Vol. XVIII. June, 1841. No. 6.
Fiction, Literature and Articles
The Island of the Fay
The Reefer of ’76 (continued)
The Lost Heir
The Syrian Letters
The Clothing of the Ancients
The Life Guardsman
Ugolino, a Tale of Florence
The Thunder Storm
Poetry: The Uncertainty of Its Appreciation
Sports and Pastimes
Review of New Books
Poetry, Music and Fashion
The Voice of the Wind
Sighs for the Unattainable
The Lay of the Affections
To Lord Byron
Sonnet Written in April
The Joys of Former Years Have Fled
Let Me Rest in the Land of My Birth
Fashions for June 1841
Transcriber’s Notes can be found at the end of this eBook.
Vol. XVIII. June, 1841. No. 6.
THE ISLAND OF THE FAY.
BY EDGAR A. POE.
Science, true daughter of old Time thou art,
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes!
Why prey’st thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee, or how deem thee wise
Who wouldst not leave him, in his wandering,
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana, from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood?
Hast thou not spoilt a story in each star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood?
The elfin from the grass?—the dainty fay,
The witch, the sprite, the goblin—where are they?
“La musique,” says Marmontel, with the same odd confusion of thought and language which leads him to give his very equivocal narratives the title of “Contes Moraux”—“la musique est le seul des talens qui jouissent de lui même; tous les autres veulent des temoins.” He here confounds the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the capacity for creating them. No more than any other talent, is that for music susceptible of complete enjoyment, where there is no second party to appreciate its exercise. And it is only in common with other talents that it produces effects which may be fully enjoyed in solitude. The idea which the raconteur has either failed to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed, in its expression, to his national love of point, is, doubtless, the very tenable one that the higher order of music is the most thoroughly estimated when we are the most exclusively alone. The proposition, in this form, will be admitted at once by those who love the lyre for its own sake, and for its spiritual uses. But there is one pleasure still within the reach of fallen mortality—and perhaps only one—which owes even more than does music to the accessory sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness experienced in the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man who would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude behold that glory. To me, at least, the presence—not of human life only—but of life in any other form than that of the green things which grow upon the soil and are voiceless—is a stain upon the landscape—is at war with the genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the dark valleys, and the grey rocks, and the waters that silently smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the proud watchful mountains that look down upon all—I love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole—a whole whose form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and the most inclusive of all; whose path is among associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the moon; whose mediate sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose intelligence is that of a God; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are lost in immensity; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our own cognizance of the animalculæ in crystal, or of those which infest the brain—a being which we, in consequence, regard as purely inanimate and material, much in the same manner as these animalculæ must thus regard us.
Our telescopes, and our mathematical investigations assure us on every hand—notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant of the priesthood—that space, and therefore that bulk, is an important consideration in the eyes of the Almighty. The cycles in which the stars move are those best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of the greatest possible number of bodies. The forms of these bodies are accurately such as, within a given surface, to include the greatest possible amount of matter;—while the surfaces themselves are so disposed as to accommodate a denser population than could be accommodated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor is it any argument against bulk being an object with God, that space itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity of matter to fill it. And since we see clearly that the endowment of matter with vitality is a principle—indeed as far as our judgments extend, the leading principle—in the operations of Deity—it is scarcely logical to imagine that it is confined to the regions of the minute, where we daily trace it, and that it does not extend to those of the august. As we find cycle within cycle without end—yet all revolving around one far-distant centre which is the God-head, may we not analogically suppose, in the same manner, life within life, the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine? In short, we are madly erring, through self-esteem, in believing man, in either his temporal or future destinies, to be of more moment in the universe than that vast “clod of the valley” which he tills and contemns, and to which he denies a soul for no more profound reason than that he does not behold its operation.
These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my meditations among the mountains, and the forests, by the rivers and the ocean, a tinge of what the every-day world would not fail to term the fantastic. My wanderings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, and often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected Heaven of many a bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have strayed and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman was it who said, in allusion to the well-known work of Zimmerman, that “la solitude est une belle chose; mais il faut quelqu ’un pour vous dire que la solitude est une belle chose?” The epigram cannot be gainsayed; but the necessity is a thing that does not exist.
It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far-distant region of mountain locked within mountain, and sad rivers and melancholy tarns writhing or sleeping within all—that I chanced upon the rivulet and the island which are the subject of our engraving. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw myself upon the turf, beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub, that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that thus only should I look upon it, such was the character of phantasm which it wore.
On all sides—save to the west, where the sun was about sinking—arose the verdant walls of the forest. The little river, which turned sharply in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of the trees to the east—while in the opposite quarter (so it appeared to me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly and continuously into the valley, a rich, golden and crimson waterfall from the sun-set fountains of the sky.
About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took in, one small circular island, fantastically verdured, reposed upon the bosom of the stream.
So blended bank and shadow there,
That each seemed pendulous in air—
so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely possible to say at what point upon the slope of the emerald turf its crystal dominion began.
My position enabled me to include in a single view both the eastern and western extremities of the islet; and I observed a singularly-marked difference in their aspects. The latter was all one radiant harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the eye of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The grass was short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-interspersed. The trees were lithe, mirthful, erect—bright, slender and graceful—of eastern figure and foliage, with bark smooth, glossy, and particolored. There seemed a deep sense of life and of joy about all; and although no airs blew from out the Heavens, yet every thing had motion through the gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mistaken for tulips with wings.
The other, or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom here pervaded all things. The trees were dark in color and mournful in form and attitude—wreathing themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes, that conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung droopingly, and, hither and thither among it, were many small unsightly hillocks, low, and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of graves, but were not, although over and all about them the rue and the rosemary clambered. The shade of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed by the stream; while other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors entombed.
This idea, having once seized upon my fancy, greatly excited it, and I lost myself forthwith in reverie. “If ever island were enchanted,”—said I to myself,—“this is it. This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs theirs?—or do they yield up at all their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In dying, do they not rather waste away mournfully; rendering unto God their existence little by little, as these trees render up shadow after shadow, exhausting their substances unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to the water that imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the Death which engulfs it?—but what fairy-like form is this which glides so solemnly along the water?”
As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun rapidly sank to rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island, bearing upon their bosom large, dazzling white flakes of the bark of the sycamore—flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the water, a quick imagination might have converted into anything it pleased—while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering, made its way slowly into the darkness from out the light at the western end of the island. She stood erect in a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an oar. While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her attitude seemed indicative of joy—but sorrow deformed it as she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of light. “The revolution which has just been made by the Fay,”—continued I musingly—“is the cycle of the brief year of her life. She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She is a year nearer to Death; for I did not fail to see that as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its blackness more black.”
And again the boat appeared, and the Fay;—but about the attitude of the latter there was more of care and uncertainty, and less of elastic joy. She floated again from out the light, and into the gloom, (which deepened momently) and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she made the circuit of the island, (while the sun rushed down to his slumbers;) and at each issuing forth into the light, there was more sorrow about her person, while it grew feebler, and far fainter, and more indistinct; and at each passage into the gloom, there fell from her a darker shade, which became whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length, when the sun had utterly departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her former self, went disconsolately with her boat into the region of the ebony flood—and that she issued thence at all I cannot say,—for darkness fell over all things, and I beheld her magical figure no more.
Florem putares nare per liquidum æthera.—P. Commire.
Philadelphia, May, 1841.
THE VOICE OF THE WIND.
“Whence comest thou, wind, in thy rapid flight,
Or the balmy play of the zephyrs light?
Hast thou breathed o’er the freshness of myrtle bowers,
And laden thy wings from the orange flowers?
Or pierced the darkness of distant caves,
Whose depths resound with the ocean’s waves?
Yet bring me no shadows of grief or woe,
’Tis only earth’s beauties I fain would know.”
“I come in mirth,” said the gentle breeze,
“To bring the murmurs of distant seas;
I passed o’er the regions of fairest bloom,
Till my pinions were laden with soft perfume;
Where the dulcet tones of the wild bird’s note,
In the boundless regions of ether float.
I have come from the land of Olympus’ pride,
Where the Spartan fought, and the Persian died.
But prostrate palace, and fallen fane,
Of its grandeur and beauty alone remain.
I waved the boughs of the clustering vines,
As their shadows fell o’er the mouldering lines,
Which mark the spot of the warrior’s tomb,
In that home of glory and land of bloom.
And I kissed the brow of the dark-eyed girl,
As I stirred with my pinions each raven curl.
Nay, ask not a tale of unmingled joy,
For earth has no pleasure without alloy;
The widow’s moan, and the orphan’s wail,
Are often borne on the sighing gale.
When the clarion’s voice, and the cannon’s roar,
Bear terror and ruin from shore to shore.
I come in wrath, and the storm-clouds fly,
In blackening folds through the darksome sky;
And the mariner wakes from his joyful dream,
Midst the tempest’s roar, and the lightning’s gleam;
In the fathomless vaults of the ocean’s caves,
He must rest ’mid the tumult of angry waves.
I am fearless of sky, or of earth or sea,
But soar over all with pinions free;
I sport with the curls of the laughing child,
With the bandit play, or the maiden mild;
From the fragile flower to the lofty tree
All bend in submission and yield to me.”
Yonker’s Female Seminary, 1841.
THE REEFER OF ’76.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “CRUISING IN THE LAST WAR.”
THE SHIP’S BOY.
“Hillo!” said Westbrook, “who’s skulking here?” and he pushed his foot against a dark heap, huddled up under the shade of one of the guns. As he did so, a slight, pale-faced, sickly-looking boy started up. “Ah! it’s you, Dick, is it?—why I never before thought you’d skulk—there, go—but you mustn’t do it again, my lad.”
The boy was a favorite with all on board. He had embarked at Newport, and was, therefore, a new hand, but his quiet demeanor, as well as a certain melancholy expression of face he always wore, had won him a way to our hearts. Little was known of his history, except that he was an orphan. Punctual in the discharge of his duties, yet holding himself aloof from the rest of the boys, he seemed to be one, who although he had determined to endure his present fate, was yet conscious of having seen better days. I was the more confirmed in my belief that he had been born to a higher station from the choice of his words in conversation, especially with his superiors. His manner, too, was not that of one brought up to buffett roughly against fortune. That one so young should be thrust, unaided, out into the world, was a sure passport for him to my heart, for his want of parents was a link of sympathy uniting us together; and we had, therefore, always been as much friends as the relative difference of our situations, on board a man-of-war would allow. Yet even I, so great was his reserve, knew little more of his history than the rest of my shipmates. Once, indeed, when I had rendered him some little kindness, such as an officer always has it in his power without much trouble to himself, to bestow upon an inferior, his heart had opened, and he had told me, more by hints though than in direct words, that he had lost his father and mother and a little sister, within a few weeks of each other, and that, houseless, penniless and friendless, he had been forced to sea by his only remaining relatives, in order that he might shift for himself. I suspected that he did not pass under his real name. But whatever had been his former lot, or however great were his sufferings, he never repined. He went through his duty silently, but sadly, as if—poor child!—he carried within him a breaking heart.
“Please, sir,” said he, in reply to Westbrook’s address, “it’s but a minute any how I’ve been here.”
“Well, well, Dick, I believe you,” said the warm-hearted midshipman. “But there go eight bells, and as your watch is up, you may go below. What! crying—fie, fie, my lad, how girl-hearted you have grown.”
“I am not girl-hearted always,” sobbed the little fellow, looking up into his superior’s face, “but I couldn’t help crying when I thought that to-night a year ago my mother died, and I crept under the gun so that no one might see and laugh at me, as they do at every one here. It was just at this hour she died,” he continued, chokingly, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable weeping, “and she was the only friend I had on earth.”
“Poor boy! God bless you!” said Westbrook, mentally, as the lad, finishing his passionate exclamation, turned hastily away.
It was my watch, and as Westbrook met me coming on deck, he paused a moment, and said,
“Do you know any thing about that poor little fellow, I mean Dick Rasey? God help me I’ve been rating him for skulking, when the lad only wanted to hide his grief for his mother from the jests of the crew. I wouldn’t have done it for any thing.”
“No—he has always maintained the greatest reserve respecting himself. Has he gone below?”
“Yes! who can he be? It’s strange I feel such an interest in him.”
“Poor child!—he has seen better days, and this hard life is killing him. I wish he could distinguish himself some how—the skipper might then take a fancy to him and put him on the quarter-deck.”
“What a dear little middy he would make,” said Westbrook, his gay humor flashing out through his sadness, “why we havn’t got a cocked-hat aboard that wouldn’t bury him up like an extinguisher, or a dirk to spare which isn’t longer than his whole body.”
“Shame, Jack—its not a matter for jest—the lad is dying by inches.”
“Ah! you’re right, Parker; I wish to heaven the boy had a berth aft here. But now I must go below, for I’m confoundedly sleepy. You’ll have a lighter watch of it than I had. The moon will be up directly—and there, by Jove! she comes—look how gloriously her disc slides up behind that wave. But this is no time for poetry, for I’m as drowsy as if I was about to sleep, like the old fellow in the Arabian story, for a matter of a hundred years or more, or even like the seven sleepers of Christendom, who fell into a doze some centuries back, and will come to life again the Lord knows when,” and with a long yawn, my mercurial messmate gave a parting glance at the rising luminary, and went below.
The spectacle to which Westbrook had called my attention was indeed a glorious one. The night had been somewhat misty, so that the stars were obscured, or but faintly visible here and there; while the light breeze that scarcely ruffled the sea, or sighed above a whisper in the rigging, had given an air of profound repose to the scene. When I first stept on deck the whole horizon was buried in this partial obscurity, and the view around, excepting in the vicinity of the Fire-Fly, was lost in misty indistinctness. A few moments, however, had changed the aspect of the whole scene. When I relieved the watch the eastern horizon was shrouded in a veil of dark, thick vapors—for the mists had collected there in denser masses than any where else—while a single star, through a rent in the midst of that weird-like canopy, shone calmly upon the scene: but now the fog had lifted up like a curtain from the seaboard in that quarter, and a long greenish streak of light, stretching along for several points, and against which the dark waves undulated in bold relief, betokened the approach of the moon. Even as Westbrook spoke, the upper edge of her disc slid up above the watery horizon, disappearing and appearing again as the surges rose and fell against it, until gradually the huge globe lifted its whole vast volume above the seaboard, and while the edge of the dark canopy above shone as if lined with pearl, a flood of glorious light, flickering and dancing upon the billows, was poured in a long line of molten silver across the sea toward us, bathing hull, and spars, and sails in liquid radiance, and seeming to transpose us in a moment into a fairy land. Such a scene of unrivalled beauty I had never beheld. The contrast betwixt the dark vapors hanging over the moon, and the dazzling brilliancy of her wake below was indeed magnificent. I looked in mute delight. The few stars above were at once obscured by the brighter glories of the moon. Suddenly, however, as I gazed, a dark speck appeared upon the surface of the moon, and in another instant the tall masts and exquisite tracery of a ship could be seen, in bold relief against her disc, the fine dark lines of the hamper seeming like the thinnest cobwebs crossing a burnished shield of silver. So plainly was the vessel seen that her minutest spars were perceptible as she rose and fell gallantly on the long heavy swell.
“Ah! my fine fellow,” I exclaimed, “we have you there. Had it not been for yonder pretty mistress of the night you would have passed us unseen. Make all sail at once—and bear up a few points more so as to get the weather gauge of the stranger.”
“Ay, ay, sir.”
“How gallantly the old schooner eats into the wind,” I said, gazing with admiration on our light little craft. I turned to the chase. “Has the stranger altered her course?” I asked, looking for her in the old position, but finding she was no more visible.
“No, sir, I saw her but an instant ago: oh! there she is—that fog bank settling down on the seaboard hid her from sight. You can see her now just to leeward of the moon, sir.”
I looked, and as the man had said, perceived that the dark massy bank of vapors, which had lifted as the moon rose, was once more settling down on the seaboard, obscuring her whole disc at intervals, and shrouding every thing in that quarter in occasional gloom. For a moment the strange sail had been lost in this obscurity, but as the moon struggled through the clouds, it once more became visible just under the northern side of that luminary. Apparently unconscious of our vicinity the stranger was stealing gently along under easy sail, pitching upon the long undulating swell, while, as he lay almost in the very wake of the moon, every part of his hull and rigging was distinctly perceptible. Not a yard, however, appeared to have been moved: not an additional sail was set. Occasionally we lost sight of him as the moon, wading heavily through the sombre clouds, became momentarily obscured, although even then, from beneath the frowning canopy of vapors above, a silvery radiance would steal out at the edges of the clouds, tipping the masts and sails of the stranger with a soft pearly light that looked like enchantment itself, and which, contrasted with the dark hues of the hull and the gloomy deep beneath, produced an effect such as I have never seen surpassed in nature or art.
Meanwhile the wind gradually failed us, until at length it fell a dead calm. All this time the fog was settling down more heavily around us, not gathering in one compact mass however, but lying in patches scattered over the whole expanse of the waters, and presenting a picture such as no one, except he is familiar with a tropical sea, can imagine. In some places the ocean was entirely clear of the fog, while a patch of cold, blue sky above, spangled with innumerable stars, that shone with a brilliancy unknown to colder climes, looked as if cut out of the mists, which on every hand around covered the sky as with a veil. At times a light breeze would spring up ruffling the polished surface of the swell, and, undulating the fog as smoke-wreaths in the morning air, would open up, for a moment, a sight of some new patch of blue sky above, with its thousand brightly twinkling stars, reminding one of the beautiful skies we used to dream of in our infant slumbers, and then, dying away as suddenly as it arose, the mists would undulate uncertainly an instant, roll toward each other, and twisting around in a thousand fantastic folds, would finally close up, shrouding the sky once more in gloom, and settling down bodily upon the sombre surface of the deep. At length the moon became wholly obscured. A few stars only could be seen flickering fainter and fainter far up in the fathomless ether, and finally, after momentarily appearing and disappearing, they vanished altogether. A profound gloom hung on all around. The silence of death reigned over our little craft. Even the customary sounds of the swell rippling along our sides, or the breeze sighing through the hamper faded entirely, and save an occasional creaking of the boom, or the sullen falling of a reef-point against the sail, not a sound broke the repose of the scene. The strange sail had long since been lost sight of to starboard. So profound was the darkness that we could scarcely distinguish the look-out at the forecastle from the quarter-deck. Silent and motionless we lay, shut in by that dark shroud of vapor, as if buried by some potent enchanter in a living tomb.
“Hist!” said a reefer of my watch to me, “don’t you hear something, Mr. Parker?”
I listened, attentively, and though my hearing was proverbially sharp, I could distinguish nothing for several moments. At length, however, the little fellow pinched my arm, and inclining my eye to the water, I heard a low monotonous sound like the smothered rollicking of oars that had been muffled. At first I could not credit my senses, but, as I listened again, the sound came more distinctly to my ears, seeming to grow nearer and nearer. There could be no mistaking it. Directly, moreover, these sounds ceased, and then was heard a low murmured noise, as if human voices were conversing together in stifled tones. At once it flashed upon me that an attack was contemplated upon us—by whom I knew not—though it was probable that the enemy came from the strange sail to starboard. It was evident, however, that the assailants were at fault. My measures were taken at once. Hastily ordering the watch to arm themselves in quiet, I ordered the men to be called silently; and, as by this time the look-outs began to detect the approach of our unknown visitors, I enjoined equal silence upon them, commanding them at the same time, however, to keep a sharp eye to starboard, in order to learn, if possible, the exact position of the expected assailants.
In a few minutes the men were mustered, and prepared for the visitors, whether peaceful or not. Most of the officers, too, had found their way on deck, although as it was uncertain as yet whether it might not be a false alarm, I had not disturbed the skipper. Westbrook was already, however, prepared for the fight, and as I ran my eye hastily over the crew I thought I saw the slight form of Dick Rasey, standing amongst them.
“Can you hear any thing, Westbrook?” said I.
“It’s like the grave!” was his whispered answer.
“Pass the word on for the men to keep perfectly quiet, but to remain at their stations.”
“Ay, ay, sir.”
For some minutes the death-like silence which had preceded the discovery of our unknown visitors returned, and as moment after moment crept by without betraying the slightest token of the vicinity of the assailants, I almost began to doubt my senses, and believe that the sounds I had heard had been imaginary. The most profound obscurity meantime reigned over our decks. So great was the darkness that I could only distinguish a shadowy group of human beings gathered forward, without being able to discern distinctly any one face or figure; while the only sound I heard, breaking the hush around, was the deep, but half-suppressed breathing of our men. Suddenly, however, when our suspense had become exciting even to nervousness, a low, quick sound was heard right off our starboard quarter, as if one or more boats, with muffled oars, were pulling swiftly on to us; while almost instantaneously a dark mass shot out of the gloom on that side, and before we could realise the rapidity of their approach, the boat had struck our side, and her crew were tumbling in over the bulwarks, cutlass in hand. Our preparation took them, however, by surprise, and for a moment they recoiled, but instantly rallying at their leader’s voice, they poured in upon us again with redoubled fierceness, cheering as they clambered up our sides, and struggled over the bulwarks.
“Beat them back, Fire-Flies!” I shouted, “give it to them with a will, boys—strike.”
“Press on, my lads, press on—the schooner’s our own!” shouted the leader of the assailants.
Levelling my pistol at the advancing speaker, and waving our men on with my sword, I gave him no answer, but fired. The pistol flashed in the pan. In an instant the leader of the foe was upon me, having sprung over the bulwarks as I spoke. He was a tall, athletic man, and lifting his sword high above his head, while in his other hand he presented a pistol toward my breast, he dashed upon me. I parried his thrust with my blade, but as he fired I felt a sharp pain in my arm, like the puncture of a pin. I knew that I was wounded, but it only inspired me with fiercer energy. I made a lunge at him, but he met it with a blow of his sword, which shivered my weapon to atoms. Springing upon my gigantic adversary, I wreathed my arms around him, and endeavored to make up for the want of a weapon, by bearing him to the deck in my arms; but my utmost exertions, desperate as they were, scarcely sufficed to stagger him, and shortening his blade, he was about plunging it into my heart, when a pistol went off close beside me, and my antagonist, giving a convulsive leap, fell dead upon the deck. I freed myself from his embrace and sprang to my feet, just in time to see little Dick, with the smoke still wreathing from the mouth of his pistol, borne away by the press of the assault. In the next instant I lost sight of him in the melee, which now became really terrific. Hastily snatching a brand from one of the fallen men, I plunged once more into the fight, for the enemy having been by this time reinforced by another boat, were now pouring in upon us in such numbers that the arm of every man became absolutely necessary. It was indeed a desperate contest. Hand to hand and foot to foot we fought; desperation on the one hand, and a determination to conquer on the other, lent double fury to our crew; while the clash of swords, the explosion of fire-arms, the shouts of the combatants, and the groans and shrieks of the wounded and dying, gave additional horror to the scene. By this time our captain had reached the deck, and his powerful voice was heard over all the din of the battle urging on his men. The fall of the enemy’s leader began now to be generally known among his crew, and the consequence was soon apparent in their wavering and want of unity. In vain the inferior officers urged them on; in vain they found their retreat cut off by the shot we had hove into their boats; in vain they were reminded by their leaders that they must now conquer or die, they no longer fought with the fierceness of their first onset, and though they still combatted manfully, and some of them desperately, they had lost all unity of purpose, and, struck with a sudden panic, at a last overwhelming charge of our gallant followers, they fled in disorder, some leaping wildly overboard, some crying for quarter when they could retreat no farther, and all of them giving up the contest as lost. Not a soul escaped. They who did not fall in the strife were either drowned in the panic-struck flight, or made prisoners. The whole contest did not last seven minutes. When they found themselves deserted by their men the officers sullenly resigned their swords, and we found that our assailants were a cutting out party from the ship to starboard, an English frigate.
