Smith, of Florida.