The man-of-war had not, it seems, discovered us until some time after the moon arose, when her light, happening to fall full upon our sails, betrayed us to their look-outs. The darkness almost directly afterward obscured us from sight, and the calm that ensued forbade her reaching us herself. Her boats were consequently manned, with the intention of carrying us by boarding. The most singular portion of it was that none of us perceived that the stranger was a man-of-war, but this may be accounted for from her being built after a new model, which gave her the appearance of a merchantman.
The bustle of the fight was over; the prisoners had been secured; the decks had been washed down; my wound which turned out slight had been properly attended to; and the watch had once more resumed their monotonous tread; while at proper intervals, the solemn cry, “all’s well,” repeated from look-out to look-out, betokened that we were once more in security, before I sought my hammock. I soon fell asleep, but throughout the night I was troubled by wild dreams in which Beatrice, the ship’s boy, and the late strife, were mingled promiscuously. At length I awoke. It was still dark, and the only light near was a single lantern hung at the extremity of the apartment. My fellow messmates around were all buried in sleep. Suddenly, the surgeon’s mate stood beside me.
“Mr. Parker!” said he.
I raised myself up and gazed curiously into his face.
“Little Dick, sir—” he began.
“My God!” I exclaimed, for I had actually forgotten, in the excitement of the combat and the succeeding events, to enquire about my young preserver, and I now felt a strange presentiment that the mate had come to acquaint me with his death—“what of him? Is any thing the matter?” I asked eagerly.
“I fear, sir,” said the messenger, shaking his head sadly, “that he cannot live till morning.”
“And I have been lying here,” I exclaimed, reproachfully, “while the poor boy is dying,” and I sprang at once from my hammock, hurried on my clothes, saying, “lead me to him at once.”
“He is delirious, but in the intervals of lunacy he asks for you, sir,” and as the man spoke we stood by bedside of the dying boy.
The sufferer did not lie in his usual hammock, for it was hung in the very midst of the crew, and the close air around it was really stifling; but he had been carried to a place, nearly under the open hatchway, and laid there in a little open space of about four feet square. From the sound of the ripples I judged the schooner was in motion, while the clear calm blue sky, seen through the opening overhead and dotted with myriads of stars, betokened that the fog had broken away. How calmly it smiled down on the wan face of the dying boy. Occasionally a light current of wind—oh! how deliciously cool in that pent-up hold—eddied down the hatchway, and lifted the dark chesnut locks of the sufferer, as, with his little head reposing in the lap of an old veteran, he lay in an unquiet slumber. His shirt-collar was unbuttoned, and his childish bosom, as white as that of a girl, was open and exposed. He breathed quick and heavily. The wound of which he was dying, had been intensely painful, but within the last half hour had somewhat lulled, though even now his thin fingers tightly grasped the bed-clothes as if he suffered the greatest agony. Another battle-stained and gray-haired seaman stood beside him, holding a dull lantern in his hand, and gazing sorrowfully down upon the sufferer. The surgeon knelt beside him, with his finger on the boy’s pulse. As I approached they all looked up. The veteran who held him shook his head, and would have spoken, but the tears gathered too chokingly in his eyes. The surgeon said,—
“He is going fast,—poor little fellow—do you see this?” and as he spoke he lifted up a rich gold locket, which had lain upon the boy’s breast. “He has seen better days.”
I could not answer, for my heart was full. Here was the being to whom, but a few hours before I had owed my life—a poor, slight, unprotected child—lying before me, with death already written on his brow,—and yet I had never known of his danger, and never even sought him out after the conflict. How bitterly my heart reproached me in that hour. They noticed my agitation, and his old friend—the seaman that held his head—said sadly,
“Poor little Dick—you’ll never see the shore again you have wished for so long. But there’ll be more than one—thank God!—when your log’s out, to mourn over you.”
Suddenly the little fellow opened his eyes, and gazed vacantly around.
“Has he come yet?” he asked in a low voice. “Why won’t he come?”
“I am here,” said I, taking the little fellow’s hand, “don’t you know me, Dick?”
“Doctor, I am dying, ain’t I?” said the little fellow, “for my sight grows dim. God bless you, Mr. Parker, for this. I see you now,” and he faintly pressed my hand.
“Can I do nothing for you, Dick?” said I, “you saved my life. God knows I would coin my own blood to buy yours.”
“I have nothing to ask, only, if it be possible, let me be buried by my mother,—you will find the name of the place, and all about it, in my trunk.”
“Anything—everything, my poor lad,” I answered chokingly.
The little fellow smiled faintly—it was like an angel’s smile—but he did not answer. His eyes were fixed on the stars flickering in that patch of blue sky, far overhead. His mind wandered.
“It is a long—long way up there,—but there are bright angels among them. Mother used to say that I would meet her there. How near they come, and I see bright faces smiling on me from them. Hark! is that music?” and, lifting his finger, he seemed listening intently for a moment. He fell back; and the old veteran burst into tears. The child was dead. Did he indeed hear angels’ voices? God grant it.
I opened his trunk, and then discovered his real name. Out of mercy to the unfeeling wretches, who were his relatives, and who had forced him to sea, I suppress it. Suffice it to say, his family had once been rich, but that reverses had come upon them. His father died of a broken heart, nor did his mother long survive. Poor boy! I could not fulfil the whole of his injunction, for we were far out at sea, but I caused a cenotaph to be erected for him beside his mother’s grave. It tells the simple tale of The Ship’s Boy.
Philadelphia, May, 1841.
BY JOHN W. FORNEY.
There is a sweet and wildering dream
Of by-gone fresh and joyous hours,
Which gilds the memory with its beam,
And the stern spirit overpowers.
Seen thro’ the chequered glass of Time,
How spell-like do its glories rise!
Like some ethereal pantomime
Danced on the skirt of autumn skies!
We stand and gaze; and wonder-rapt,
Think of the changing power of years,
As on our brow its trace has crept,
And from our eyes exacted tears.
There is glad childhood, rob’d in smiles,
And beauteous as a dew-gem’d flower,
Whose silver laugh and boyish wiles,
Usurp the mother many an hour.
There is the first half-spoken word,
How rare a music to her ear!
She listens, as she had not heard,
And hearing, owns it with a tear.
There is a passing on of Time—
The boy is merged into the man—
And daringly he frets to climb
What once his vision could not scan.
Come back from this poetic scene!
Come from this scene of flowery youth!
Come from the time when all was green,
To cold and dreary, stubborn truth.
Look on your own now withered brow,
Where care sits emperor of the mind;
Look to your throbbing heart; and now
Cast all these dreams of youth behind.
Read the sad change which Time has wrought
Compare it by your memory’s glass;
And turn from that whose lightest thought
Points to the grave where ages pass.
See, from the cradle to the tomb,
Though years are multiplied between,
How brief, in varied joy and gloom,
Is Life’s wild, feverish, fitful scene.
But yesterday, and youth was drest
In dimpled and in smiling glee,
Drawn, with fond fervor, to her breast,
Or throned upon a mother’s knee.
To-day, and Time, with added years,
Has stampt his progress on our brow
In manhood’s pallid care, and tears
Unbidden dim the vision now.
Lancaster, Pa. 1841.
THE LOST HEIR.
BY H. J. VERNON.
“Well flown, falcon—see how it mounts into the clouds—the heron has it—on, on knights and ladies fair, or we shall not be in at the death.”
As the speaker ceased, the falcon, which had been mounting in gyrations growing narrower and narrower as it ascended above its prey, suddenly stooped from its height, and shooting upon the heron, like a thunderbolt, bore the huge bird in its talons to the earth. The swoop, and the descent passed with the rapidity of lightning, and in a moment after the gallant train were gallopping to the assistance of the falcon.
Their way lay along the high bank of the river, from whose reedy margin the heron had been roused. The path was often broken, and difficult to traverse; but so eager were all to reach the desired point that no one appeared to mind these inequalities. Suddenly the path made an almost precipitous descent, and while a portion of the train dashed recklessly down the steep, the more prudent checked their course, and sought a less dangerous road. By this means the party became divided, that which remained on the brow of the hill being by far the more numerous. The other group consisted, indeed, of but three individuals—a falconer, a page, and the niece of their master, the Earl of Torston. The palfrey of the latter was one of rare speed, and it was with difficulty that the two servitors could keep up with their beautiful and high-spirited mistress.
“On Ralph—ay, Leoline, you are falling behind,” she said, glancing around at her companions as the distance between them rapidly increased.
“To the right—to the right,” shouted the falconer, “the heron has fallen in the marsh.”
The maiden suddenly drew her rein in, to follow this direction; but as she did so a half a score of men, attired as Scottish borderers, started from the thickets around, and seizing her bridle, and that of her attendants, vanished with them into the recesses of the forest. All efforts at resistance were precluded by the numbers of the assailants, and lest the two servitors should alarm their now rapidly approaching companions, they were hastily gagged. The whole party then set forward at a brisk pace toward the neighboring Scottish border.
The lady Eleanor was one of the most beautiful maidens of the north of England, and her expectations from her childless uncle were equalled only by her charms. Already had many a gallant knight broken a lance in defence of her beauty, or sought even more openly to win her for his bride. But to all alike she bore the same demeanor. Her heart was as yet untouched. Gay, sportive, full of wit, and not altogether unconscious of her exalted station, the heiress of three baronies continued to be the idol of her uncle, and the admiration of the English chivalry. It was while engaged in hawking with her train that she had been surprised, as we have related, by a band of Scottish marauders, with the intention of profiting by her ransom.
For some hours the party continued their flight with unabated speed, concealing themselves in the depths of the forests, until they had left the possessions of Lord Torston, and gained a range of barren and desolate hills, where there was little likelihood of meeting with interruption. The object of the capturers was obviously to bear off their prize across the border, so rapidly as to defy all measures to be taken for her rescue.
The lady Eleanor was not, however, without considerable energy of character, arising in part no doubt from the stormy times in which she lived, for she had listened so often to the tales of her ancestor’s deeds that she felt it would derogate from her, even though a maiden, not to shew a portion of the same spirit in disaster. As they were hurried along, therefore, she busied herself in revolving a plan for her escape. But she could think of no feasible scheme, without the co-operation of her servitors, and they were kept so far in the rear, and guarded so carefully, that any communication with them she saw would be impossible. In this perplexity she breathed a silent prayer to the virgin, and was about resigning herself to her fate when the wail of a bugle broke upon her ear, and looking up she beheld three horsemen crossing the brow of a hill, a few yards distant. At the same moment the marauders recognised the new comers as enemies, and hurrying their captives into the rear prepared for the fray.
“Ah! what have we here?” exclaimed the leader of the men-at-arms, a bold stalwart youth, just verging into manhood, turning to his companions, “by St. George, a pack of Scottish thieves—and there is a lady among them, a prisoner I trow, for she is dressed like a maiden of rank. What say you, comrades? we are three good men against yon dozen varlets, shall we attempt a rescue?”
“Ay—ay—Harry Bowbent, lead on,” exclaimed the leader of his companions, “for though your blood is often over-hot, yet who could refuse to charge yon Scottish knaves in such a cause?”
The marauders had, meanwhile, drawn themselves up across the road, and when the three men-at-arms spurred their horses to the charge, the Scots received them by stepping briskly aside, and striking at the animals with their huge swords. Two of the assailants were thus brought to the ground at the first onset; but the one called Bowbent, and his elder companion, bore each a Scotsman to the earth with his long lance, and then taking to their swords, struck about them with such fury as to finish the contest in a space of time almost as short as that which it takes to narrate it. They did not, however, gain this victory without cost. Both the youth and his elder comrade were wounded, while the man-at-arms, who had been unhorsed, was killed. Several of the marauders fell on the field, and the others took to flight.
“Poor Jasper,” said the youth, looking mournfully upon his slain follower, “your life was soon ended. God help me! misfortunes seem to attend on all who espouse my fortunes.” And, after regarding the dead man a moment longer, the youth turned away with a sigh, to fulfil his remaining duty, by inquiring whom he had rescued, and offering to conduct her to a place of safety.
Meanwhile the lady Eleanor had been an anxious though admiring spectator of the contest, and many a prayer did she breathe for the success of her gallant rescuers. The boldness of the youth especially aroused her interest, and her heart beat faster and her breath came quicker, whenever he seemed on the point of being overpowered. As he now moved toward her, she felt, she knew not why, the color mounting in her cheeks,—and as he raised his visor, she could not but acknowledge that the countenance beneath, vied with, and even excelled, in manly beauty and frankness of expression, any she had ever seen. The youth, however, had just began to express, in the courtly language of the day, his delight at having come up so opportunely, when a sudden paleness shot over his countenance, and after endeavoring vainly to speak, he sank, fainting to the ground.
“It is only this ugly wound in his side,” said his older comrade, noticing the alarm in the maiden’s countenance, “he has fainted from loss of blood.”
“Can he not be borne to the castle?—here Ralph, Leoline, a litter for the wounded man—but, see, he revives.”
The wounded youth opened his eyes faintly, and gazed upon the maiden as she spoke, and then closed them, as if in pain.
“He has fainted again,” said the lady Eleanor, “cannot the blood be staunched? I have some slight skill in the healing art, let me at least bind up his wounds.”
Taking a scarf from her neck as she spoke, the maiden proceeded to examine the hurts of the young man-at-arms, and having carefully bound them up, during which operation the reviving sufferer testified his mute gratitude by his looks, she allowed him to be placed on the rude litter her servitors had hastily prepared for him, and then the whole party set out to return to the castle.
It was a fortnight after the above events, and the wounded youth was now convalescent. The room in which he sat, was a large old gothic apartment, but the mild breath of summer stealing through the open window, and bearing the odor of flowers upon its bosom, gave a freshness to that old chamber, which banished, for the time, its gloominess. The invalid was sitting up, and by his side was the lady Eleanor, gazing up into his eyes with a look which a woman bestows only upon the one she loves.
On reaching the castle, the lady Eleanor, in the absence of her uncle, ordered the utmost attentions to be paid to the wounded young man. In consequence, the best room in the castle was allotted to him, and in the absence of a better leech, and in compliance with the customs of the time, the lady Eleanor herself became his physician. Opportunities were thus presented for their being together, which, as he grew more convalescent, became dangerous to the peace of both. Perhaps it was his dependence on her skill; perhaps it was the wound he had received in her cause; perhaps it was that she had expected no refinement whatever in one apparently of such questionable rank; perhaps—but no matter—like many a one before and since, it was not long before the lady Eleanor found that in attending her patient, she had lost her heart.
Nor was the wounded youth less inspired by affection for his fair physician. Gratitude for her kindness, to say nothing of her sweetness and beauty, had long since won his most devoted love. And, now, as they sat together, one might perceive, by the heightened color on the cheek of the maiden, and the unresisting manner in which her hand lay in that of the youth, that their mutual affections had just been revealed to each other in words.
“Yes—sweet one,” said the youth, as if continuing a conversation, “we may have much to overcome before we triumph, if indeed we ever may; and I almost wish that we had never met.” His companion looked at him chidingly. “No, not that either, dearest. But yet I would I could remove this uncertainty that hangs around my birth. I am at least a gentleman born—of that I have always been assured—I am, moreover a knight; but whether the son of a peer, or of one with only a single fee, I know not. Until this uncertainty can be removed, I cannot pretend openly to aspire to your hand. I almost fear me that my honor may be questioned, thus to plight my vows with you, dear Eleanor; yet fate, which has thrown us thus together, has some meaning in her freak.”
“May it prove indeed so,” said the maiden. “But you say you were always told you were noble born. Who assured you of this? Indeed, I must hear your history, for who knows,” continued she archly, “but I may unravel your riddle?”
“Of my early life I know little, for though I remember events as far back even as infancy, yet it is but faintly, as we often remember incidents in a dream. Indeed I have often thought that these memories may be nothing more than vague recollections of dreams themselves happening so far back in my childhood as to seem like realities. Be that as it may, I have these shadowy impressions of living when very young in a large old castle, with hosts of retainers, and being served as if I was the owner of all. I remember also a fine noble looking man, and a lovely lady who used to take me in her arms and smile upon me. One day—it seems but yesterday, and I remember this more distinctly than any thing else—I was taken out by my attendants, who were, I suspect, attacked and overpowered, for I found myself rudely seized by a rough soldier, at whom I cried, and by whom I was carried off. I never saw any of my attendants more. Every face around me was new, and for days I thought my heart would break. I think I must have been carried into Scotland, for as I grew up the country around looked barren like it, and my protectors were continually returning from forays over the border on the Southron as they call us. Besides even yet I have somewhat of their accent in my speech.
“I could not have been but a very young child, however, when I changed my protectors, and went beyond sea. For two or three years we travelled much; but finally settled in France. Those with whom I resided were of the better sort of peasants, and consisted of an old woman and her daughter. We were often visited by a stern, dark man, whom I was told was a knight. He indeed must have been the person who was my real protector, for after a while, my habitation was again changed, and I became the resident of an old decayed fortalice, where a warden and one or two servants constituted the whole household. Here I remained for many years, and until I was past my boyhood. I saw no more of my imagined protector, but I have every reason to believe he owned the old castle, where, by-the-bye, I picked up some knowledge of war-like-exercises; sufficient indeed to fit me, at the age of eighteen, to be sent to the army as a man-at-arms. I served a campaign under the banner of the Sieur de Lorenge, to whom I had been recommended by, I suppose, my unknown protector. His secret agency I have no doubt was exerted in procuring me to be knighted. Since then I have been thrown upon my own resources, and for a couple of years have served in Flanders, but wishing to discover, if possible, my real birth, I left the continent, and reaching England, set out on this apparently insane search. I have been engaged in it more than a half a year, and have yet obtained no clue to my parentage. I judge it, however, to be English, from my having been brought up in Scotland, for I was certainly taken prisoner in a foray. And now, dearest, you have my history—and what, alas! do you know of me, except that I am a penniless unknown knight, hunting through this broad realm for a parentage?”
The maiden did not answer the question of her lover directly, but seemed lost in thought. She gazed wonderingly upon the speaker, and said,—
“Strange!—if it should prove to be so.”
Wondering at her inexplicable question, her lover said,—
“What is strange, dearest?” But scarcely had this inquiry been made, when a servant appeared, informing the lovers, that the uncle of the lady Eleanor had arrived unexpectedly from court, and begged at once to be allowed to pay his thanks to the brave knight who had rescued his niece.
It was a fortnight later in our history. A small cavalcade was winding along a romantic road, late in the afternoon. At its front rode two knights, completely armed, except as to their heads, which were covered with light caps, instead of helmets. A palfrey, upon which rode a lady, and the numerous handmaidens in the group, showed the cavalcade to be that of a woman of rank.
Suddenly the procession reached the brow of a hill, overlooking a wide reach of pasture and woodland. An extensive valley stretched below, through which meandered a stream, that now glittered in the sunlight, and was now lost to sight as it entered the mazes of the forest. In the very centre of the valley, and on a gentle elevation, stood a large and extensive castle, its defences reaching completely around the low hill upon which it stood. As the prospect broke upon the sight, the two knights drew in their reins, and the elder turning to the younger one, whom the reader will instantly recognise as the hero of our tale, said,—
“Yonder is Torston castle, and in less than an hour we shall be within its walls.”
“And a noble fortress it is, my lord. I have seen many both in this fair realm and in France, but few to equal yon proud castle.”
“The landscape is itself a fine one,” said Lord Torston, “though few of our profession of arms have an eye for beauty.”
“The rudest boor, my lord, could not fail to admire this scene. And yet it does not seem wholly new to me. I have an indistinct impression of having beheld something like it before.”
“Perhaps, in some fair valley of France. But we must push on, or we shall not reach the castle until nightfall.”
A brisker pace, however, soon brought the cavalcade to the outskirts of the domain. Descending the hill, they passed amid verdant woods and open lawns, and villages scattered here and there, until they readied the immediate vicinity of the castle, and in a few minutes more they entered the large gateway, and drew up in the court-yard. Every thing around seemed to recall to the mind of the young knight some long forgotten dream; and when alighting, they entered the hall, with its raised table at the upper end and the large antlers surmounting the dais, it appeared to him as if he had returned to some favorite place on which he had been wont to gaze in days long gone by. Suddenly he paused, looked eagerly around, placed his hand to his brow, and said—
“My lord, this is strange. It seems to me as if I knew this place, and every step only reveals some old remembered feature to me. It cannot be that I have dreamed of it.”
“No, Sir Henry, you have not. You have seen it, but long ago. I have suspected this for some days, but I am now convinced.”
“My lord,” said the young knight with a bewildered air, “what mean you? It cannot be, and yet your words, your looks, your gestures, imply it—am I to find in this castle my birth-place?”
“Yes! my son,” exclaimed the baron, unable longer to control the emotions, which had been swelling for days in his bosom, “and in me you find a father,” and opening his arms, his long lost son fell into his arms.
“I no sooner saw your face,” said the father, when these emotions had subsided sufficiently to permit an explanation, “than I felt a yearning towards you, for it reminded me of your mother. But when I heard your story,” he continued, “it tallied so completely with the loss of my only son, that I suspected at once that you were my child. Your age, too, agreed with what his should have been. Unwilling, however, to make known my belief, I enjoined silence on my niece, determining to bring you here in order to see if the sight of your birth-place would awaken old recollections in your bosom. I have succeeded. I do not doubt but that you are my son,—and now let me lead you to your cousin, who by this time will have changed her apparel, and be ready to receive us.”
“One moment, only,” said Sir Henry, “I have that here, which as yet I have shewn to no one. It is a ring I wore on my neck when a child. Here it is.”
“God be praised, my son,” said the old baron, “for removing every doubt. This is your mother’s wedding ring, which, after her death, you wore around your neck,” and the long-separated father and son again embraced, while tears of joy and thankfulness stole down the old man’s face.
Is it to be supposed that the lady Eleanor looked more coldly on her lover, now that every difficulty in the way of their union was removed: or that the young heir was less eager to possess himself of his bride, because, by wedding her, he would preserve to her the possessions which otherwise she would lose? Truth compels us to answer both questions in the negative. Scarcely a month had elapsed before the young knight led his blooming cousin to the altar, while his new-found father looked on with a joy which he had thought, as a childless man, he could never more have experienced. And in the proud array of England’s proudest chivalry, which met at Torston castle to celebrate the nuptials, no one demeaned himself more gallantly, or won more triumphs in the lists, than the young knight, now no longer Harry Bowbent, the soldier of fortune, but the heir of the richest earldom in the realm.
Clairfait Hall, 1841.
SIGHS FOR THE UNATTAINABLE.
BY CHARLES WEST THOMSON.
My heart is like the basin deep,
From which a fountain’s waters flow—
It cannot all its treasures keep,
Nor find them welcome when they go.
From its recesses dark and drear,
There bubble up a thousand springs,
Sparkles of hope, and drops of fear,
Wild thoughts and strange imaginings.
’Tis full of great and high desires—
It swells with wishes proud but vain—
And on its altar kindle fires,
Whose wasted warmth but nurtures pain.
And feelings come, with potent spell,
In many a wildering throng combined,
Whose force no words can ever tell,
Nor language e’er a likeness find.
But, ah! how sinks my saddened soul,
To know, with all its longings high,
It ne’er can reach the tempting goal,
Nor to the lofty issue fly.
To feel the ardent wish to range
The world of thought and fancy o’er,
Yet know—oh! contradiction strange!
It owns a wing too weak to soar.
To have the love of all that’s fair,
And beautiful and pure and free,
Yet find it choked with weeds of care,
Flung from the world’s tempestuous sea.
To feel affections warm and high,
Boiling within my panting breast,
And meet a careless, cold reply,
Where sought my weary soul for rest.
Oh! give me Nature’s kindly charm,
A scene where quiet beauty reigns—
Give me a heart with feeling warm,
To share my joy, to soothe my pains.
And they who love the stormy path
Of wild Ambition’s wildered scheme,
May revel in its rage and wrath,
Most welcome to the bliss they dream.
THE SYRIAN LETTERS.
WRITTEN FROM DAMASCUS, BY SERVILIUS PRISCUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, TO HIS KINSMAN, CORNELIUS DRUSUS, RESIDING AT ATHENS, AND BUT NOW TRANSLATED.
Servilius to Cornelius—Greeting:
I hope you will not deem me tedious, my friend, if I endeavor to describe to you the manner in which Lactantius maintained the truth of that faith of which he is one of the most illustrious advocates. But you should have heard him, to have felt yourself in the presence of one of the greatest of men. As the day was mild, Septimus ordered the couches to be disposed along the level roof, as affording much the most delightful place to hold a conversation, for so harmless is the air of this climate, that you may even take your midnight repose under the open sky; and this they inform us is the reason why this land is so noted for those who are skilled in the map of the heavens. This, you may truly say, should be no matter of surprise, for it may be held impossible that one the least inclined to meditation should behold, night after night, without being fired with the spirit of investigation, that overspreading canopy unbounded and far reaching as eternity, but bright with wheeling stars, that rise at their own fixed moment, and set behind some well-known peak, and thus, year after year, traverse the same unvarying and harmonious circle, without collision with their sister orbs—glorious and imperishable.
The sun, last sinking toward Cyprus, robbed of his exhausting heats, was mildly burning above Lebanon. The city lay on every side. In one direction rose the pillar of Antonine; in another the amphitheatre; and you might, with steady observation, see the wild beasts pacing to and fro, with impatient step, their well-barred cages, kept now more for curiosity than sport. In another quarter the accustomed grove relieved the wilderness of marble, like a clump of palms which often starts out so refreshingly against the whitened sands.
But, what was most beautiful to behold from this elevated site, was the far receding valley in which this city is built, sheltered on either hand by an eternal battlement of rocks, cultivated to the utmost stretch of industry, clothed with its fruitful vines, and glistening with its hundred gardens, temples and villas, wherever you might look. Through its centre ran the mazy Leontes, shining from among its tufted banks, and catching ever and anon the parting glories of the sun while on its bosom, or suddenly emerging from some green shade, the eye detected, by the sparkling of the oar, the gaily colored galley, freighted with many a light heart. Thus raised above the bustle of the crowded thoroughfares, and soothed by the Cyprian breeze, we felt the inspiring influence of all we saw.
Lactantius was the first to speak.
“I hesitate not to avow,” said he, “that I feel a deep solicitude in behalf of my friend Mobilius. Would that I had the power to expound to him the unsatisfactory reliance of his faith, the feebleness of its supports, and the terms of its delusions. As the shivering reed trembles on the first assault of the rude wind, so does this perishable belief upon the first advance of swift-footed adversity; forsaking you when you most require the aid of ready guidance and bright-eyed consolation.
“Brought from Egypt by the crafty priest, that land of science, but of superstition, he planted it in a soil where he was certain it would thrive, and to make success more sure he mingled with it the gaudy ceremonies of Chaldea. Strange that so noxious a plant should flourish as well as in its native soil, and so near the walls of Bethlehem.
“They burn an offering of perpetual fires to the king of day—what a sorry imitation of his light when but a struggling ray shall quench it! They behold his blinding brightness, they feel his piercing heats, they see nature bloom beneath his smiles, and they forget he sprang from something. They look not beyond. Will the sun rescue us from affliction, and heal us in the hour of sickness? How,” he exclaimed, warming as he spoke, and felt the influence of rapt attention—“How shall glittering rites propitiate that which can neither feel nor see, which was created to rule the day, divide the light from darkness, and mark the rolling seasons, but has no power to save, to heal or vanquish? The throbbing pulse, the glistening eye, the kindly sympathy we feel in another’s anguish speaks to us of a soul, declares to us we sprang from some sublime and all wise original. Behold,” said he, rising from his couch with a commanding attitude, “yon temple, the boast of Syria, what symmetry, what grandeur!—as wise would it be to say it sprang from nothing, as that sun, which from time almost incalculable, has risen in the east and set beneath those mountains. It must have been the instrument of an all wise purpose. Then why not adore the source through whose command it blazed into existence?
“How is it, Mobilius, that the faithful follower in our faith, worn out by agonising pain, or hastening, hour after hour, toward certain dissolution, every thing, the bright skies, the anxious faces of those that gather round him, exposing to his fading eye—how is it he is yet more cheerful as his shattered frame sinks into increasing weakness—so that neither the stake, with its tortures, the amphitheatre, with its jeers and cruel glances, nor the silent chamber, where the last enemy of the good man approaches with slower step, and where he does not find the support or triumph of a martyrdom, shall shake his confidence?”
Here Mobilius seemed oppressed with affliction.
“What is it, my good friend,” said Lactantius, “that grieves you?”
“I will tell you: your words shoot anguish through my soul, but it is for memories that are past. My sister, she on whom I lavished every thought, and all that I possessed, was snatched from me in the midst of mutual happiness. She lingered, and was buoyed up by some sweet and hidden consolation she appeared anxious to impart, but the flickering flame of life burnt too feebly in the lamp. It was, it must have been this; would I had known it, that I might have whispered into her ear I knew it. Her last look was cast upon the blue depths of heaven, as if in earnest contemplation of some glorious spectacle, and she died with a sweet smile upon her features, as if listening to sweet music. ‘Mobilius,’ she said, pointing upward, ‘Mobilius, my dear brother, behold the—’ but the trembling syllables died into a whisper—she had fled! There were to me sweet smiles no longer to cheer the vigor of my desolation—I was alone in the world.”
“Console yourself,” replied Lactantius, “this was an evidence your sister died in peace. Trouble not yourself on this account, you may meet her again.”
At this communication his countenance, dull and heavy with grief, brightened as the sun through showers. You have seen a piece of marble carved into a coarse resemblance of the face. You have come again. The chisel of a master spirit has been busy in its god-like lineaments. It almost speaks; the dull, cold marble almost warms into a smile—such was the change. Mobilius, gathering his mantle about him, abruptly left us, nor did I see him again throughout that day.
The stars began to glimmer as the sunlight waned, and we felt in all its bounteous fulness the care-dispelling influence of this clime. The conversation was prolonged, and I found that Lactantius was as well skilled in the policy of existing governments, as in the peculiarities of all the prevailing theologies, in short, as competent for the duties of a statesman as a bishop; and it grieves me not a little that so many should be raised to this eminent station in the church so far inferior to Lactantius, while he, blessed with every natural gift, endowed with the quickest of intellects—enriched with all the learning—polished, fiery and overwhelming in speech, or if it please him, mild and winning as the softest Lydian measure, the Christian and the philosopher, should be thrust aside. This age will be signalised upon the page of the historian, as much because it gave birth to a Constantine as that on it there flourished a Lactantius.
We now descended, and the evening passed in the enjoyments of those rational pleasures which are always sought with an increasing relish.
To turn to another topic, shall I propose a subject for thy solution? What is that which may be likened to the gleam that struggles through the dark and overhanging mists, driving away in its scattering brightness the gloom of the weeping clouds? Yes, and I have known it prove stronger than the precepts of philosophy, or the examples of heroic ardor, kindling dying courage, inspiring god-like resolution, and confessing a manly port and look which seemed to herald victory ere it was achieved. More enlivening than the wine of Chios, let it but beam upon you, and the mist of bewilderment flies, and in its place you find that joy the poets so sweetly picture. What is it, you say, has induced Servilius to wander from the thread of his narrative? Of a certainty you cannot hesitate a moment—a woman’s smile! You whisper the boy Cupid, and that no other than one assailed by his dart, could invest with such rosy hues that which one sees and feels every hour of the day.
But let me pause. I am writing to a philosopher, and one who may chide me when he remembers the discussions we have had upon this matter, and in which I took the sterner part. But I recant, I renounce my errors. You have influence, Cornelius, at Athens. Place the good of all that is left to us below upon a loftier pedestal. Woman should be looked up to with admiration, and not down upon with contempt. What, as yourself must admit, so softens the rigors of existence as the winning influence of woman, and why should they be treated as so insignificant a portion of the state? Be persuaded that that nation, which by its laws most elevates the character of woman, which pays the most profound obeisance to their gentle virtues, is nearest the standard of true happiness, and surest in the certainty of its duration.
These were my reflections, when who other should approach, as wearied and heated from exposure to the sun, I had thrown myself upon a couch beside a fountain in the hall of Septimus, both unperceiving and unperceived until too late to retreat, than Placidia and Lucretia. They seemed to hesitate and blush, but instantly arising, I invited them to stay.
“You came, I know, to seek the coolness of this airy hall, and you must permit me to retire.”
“No!” they exclaimed, “that we must not do.”
“You look wearied,” Lucretia added.
“Yes, I have been pacing the crowded streets of this proud city in search of amusement and instruction.”
“How is it?” she asked, “that you youth of Rome who travel, take such pleasure in beholding a pile of marble variously disposed. Having seen one handsome temple, I am sure all the rest are like it, though perchance they may be somewhat larger or smaller, or have an additional column or so. Is it a taste which is natural or does it come of cultivation?” and thus she dashed on in the same gay strain, as if undetermined whether to speak with lightness or with seriousness. Placidia now began a skilful attack upon my adversary, nor could the best disciple of the schools have made a more effectual sally.
“It was but yesterday, Lucretia, I heard you discourse so prettily about the great buildings in the city, with choice of language, and glow of thought that any poet might have envied. There were the flowery capitals—the happy arrangement—the beautiful designs—the—but I cannot remember the learned phrases which you used. I have it—you spoke but to draw our friend into an argument, in order that he might show wherein you are in error.”
Lucretia stood silent, half-smiling, half-angry, as if to say, tarry until a more fitting opportunity—wait until we are alone my sweet Placidia, and I will amply revenge myself for these unreserved communications.
“I must acknowledge, Placidia,” I replied, “the kindness of your interposition. But the inquiry of Lucretia has been fully answered by the unfortunate Longinus, a copy of whose immortal works I have now in my possessions, and it would be a source of pleasure to study them with you.”
“We embrace the proposition with delight,” she answered, but then, as if fearing she had been too eager, she replied, “but Mobilius must be of the number.”
“Placidia,” said Lucretia, “do you know then that Septimus and all his friends are alarmed at the absence of Mobilius: he has not been seen since he left us last night?” This was uttered in a tone which led me to believe her previous gaiety was but assumed.
“Is it possible?” replied Placidia with emotion.
“I must go and assist my friends in their search,” I replied.
“But you are not acquainted with the streets of Heliopolis, and what service could you render?”—
“Friendship, Placidia—” but she interrupted me as if in anticipation of what I was about to say.
“Go—hasten,” at the same time whispering in my ear as she turned, and deeply blushing, “let me see you on your return—I have something to confide to you which hangs heavily upon my spirits.”
“I see how it is,” and the fire of jealousy shot through my veins, “she loves Mobilius;” but such ungenerous thoughts were soon driven from my mind, when I remembered the uncertainty of the fate of my friend. At this moment I heard the name of Septimus cried aloud.
“Where is Septimus?” exclaimed one of the slaves as he rushed into the hall; “a lion has escaped from the amphitheatre—” he said, and trembled with fear.
“And has been chasing you, or you are frightened,” I replied. “Why hesitate? the door is closed.” He looked up, as if imploring my patience.
“Worse, worse,—Mobilius was found on the road that leads to the temple of Venus, upon Lebanon, mangled,—” here he was completely overpowered. Indeed, it was dreadful news, and I asked the man no further questions. Placidia sank senseless upon a couch, while Lucretia, greatly affected, endeavored to support her tottering frame. As soon as she was partially restored, I departed, and meeting Lactantius, who had been more active in his enquiries, he cheered me by a most agreeable piece of news, as compared with the hopeless story I had heard. It was only the mantle of Mobilius that had been found, and there was no blood upon it. I hastened to relieve the anxieties of my friends, and was ushered into the presence of Placidia, by her maid, who stood waiting for me under the portico.
I hastily told her what I had heard. After expressing her joy, she broke to me her story. “Servilius, my friend, for you must permit me to call you such, from your many acts of kindness I shall never be able to repay—”
“You cannot repay,” I whispered to myself, “oh! cruel Placidia.”
“There is something, which greatly troubles me, and some hidden prompter seems to tell me that by unburdening to you the cause of my sorrow, I shall find the speediest relief.”
My heart now beat high with expectation, “dare I hope?” I said to myself.
“It cannot be a dream,” she said, with her eyes fixed, and half-musing, as if for the moment unconscious of my presence. “It cannot be a dream—but I no sooner beheld the face of Mobilius, than the recollection of youth rushed upon my memory, and I thought of my brother and my sister, who have long slept with the perished. They were wrecked upon the coast of Africa, and none escaped to bear to mourning friends the brief story of their fate, but one, who, floating on a fragment of the vessel, was taken up as he was on the point of relinquishing his hold, from utter weakness, by a Syrian galley. Messengers were despatched, and my uncle himself undertook the risk and toil of a journey on our behalf. But all was in vain.”
“There is still an expectation to be cherished,” I said.
“Do you give hope?” said she, faintly smiling through her tears, “affection once clung to the feeblest support, but it has long since despaired.”
“It shall not despair,” I answered, with an energy that startled, her, hurrying out of the apartment.
I soon recollected myself.
“What have I done?” I thought, “years have rolled by, nor could I flatter myself with the hope of success even if I wandered over all the territory of Rome, and ventured to the unknown land of the barbarian.”
I now remembered that I had heard Apicius speak of some wealthy merchant residing in Berytus, who owned many galleys in communicating with the coast of Africa, but he had gone to his villa, and I was obliged to postpone my investigation.
Returning to the hall, I met Septimus, who told me the last that had been heard of Mobilius was from a Syrian merchant, who knew and accosted him hastening toward the road leading to the mountains, but with his eye riveted upon the path. He advanced with rapid strides. I then told Septimus the news his slave had brought.
“Alas! there is no longer a doubt, Servilius,” he replied, “since this is the same road on which the temple stands.”
We parted in grief, and Septimus in despair.
When first I met Mobilius there was a levity in his manner which did not please me, but since his conversations with Lactantius a noted change had been wrought in him, and the hidden virtues of his character shone unclouded.
We did not meet until we mingled at the evening tables; but no joy was there, and the silence was only broken by a loud cry from the slaves, as if something unusual had taken place. Septimus arose to ascertain the cause, when he was suddenly confronted by Mobilius, with dishevelled hair and robes. A shriek of surprise and joy burst from every tongue.
“We greet you, my dear Mobilius,” said Sergius, as he pressed his hand with parental fondness.
Mobilius cast upon him a look of wonder, blended with bewilderment, as if in the sudden but vain effort to recall some long effaced recollection, or it might have been from gratitude at the interest of a stranger in a stranger’s fate. All with one accord begged him to tell the cause of his absence.
“I knew you would feel solicitude,” he said, “and as you perceive by the dust upon my robe, I have hastened to relieve your anxieties. The conversation of last night, and the light that suddenly broke upon my soul, for the while robbed me of my senses. I hurried from you, nor did I stop until I left the city many a pace behind me. Midnight gathered on. I began to recollect myself and sought shelter at the temple which lay in my way. I struck its gate with redoubling blows. I cried aloud, but none answered. Verily you might perish before these cruel priests would give you protection. A lofty tree presented the only refuge. Awakened by the morning sun, and descending, I retraced my steps with as much anxiety to reach Heliopolis as I had felt to leave it. I had not gone far, however, when to my horror I encountered that terrible lion of the amphitheatre. Subterfuge and presence of mind afforded the only chance of safety. Escape was impossible, and weapon I had none. He fixed his fiery eye upon me, lashed his tail, as if sure of his prey, and crouched to spring. Now was the only hope. Hastily unloosening my light robe, I suddenly raised it upon a slender stick, torn from a neighboring bush, and quickly stepped aside. The deceit was successful, the furious animal sprang at it, dragged it on the ground, and tore it into atoms. Rushing toward a tree, while I left him at the garment, I mounted among its branches as with wings. I do assure you I never climbed with more alacrity. The noble animal, discovering his mistake, scowled with sullen fierceness toward my place of shelter, and seemingly satisfied with the vengeance he had taken, strode onward.”
“A most fortunate escape,” ejaculated Valerius; “you must present your gifts to-morrow at the temple.” A tear twinkled in the eye of Lactantius, and I fancied I saw his lips move as in the act of prayer.
“Yes, Valerius, and it is not the first escape with which a guardian Providence has blessed me. Shipwreck and slavery I also have escaped.”
“Shipwreck,” enquired Sergius, with anxiety, “will you tell us the sad story? I had a son who was shipwrecked,” and the old man trembled in the effort to subdue his grief.
“I will. I left Rome on a voyage to Athens; we were driven by stress of weather into a port of Sicily. The storm abating, we pursued our course along the coast of Africa, being obliged to touch at Alexandria, but we were wrecked before we reached our haven, and nearly all the crew were swallowed by the waves.”
“Pardon me for asking,” said Marcus, “but did you not write to Rome, after you secured your liberty, to discover whether your kindred were still living?”
“I wrote many epistles, and to my uncle also, who told me they were all carried off by a terrible pestilence, which visited the city, and that my patrimony had been previously confiscated to the state, because of some act of my parent, and that if I ventured to Rome the rage of my father’s enemies would doubtless be turned against me. I had no wish, however, to undertake the voyage, since those most cherished were no more.”
“And what was the name of your father?” asked Lactantius.
The venerable man paused for a moment in mute bewilderment, and then rushed into the arms of Mobilius, exclaiming, “Caius, my son, my long lost son!”
“My sisters,” he cried, as they ran to embrace their beloved brother, and wept with joy. It was a touching scene, and the ecstacy of gladness brightened every face. Here let me drop the veil with the promise of ending the description of the trials and fortunes of my friend in my next epistle.
THE LAY OF THE AFFECTIONS.
Gently, gently, beating heart!
Love not earthly things too well!
Those who love too soon may part,
Sorrow’s waves too quickly swell.
Softly, softly, boding fear!
Tell me not of fleeting bliss—
Ever would I linger here
With a joy so pure as this.
Shame thee, shame thee, earthly love!
Chain not thus my spirit here!
Earth must change, and joy must prove
Sure forerunner of despair.
Cheer thee! cheer thee, child of God!
Trust in Heaven, and all is well,
Come the smile, or fall the rod,
Cheer thee! cheer thee, all is well!
M. S. B. D.
THE CLOTHING OF THE ANCIENTS.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.
BY WILLIAM DUANE, JR.
If the ancient inhabitants of the world had extreme difficulty in sheltering themselves from the severity of the seasons, they experienced much more in giving to their clothes the impress of art or industry. Consult Strabo; he will tell you that certain nations covered themselves with the bark of trees, fig-leaves or rushes, rudely intertwined. Often also the skins of animals were employed, without the least preparation, for the same end. In proportion as the barbarism disappeared which had been introduced by the confusion of tongues, they began to think of the wool of sheep, and to ask themselves if there were no means of uniting in a single thread the different pieces of this substance by the aid of a kind of spindle. Seeing their efforts crowned with success, “Let us now,” said they, “try to imitate the spider.” They did so; and, behold, as Democritus begs us to observe, the art of weaving invented! After that, the invariable custom which existed among the Jews, fifteen hundred years before Jesus Christ, of collecting the fleeces of their sheep at fixed periods; and great was the account which they made of it according to the testimony of Genesis (31, 19.)
The history, true or fabulous, of the web of Penelope, the wife of Ulysses, proves to us that wool was not the sole material to which they thought of applying the art of weaving. And do we not read in Pliny that “the cotton plant grew in Upper Egypt, that they made stuffs of it, and that the Egyptian priests made admirable surplices of it?” It is undeniable that garments of cotton and of linen were in use in the time of the patriachs; indeed Moses commands his people in the 22d chapter of Deuteronomy, “not to wear a dress of linen;” and the ancient Babylonians, as Herodotus informs us, (Book I.) “wore immediately over their skin a cambric tunic, which fell down to their feet in the oriental manner.” It was the same among the Athenians, according to Thucydides.
In the age of Augustus, many people had already arrived at great perfection in the manufacture of linen stuffs: it is the express assertion of the historian Pliny. “The Faventine cloth,” says he, “is always whiter than the Allienne cloth. That which they have designated by the word Retovine, is so exceedingly fine that its threads are as slender as those of the spider. I have myself seen a thread of Cumes hemp so thin that a great net made of this material could go through a common ring; and I have heard tell of a man who could carry on his back as much as was required to encircle an entire forest. The fine cambric, made of the linen of Byssus, is a product of Achaia; it was sold in old times for its weight in gold.” (Book 19.)
In the Egyptian Museum of the Royal Library of Paris, you may cast your eyes upon mummies, found in the catacombs of Cairo: the cloth in which they are wrapped is not at all coarser than the cambric of your shops; and yet it has been woven three hundred years. On this occasion it is not inappropriate to add that the art of weaving is still more ancient than that of embalming; which this answer of Abraham to the king of Sodom indicates: “I will not carry away a single thread of your wool,” said the patriarch to him, “lest you should say—I have made Abraham rich!” Elsewhere, Moses informs us that Abimelech presented a veil to Sarah; that on the approach of Isaac, Rebecca covered her face with a veil; and that when Joseph was appointed viceroy of Egypt, Prince Pharaoh covered him with a linen robe after having placed his own ring upon his finger. The Book of Job (the most ancient writing perhaps in existence) mentions a weaver’s shuttle, (chapter 7.) A thousand years before the Christian era, do you see, setting out along the desert, those messengers of the wise Solomon, going to procure in Egypt cloths of fine linen for the king, their master? Shortly after, the city of Tyre obtained great celebrity for the beauty of its fine linens; and Ezekiel dwells enraptured on the opulence of its merchants in the following terms:—“All the planks of thy vessels are of the fine fir tree of Senir, and their masts are of the cedar of Lebanon! For their sails thou hast employed the fine linen of Egypt, splendidly embroidered.” Do not suppose that all the sails of this period were of as precious a material as those of the Tyrians: like those of the Arabians of our days, they were generally composed of woven rushes.
The women commonly wore white dresses; besides, the ancients had early made rapid progress in the art of bleaching. They were all ignorant, as you may well suppose, of the expeditious process which the illustrious Berthollet has conceived, with the assistance of a hydrochlorate of lime or of soda; they knew, however, how to use other detersive substances to impart a shining whiteness to their stuffs. “There exists among us,” says Pliny, “a species of poppy, very rare, which bleaches linen cloth wonderfully; and yet, would one believe it? we have among us a crowd of people so vain that they have attempted to dye their linen as well as their wool.” In alluding in another passage to the sky-blue curtains of the Emperor Nero, he begs us not to forget that, despite of all the rich shades produced by dyeing, white cloth never ceased to enjoy the highest reputation, to such a degree that they conferred the title of Great on a person named Lentulus Spinter, who first conceived the idea of hanging white curtains around the places consecrated to the Olympic games. This same kind of stuff was spread upon all the houses of the Via Sacra, by order of Cæsar, the Dictator, who planning magnificent decorations, wished that they should extend from his residence up to the Capitol.
The basis of the hard soap of our days was undoubtedly known to the ancients. The natron or sub-carbonate of soda, which they collect in the channels of the Nile at the present time, was really gathered there in sufficient abundance in the first ages of the world. From another place, the man of Uz made use of it; for he makes ready in one of his chapters (Job, ch. 9.) to wash his clothes in a pit with bor or borith, a plant much esteemed on account of its alkaline properties. (You must not confound this with the boron of modern chemistry, which with oxygen constitutes the boracic acid.) Open the Sixth Book of the Odyssey; Homer will there shew you Nausicaa, and her companions, trampling their clothes with their feet to whiten them for an approaching marriage; the bard adds that the ladies knew perfectly well the property which the atmosphere possessed of assisting in the destruction of the only substance which imparts a greyish appearance to cloths. In alluding to this passage, Goguet affirms that all the linen and cotton garments were washed daily. An anecdote related by Apuleius in his book of “The Golden Ass,” goes to prove still more the attention which they formerly paid to the art of bleaching; “A wag,” said he to us, “being secretly introduced into the house of a merchant, came near being suffocated by the sulphurous gas which was given out by a bleaching machine in which he was hid.”
The ability of the ancients to bestow upon their linen, cotton and woolen cloths a brightness not inferior to that of the snow of their mountains, did not fail them when they had to dye them. More than three thousand years ago a cunning shrew, as Genesis informs us, (ch. 28.) fastened a scarlet ribbon around the hand of one of the children of Tamar: and Homer speaks to us in the part of his poem above mentioned, of the colored cloths of Sidon as admirable productions. Jacob made for his beloved son Joseph, “a robe of many colors,” and the king of Tyre sent into the palace of Solomon “a man skilful to work wonderfully in gold, silver, &c. and to produce upon fine linen the shades of purple, blue and crimson.” According to Herodotus, who wrote, as you know, four hundred years before Jesus Christ, some people of Caucasus washed in water the leaves of a certain tree, which yielded at length a brilliant color, with the aid of which they drew upon stuffs the figures of lions, monkeys, dolphins and vultures.
Among the brave knights who perished at Colchis, in the Argonautic expedition, there was one whom the historian Valerius Flaccus distinguishes by his painted tunic, at the same time that he expresses his admiration of the whiteness of the fine cloth which the hero also wore:
“Tenuia non illum candentis carbossa lini,
Non auro depicta chalymis, non flava galeri
Cæsaries, pictoque juvant subtemine bracæ.”
(Val. Flac. 6.)
Speaking of Colchis, it was there that the best materials for painting were formerly procured. Besides, if you will ascend in spirit to the days of old, you will perceive every year on the roads leading from Georgia to the principal cities of India, as well as to Dimbeck, an immense drove of two thousand camels, loaded with madder. Thence the red flowers were derived, of which Strabo speaks, which the nations dwelling on the borders of the Indus and the Ganges loved to spread upon their cloths. It is a particular worthy of remark that the Egyptians who constantly clothed the statues of their goddess Isis with linen and cotton drapery, never employed wool for that purpose, a substance which they hated so much that they did not permit the use of it, even in interments, as the 44th chapter of Ezekiel informs us. This aversion extended even to shepherds, for you may read in Genesis that every shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians. (46.)
The purple of Tyre was known at an epoch exceedingly remote, and the dyers of Phœnicia surpassed in skill those of all the other nations of the east. This people came a thousand years ago as far as Great Britain to procure an enormous quantity of tin, a metal which has the property, or rather certain salts of it have, of augmenting the intensity of the principal red colors contained in many vegetable and animal substances. Upon this subject, we would advise you to run over, in the third book of Strabo, the interesting recital which he gives of the pursuit of a Phœnician vessel by a Roman bark, which wished to seize the tin with which it was freighted. It was in the neighborhood of the coast of Cornwall: the Phœnician, seeing the prow of the Roman near his stern, threw three-fourths of his cargo overboard, and steered right upon a sand-bank, where the enemy, as you may well suppose, did not think of following him. The Tyrians, astonished at the great opulence which their city attained, attributed to the gods the magic art of dyeing in purple. All writers, and especially Ctesias, physician to a king of Persia, who lived four hundred years before the Christian era, and Ælian, a contemporary of Alexander Severus, frequently allude to an insect, to which the Phœnicians were indebted for the superior manner in which they could produce an admirable scarlet. It was evidently the cochineal: and this little animal must have been at that time less rare than at present in Syria, India, and Persia, since the humblest classes frequently wore stuffs dyed with purple. It is not surprising that they knew not how to extract from the cochineal the most brilliant of all the known reds, the carmine, before which the vermillion grows pale, and which chemistry can procure for us, in our days, in great abundance; and you know that this little insect lives upon the cactus which grow in Brazil, in Mexico, at Jamaica, and at Saint Domingo.
The fashion of wearing silk was unknown at Rome, before the beginning of the empire. The rage for dressing in it was already so great in the time of Tiberius, that the emperor prohibited the use of it by a positive law. The Greeks also had a taste for it; and the cloak of Amphion was certainly of silk, for the historian Philostratus (Ion, Book I.) tells us that its color changed according to the different ways in which the light was reflected from it. Pliny gives us to understand that the gold stuffs of the ancients were not made as those of our time, of a thread of gold or silver, wrapped around a woof of silk, but that they were woven of gold deprived of all alloy: knowing this, he speaks of the manner in which the wife of Claudius dressed herself to attend a Naumachia or sea fight, in the following terms—“Nos vidimus Agrippinam—indutam palludamento auro textile, sine alia materia.” It is about fifty years since they extracted, by assaying, more than four pounds weight of pure gold from some old dresses which the fathers of the Clementine College, at Rome, discovered in an urn of basalt, buried in their vineyard. Tarquin, the Elder, was he, among the Roman Sovereigns who most usually wore dresses of gold.
From the time of Homer the Greeks wore black dresses for mourning. This bard shews us Thetis wearing, after the death of Patroclus, the blackest of her dresses. (Iliad, 24.) For many years the same usage prevailed among the Romans, but it was partly changed under the emperors, so that when Plutarch wrote, the women in mourning could wear nothing but white. Besides, we have a proof of it at the obsequies of Septimius Severus: “The image of this emperor,” Herodian tells us, “formed of wax, was surrounded on one side by a row of women in white, and on the other by the body of all the senators, clothed in black. At the death of the Empress Plotina,” adds the historian, “her husband Trajan covered himself with very black habits for the space of nine days.” The toga necessarily received as many shades of color as the other garments: but as to the form of this kind of robe it is impossible to decide. When Dionysius, of Halicarnassus, asserts that the toga presented the appearance of a semicircle (’ημικυκλος) he did not at all intend to describe its shape, but only the form which it assumed when worn upon the body. Strabo asserts that the military cloak with which the warriors clothed themselves had an oval form; and that among the Athenians it was often worn by the young people even in time of peace. The tunic, which was the principal part of the under clothing, was not generally used among the nations of antiquity, except the Greeks and Romans; all the Cynic philosophers disdained to make use of it. We know that Augustus put on as many as four tunics in winter. The name of this great emperor reminds us that it was in his reign, or thereabouts, that the Romans began to use table-cloths. Montfaucon believes that the greater part of them were of cloth striped with gold and purple. In France the ancient table-cloths were intended for collecting, after the meal, the smallest crumbs that were left, that nothing might be lost; and D’Arcy informs you that among our neighbors, the English, table linen was very seldom used in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
As there exist in our days many nations, especially in the torrid zone, who do not wear hats, (a name by which we must understand every covering for the head, as its etymology plainly indicates,) so it formerly happened that the nations did not always think of making use of them. Thus one of the most civilized, the Egyptians, went bare-headed, according to the authority of Hesiod. Amongst the Orientals, and especially amongst the Persians, the turban was in great vogue; that of the sovereign was composed of a whole bale of muslin. It was from this last mentioned people that the Jews derived the turban. The hats of the Greeks must have had very large brims, to judge from the root of the word (πετασος) which designated them. The Romans granted to their freedmen the right of covering themselves with a kind of cap, which has been since adopted as the emblem of liberty. It is to a Swiss, residing in Paris, about the beginning of the fifteenth century, that we owe the first invention of felt hats. They were generally known at the close of the reign of Charles VII.: this monarch himself wore one at his triumphal entry into Rouen, in 1449. We read in Daniel that the worthy townsmen of that ancient city stood still as if petrified, so much were they astonished at seeing his majesty’s hat; the historian adds that its lining was of red silk, and that it was surmounted by a superb bunch of feathers. Before the period of which we speak, it is probable that the French covered their heads in the same way as the English, that is to say, with woven caps or rather with cloth and silk hoods.
The stockings of the ancients were made of little pieces of cloth sewed together. We cannot say with certainty in what country the stocking-frame was invented. France, England and Spain respectively claim this useful discovery. A short time before the unfortunate tournament, in which Henry II. lost his life, he put on the first pair of silk stockings ever worn. Five years afterward, we see in England, William Ryder presenting a pair, as a very precious article, to William, Earl of Pembroke. Ryder had learnt the method of making them from an Italian merchant.
Many persons probably know not that wooden shoes date from a very remote period; for the Jews wore them long before the age of Augustus. Perhaps they were not made exactly like the wooden shoes so common among the poorer classes in France; but it is not less true that this kind of covering for the feet was generally adopted among nearly all the people of Judæa: sometimes, however, we observe leather shoes among them; and the Jewish soldiers covered their feet with copper, or with iron. The shoes of the Egyptians were of papyrus; the Chinese and the Indians manufactured theirs of silk, of rushes, of the bark of trees, of iron, of brass, of gold or of silver, according as their fortune permitted, or their fancy dictated. At Rome, as in Greece, leather was the material which covered the feet of every one. The Roman women wore white shoes: the common people wore black: and the magistrates set off their feet with red shoes on solemn occasions. A thousand years ago the most powerful sovereigns of Europe had wooden soles to their shoes. Under William Rufus, son of the great Duke of Normandy, who conquered at Hastings, in 1066, a fashion was introduced into England of giving to the shoes an excessive length; the point which terminated them was stuffed with tow, and curved up on high like a ram’s horn. In the fourteenth century they thought of connecting these points with the knee, by means of a gold chain. Great must have been the surprise of the worthy Anglo-Saxons, on beholding this strange species of vegetation sprouting up suddenly amongst them! Some called to remembrance the history of the serpent’s teeth, which Cadmus sowed, whence a swarm of soldiers issued; others conceived that it was the costume of magicians; and little children sometimes, when going to bed, asked their mothers if there was no danger that their heads might be metamorphosed in the night into those of a horrible deer? Before leaving this paragraph upon shoes, we would call to recollection the antiquity of the art of the leather-dresser: open for that purpose the Iliad, and you will find in the Seventeenth Book, tanners preparing skins to make leather of them. This class of manufacturers composed, three hundred years ago, a very important body, since we possess the account of a furious quarrel which broke out, under Queen Elizabeth, between them and the shoe-makers. We are pleased to record here the perfection with which they manufacture leather at this date in the New World. In South Carolina, as well as in the state of Virginia, the Indian women are so skilful in this branch of industry that a single person can dress as many as ten deer-skins a day. Of all the transformations which are wrought in the arts, that of the animal substance into leather is, without doubt, one of the most curious. The process, by means of which they set about accomplishing it in old times, was the result of a calculation still more ingenious than that of changing two opaque bodies into a transparent body to make glass, for instance; or else two transparent bodies into an opaque body for making soap. Besides, you know that chemistry actually teaches us that leather is a real salt, a tannate of gelatine. This assertion was not uttered with confidence until M. Pelouze had extracted from tan in late years the tannic acid in a state of remarkable purity. Besides this, you may now explain a phenomena which is repeated at a great distance upon the ocean, at the time of some lamentable shipwreck. The journal which records for you the history of one of these sad events often tells you that in the last moment of famine, the unhappy survivors took to eating their shoes, and that life is sometimes prolonged by these means! Certainly, for the gelatine possesses nutritious properties, even when its peculiarities are stained with a thousand impurities, as is leather.
The subject upon which we have endeavored to present some observations, is so capable of being extended that a large volume in octavo would scarcely suffice to contain all the historical knowledge relating to it. But such a dissertation, carried out to the extent or with the exactness which it admits of, would only constitute at last a kind of catalogue or bare enumeration of the thousand modifications which human vestures have undergone down to our times. The memory of the reader would be unable to retain so prodigious a number of minute particulars, and the curiosity of his mind, fatigued by so many useless details, would be extinguished before finishing the third part. These changes have often, it is true, nothing for their object but the accessory and secondary parts of dress, as the following passage, which we meet with in the voyages of M. de Chateaubriand, seems to point out.
“One thing has at the same time struck me and charmed me; I have met in the dress of the Auvergne peasant the attire of the Breton peasant. Whence comes this? It is because there was formerly for this kingdom, and for all Europe, a groundwork of a common attire.” (Vol. 2., p. 296.)
In another particular also, men have always been constant, that they have never ceased to seek for the material to compose their clothing from the animals which the Creator has placed in their respective climates. It will probably be the same till the end of the world. It is thus that the nations under the temperate zone have recourse for covering to wool, because, being a bad conductor of caloric, it prevents the escape of it from their bodies. In the frozen zone the Russians, the Esquimaux, and the Greenlanders, clothe themselves in furs, a material which is a still worse conductor of caloric; while the natives of countries under the influence of the torrid zone, make their dresses of hair or horse-hair, whose conducting properties are in an inverse ratio to those of furs. It is worth remarking that the animals which in temperate regions are covered with wool or ordinary hair, are provided, when they inhabit countries really cold, with an under-fleece of very fine wool: it is the case with goats, sheep, dogs, horses, and Thibet cows.
If by a game of metempsychosis, you were enabled to return to existence two hundred years hence, what unheard of changes would you not see in the dress of individuals. Transport in anticipation your shade to a point commanding one of the public promenades of the capital; suppose yourself, for instance, on the top of the Vendôme Column, on a fine summer’s evening; you would, perhaps, perceive the dandies of the time strutting in frocks, whose leg of mutton sleeves are as voluminous as those of our sylphides at this day. Their hats, instead of being of beaver or of fur, have a similar shape to that which our ladies adopted in 1839. For the young folks a notched veil would be the prescribed mode; the men, of a certain age, would embellish their hats with a superb scarlet plume. As to the women, who will now dare to affirm that they will not then cover their heads with perukes à la Louis XIV. topped off with three-cocked hats, and that from their chin there will not descend a band à la procureur du roi? Extend your Pythagorean glance farther into the ages, and you will, perhaps, discover another part of mankind adding to their dress an enormous pair of wings! We may doubt that the gnomes, the sciences, will never render the attempt to make use of them more effectual than that of the son of Dædalus in old times; but in return, posterity may fly by another process, in case the æronauts can discover the secret of steering themselves in mid-air. Should this expectation be realised, we may then hear one of your future grand-nieces (who will be the belles of the noble Faubourg) say to her domestic on rising from her breakfast, “Ganymede! my balloon, with its boat; I wish to go dine to-day with my cousin, at Florence.”
It is generally believed that the word calico is derived from Calicut, a city on the coast of Malabar in Hindostan, whence the first patterns of this stuff came to Europe.
Dyers now know how to produce a very durable red by dipping their stuffs in a solution of acetate of alum, before subjecting them to the action of the madder. It would be desirable that they should begin to derive some advantage, on a large scale, of a new substance, lately discovered by Mr. Robiquet, which possesses the property of producing a red amaranth or pansy, very agreeable. Chemists call this substance orsine.
This will be news to the people “in South Carolina, as well as in the state of Virginia.” Translator.
Philadelphia, May, 1841.
TO LORD BYRON.
FROM THE FRENCH OF LAMARTINE.
BY R. M. WALSH.
Thou, whose true name the world doth yet not know,
Mysterious spirit, mortal, angel, fiend,
Whate’er thou art, oh! Byron, still I love
Thy concerts’ savage harmony, ev’n as
I love the noise of thunder and of winds
Commingling in the storm with torrents’ voice!
Night is thy dwelling, horror thy domain;
The eagle, king of deserts, thus doth scorn
The lowly plain; he seeks, like thee, steep rocks
By winter whitened, by the lightning riven;
Shores strewn with fragments of the fatal wreck,
Or fields all blackened with the gore of carnage:
And whilst the bird that plaintive sings its griefs
’Mid flow’rets, builds its nest on bank of streams,
Of Athos he the summits fearful scales,
Suspends his eyre o’er the abyss, and there,
Surrounded by still palpitating limbs,
By rocks with bloody banquets ever foul,
Soothed by the screaming anguish of his prey,
And rocked by tempests, slumbers in his joy.
Thou, Byron, like this brigand of the air,
In cries of woe dost sweetest music find.
Thy scene is evil, and thy victim man.
Like Satan, thou hast measured the abyss,
And plunging down, far, far from day and God,
Hast bid to hope farewell for evermore!
Like him, now reigning in the realms of gloom,
Thy dauntless genius swells funereal strains;
It triumphs; and thy voice in hellish tone
Sings hymns of glory to the god of evil.
But why against thy destiny contend?
’Gainst fate what may rebellious reason do?
It hath but (like the eye) a bounded scope.
Beyond it nor thy eye nor reason strain;
There all escapes us; all is dark, unknown.
Within this circle God hath marked thy place.
How? why? who knows?—From His Almighty hands
The world and human beings he hath dropped,
As in our fields he spread around the dust,
Or sowed the atmosphere with might or light.
He knows; enough; the universe is his,
And we can only claim the present day.
Our crime is to be man and wish to know:
To serve and know not is our being’s law.
Byron, this truth is hard, and long I strove
Against it; but why turn away from truth?
With God, thy title is to be his work;
To feel, t’adore thy slavery divine;
In th’universal order to unite,
Weak atom as thou art, to his designs
Thy own free will; by his intelligence
To have been conceived, and by thy life alone
To glorify him—such, such is thy lot!
Ah! rather kiss the yoke that thou wouldst break;
Descend from thy usurped rank of god;
All, in its place, is well, is good, is great;
In His regard, who made immensity,
The worm is worth a world; they cost the same!
This law, thou say’st, revolts thy sense of right;
It strikes thee merely as a strange caprice;
A snare where reason trips at every step—
Let us confess and judge it not, great bard!
Like thine, my mind with darkness is replete,
And not for me it is to explain the world:
Let Him who made, explain the universe.
The more I sound the abyss, the more, alas!
I lose myself amid its viewless depths.
Grief, here below, to grief is ever linked,
Day follows day, and pain succeeds to pain.
In nature bounded, infinite in wish,
Man is a fallen god rememb’ring Heaven:
Whether that, disinherited of all
His pristine glory, he doth still preserve
The mem’ry of his former destinies,
Or that the vastness of his wishes gives
A distant presage of his future greatness—
Imperfect at his birth, or fallen since—
The great, the awful mystery is man.
Within the senses’ prison chained on earth,
A slave, he feels a heart for freedom born,
And wretched, to felicity aspires.
He strives to sound the world; his eye is weak;—
He yearns to love; whate’er he loves is frail.
All mortals unto Eden’s exile bear
A sad resemblance—when his outraged God
Had banished him from that celestial realm,
Scanning the fatal limits with a look,
He sat him, weeping, near the barred gates,
He heard within the blest abode afar,
The sigh harmonious of eternal love,
Sweet strains of happiness, the choral song
Of angels sounding God’s triumphant praise;
And tearing then his soul from heav’n, his eye
Fell back affrighted on his dismal lot.
Woe, woe to him who from his exile here
Hath heard the concerts of an envied world!
When Nature once ideal nectar tastes,
She loathes the cup Reality presents.
Into the possible, in dreams she leaps;
(The real is cramped; the possible, immense;)
The soul with all her wishes there doth take
Her sojourn, where forever she may drink
From crystal springs of knowledge and of love,
And where, in streams of beauty and of light,
Man, ever thirsty, slakes his thirst.
And thus, with Syren visions charming sleep
On waking, scarce she knows herself again.
Such was thy fate, and such my destiny!
I too the poisoned cup did drain; like thine
My eyes were opened, seeing not; in vain
I sought the enigma of the universe;
I questioned nature for its cause; I asked
Each creature why created; down the abyss,
The bottomless abyss, I plunged my look;
From the atom to the sun, I all explored;
Anticipated time, its stream did mount;
Now passing over seas to hear the words
That drop from wisdom’s oracles; but found
The world to pride is ever a sealed book!
Now, to divine the world inanimate.
To nature’s bosom flying with my soul,
I thought to find a meaning in her voice.
I read the laws by which the heav’ns revolve.
My guide great Newton, through their shining paths.
Of crumbled empires o’er the dust I mused;
Rome saw me ’mid her sacred tombs descend;
Of holiest manes disturbing the repose;
The dust of heroes in my hands I weighed,
Asking their senseless ashes to restore
That immortality each mortal seeks.
What say I? hanging o’er the bed of death,
I sought it even in expiring eyes;
On summits darkened by eternal clouds,
On billows tortured by eternal storms,
I called; I braved the shock of elements.
Like to the sybil in her rage divine,
I fancied nature in those fearful scenes
Some portion of her secrets might reveal:
I loved to plunge amid those horrors dread.
But vainly in her calm and in her rage
This mighty secret hunting, everywhere
I saw a God, and understood him not.
I saw both good and ill, without design,
As if by chance, escaping from his hands;
I saw on all sides evil, where there might
Have been the best of good, and too infirm
To know and comprehend him, I blasphemed;
But breaking ’gainst that heav’n of brass, my voice
Had not the honor to e’en anger fate.
One day, however, that by mis’ry wrung,
I wearied heaven with my fierce complaint,
A light descended from on high, that filled
My bosom with its radiance, and inspired
My lips to bless what madly they had cursed.
I yielded, grateful, to the influence,
And from my lyre the hymn of reason poured.
“Glory to thee, now and for evermore,
Eternal understanding, will supreme!
To thee, whose presence space doth recognise!
To thee, whose bright existence every morn
Announceth! Thy creative breath hath stooped
To me, and he who was not hath appeared
Before thy majesty! I knew thy voice
Ere I had known myself, and at its sound
Up to the gates of being I did rush.
Behold me! nothingness doth here presume
To hail thee at its coming into life.
Behold me! but what am I? what my name?
A thinking atom—who may dare to hope
Between us two the distance e’er to scan!
I, who in thee my brief existence breathe,
Myself unknown and fashioned at thy will,
What ow’st thou, Lord, to me, were I not born?
Before or after, naught—hail end supreme!
Who drew all from himself, to himself owes all.
Enjoy, great artist, of thy hands the work.
I live thy sov’reign orders to fulfil.
Dispose, ordain, control, in time, in space;
My day and sphere, for thy own glory mark;
My being, without question or complaint,
In silence hasten to assume its place.
* * * * * * *
Glory to thee! annihilate me, strike!
One cry, one cry alone shall reach thy ear—
Glory to thee, now, and for evermore!”
THE LIFE GUARDSMAN.
BY JESSE E. DOW.
The Life Guard of Washington! Who can think upon this band of gallant spirits without feeling a glow of patriotism warming his heart, and stirring up the sluggish feelings of his soul? Fancy paints again the figures which history has suffered to fade away, as the shadows departed from the magic mirror of Cornelius Agrippa; and the heroes of the past start up before us like the clan of Roderick Dhu at the sound of their chieftain’s whistle. They come from Cambridge, and from the Hudson, from Trenton and from Princeton, from Yorktown and from the Brandywine, from mountain pass and woody vale, gathering in battle array around the lowly bed of their sleeping leader, amid the solitary shades of Vernon.
The life guardsmen are fast fading away. One by one the aged members have departed, and now Lee’s corporal slumbers beside his commander. Their march of life is over.
A more efficient corps never existed on this side of the Atlantic than the Life Guard. Animated by one motive, guided by one object, they surrounded their beloved commander-in-chief, and gloried in being known as his body guard. Was there any difficult duty to perform? it fell to this body, and gallantly did they perform the service entrusted to them. The eye of the general glistened with delight as they filed before him in the shade of evening, or returned into camp from some successful incursion beyond the enemy’s lines, ere
“Jocund day stood tiptoe on the mountain top”—
or the reveillé aroused the army from their slumbers.
It was the anniversary of the battle of Princeton, when an aged man, with a stout staff in his hand, was seen trudging manfully down Broadway. As he passed along from square to square, he cast his eyes upon the signs and door-plates, and muttering, continued on his course.
“Here,” said he, “was Clinton’s Quarters”—“Edward Mallory silks and laces”—“and here was the house that Washington stopped at”—“John Knipherhausen, tobacconist,” “and here was where the pretty Quakeress lived, who used to furnish the commander-in-chief with information as to the enemies movements”—“Câfé de mille colonnes”—“all, all are changed; time has been busy with every thing but the seasons—they are the same—the sun and the rain—the evening and the morning—the icicle and the dew-drop—the frost and the snow-drift change not: but man and his habitations—aye, the very names of places and people have been altered, and the New York of the Revolution is not the New York of ’37.”
As the old man said this he seated himself upon a marble door-step, and wiped the perspiration from his brow; for he had walked a long way that morning, and the thousand associations that pressed upon his memory wearied him.
A company of volunteers, in all the pomp and circumstance of city war, now approached by a cross street. The bugle’s shrill note, mingled in with the clarionet and cymbals; and the glance of the sun upon their bayonets and polished helmets, lit up the martial fire that slumbered in the old man’s soul. He rose upon his feet.
“It is pleasant enough now to look upon such gatherings,” said he, “but those who have heard the drums beat to drown the cries of the wounded and the dying, cannot forget their meaning, though youth and joy accompany them, and though the smiles of beauty urge them on.” And the old man wept, for the men of other days stood about him; and the battle-fields, then silent and deserted, teemed with the dead and the dying; and the blood formed in pools amid the trampled grass, or trickled in little rills down the smoky hill-side.
A servant now came out of a neighboring house and invited the old man in. He thankfully accepted the hospitality of the polite citizen, and soon stood in a comfortable breakfast room. A young man of twenty-one received him with kindness; and a tall, prim woman of eighty-six cordially insisted upon his joining her family at the breakfast-table. A beautiful girl of eighteen took the old man’s hat and cane, and wheeled up an old arm-chair that had done the family some service in ancient days. The old man as she seated herself beside him, patted her upon the head, and a firm—“God bless you”—escaped from his wrinkled and pallid lips. The old lady suddenly paused in her tea-table duty, and looked earnestly at her guest. The old man’s eyes met hers—they had seen each other before—but the mists of time shrouded their memories, and blended names and places and periods strangely together.
“Will thee have another cup of tea?” said the matron to the old man.
“I have heard that voice,” thought the stranger, as he took the proffered cup with gratitude, and finished his breakfast in silence.
“Oh! grandmother,” said the maiden, springing to the window, “here come the Iron Greys; how splendidly they look.”
“I cannot look at them,” said the matron, in a trembling voice—“thy grandfather was killed by the Brunswick Greys at Princeton.”
“What was his name?” said the old man, fixing his dim eye steadily upon the speaker’s face.
“Charles Greely,” said the matron, shedding an unexpected tear.
“Charles Greely,” said the old man springing up—“why he was a Life Guardsman, and died by my side—I buried him at the hour of twilight by the milestone.”
“And thou art?” said the matron, earnestly.
“Old Hugh Maxwell, a corporal of Washington’s Life Guard at your service,” said the stranger guest.
“Oh! well do I know thee,” said the matron, weeping—“it was thee who gave me directions where to find him, and delivered to me his dying sigh. This is an unhappy day to me, Hugh Maxwell, but thy presence lends an interest to it that I had no idea of enjoying. William and Anne, thy grandfather died upon Hugh Maxwell’s breast in battle—let us bless God that we are permitted to entertain the gallant soldier upon the anniversary of that day of glory.”
And the son brought forth the old family bible, and the widow Greely prayed after the manner of the Quakers, amid her little congregation.
When the service was over, and the breakfast equipage had been removed, the son and the daughter each drew a seat beside the old veteran, while their grandmother carefully wiped her spectacles and took a moderate pinch of Maccouba. Then seating herself as straight as a drill sergeant in her cushioned seat in the corner, she turned her well ear toward the old corporal and looked out of the window.
“Tell us about the battle of Trenton and of Princeton, Mr. Maxwell,” said the grand-children, in one voice. The old man looked inquiringly at the widow Greely.
“Thee may tell it, though it may be a sad tale to me,” said the matron, and Hugh Maxwell, after resting his head upon his hand for a moment, began his account of
THE BATTLES OF TRENTON AND PRINCETON.
The twenty-fifth of December, 1776, was a gloomy day in the American camp. An army of thirty thousand British soldiers lay scattered along the opposite side of the freezing Delaware, from Brunswick to the environs of Philadelphia. Gen. Howe commanded the British cantonment, and Lord Cornwallis was on the march from New York to reinforce him.
The British soldiers were flushed with success. They had driven us through the Jerseys. New York Island and the North River were in their power. They had tracked us by our bloody foot-prints along the gloomy, though snow-clad hills: and they looked eagerly forward to the day when the head of our illustrious Washington should be placed upon Temple Bar, and the mob of London should cry out while they pointed at it, “there rests the head of a Traitor.” The banner of England floated heavily in the wintry air, and the fur-clad Hessian paced his rounds on the gloomy hills, with his bayonet gleaming in the stormy light; videttes were seen galloping along the hill sides, and the valleys echoed with the martial airs of England. But in our camp all was sadness. Five thousand men, ill-armed, and worse clad, without tents or even camp utensils, sat crouching over their lonely watch-fires.
But this was not all. The crafty British general had offered a pardon to all who would desert the American cause, and many men of property, aye! even members of Congress, recreant to honor and principle, pocketed their patriotism with the proclamation, and basely betrayed their country in the hour of her peril. Members of Congress did I say? Yes, those that had been members: and let me repeat their names, lest perchance they may have been forgotten in the age of sham power and speculation. Galloway and Allen deserted, and joined the enemies of freedom in the fall of 1776.
Such was the state of things at this period. All was silence in the American camp. The spangled banner hung drooping over our head quarters, and the sentinel by the low door-way stood leaning in melancholy mood upon his rusty and flintless gun. The commander-in-chief held a council of war. At the close of it he gave his opinion—he had heard of the scattered cantonment of the British army.
“Now,” said he striking his hand upon an order of battle, and pointing from the window of the little farm house toward the wild river, “now is the time to clip their wings.” It was a master-thought; the council of war concurred with their leader, and each member retired silently to prepare for immediate action.
The regiments were mustered—the sentinels were called in—a hasty meal was devoured—the evening shut in with darkness and storm—the word was given—and we began our march. One party moved down, one remained stationary, and one passed up to a point above Trenton. I was with Washington. No one in the ranks knew where he was to go—all was mystery; until we wheeled down the steep bank of the Delaware.
“Onward,” was the word. “Cross the river,” thundered along the line, and our freezing legions moved on. Who shall describe the pains and the perils of that terrible march? Who shall reward the noble spirits, who, trusting in their illustrious leader, moved onward, amid famine, nakedness, and the winter’s storm? Surely at this day a generous nation will not let the poor, old veteran die who has his scars—but no certificate—to testify to the glory of that night—better feed an imposter than starve a hero.
But to my tale.—Upon a high bank Washington, and Knox, and a few staff officers, wrapped in scanty military cloaks, sat upon their shivering chargers, and awaited the progress of the broken line.
We moved on—some on cakes of ice—some on rafts with the artillery—and some in little boats. Dark reigned the night around—the wild blast from the hills swept down the roaring stream—the water froze to our tattered clothes, and our feet were blistered and peeled by treading upon the icy way. The snow, like feathers borne upon a gale, whirled around us—the dark waters yawned fearfully before us—at every step we were in danger. Now precipitated into the stream, and now forced to climb the rugged sides of the drift-ice, still we advanced. At length the cannon and tumbrils were landed, and the last soldier stood upon the opposite shore.
Shivering with cold, and pale with hunger and fatigue, our column formed and waited for the word. Washington and his staff were at hand. “Briskly, men, briskly,” said he, as he rode to the head of the line; and then the captains gave the word from company to company, and the army marched on in silence. A secret movement of an army at night keeps the drowsy awake, and the hungry from complaining. Man is an inquisitive animal, and the only way to make him perform apparent impossibilities, is to lead him after he knows not what. Columbus discovered America in a cruize after Solomon’s gold mine, and the vast field of chemistry was laid open to human ken, in a search for the elixir of life, and the philosopher’s stone.
All night our troops moved down the west bank of the river, and as the morning spread her grey mantle over the eastern hills, we reached Trenton.
The Hessians, under Rawle, slept. No one feared Washington,—and the moustached soldier dreamed of the Rhine and the Elbe, and the captain slept careless at his inn. But suddenly the cry was raised,—“He comes! he comes!” Our frosty drums beat the charge; the shrill fifes mingled in with a merry strain; and our hungry army, with bare feet entered the city. Like the Scandinavian horde—in impetuosity and necessity—before the eternal city, we rushed up the streets, and attacked the surprised enemy at every turn. The startled foe endeavored to defend themselves; but, before any body of them could collect, a charge of our infantry cut them to pieces. Their colors were absolutely hacked off of their standard-staff, while they advanced in line, by a sergeant’s sword, and their officers were cut down or taken prisoners. Our victory was complete. One thousand men were killed and made prisoners, and the artillery, consisting of nine pieces, was captured. Such was the effect of the Battle of Trenton upon the enemy; but to us the consequences were the reverse. Our hungry men were fed, our naked were clothed, the rank and file were armed, and the officers promoted.
The same evening we re-crossed the river, but it was not the terrible stream of the previous night. The foot-prints of boots and shoes were left on our trail, and the drums beat a merry call, while the bugles answered sweet and clear.
In a few hours the Hessian tents shrouded the captors on the site of our old encampment; and Rawle’s officers had the pleasure of drinking their own wine in their own tents, with General Washington, and his subalterns, as prisoners of war. So well planned was this attack that we lost but nine men, and two of them were frozen to death after being wounded.
On the 29th of December, 1776, we again crossed the Delaware, and at 1 P. M., our eagles floated over Trenton.
The “merry Christmas” of our evening party astonished and aroused the king’s generals. Lord Cornwallis hastened to form a junction with General Grant at Princeton; and on the 2d of January, 1777, the British army marched against Trenton.
It was late in the afternoon when the advance guard of the enemy appeared in sight, their red coats forming a striking contrast with the winter’s snow. Our drums now beat to arms, and General Washington, with 5,000 of us, crossed the rivulet Assumpinck, and took post upon the high ground facing the rivulet. A heavy cannonade speedily commenced, and when night came on, both armies had a breathing spell.
Fresh fuel was now piled upon the camp-fires—the sentinels were posted in advance—small parties were stationed to guard each ford—the cry, “all’s well,” the quick challenge, and the prompt answer; the tramping of a returning vidette—and the occasional tapping of a drum in the guard-room, were heard in our camp. The British general rejoiced in the belief that the morning sun would behold him a conqueror of our leader and ourselves. Secure of his prey, the enemy made preparations to attack our camp on the first blush of morning. The noise of hammers—the heavy rumbling of cannon wheels—the clashing of the armorer’s hammer, and the laugh of the artizan and pioneer, came over upon the night-wind, and grated harshly upon our sensitive ears.
An officer, mounted, and wrapped in a military cloak, was now seen silently approaching the commanders of regiments in quick succession. He whispered his orders in a low tone—the colonels started with astonishment,—they looked—it was their general, and they immediately sent for their captains. Each officer heard the new order with astonishment, but to hear was to obey. The captains whispered it to their orderlies, and in twenty minutes after it was communicated to commanders of regiments the whole army stood upon their feet in battle array. Our tents were struck, and our baggage wagons were ready for a march.
The sentinels paced their rounds as though nothing was about to happen. The laugh of the relieved guard was heard above the din of both armies, and “all’s well” rang above the night.
We now stood ready in open column to march. General Hugh Mercer had command of the van-guard, and in a few moments our captains whispered, “forward, and be silent”—our living mass immediately moved onward, and filed off toward Allentown. Presently we heard the rear guard, with the artillery, rumbling in our rear, and then our camp, so quietly deserted, was lost sight of in the shadow of the hills.
For upward of two hours we moved on in comparative silence. Nothing but the whispers of the officers, and the heavy tread of men was heard. It was quite dark, and every breast seemed to be under the spell of mystery. At length a noise was heard ahead, and a staff officer galloped to the rear. As he passed along he said, in a clear voice, “the enemy are in sight.” In a few minutes the voice of the gallant Mercer was heard loud and distinct, giving his orders—“attention, van-guard, close order, quick time, march.” We sprang at the word—each soldier grasped his musket with a firmer gripe—and away we went upon the run.
Three regiments of light-infantry opposed us upon the plain at Maidenhead, and their drums were beating merrily as we drew near them—our front now came upon an open common. We broke into three columns, and headed by the gallant Mercer, dashed on. In a moment a stream of fire passed along the British line, the dead and wounded fell around me, and our columns wavered. At this instant while General Mercer, with his sword raised, was encouraging the van-guard to rush on and secure the victory, a bullet struck him, and he fell from his horse mortally wounded. For a moment only the battle was against us, but soon the firm voice of Washington was heard, as he pressed on to the front. Our musketry now echoed terribly; the enemy began to give way; a well-directed fire from the artillery told fearfully upon the small armed foe, and they were routed. At this moment a British soldier clapped his bayonet to my breast—Charles Greely thrust it away with his right hand—the soldier fired—his musket and the noble-hearted Greely fell upon my breast. I grasped his hand—it faintly returned my pressure—and then he straitened himself upon the ground, his eyes became fixed, his jaw fell, and he was dead. I bore him quickly to a wounded cart, and hastened to my platoon. The enemy were flying toward Brunswick, and we were masters of the field.
“On to Princeton,” shouted our noble leader, as he sent his wounded aid to the rear on a litter.
The line moved on in quick time, and soon we entered the town. Our visit was as unexpected here as at Trenton. A portion of the enemy had taken shelter in the college. Our general, as at Trenton, headed the charge in gallant style, while the troops, animated by his fearlessness, nobly seconded him. The artillery thundered against the garrisoned college, and the musketry rung wildly from every corner. Surrounded by a superior force, and not knowing but what Cornwallis had been routed, for they had heard the midnight cannon at Maidenhead, most of the enemy surrendered. A few, however, escaped by a precipitate flight along an unguarded street at the commencement of the attack. In this affair one hundred of the enemy were killed, and three hundred taken prisoners. Lord Cornwallis, as he lay on his camp bed, was roused by the roar of cannon. He started—the sound came from Princeton—he immediately ordered his troops under arms, and hastened to the scene of action. When he arrived the battle was won, and we were on our return march in triumph. As we crossed the Milestone river, we were halted to destroy the bridge at Kingston. I ordered a file of men to assist me, and hastily buried my companion in arms by the water-side, while the enemy’s cannon answered for minute-guns for the brave. Having shed a tear of sympathy over his lonely grave, we joined the main-body. At sun-set we trod upon the bleak hills of Morristown, and when the camp-fires were lighted the campaign of ’76 was over.
As the old man finished his tale, the widow turned away her head, and the grand-children hid their faces and wept. At length when they raised their eyes to their guest, his face was pallid—a wildness was manifest in his eyes; and his frame appeared to be stiffening in death. They sprang to him.
“Forward—on—to—Princeton!” said he, in a cold whisper; and then the last Life Guardsman joined his companions in Heaven.
The next day a numerous body of strangers followed the old veteran to the tomb; and the widow Greely placed a plain marble slab at the head of it, and inscribed upon it—
THE LAST OF WASHINGTON’S
SONNET WRITTEN IN APRIL.
BY MRS. E. C. STEDMAN.
“My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of those that weep.”—Job. 30, 31.
“Once” did this heart exult at coming spring,
My sunny smiles were bright as April skies!
Or if tears ever overflowed my eyes,
They passed as showers, which April clouds do bring,
And quick again my joyous soul took wing;
As when the bird from out its covert flies,
To welcome sunshine back with carolling,
New plumes its pinions, higher yet to rise.
But now, alas! I’m like the wounded bird!
An arrow in this bosom pierces deep—
My spirit droops—my song no more is heard;
My harp to mourning turned, is only stirred
As with the plaintive tones of those that weep,
And I am sad, while Spring her festival doth keep.
A TALE OF FLORENCE.
BY M. TOPHAM EVANS.
“Dark as the mouth of Acheron, and the rain seems inclined to warrant a second deluge,” grumbled a rough voice, proceeding from one of the dark alleys which branched out from the Porta san Piero.
“Silence, rascal!” sharply rejoined another voice. “Wouldst betray us with thy noise? Thou wouldst have the bargello upon us, with a murrain! Dost thou think that thou art brawling over thy liquor, that thou wouldst bring the notice of the police upon us?”
“Nay, I but spoke,” growled the other, and muffling himself up in his heavy cloak, leaned against the wall and held his peace.
The night was truly, as the first speaker observed, as black as Tartarus. The rain plashed down in torrents; and the squalls of wind which occasionally drove the showers with accelerated rapidity across the street, whistled dismally among the tall turrets and battlemented roofs of the Porta san Piero. The street was obscured by a thick mist, through which the feeble light of the flickering lamps, hung in the centre of the thoroughfare, at long distances from each other, shone like lurid meteors. Few wayfarers lingered in the passage, and such as were to be seen, with rapid strides, and close-wrapped cloaks, hurried over the wet and slippery stones, which formed a kind of rude pavé. Two figures, enveloped in large mantles, the actors in the dialogue, were carefully ensconced in the thick darkness of the blind alley, apparently upon the watch for some expected comer.
The turret clock of San Marco pealed the hour of ten, and as if waiting for the signal, the wind rose with increased fury, and spouts of water deluged the persons of the concealed parties.
“Corpo di Baccho!” swore the first speaker, “by the clock it is ten already, and yet no signs of Ugolino. My mantle cleaves to the skin with the wet, and altogether I feel more like a half-drowned rat, than a good Catholic. By my rosary, a bright fire, and a comfortable cup of father Borachio’s Lachryma, would be an excellent exchange for a dark alley and a waterspout like this.”
“Something has detained his honor beyond this time,” replied the other. “Count Ugolino was not wont to be so slow in keeping his engagements. Hark! I hear footsteps. It must be he. Stand close.”
A merry laugh pealed through the deserted street. A troop of gallants, masked, and attended by serving-men, and pages bearing torches, came onward. They passed by, and the clank of their spurs, and the rattle of their rapiers, died away in the distance.
“The cursed Frenchmen!” muttered the shortest of the concealed personages, while his hand clutched convulsively the hilt of his dagger. “Ill fare the day that Florence ever saw Walter of Brienne!”
“But as morn approaches the night is ever most dark,” rejoined his comrade. “Would the count were here. By the scales of justice I am even a’weary of waiting for him. Comes he not yet?”
A tall figure was seen stealthily approaching through the gloom.
“Ha! Ugolino! Count, is it thou?”
“The same. Well found, Pino D’Rossi.”
“We have watched long for thee, and almost feared that our watch was in vain.”
“I could not escape unnoticed. It is a wild night.”
“The fitter for our purpose. The worthy Adimari greets thee well, and joyfully receives thee as a brother. We are ready to conduct thee to the assembly of the chiefs.”
“In good time. Is Pompeo Medici there?”
“He is there; to hear and to act.”
“It is well. But time flies, and our conversation is too public if these slaves of the bargello be about. Let us away to the noble Adimari.” So saying, the three plunged into the surrounding darkness, and were quickly lost to the sight.
In an ancient vault of the palace of the Adimari, the leaders of a conspiracy were assembled. Noble forms and manly visages thronged the damp and obscure apartment, and among the noblest in presence stood Leonardo, the chief of the Adimari. But the countenances of the nobles who composed the meeting, were dark and troubled. The flashing eye and the quivering lip betrayed the deep passions which agitated the breasts of the chiefs, as, in the course of their dialogue, some new cruelty, some fresh instance of tyranny and rapacity upon the part of the Duke d’Atene, was recited. A tap was heard at the grated door, and Leonardo Adimari having personally opened it, Ugolino and his two companions entered the apartment. The count had thrown off his reeking mantle, and stood attired in a rich scarlet doublet, fancifully guarded with gold embroidery, white long hose, and ruffled boots, which exposed his manly person to the best advantage. His locks, of a dark chestnut hue, flowed in long ringlets from beneath a scarlet barret cap, adorned with a jewelled clasp and plume of white heron feathers. His countenance, chiselled in the finest and most classical shape, was rendered highly expressive by his dark eyes, which rolled and sparkled with Italian vivacity of character. His form, sufficiently fleshy for a perfect contour, displayed great muscular strength, united with the most finished symmetry. Depending from a richly ornamented scarf, hung his rapier in its ornamented sheath, and his dagger, of elegant workmanship, was suspended from the embroidered hangers of his girdle.
“Welcome, noble Ugolino,” said Adimari, as he led the count forward, “and thou too, worthy Pino D’Rossi, we lack patriots such as thou.”
“Thanks, noble Adimari,” replied D’Rossi, who was a short, sturdy man, attired in a plain, black suit. His age might have been some forty-five years, for his hair was already tinged with gray. A golden chain, depending from his neck, denoted him to be of some mark among the citizens, and his countenance and deportment were those of a stalwart burgher.
“Thanks, worthy Adimari. Patriots are never wanting to defend true liberty, when she is attacked, and was it ever heard that Frenchmen were the guardians of the goddess?”
“Brave Leonardo,” said an old nobleman, rising slowly from his seat, “these times call for a speedy action. The blood of a noble family—the blood of my son, Giovanni de Medici—long-spilt, and even now staining the ermine of Walter of Brienne, calls from the earth for vengeance. This moment is propitious. The Florentine people, grieved and oppressed by the hard measures of the Duke, and of Giulio D’Assisi—the Florentine nobles, down-trodden and despised by the arrogant followers of this count of Brienne—all are ready—all are willing at once to throw off the yoke of thraldom, and to reassert the ancient liberties and privileges of the city of Florence.”
“Well hast thou spoken, noble Pompeo,” replied Adimari, “and it was my intention to apportion this night to each, such charge as the exigencies of the present time demand. My worthy friend, Pino D’Rossi assures me that the people are ripe for the attempt, and my heart decides me that the nobles will not fail to aid them.”
“The arrogance of these minions of the duke have reached so outrageous a height,” said D’Rossi, “that I will pledge mine honor that the populace will prefer a thousand deaths to a longer submission.”
“I,” said Bindo Altoviti, “will speak for the artizans, and will engage to make as many mouthsful of those rascals, the bargello and his son, as they have murdered innocent men.”
“For Gualtieri,” said the old Medici, “may the hand of the Everlasting lie heavy on me and mine, if he, or aught of his race, shall escape the general doom!”
“For mine own part,” said he, “I trust that the effusion of blood may not be farther pursued in these unhappy times than the exigency of the case requires. Far be it from me to justify the conduct of the Count of Brienne, or the arrogance of his proud followers. Yet the count may have been badly advised, and I think these cruelties may not be entirely ascribed to the wickedness of his nature. Let not the noble Medici so far mistake, as to suffer a private desire of revenge, however just such a desire may appear, to overrule the cause of liberty. This, I trust, may be attained without a sanguinary massacre. Let the sword of mercy interpose, nor by a blind and indiscriminate fury, sacrifice the innocent upon the same altar with the guilty.”
“Aye, Count Ugolino,” said Medici, and a bitter sneer passed over his thin features, “we well know the cause of your solicitations. Have we forgotten the tale of Julian D’Este, and of the princess Rosabelle? The fair sister of Walter of Brienne may, to a moonsick lover, be an object of deeper interest than the prosecution of the holiest revenge, or the re-assertion of our Florentine liberty.”
“Now, by heaven, Pompeo Medici,” exclaimed Ugolino, “you do me infinite wrong! What? dare you hint that Julian D’Este died by my hand? or that Rosabelle de Brienne sways me with a stronger attachment than the interests of Florence?”
“I speak well-known facts,” replied the Medici. “Neither is the history of Count Ugolino unknown to the world, nor are his actions left unscrutinized.”
“Thou irreverend noble!” said Ugolino, while a deep flush overspread his cheek. “Hadst thou not the sanction of thine age to protect thee, I would force thee to eat thine own words, with no better sauce to them than my stiletto.”
“Nay,” interposed Adimari, while Pino D’Rossi intercepted Ugolino, “these matters will break out again into our ancient broils. Worthy Medici—valiant Ugolino—listen to reason—nay, Pompeo, sheathe thy sword—this is utter ruin to our general cause!”
Ugolino returned his dagger to its sheath.
“Count Adimari,” said he, “I regret that the words of yon ancient libeller should have moved me so far from my patience in this presence. But enough of this—proceed we to matters of more general import.”
“Mark me, Leonardo,” said old Medici, as he slowly resumed his seat. “Ages have left us many a sad example. In an ill hour was Ugolino admitted into this league. Strong is the dominion of a beautiful woman over the most masculine mind. Beware of yon count, for Rosabelle de Brienne will be the destruction of either himself, or of the cause of Florentine liberty.”
A smile of scorn curled the lip of Ugolino.
“I receive not the prophecy,” said he. “The hour waxes late, and the noble Adimari hath intimated his desire to apportion the charge of this insurrection among the nobles. It is now the time for action, but thou and I, Pompeo Medici, must confer still farther.”
On the same night upon which the above related events took place, the ducal palace was brilliantly illuminated, and sounds of festivity proceeded from the lofty portals. Duke Gualtieri held his high revel. Troops of noble cavaliers and throngs of high-born dames filled the grand hall of audience, at the top of which was the duke, seated upon an elevated dais, covered with superb hangings, and surrounded by the military chiefs of his faction. Gualtieri was a tall, muscular man of fifty, in the expression of whose countenance a sort of soldierly frankness struggled with a fierce and scornful air. He was splendidly attired in a tunic of purple velvet, with hose of rich sendal, and over his shoulder was thrown his ermined cloak. His head was covered with the ducal coronet, and his neck encircled by a gorgeous chain of twisted gold and jewellery. Near him stood Giulio D’Assisi, the dreaded bargello, or head of police. This last was a man of middle age, attired in scarlet robes, with a face strongly marked by the traces of brutal passion.
“A higher measure!” shouted the duke. “By the honor of the virgin, I think our cavaliers be ungracious to-night, or else these fair dames are more intent upon their beads than their lavoltas. Ha! gallants? hath our air of Florence so dull and muddy a taste to the cavaliers of Provence, that it seemeth to quench the fire of their courtesy?”
“By my halidome!” said the bargello, “your highness speaks well and merrily. The air of Florence, methinks, hath an exceeding thick complexion, in comparison with the more delicate breezes which fan the soil of France.”
“Thou hast aided to thicken it with a vengeance,” said the duke with a grim smile. “Ha, Giulio, the blood of these swine of Florence, whom thou draggest to thy shambles, might well make the air murky?”
“By the patrimony of St. Peter,” replied D’Assisi, “it is but a needful phlebotomy. Marry, if the leech were more often employed in cleansing the veins of your Florentine state, it were good for the health and purification of the remaining body politic.”
“Thou art the prince of provosts, my friend,” said the duke.
“What, Rinaldo, is it thou? and away from the fair Matilde? When did this happen before in Florence?”
The person addressed was a tall, elegant cavalier, whose manly countenance was rendered yet more interesting by the melancholy expression of his eyes. He was plainly, but handsomely attired in a costly suit of dark brown velvet, embroidered with seed pearls.
“May it please your highness,” said Rinaldo, Comte D’Hunteville, (for he was no less a personage,) “I have news of some import to communicate. An esquire of mine, passing this night through the Porta san Piero, discovered a person, whom he recognized as Pino D’Rossi, the chief of the balia, accompanied by the Count Ugolino, and one whom he knew not, proceeding in the direction of the palace of the Adimari. There are also rumors of seditious meetings which have been held there, and I fear—”
“Tush, man,” interrupted De Brienne. “Canst speak of business when so fair a throng of ladies decks our court? or couple the word fear with these dogs of Florence? They shall be cared for; but they have lost the power to harm. Marry, as for the will, we doubt not of that. As for that notorious villain, Ugolino, who has dared to aspire to the hand of our sister,” continued he, while the fire of rage sparkled in his eyes, “and through whom such infamous aspersions have been cast upon the honor of the house of Brienne, I have my spies upon him. The least imprudent action he dares commit, our trusty Giulio will take order it be not repeated. Forward, Comte D’Hunteville, to the dance!”
Hardly had the duke spoken these words, ere a man of singularly unprepossessing countenance, entered the apartment. He was of small stature, with a dark, thin visage; restless, inquisitive eyes, and a hooked nose. He wore a plain, civil suit, and a walking rapier, more for ornament than use, decorated his side. Quickly approaching the duke, he whispered a few words in his ear. The duke started.
“Art thou mad, man? A meeting at the palace of the Adimari! Pompeo Medici there? Why was this not known sooner? Giulio, thy spies have misled thee for the once! Why, they were desperate enemies, in whose feud I placed a deep dependence for safety. Rinaldo, saidst thou that D’Rossi was there?”
“Mine esquire hath so informed me, please your grace.”
“By the mass, I doubt some treachery. When Medici and Adimari shake hands, their union is not to be despised. But thanks at least for this information. Hark thee, Cerettieri, be it thy care to look farther into this matter. Arrest this Adimari and Pino D’Rossi this very night. Away—their plans shall never be matured! So, gallants, let us again address ourselves to the festivity of the hour.”
The last lingering taper had disappeared from the windows of the palace, and the clock of the tower had struck the hour of three, when the figure of a man might have been descried, cautiously clambering over the wall which enclosed the ducal gardens. Passing rapidly through the ornamental parterre, he stopped beneath a window which opened upon the gardens, and threw a pebble against the lattice. The signal having been again repeated, the casement opened, and a female form advanced upon the balcony.
“Is it thou, Ugolino?” demanded a voice, the silvery sweetness of whose tone was so clear and distinct, that it almost startled the count.
“It is I, dearest Rosabelle,” he replied. “I have much to communicate with thee, and the night wanes fast. Throw down the rope, that I may ascend to thee, for the tidings I have to tell thee may brook no ears save thine, for whose only they are intended.”
The Princess D’Este retired for a moment and returned, bearing a silken cord, one end of which she attached to the balcony, and threw the other to the count. Ugolino ascended, and the princess in a moment was in his embrace.
“Quick, let us raise the robe, and close thy chamber carefully, for I have much to say and speedily.” With these words they entered the apartment.
It was a lofty room, hung with tapestry of Arras, and sumptuously furnished, as became the rank of its mistress. Large and costly ottomans, oaken seats richly carved and ornamented with the armorial bearings of Brienne, large Venetian mirrors set in massive frames, and richly chiselled stands of colored marble, upon which heavy silver candelabra were placed, added to the magnificence of the apartment, which was lit by a swinging lamp of silver, from whence exhaled a delicate perfume. The count threw himself upon a pile of cushions, and covered his face with his hands.
“Ugolino!” said the princess, passing her small white hand through the curled locks of the count, “why are you thus agitated? Are we discovered? Do the blood-hounds of my brother still pursue us? If so, impart thy griefs to her who adores thee, that she may, at least, participate in them, if she cannot console thee.”
“I am come,” said the count, and a pang of agony shot across his noble features, “to prove myself a most foul traitor.”
“Traitor!” said Rosabelle. “Ugolino! can the name of a traitor associate with thine?”
“Aye. It can—it must! Thou knowest, Rosabelle, the price I paid for thee ere now. Thou art yet doomed to exact from me a sterner sacrifice. When I saw thee first, the fairest dame in France, at the gay field of Poictou, I drew in love for thee with my first breath. Thou wert then the wife of Julian D’Este. What I suffered for thee then, my recollection brings too vividly to light. What agonies I now experience, knowing the barbarous revenge which my already too deeply oppressed countryman must undergo, when my tale is told to the duke—yet all for thy sake—no human imagination can depict. Then I languished beneath the load of an affection, which honor, reason, duty, chivalry, all combined to oppose. Powerless opposition! The deity of love scorns all defensive armor. I sought, impelled by fate, the charms of thy society. For thee, Julian D’Este was no fitting spouse. Harsh and unrefined, he repelled thine youthful affections, while I, unhappy, too surely was the magnet which did attract them. Then followed our fatal step. Was it folly? My heart still tells me it is no folly to adore thee. Was it madness? Madness never spoke in so clear a tone of reason as in that, which on the day, hallowed to my remembrance, as we perused that antique volume, displayed all our feelings—disclosed the secret emotions of our hearts—gave us soul to soul—and formed our future bliss—our future woe! No base and vicious inclinations—no vulgar voluptuousness disgraced our union. We felt that we were made for each other, and when Julian D’Este fell beneath my poniard, I thought it no crime added to my account, when I endeavored, by compassing his death, to confer happiness upon thee.”
Rosabelle answered nought, but hung more devotedly around the neck of the count, while the soft blue of her eyes was dimmed with the rising tear.
“What ensued—the impossibility of discovering the murderer of Julian—our farther intercourse—your brother’s hearty refusal of my suit, and the suspicion attached to our names, were but matters, which, had prudence been consulted ere the deed was done, she would have foretold. But who advises calmly when the burning fire of love threatens to consume him? In fine, the tyrant brought thee with him here to Florence, upon his election as captain and signor of the city. Here, secluded by him from the world, I had given thee up as lost. My faithful Spalatro discovered thy retreat, and as yet we had hoped that our secret interviews were undiscovered. Fatal infatuation! This very night has Pompeo Medici thrown out hints, nay, open assertions of his knowledge of our situation. Thanks to the death of Giovanni, else all had been discovered to the duke!”
“Let me counsel thee to fly!” said Rosabelle, “as I have done before. There is no time to be lost. Myself will be companion of thy flight.”
“It is, I fear, too late. Now listen to the conclusion of my tale. A great conspiracy is on foot against the rule of the duke. It will break out into revolt ere morning. All is prepared. The fierce Medici swears utter ruin to thy race. Even though forewarned, I doubt that Gualtieri will be overwhelmed. Adimari, equally exasperated with the Medici against thy brother, dare not check Pompeo in his chase of blood, lest he fall off and irretrievably ruin the fabric of the conspiracy. Pino D’Rossi vows death to the minions of the duke, who, as I am a Christian man, have well deserved it. Ere day-break, confusion will begin. Thou must fly to thy brother, and advise him of the plot. My name must be known as the traitor to my country, else thy tale will not be believed. My charge lies at the church of Santa Mario del Fiore. Ere the palace is invested, do thou devise means to escape, which may readily be done in the confusion. Spalatro will conduct thee to the hotel of San Giovanni, in the Primo Cerchio. There have I prepared disguises and horses. The chances of escape then lie before us, and if fortune befriend us, we will fly to some happier clime. At all events, death is the worst which can betide us, and death ends all woes and calms every distress forever. Art thou willing, my Rosabelle, to trust thus blindly to fate?”
“Rosabelle can only live or die with Ugolino!” cried the princess, throwing herself into the arms of the count.
“Now, Rosabelle, fly to the duke. I hear already a distant sound—a far murmuring, as of the gathering of throngs. This last sacrifice, imperious love, will I make to thee! Remember! the hotel of San Giovanni! Escape or happy death!”
He imprinted an ardent kiss upon the lips of the beautiful princess, and descending from the balcony was lost to her sight.
No sooner had Ugolino disappeared, than the Princess Rosabelle left her apartment, and with hurried steps rushed along the corridor to the private chamber of the duke. The soldiers on duty before the door respectfully resisted the entrance of the princess, informing her that the duke was closeted with his principal chiefs, and had strictly debarred all access to his presence.
“Away!” shrieked the princess, “not speak with him! I must. It is his life which is at stake! Ho! Gualtieri! as thou lovest thy life and dukedom, hear Rosabelle!”
“How now, minion?” said Gualtieri, coming from the chamber. “Is it not enough that my daily life must be rendered a curse and a scandal to me by thy presence and pestilent conduct, but I am to be disturbed at midnight with thine outcries?”
“Thy life is in danger,” said Rosabelle. “As thou art a soldier, arm quickly, for ere long they will be here, who have sworn to see thy heart’s blood.”
“A likely invention!” said the duke, with a sneer, “by what miracle of evil hast thou arrived at so sage a conclusion?”
“It is true, by our lady,” said Rosabelle. “Oh, Gualtieri, wilt thou not believe me? My brother, thou hast been harsh to me, but I cannot see thee murdered without making an effort to save thee.”
“Murder, fair Rosabelle,” said the duke, “if all say true, is by no means unfamiliar to thy thoughts. How hast thou this rare intelligence? Of what nature is it? Soldier, retire.”
“Adimari and the Medici have plotted the downfall of thine authority,” replied the princess. “This night; nay, this very moment their plans will be matured. The throngs are now gathering which will hurl thee from thy seat, and perchance, deprive thee of thy life.”
“From whence thine information?” demanded the duke.
“From the Count Ugolino.”
The face of the duke became purple with rage. His hands shook like the aspen, and his voice was hoarse as the growl of the enraged lion.
“Ugolino!” he exclaimed. “Ha! harlot! Hast thou dared again to discourse with that bloody villain? and this night? Thou diest for it, wert thou thrice my sister!”
Gualtieri drew his dagger, and was about to rush upon his sister, when the hurried tread of men and the sound of voices arrested his arm. The dagger fell from his hand. A door in the corridor flew violently open, and Cerettieri Visdomini, followed by three or four soldiers, stood before him. The face of Visdomini was pale as marble, and a rivulet of blood, trickling from a deep wound in his forehead, gave a ghastly expression to his countenance. His dress was disordered through haste and fright, and in his hand he bore a broken rapier.
“How now, Cerettieri?” shouted the duke, while Rosabelle, taking advantage of the confusion, escaped from the apartment.
“All is confirmed,” replied Visdomini, in a trembling voice. “The rabble have gained head. Every thing is in disorder. Your banners are torn down, and dragged through the filth of the slaughter-houses. The cross-gules floats with the red lily every where triumphant. Rally your train, my lord, and close the palace gates, before the rebels are upon you.”
“Where is that traitorous dog, Leonardo Adimari? Hast not arrested him?”
“I did so. He has been rescued, and I bear nothing from Adimari, save this sword-cut.”
“And the Assisi?”
“Have escaped to the palace. They are endeavoring to rally the troops. Arm, my lord duke, for the sake of the Madonna, or all is lost!”
A loud shout, “down with the tyrant!” and the clang of arms ran through the corridor.
“Ho! D’Argencourt! mine armour! my helmet!” shouted the duke. “Treason! throw forth my banner! Stand fast, arbalastmen, to the windows! Ply trebuchet and mangonel! Cerettieri, order the Count D’Hunteville to draw forth my chivalry into the piazza! Shall we shrink from the hogs of Florence? Fight valiantly, my brave knights and gallant soldiers, and the spoil of the city shall be yours!”
The streets of Florence presented a wild and tumultuous scene in the pale gray of the morning. The bells from the cathedral church of Santa Maria del Fiore, and from the venerable towers of the church of the Apostoli, tolled incessantly, while from the market-place and town-house, as well as from the multitude of smaller chapels, the din was fearfully augmented. The shrill cry “to arms!” resounded every where. From the tall towers of the noble, from the windows of the citizen’s house—aye, from hut and hovel, waved the flag of the ancient republic. The rabble, armed with such imperfect weapons as haste and rage could supply, wandered in confused masses through every lane and thoroughfare, in pursuit of the instruments of the duke’s cruelty. Armed bands of horsemen patrolled the city. The burghers of the town, inured to military discipline, and trained to break opposing squadrons with the spear, were ranged, each man under the respective banner of his ward. Barriers were thrown up at the end of every street to break the charge of the duke’s cavalry. Adimari and the Medici rode at the head of their mailed retainers, displaying their armorial bearings, through every ward, cheering and animating the citizens. The ducal soldiery, scattered through the city, and unprepared for such an emergency, were endeavoring to regain the palace, but many were seized and stripped of their armour, by the vigilance of Pino D’Rossi and his associates. In front of the palace was collected a blood-thirsty mob, in overwhelming numbers, pouring from lane and alley, among which cross bows and mangonels of the soldiery from the windows, scarce seemed to take effect, so fast were those who fell replaced by throngs of the living. The cry of “death! death!” was yelled out on every hand. Women thronged the windows of the grand square, repeating the cry, and throwing weapons to the crowd below. Many of the lesser minions of the duke were seized; some in female apparel, endeavoring to escape, were rent in pieces by the vindictive Florentines, with circumstances of horrible ferocity. In the height of the uproar, a knight, mounted upon a barbed steed, and covered with a gold and ivory pointed shield, his page being seated behind him, was seen dashing along at full speed toward the city gates.
“Ho!” cried Bindo Altoviti, “what guard keep ye here, archers? Draw to the head, and send me yon Frenchman back to his own country, feathered for his flight with a goose-wing of Florence!”
A shower of arrows were directed against the fugitives, two of which took effect, and the knight, with his page, fell to the ground. The people pursued and caught the flying steed, crying, “thanks to the good duke for the gift! Oh! the Florentine people for ever!”
Adimari and Medici, with their train, rode up at the instant.
“What cavalier is yon?” asked Adimari. “Some one examine him, that we may know if he deserve honorable burial. God forbid we should deny that, even to a foe.”
Pompeo Medici rode up, attended by an esquire, to the bodies, and dismounting, unlaced the helmet of the fallen cavalier, across whom the body of the page was extended, as if to protect the form of his master. The dying man turned his countenance to Medici, and with a shudder, fell back dead in an unavailing effort to speak.
“Ha! St. John! whom have we here?” cried Pompeo. “Noble Adimari, view these corpses. My thoughts were not in error. And the page too—”
“By the cross of St. Peter!” said Adimari, “it is no other than the Count Ugolino, and the page is—?”
“Rosabelle De Brienne.”
A deep cloud of sorrow shaded the countenance of Adimari.
“By San Giovanni!” said he, “I sorely mistrusted this. This is that love, stronger than death. Noble Ugolino, an ill-fate hath attended thee! This then hast been the cause of thy desertion, but, by my faith, I cannot blame thee, for thy lady hast the fairest face I ever looked upon.”
“Peace be with their souls!” said Medici. “Death ends all feuds. Cover their faces, and see that they be laid, side by side, in the chapel of the Virgin, with such ceremonies as their high stations demand. Myself shall be, if I live, chief mourner at this burial. Donato, be it thy care to have their bodies conveyed to the Convent of Mercy.”
The siege of the palace continued from day to day. Famine began to gnaw the vitals of the French soldiery, and fixed her tooth, sharper than the sword, beneath each iron cuirass. Rage without and hunger within, popular clamor and mutinous murmurings, accumulated the distress of the duke. In this emergency, he sent the Comte D’Hunteville, his almost only virtuous follower, to intercede with the Florentines, and to make honorable terms of capitulation. Adimari would hearken to no proposals, unless Giulio and Ippolito D’Assisi, and Cerettieri Visdomini, the chief agents of oppression, were delivered into the hands of the people. Gualtieri, impelled by a sense of honor, refused to accede to this demand. Thrice did the chief of the balia, the bishop, and the Siennese envoys, urge to the duke the impossibility of maintaining the palace, and the necessity of complying with the popular will. They met with reiterated denial. The soldiers then sent a corporal to entreat the duke to submission. Their suit was dismissed with scorn. Then did the soldiers crowd, with frowning faces and clashing arms, the chamber of the duke, with the memorable words, “lord duke, choose between these three heads and your own.” Urged by imperious necessity, worn out with famine, and watching, and clamor, Gualtieri, at last, gave a tacit acquiescence to the delivery of his favorites, and the pangs which his proud spirit felt at this ignominious humiliation were far more bitter than any of the tortures which he had inflicted upon the objects of his tyranny. Shall I record the doom of the victims? Is it not written in the chronicles of the Florentine republic? They were torn in pieces by the howling multitude, and their flesh actually devoured, even while their palpitating limbs were quivering in the agonies of death!
Quiet was once more restored to the city by the expulsion of the duke and his followers. The chapel of the Convent of Mercy, hung with black, and faintly lighted by dim and funeral tapers, was prepared for the last death rites of Ugolino and of his lady. Around the bier, where reposed the coffined forms of the dead, were gathered the noblest of Florence, and crowds of the common sort thronged the sacred edifice. The last notes of the pealing requiem died away. The solemn priest sprinkled the holy water, and the last prayer for the dead passed from his lips. The rites were ended, and amid the tears of that noble assemblage the marble jaws of the tomb closed for ever upon the bodies of those, in whom love had indeed been stronger than death.
Still does their sad tale exist among the legends of Florence, and the youths and maidens of that ancient town yet consecrate a tear to the inscription which records the loves and fate of Count Ugolino and of Rosabelle De Brienne. Yet indeed “death can only take away the sorrowful from our affections: the flower expands: the colorless film that enveloped it falls off and perishes.”
Mount Savage, Md. May, 1841.
THE THUNDER STORM.
BY J. H. DANA.
You never knew Agnes? She was the prettiest girl in the village, or, for that matter, within a circuit of twenty miles. At the time I write of, she was just budding into womanhood, and if ever there was a lovely being, she was one at eighteen. Her eyes were blue, not of that light blue which is so unmeaning, but of the deep azure tint of a midnight sky, when a thousand stars are shining on its bosom, and you feel a mysterious spell cast upon you as you gaze on high. Just so I felt whenever Agnes would look into my eyes with those deep blue orbs of hers, whose every glance thrilled me to the soul. And then her hair. It was the poet’s color—a rich, sun-shiny gold. How I loved to gaze upon its massy tresses, as they flowed down a neck unrivalled for shape and whiteness. In figure she was like a sylph. Her voice excelled in sweetness any I had ever heard. It was low, and soft, and musical as the whisper of an angel.
Agnes and I had grown up together. We were not relatives, but we were both wards of Mr. Stanley, and had been playmates in childhood. Many a time had we spent whole days in wandering across our guardian’s grounds, now threading the old wood, now loitering by the little stream, and now plucking buttercups to hold under each other’s chins. Ah! those were pleasant hours. And as we grew up, and were separated,—she remaining at home with her governess, and I going to an eastern college,—I would sit for hours dreaming of Agnes, and wondering if she ever thought of me. I know not how it was; but for years I looked upon her as I looked on no other of her sex, and at the age when youth is most susceptible to novelty, I remained true to Agnes, as to the star of my destiny.
I returned, after a long absence of six years, to the residence of my guardian. In all that time I had not seen Agnes. How I longed to ascertain whether she had changed since we parted, and during the whole of the last stage of my journey, I lay back in the carriage, wondering in what manner she would meet. And when the vehicle stopped at the door of Mr. Stanley’s mansion, and all the remembered scenes of my childhood crowded around me, I turned from them impatiently, and, with a throbbing heart, looked among the group awaiting me, to see if I could distinguish Agnes. That gray-haired, gentlemanly man I knew to be my second father; but was the surpassingly beautiful girl at his side my old playmate? My heart beat quick; a sudden tremor seized me; my head was for a moment dizzy, as I advanced hastily up the steps, and was clasped, the next instant, in Mr. Stanley’s arms.
“My dear—dear boy, God bless you!” said the kind-hearted old gentleman. “We see you once more amongst us. But have you forgotten your old play-fellow?” he continued, turning to the fair creature at his side. “Six years make a great alteration I know. Agnes don’t you remember Henry?”
As I turned and fixed my eyes full upon her, I caught Agnes examining me with eager curiosity. Detected in her scrutiny she blushed to the very forehead, and dropped her eyes suddenly to the ground. I was equally abashed. I had approached her intending to address her with my old familiarity, but this aversion of her look somehow unaccountably disheartened me. I hesitated whether I should offer her my hand. The embarrassment was becoming oppressive, when, with a desperate effort, I extended my hand, and said—
“Miss Agnes—” but for the life of me I could not proceed. It was, however, sufficient to induce her to look up, and our eyes met. At the same instant she took my proffered hand. What happened afterward I could never remember, only I recollect the blood rushed in torrents to my cheeks, and I fancied that the tiny white hand I held in my own, trembled a little, a very little, but still trembled. When I woke from the delirium of indescribable emotions that ensued, I found myself sitting with my guardian and Agnes in the parlor, but whether I walked there on my head or my feet I cannot to this day remember.
The month which followed was among the happiest of my life, for it was spent at the side of Agnes. We walked, rode, chatted, and sang together; not a morning or an evening found us apart; and insensibly her presence became to me almost as necessary as the air I breathed. Yet—I know not how it was—Agnes was a mystery to me. At first, indeed, we were almost on the same footing as if we had been brother and sister, but after I had been at my guardian’s about a month, she began to grow reserved, although at times she would display all her old frankness, united with even more than her usual gaiety. Often too, when I looked up at her suddenly, I would find her gazing into my face, and when thus detected, she would blush and cast her eyes down, and seem so embarrassed that I scarcely knew what to think, unless it was that Agnes—but no!—how could she be in love with one almost a stranger?
For myself, I would have given the world, if I could only have penetrated the secrets of her heart, and learned there whether the affection toward her, which I had felt had stolen almost insensibly across me, had been returned. Yes! I would have given an emperor’s ransom to discover what my timidity would not allow me to enquire. It is an old story, and has been told by hundreds before—this tale of a young lover—but I cannot refrain from rehearsing it again. I was sadly perplexed. Not a day passed but what I rose to the height of hope, or fell to the depth of despair. A smile from Agnes was the sunlight of my existence, and her reserve plunged me in unfathomable darkness. I could not penetrate the fickleness of her manner, especially when any of her young female friends were visiting her. If I spoke to them with any show of interest, she would either be unnaturally gay or singularly silent, and when I came to address her, I would be received with chilling coldness. Yet, at other times, my despair would be relieved by a return of her old frankness, and a hundred times have I been on the point of telling her the whole story of my love, but either my fears, or her returning reserve, prevented my purpose from being executed.
One day, after I had been at my guardian’s for nearly three months, Agnes and I set out together for a walk through the forest. It was a beautiful morning, and the birds were carolling gaily from every bough, while the balmy wind sighed sweetly among the fresh forest leaves, making together a harmony such as nothing but nature herself, on a morning so lovely, can produce. Our hearts were in unison with the scenery around, and Agnes was in one of her old frank moods. We wandered on accordingly, over stream and through glade and down dell, admiring the glorious scenery on every hand, and now and then stopping to gather a wild flower, to listen to the birds, or to rest upon some mossy bank, until the day had far advanced, and recurring, for the first time to my watch, I found that we had been several hours on our stroll, and that it was already high noon. We were not so far, however, from home but what we might reach it in an hour.
“Had we not better return, Agnes?” said I, “it is growing late.”
“Oh! yes,” she replied, “in a moment. Wait till I have finished this wreath,” and she continued weaving together the wild flowers she had gathered for a chaplet for her hair. How nimbly her taper fingers moved, and how lovely she looked, as seated on the grassy knoll, with her hat cast off beside her, and her beautiful face flushed with health and pleasure, she pursued her task.
She was still busy in her fanciful labor, when a cloud suddenly obscured the sun, and we both looked up in some surprise, for the morning had been unusually fair, and not a vapor hitherto had dimmed the sky. A light fleecy film like a fine gauze veil, was floating across the sun’s disc.
“There is a storm brewing in the hills,” said I.
“Let us return at once,” said Agnes, “for my chaplet is finished at last, and it would be so dreadful to be caught in a shower.”
We did not linger a moment, for we both knew that it was not unusual for a thunder shower to come up, in that mountainous region, with a rapidity almost inconceivable to those who have never lived in so elevated a position. Hastily seizing her hat, and throwing her chaplet over her bright brow, she set forth smiling as gaily as ever, to return by the shortest path to our home.
For nearly a half an hour we pursued our way through the forest, but at every step we perceived that the storm was coming up more rapidly, until at length the smiles of Agnes ceased, and we pursued our now hurried way in silence, save when an exclamation from my fair companion betokened some new and angrier aspect of the sky.
“Oh! Harry,” she said, at length, “we shall get drenched through—see, the tempest is at hand, and we have yet more than a mile to go.”
I looked up. The storm was indeed at our doors. Yet it was as magnificent a spectacle as I had ever beheld. The heavens were as black as pitch, save now and then when for a moment they were obscured by a lurid canopy of dust, swept upward from the highway, giving earth and sky the appearance as of the day of doom. Now the wind wailed out in the forest, and now whirled wildly past us. The trees groaned and bent in the gale, their branches streaming out like banners on the air. Anon, all was still. How deep and awful and seemingly endless was that boding repose. Agnes shrank closer to my side, her face paler than ashes, and her slight form trembling with ill-concealed agitation. Not a house was in sight. I saw that our only shelter was the forest, and I retreated, therefore, beneath a huge overshadowing oak, whose gnarled and aged branches might have defied a thousand years. As I did so a few rain drops pattered heavily to the earth—then came another silence—and then with a rushing-sound through the forest, as if an army was at hand, the tempest was upon us.
Never had I beheld such a storm. It seemed as if earth and heaven had met in battle, and that each was striving amid the ruins of a world for the mastery. The first rush of the descending rain was like a deluge, bending the mightiest trees like reeds beneath it, and filling the hollows of the forest road with a flood of water. Suddenly a vivid flash of lightning shot across the heaven, and then at a short interval followed a clap of thunder. Agnes clung closely to my arm, her face wild with affright. With a few hurried words I strove to sooth her, pressing her still closer, and with strange delight, to my bosom. As I did so she burst into tears. Her conduct—I cannot explain why—filled me with a joy I had long despaired of, and in the impulse of the moment, I said,
“Dear Agnes! fear not. I am beside you, and will die with you.”
She looked up, all tearful as she was, into my eyes, and strove to speak, but her emotion was too great, and, with a glance I shall never forget, buried her face against my shoulder. I pressed her closer to my heart. I felt a wild ecstacy tingling through every vein, such as I had never experienced. I could not resist my feelings longer.
“Agnes! dear, dear Agnes,” I said, bending over her, “I love you. Oh! will you be mine if we escape?”
She made me no answer, but sobbed aloud. I pressed her hand. The pressure was gently returned. I wanted nothing more to assure me of her affection. I was in a dream of wildering delight at the conviction.
For a moment I had forgotten the tempest in my ecstacy. But suddenly I was aroused from my rapture by a succession of loud and reiterated peals, bursting nearer and nearer overhead, and I looked up now in real alarm, wishing that we had kept the forest road, exposed as we would have been to the rain, rather than subject ourselves to the dangers of our present position. I determined even yet to fly from our peril, and taking Agnes by the waist, urged her trembling steps onward. We had but escaped from beneath the oak when a blinding flash of lightning zig-zagged from one horizon to the other, and instantaneously a peal of thunder, which rings in my ears even yet, burst right over us, and went crackling and echoing down the sky, as if a thousand chariots were driving furiously over its adamantine pavement. But this I scarcely noticed at the time, though it filled my memory afterward, for the flash of lightning seeming to dart from every quarter of the heaven, and unite right over us, shot directly downward, and in the next instant the oak under which we had been standing, riven in twain, stood a scarred and blackened wreck, against the frowning sky. I felt my senses reeling: I thought all was over.
When I recovered my senses I found myself standing, with Agnes in my arms, while the thunder was still rolling down the firmament. My first thought was of the dear girl beside me, for I thought her form was unusually heavy. She was apparently perfectly lifeless. Oh! the agony of that moment! Could she have been struck by the lightning? Wild with fear I exclaimed,
“Agnes! look up—dear one, you are not hurt?”
At length she moved. She had only fainted, and the rain revived her, so that in a few minutes I had the inexpressible delight of feeling her clasp my hand in return for my ardent emotion. But it was long before she was able to return home, and when we did so we arrived thoroughly drenched through. But every thing was forgotten in gratitude for our escape, and joy at knowing that we were beloved.
And Agnes is now my wife, and I hear her footstep, still to me like music, approaching. I must close my sketch or the dear one will burn it, for she has no notion, she says, of figuring in a magazine.
THE JOYS OF FORMER YEARS HAVE FLED.
BY G. A. RAYBOLD.
The joys of former years have fled,
Like meteors through the midnight skies;
The brief but brilliant light they shed,
Serves but to blind our anxious eyes:
So flee the joy of early days,
And perish like the meteor’s blaze.
The joys of former years decay
Like summer flow’rs we linger o’er,
While, one by one, they fade away,
And fall to earth to bloom no more;
Touch’d by the chilling hand of Time,
Thus fail the joys of manhood’s prime.
The joys of former years are like
The last sweet notes of music, when
Upon your ear they faintly strike,
You know they’ll ne’er be heard again
The breaking harp, last sweetest strain,
Ne’er woke by hand or harp again.
The joys of former years when past,
Seem like a poet’s dream of bliss;
Too brightly beautiful to last
In such a changing world as this:
Where stern reality destroys
Life’s poetry, and all its joys.
The joys of former years expire,
As each loved one is from us torn;
The dying flame of life’s last fire,
Then lights us to their grave to mourn;
Where joy entomb’d for ever, lies,
Hope still may from that grave arise.
Swedesboro’, N. J. 1841.
THE UNCERTAINTY OF ITS APPRECIATION.
BY JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS.
There is nothing more uncertain than the nature of the reception a Poet’s productions, and particularly his shortest pieces, are destined to meet. Especially is this true with respect to the more egotistical sort of versifications—such as sonnets, and the like—in which one’s own feelings find vent in verses penned, perhaps, for an album, or intended for the perusal of the immediate circle in which the writer moves. Now, the appreciation of sentiments thus embodied, when they come to be volume-ized, depends entirely upon the mood of mind in which they find the reader. Such is, indeed, the case with personal thoughts, even when they appear amid the popular literature of the day—but is more strikingly so under the circumstances named. If a sonnet, for example, which has been addressed to some real or fancied idol of the heart, falls into the hands of one who is under the influence of the tender passion, it is sure to be fully appreciated, and pronounced “beautiful.” To such an one, nothing is too sentimental. Anything which tells of the “trials of the heart”—of “true love”—of a “broken heart”—is doubly welcome. If it have a sprinkle of star-and-moon-sentiment about it, all the better. But place a piece of poetry headed, “Sonnet to the Moon,” or “To Mary,” before a heartless old bachelor, or an unsentimental matron, and the exclamation would be—“what nonsense—what stuff!”
But it is not only in the case of the love-struck, and the sans-love portions of the community, that the uncertainty named is made manifest, by any means. The most thoughtful and dignified productions may be the recipients of censure, for want of a kindredness of sentimentality—or absence of it—on the part of the reader. The mind may be totally unfitted for the thoughts before it, by very conformation,—or what is the same thing in effect—from habit. And, then again, the mind of the most sentimental order by nature, may be placed under unfavorable circumstances to appreciate the thoughts of the poet. So much so, that the most beautiful creations of the most fanciful author, may be as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, though clothed in most harmonious numbers. How, for instance, may we expect the merchant or mechanic, wearied with the toils of the day, to peruse a poem, however short, with the same pleasure and favorable reception as the man of leisure? The thing is among the impossibles. But even the man of taste and leisure, may fail (nay, often does,) to enter into the feelings of the writer—and without feeling the appreciation and penning of poetry, are, alike, out of the question—unless we except some of the poetry of Pope and others, which has left the ordinary track. It is so exceedingly difficult to catch the nice shades of meaning which it is intended to express, unless assisted by the heart. Poetical allusions especially, are always liable to be mistaken, if not scanned with a poetic eye.
But it is the change of circumstances which often, more than aught else, prevents the comprehension and appreciation of a poet’s thoughts—his descriptive thoughts particularly. As much as descriptive poetry resembles painting, it comes far short of the power which the latter art exerts in representing scenes as a whole. Take a pastoral poem, by way of making my meaning understood. A poet would describe the parts and personages separately—such as the wood,—the stream,—the flocks, and the pastoral lovers—but the painter can present them all at once, as a single idea, so to speak. How difficult, then, must it be for an author so to describe scenes, the like of which the reader may never have beheld, as to be fully appreciated by all. If he is sketching,—as did Thompson,—the customs and scenes of rural life, he will be understood fully by those alone who have enjoyed such scenes and practised such customs. Those who, in this case, had viewed the original, would be able best to decide upon the merits of the picture. A poet might rhyme forever about scenes which he had never looked upon, but he would utterly fail to satisfy one familiar with the same, that his portraitures were correct. So a reader, who had never viewed a river, or a waterfall, or a gloomy ravine amid rock-ribbed mountains, would scarcely be able fully to appreciate a description of the same. He might, indeed form an idea of the reality—but it would be only ideal after all. I have often thought of Byron’s exclamation in connection with the above train of reflections:
“Oh! there is sweetness in the mountain’s air,
Which bloated ease can never hope to share.”
He was probably among the hills of Portugal at the time, and, doubtless, felt what he wrote. I never realized the force of the thought as I did one summer morning, while seated in a piazza, a half mile or so from the North Mountain, in my native Virginia, with a beautiful, green and flowery meadow intervening. Just as I came to the stanza of “Childe Harold,” from which I have quoted, a delightful mountain-breeze swept over the plain. As it tossed my locks to and fro, and gamboled with the leaves of the volume before me, I felt indeed, that there was “sweetness in the mountain air.” Nothing could set forth that uncertainty of appreciation I have been dwelling upon, more clearly than such an incident. It is probable that the greatest city admirer of his lordship’s poetry, never noticed the full force of the idea which thus arrested my attention, but passed it unappreciated, in admiration of some sentiment, in the very same stanza, whose full import he could comprehend, while he entered into the feelings of the poetic traveller.
But the greatest difficulty with the “occasional” as well as shorter pieces of a volume of poems, is the difference between the circumstances under which they were severally penned, and those under which they are perused. One reads, in the self-same hour, the diversified productions of years. How, then, can a writer anticipate the appreciation of his sentiments? He has ceased to enter into his own peculiar, circumstance-generated emotions. How, therefore, may others take his views? To suppose an ability on the part of the critic, to do justice, then, to the earlier and less-studied morceaux, (or, as I have styled them above, the egotistical pieces of an author,) would be to suppose an utter impossibility—a sort of critical ubiquity. Coleridge felt the truth of what I have advanced,—as any one may learn from the preface of his “Juvenile Poems.” He therein expresses his apprehensions in the following language:—“I shall only add, that each of my readers will, I hope, remember that these poems, on various subjects, which he reads at one time, and under the influence of one set of feelings, were written at different times, and prompted by very different feelings; and, therefore, the inferiority of one poem to another, may, sometimes, be owing to the temper of mind in which he happens to peruse it.”
What shall we say, then? Shall an author abstain from publishing his shorter and occasional pieces, on account of the facts alluded to by Coleridge? By no means, I would say, though a consideration thereof may well deter the judicious writer from admitting into his volume every thing he may have penned. As to the dimensions of pieces, it may be more advisable, in some cases, to republish the shortest sonnets, and the like, relating to one’s own personal feelings and relations, than longer productions—at least they are likely to be more pleasing to the general reader. They are unquestionably useful, as throwing light upon points of a man’s private history with a force of illumination which no biographer could use, were he to attempt it—a something, by-the-bye, which seldom happens; indicating the probability, that we seldom read the man’s real biography, but merely a man’s—often an ideal man only.
As to the effect of fugitive and earlier poems, when republished, upon an author’s reputation—let them be appreciated or not, it matters little. His fame does not hang upon such “slender threads.” It is to his more elaborate productions that the public will look for evidences of genius. It is a fact that a poet’s reputation, generally speaking, depends upon the appreciation of some particular production. It is true, readers may differ in their assignment of merit—but the fact of non-agreement, as to the question of comparative merit, does not alter the principle. If each one comes to the conclusion that the poet has penned one poem of prime excellence, his name is safe—the residue are set down not as evidences of a want of genius, but of the neglect of a right and careful use of it. The conclusion is, in other words, that he could have written the others better, if he had made proper use of the talents with which he was endowed. Were an example needed, I might refer to Milton. When we think of him we never associate with his name any of his productions but “Paradise Lost.” He might have published in the same volume thousands of fugitive pieces, no better than those he did suffer to see the light, (and they are with few exceptions, poor enough, as the emanations of such a mind,) and yet his fame not suffer in the smallest degree—the names of Milton, and of that great poem, would still have descended as one and inseparable.
Omnia vincit amor.—Virg. Bucol.
When the low south wind
Breathes over the trees
With a murmur soft
As the sound of the seas;
And the calm cold moon
From her mystic height,
Like a sybil looks
On the voiceless night—
’Tis June, bright June!
When the brooks have voice
Like a seraph fair,
And the songs of birds
Fill the balmy air,
When the wild flowers bloom
In the wood and dell
And we feel as if lapt
In a magic spell—
’Tis June, bright June!
A. A. I.
LET ME REST IN THE LAND OF MY BIRTH.
Philadelphia, John F. Nunns, 184 Chesnut Street.
Farewell to the home of my Childhood,
Farewell to my cottage and vine;
I go to the land of the Stranger,
Where pleasures alone will be mine.
When Life’s fleeting journey is over,
And Earth again mingles with
I can rest in the land of the Stranger
As well as in that of my birth.
Yes, these were my feelings at parting,
But absence soon alter’d their tone;
The cold hand of Sickness came o’er me,
And I wept o’er my Sorrows alone.
No friend came around me to cheer me,
No parent to soften my grief;
Nor brother nor sister were near me,
And strangers could give no relief.
’Tis true that it matters but little,
Tho’ living the thought makes one pine,
Whatever befalls the poor relic,
When the spirit has flown from its shrine.
But oh! when life’s journey is over,
And earth again mingles with earth,
Lamented or not, still my wish is,
To rest in the land of my birth.
SPORTS AND PASTIMES.
We said, in our last, that no sport could be attained without good dogs. The first dog, and the very best for the sportsman, is the Pointer. All our pointers are, in some degree, of Spanish extraction; and such of them as have the most Spanish blood in their veins are unquestionably the best. The Spanish pointer is about twenty-one inches in height. He has a large head, is heavily made, broad-chested, stout-limbed, with a large dew-lap; his eyes are full, and widely apart, and his nose is broad; his tail is straight, short, and thick, and his ears large, pendulous, and fine; he should have a round-balled and not a flat foot.
“The most essential point about the dog,” says General Hanger, “is a good foot; for, without a good, firm foot, he can never hunt long. I never look at a dog which has a thin, flat, wide, and spread foot. As long as the ground is dry and hard, I always wash my dog’s feet with warm soap and water, and clean them well, particularly between the toes and balls of the feet; this comforts his feet, allays the heat, and promotes the circulation in the feet. In the more advanced period of the season, when the ground is very wet, then salt and water may be proper.”
Scarcely two pointers are to be seen so much alike, that a naturalist would pronounce them to belong to the same class of dogs, inasmuch as they are dissimilar in size, weight, and appearance. We recognise only two pointers—the Spaniard and the mongrel. Nearly all the pointers we see are, in fact, mongrels, although each may have more or less of the original Spanish blood. Such, however, is the force of nature, that a dog, having in him very little of the blood of the pointer, may prove a very serviceable dog to the shooter. We frequently meet with very good dogs—dogs deemed by their owners first-rate—which bear little resemblance, in point of shape and appearance, to the true pointer; some of these have the sharp nose of the fox, others the snubbed nose of the bull-dog; in short, there is every diversity in size and appearance from the greyhound to the pug. The excellence of such dogs must be attributed to judicious treatment, severe discipline, or having been constantly out with a good shot, or in company with highly-trained dogs. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that they are of a proper strain to breed from. Their offspring will be deformed, and will probably manifest some of the worst and more hidden qualities of the parents.
The attempt to lay down a written rule whereby to distinguish between a good and an indifferent pointer, would be futile. How much of the blood of the pointer a dog has in him, will be read in his countenance, rather than inferred from his general shape and appearance. There is an indescribable something in the countenance of a thorough-bred pointer, which a little habit of observation will enable the sportsman to detect with tolerable accuracy, so that he may judge of the capabilities of a dog, as a physiognomist will read at a glance a person’s disposition and ability in his countenance.
The instinct of pointing, we apprehend, is an indestructible principle in the blood of the pointer, which, however that blood may be mingled with inferior blood, will always, in some degree, manifest itself; and on this ground we build our theory, that the farther any dog is removed from the original Spanish pointer, the worse the dog is; and, consequently, that all attempts to cross the pointer with any other blood must necessarily deteriorate the breed. The greyhound is seldom or never crossed to give him additional fleetness, nor the hound to improve his nose; why then should the pointer be crossed with dogs which, in so far as the sports of the field are concerned, scarcely inherit one quality in common with him? Attempts, however, are constantly made to improve the pointer, by a cross with the blood-hound, fox-hound, Newfoundland dog, or mastiff, sometimes with a view of improving his appearance, and bringing him to some fancied standard of perfection; but, in reality, inducing a deformity. One of these imaginary standards of perfection is, that to one part thorough Spanish blood, the pointer should have in him an eighth of the fox-hound, and a sixteenth of the blood-hound. A cross will sometimes produce dogs which are, in some eyes, the beau idéal of beauty; but however handsome such dogs may be, they will necessarily possess some quality not belonging to the pointer. A thorough-bred pointer carries his head well up when ranging; he will not give tongue, nor has he much desire to chase footed game. The hound pointer may be sometimes detected by his coarse ears, by his tail being curled upwards, and being carried high, or by his rough coat. An occasional cross with the mastiff or Newfoundland dog, is said to increase the fineness of nose, but it is converting the pointer into a mere retriever. Another, and the main source of the unsightliness of sporting dogs, is the allowing an indiscriminate intercourse between pointers and setters. Good dogs may be thus obtained sometimes, but they are invariably mis-shapen; they have generally the head and brush tail of the setter, with the body of the pointer, and their coats are not sleek, and instead of standing at their point, they will crouch. When the sire is nearly thorough-bred, dogs of a superior description, but certainly not the best, are sometimes produced by the Newfoundland or some other not strictly a pointer. We are not willing to allow that the pointer is improved in any quality that renders him valuable to the sportsman, by a cross with the hound or any other sort of dog; though we cannot deny that the setter is materially improved in appearance by a cross with the Newfoundland, but what it gains in appearance it loses in other respects.
Breeding mongrels, especially crossing with hounds, has given the gamekeepers and dog-breakers an infinity of trouble, which might have been avoided by keeping the blood pure. The Spanish pointer seldom requires the whip; the hound pointer has never enough of it. One of the main sources of the sportsman’s pleasure is to see the dogs point well.
Dogs should be constantly shot over during the season by a successful shot, and exercised during the shooting recess by some person who understands well the management of them, otherwise they will fall off in value—the half-bred ones will become unmanageable, and even the thorough-bred ones will acquire disorderly habits.
We look upon the setter to be an inferior kind of pointer perhaps; originally a cross between the pointer and the spaniel, or some such dog as the Newfoundland, for it has some qualities in common with each. The pointer has the finer nose, and is more staunch than the setter; his action is much finer. Pointers are averse to water; setters delight in it. The setter will face briars and bushes better than the pointer, which is in this respect a tender dog; and for this reason the setter is preferred to the pointer for cover-shooting. Besides, his being not so staunch as the pointer is an additional advantage in heavy covers. The sportsman who shoots over well-broken pointers, frequently passes game in woods, while the pointers, which are not seen by him, are at their point; the setter, being more impatient to run in, affords the shooter many shots in cover, which the over-staunch pointer would not. The pointer is always to be preferred on open grounds. In hot weather the pointer will endure more fatigue than the setter.
The Spaniel, Cock Dog, or Springer.—Spaniels are the best dogs for beating covers, provided they can be kept near the gun. They are generally expected to give tongue when game is flushed: some Spaniels will give notice of game before it rises, which is very well where woodcocks only are expected to be found. Woodcock and pheasant shooting are often combined; when that is the case, a noisy cry is not desirable: pheasant shooting cannot be conducted too quietly, where covers are limited. Wherever the underwood is so thick that the shooter cannot keep his eye on the dogs, spaniels are to be preferred to pointers or setters, whatever species of game the shooter may be in pursuit of. When spaniels are brought to such a state of discipline as to be serviceable in an open country, they will require no further tutoring to fit them for the woods, unless it be that the eye of their master not being always on them, they begin to ramble. The efficiency of the training of spaniels for cover-shooting, depends, for the most part, on their keeping near the shooter; for if they riot, they are the worst dogs he can hunt.
There is much less trouble in making a spaniel steady than at first thought may be imagined. A puppy eight months old, introduced among three or four well-broken dogs, is easily taught his business. The breaker should use him to a cord of twenty yards length or so, before he goes into the field, and then take him out with the pack. Many a young dog is quiet and obedient from the first; another is shy, and stares and runs about as much at the rising of the birds as the report of the gun. Shortly he gets over this, and takes a part in the sport—he then begins to chase, but finding he is not followed after little birds or game, he returns; and should he not, and commence hunting out of shot, which is very likely, he must be called in, and flogged or rated, as his temper calls for. With care and patience, he will soon “pack up” with the others, especially if that term is used when the dogs are dividing; and if not, he may be checked by treading on the cord, and rated or beaten as his fault requires. Spaniels will, in general, stand more whipping than other dogs, but care must be taken not to be lavish or severe with it at first, or the dog becomes cowed, and instead of hunting will sneak along at heel.
The Retriever.—The business of the retriever is to find lost game. Newfoundland dogs are the best for the purpose. They should have a remarkably fine sense of smelling, or they will be of little use in tracing a wounded pheasant, or other game, through a thick cover, where many birds have been running about. A good retriever will follow the bird on whose track he is first put, as a blood-hound will that of a human being or deer. He should be taught to bring his game, or in many instances his finding a wounded bird would be of no advantage to the shooter.
Kennel Treatment.—The best regular food for sporting dogs is oatmeal well boiled, and flesh, which may be either boiled with the meal or given raw. In hot weather, dogs should not have either oatmeal or flesh in a raw state, as they are heating. Potatoes boiled are good summer food, and an excellent occasional variety in winter, but they should be cleaned before being boiled, and well dried after, or they will produce disease. Roasted potatoes are equally good, if not better. The best food to bring dogs into condition, and to preserve their wind in hot weather, is sago boiled to a jelly, half a pound of which may be given to each dog daily, in addition to potatoes or other light food; a little flesh meat, or a few bones, being allowed every alternate day. Dogs should have whey or buttermilk two or three times a week during summer, when it can be procured, or in lieu thereof, should have a table-spoonful of flour of sulphur once a fortnight. To bring a dog into condition for the season, we would give him a very large table-spoonful of sulphur about a fortnight before the 12th of August, and two days after giving him that, a full table-spoonful of syrup of buckthorn should be administered, and afterwards twice repeated at intervals of three days, the dog being fed on the sago diet the while. There should always be fresh water within reach. Dogs should never be chained up.
REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.
“Critical and Miscellaneous Essays.” By T. Babington Macaulay. Vol. 3d. Carey & Hart: Philadelphia.
Macaulay has obtained a reputation which, although deservedly great, is yet in a remarkable measure undeserved. The few who regard him merely as a terse, forcible and logical writer, full of thought, and abounding in original views often sagacious and never otherwise than admirably expressed—appear to us precisely in the right. The many who look upon him as not only all this, but as a comprehensive and profound thinker, little prone to error, err essentially themselves. The source of the general mistake lies in a very singular consideration—yet in one upon which we do not remember ever to have heard a word of comment. We allude to a tendency in the public mind towards logic for logic’s sake—a liability to confound the vehicle with the conveyed—an aptitude to be so dazzled by the luminousness with which an idea is set forth, as to mistake it for the luminousness of the idea itself. The error is one exactly analogous with that which leads the immature poet to think himself sublime wherever he is obscure, because obscurity is a source of the sublime—thus confounding obscurity of expression with the expression of obscurity. In the case of Macaulay—and we may say, en passant, of our own Channing—we assent to what he says, too often because we so very clearly understand what it is that he intends to say. Comprehending vividly the points and the sequence of his argument, we fancy that we are concurring in the argument itself. It is not every mind which is at once able to analyze the satisfaction it receives from such Essays as we see here. If it were merely beauty of style for which they were distinguished—if they were remarkable only for rhetorical flourishes—we would not be apt to estimate these flourishes at more than their due value. We would not agree with the doctrines of the essayist on account of the elegance with which they were urged. On the contrary, we would be inclined to disbelief. But when all ornament save that of simplicity is disclaimed—when we are attacked by precision of language, by perfect accuracy of expression, by directness and singleness of thought, and above all by a logic the most rigorously close and consequential—it is hardly a matter for wonder that nine of us out of ten are content to rest in the gratification thus received as in the gratification of absolute truth.
Of the terseness and simple vigor of Macaulay’s style it is unnecessary to point out instances. Every one will acknowledge his merits on this score. His exceeding closeness of logic, however, is more especially remarkable. With this he suffers nothing to interfere. Here, for example, is a sentence in which, to preserve entire the chain of his argument—to leave no minute gap which the reader might have to fill up with thought—he runs into most unusual tautology.
“The books and traditions of a sect may contain, mingled with propositions strictly theological, other propositions, purporting to rest on the same authority, which relate to physics. If new discoveries should throw discredit on the physical propositions, the theological propositions, unless they can be separated from the physical propositions, will share in their discredit.”
These things are very well in their way; but it is indeed questionable whether they do not appertain rather to the trickery of thought’s vehicle, than to thought itself—rather to reason’s shadow than to reason. Truth, for truth’s sake, is seldom so enforced. It is scarcely too much to say that the style of the profound thinker is never closely logical. Here we might instance George Combe—than whom a more candid reasoner never, perhaps, wrote or spoke—than whom a more complete antipodes to Babington Macaulay there certainly never existed. The former reasons to discover the true. The latter argues to convince the world, and, in arguing, not unfrequently surprises himself into conviction. What Combe appear to Macaulay it would be a difficult thing to say. What Macaulay is thought of by Combe we can understand very well. The man who looks at an argument in its details alone, will not fail to be misled by the one; while he who keeps steadily in view the generality of a thesis will always at least approximate the truth under guidance of the other.
Macaulay’s tendency—and the tendency of mere logic in general—to concentrate force upon minutiæ, at the expense of a subject as a whole, is well instanced in an article (in the volume now before us) on Ranke’s History of the Popes. This article is called a review—possibly because it is anything else—as lucus is lucus a non lucendo. In fact it is nothing more than a beautifully written treatise on the main theme of Ranke himself; the whole matter of the treatise being deduced from the History. In the way of criticism there is nothing worth the name. The strength of the essayist is put forth to account for the progress of Romanism by maintaining that divinity is not a progressive science. The enigmas, says he in substance, which perplex the natural theologian are the same in all ages, while the Bible, where alone we are to seek revealed truth, has always been what it is.
The manner in which these two propositions are set forth, is a model for the logician and for the student of belles lettres—yet the error into which the essayist has rushed headlong, is egregious. He attempts to deceive his readers, or has deceived himself, by confounding the nature of that proof from which we reason of the concerns of earth, considered as man’s habitation, and the nature of that evidence from which we reason of the same earth regarded as a unit of that vast whole, the universe. In the former case the data being palpable, the proof is direct: in the latter it is purely analogical. Were the indications we derive from science, of the nature and designs of Deity, and thence, by inference, of man’s destiny—were these indications proof direct, no advance in science would strengthen them—for, as our author truly observes, “nothing could be added to the force of the argument which the mind finds in every beast, bird, or flower”—but as these indications are rigidly analogical, every step in human knowledge—every astronomical discovery, for instance—throws additional light upon the august subject, by extending the range of analogy. That we know no more to-day of the nature of Deity—of its purposes—and thus of man himself—than we did even a dozen years ago—is a proposition disgracefully absurd; and of this any astronomer could assure Mr. Macaulay. Indeed, to our own mind, the only irrefutable argument in support of the soul’s immortality—or, rather, the only conclusive proof of man’s alternate dissolution and re-juvenescence ad infinitum—is to be found in analogies deduced from the modern established theory of the nebular cosmogony. Mr. Macaulay, in short, has forgotten what he frequently forgets, or neglects,—the very gist of his subject. He has forgotten that analogical evidence cannot, at all times, be discoursed of as if identical with proof direct. Throughout the whole of his treatise he has made no distinction whatever.
This third volume completes, we believe, the miscellaneous writings of its author.
This cosmogony demonstrates that all existing bodies in the universe are formed of a nebular matter, a rare ethereal medium, pervading space—shows the mode and laws of formation—and proves that all things are in a perpetual state of progress—that nothing in nature is perfected.
“Corse de Leon: or the Brigand.” A Romance. By G. P. R. James. 2 vols. Harper & Brothers.
Bernard de Rohan and Isabel de Brienne are betrothed to each other in childhood, but the father of the latter dying, and her mother marrying again, the union of the two lovers is opposed by the father-in-law, the Lord of Masseran, who has another husband in view for her, the Count de Meyrand. To escape his persecutions, the heroine elopes, and is married in a private chapel to De Rohan; but just as the ceremony has closed, the pair are surprised by Masseran and Meynard, who fling the hero into a dungeon, and bear off Isabel. The young wife manages to escape, however, and reaches Paris to throw herself on the protection of the King, Henry the Second. Here she learns that her husband, whom the monarch had ordered to be freed, has perished in a conflagration of Masseran’s castle; and she determines to take the veil. In vain the king endeavors to persuade her to wait. She is inflexible, until surprised by the re-appearance of de Rohan, who, instead of perishing as supposed, has been rescued, unknown, by Corse de Leon, a stern, wild, yet withal, generous sort of a brigand, with whom he had become accidentally acquainted on the frontiers of Savoy. As the stolen marriage of the lovers has been revoked by a royal edict, it is necessary that the ceremony should be repeated. A week hence is named for the wedding, but before that time arrives de Rohan not only fights—unavoidably of course—with his rival, which the monarch has forbidden, but is accused by Masseran of the murder of Isabel’s brother in a remote province of France. De Rohan is tried, found guilty and condemned to die; but on the eve of execution is rescued by his good genius, the brigand. He flies his country, and in disguise joins the army in Italy, where he greatly distinguishes himself. Finally, he storms and carries a castle, by the assistance of Corse de Leon, which Meyrand, now an outlaw, is holding out against France; at the same time rescuing his long lost bride from the clutches of the count, into which she had fallen by the sack of a neighboring abbey. In the dungeon of the captured castle Isabel’s brother is discovered, he having been confined there by Masseran, prior to charging de Rohan with his murder. After a little farther bye-play, which only spoils the work, and which we shall not notice, the lovers are united, and thenceforth “all goes merry as a marriage bell.”
This is the outline of the plot—well enough in its way; but partaking largely of the common-place, and marred by the conclusion, which we have omitted, and which was introduced only for the purpose of introducing the famous death of Henry the Second, at a tournament.
The characters, however, are still more common-place. De Rohan and Isabel are like all James’ lovers, mere nothings—Father Welland and Corse de Leon are the beneficent spirits, and Meyrand and Masseran are the evil geniuses, of the novel. The other characters are lifeless, common, and uncharacteristic. They make no impression, and you almost forget their names. There is no originality in any of them, and save a passage of fine writing here and there, nothing to be praised in the book. Corse de Leon, the principal character, talks philosophy like Bulwer’s heroes, and is altogether a plagiarism from that bombastic, unnatural, cut-throat school,—besides, he possesses a universality of knowledge, combined with a commensurable power, which, although they get the hero very conveniently out of scrapes, belie all nature. In short, this is but a readable novel, and a mere repetition of the author’s former works.
“Insubordination; An American Story of Real Life.” By the Author of the “Subordinate.” One Volume. Baltimore; Knight & Colman.
The author of the “Subordinate” is Mr. T. S. Arthur, of Baltimore, formerly one of the editors of the “Visiter and Athenæum,” and now, we believe, connected with “The Budget,” a new monthly journal of that city—with the literature of which, generally, he has been more or less identified for many years past.
“The Subordinate” we have not had the pleasure of reading. The present book, “Insubordination,” is excellently written in its way; although we must be pardoned for saying that the way itself is not of a high order of excellence. It is all well enough to justify works of this class by hyper-democratic allusions to the “moral dignity” of low life, &c. &c.—but we cannot understand why a gentleman should feel or affect a penchant for vulgarity; nor can we comprehend the “moral dignity” of a dissertation upon bed-bugs: for the opening part of “Insubordination” is, if anything, a treatise on these peculiar animalculæ.
Some portions of the book are worthy of the author’s ability, which it would rejoice us to see more profitably occupied. For example, a passage where Jimmy, an ill-treated orphan, relates to the only friend he has ever found, some of the poignant sorrows of his childhood, embodies a fine theme, handled in a manner which has seldom been excelled. Its pathos is exquisite. The morality of the story is no doubt good; but the reasoning by which it is urged is decrepid, and far too pertinaciously thrust into the reader’s face at every page. The mode in which all the characters are reformed, one after the other, belongs rather to the desirable than to the credible. The style of the narrative is easy and truthful. We dare say the work will prove popular in a certain sense; but, upon the whole, we do not like it.
“Marathon, and Other Poems.” By Pliny Earle, M. D. Henry Perkins, Philadelphia.
We have long had a very high opinion of the talents of Doctor Earle; and it gives us sincere pleasure to see his poems in book form. The publication will place him at once in the front rank of our bards. His qualities are all of a sterling character—a high imagination, delighting in lofty themes—a rigorous simplicity, disdaining verbiage and meretricious ornament—a thorough knowledge of the proprieties of metre—and an ear nicely attuned to its delicacies. In addition, he feels as a man, and thinks and writes as a scholar. His general manner, puts us much in mind of Halleck. “Marathon,” the longest poem in the volume before us, is fully equal to the “Bozzaris” of that writer; although we confess that between the two poems there exists a similarity in tone and construction which we would rather not have observed.
In the present number of our Magazine will be found a very beautiful composition by the author of “Marathon.” It exhibits all the rare beauties of its author.
“Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West.” U. P. James; Cincinnati.
This handsomely printed volume fills a long-regretted hiatus in our poetical literature, and we are much indebted to Mr. James the publisher; and to Mr. William D. Gallagher, who has superintended the compilation. We are told, in the Preface by Mr. G. that the book “is not sent forth as by any means the whole of the ‘Poetical Literature of the West,’ but that it is believed it will represent its character pretty faithfully, as it certainly contains samples of its greatest excellences, its mediocre qualities, and its worst defects.” It may be questioned, indeed, how far we are to thank the editor for troubling us with the “defects,” or, what in poesy is still worse, with the “mediocre qualities” of any literature whatever. It is no apology to say that the design was to represent “character”—for who cares for the character of that man or of that poem which has no character at all?
By these observations we mean merely to insinuate, as delicately as possible, that Mr. Gallagher has admitted into this volume a great deal of trash with which the public could well have dispensed. On the other hand we recognise many poems of a high order of excellence; among which we may mention an “Ode to the Press” by G. G. Foster, of the St. Louis Pennant; several sweet pieces by our friend F. W. Thomas, of “Clinton Bradshaw” memory; “The Flight of Years” by George D. Prentice; “To the Star Lyra,” by William Wallace; and the “Miami Woods,” by Mr. Gallagher.
We have spoken of this latter gentleman as the editor of the volume—but presume that in so speaking we have been in error. It is probable that, the volume having been compiled by some other hand, he was requested by Mr. James to write the Preface merely. We are forced into this conclusion by observing that the poems of William D. Gallagher occupy more room in the book than those of any other author, and that the “Miami Woods” just mentioned—lines written by himself—form the opening article of the work. We cannot believe that Mr. G. would have been so wanting in modesty as to perpetrate these improprieties as editor of the “Poetical Literature of the West.”
“The Quadroone.” A Novel. By the Author of “Lafitte,” &c. Harper & Brothers, New York.
We see no good reason for differing with that general sentence of condemnation which has been pronounced upon this book, both at home and abroad—and less for attempting anything in the way of an extended review of its contents. This was our design upon hearing the novel announced; but an inspection of its pages assures us that the labor would be misplaced. Nothing that we could say—had we even the disposition to say it—would convince any sensible man that “The Quadroone” is not a very bad book—such a book as Professor Ingraham (for whom we have a high personal respect) ought to be ashamed of. We are ashamed of it.
Table of Contents has been added for reader convenience. Archaic spellings and hyphenation have been retained. Obvious punctuation and typesetting errors have been corrected without note. A cover was been created for this ebook and is placed in the public domain.
[End of Graham’s Magazine, Vol. XVIII, No. 6, June 1841, George R. Graham, Editor]#ENGLISH