Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

That ever filled Renown's obstreperous trump
Fades in the lapse of ages, and expires.
Who lies inhumed in the terrific gloom
Of the gigantic pyramid? or who
Reared its huge walls? Oblivion laughs, and says,
The prey is mine.—They sleep, and never more
Their names shall strike upon the ear of man,
Their memory burst its fetters.

LESSON CXXVII.

The Storm.-ANONYMOUS.

The sun went down in beauty; not a cloud
Darkened its radiance,-yet there might be seen
A few fantastic vapors scattered o’er
The face of the blue heavens; some fair and slight
As the pure lawn that shields the maiden's breast,
Some shone like silver, -some did stream afar,
Faint and dispersed, like the Pale Horse's mane,
Which Death shall stride hereafter, , --some were glittering
Like dolphin's scales, touched out with varying hues
Of beautiful light-outvying some the rose,
And some the violet, yellow, white, and blue,
Scarlet, and purpling red. One small lone ship
Was seen with outstretched sails, keeping its way
In quiet o’er the deep; all nature seemed
Fond of tranquillity; the glassy sea
Scarce rippled--the halcyon slept upon the wave;
The winds were all at rest; and in the east
The crescent Moon—then seen imperfectly-
Came onwards, with the vesper star, to see
A summer day's decline.

The sun went down in beauty; but the eyes
Of ancient seamen trembled, when they saw
A small black ominous spot far in the distance:
It spread, and spread-larger and dark—and came
O’ershadowing the skies: the ocean rose;
The gathering waves grew large, and broke in hoarse
And hollow sounds; the mighty winds awoke,
And screamed and whistled through the cordage; birds
That seemed to have no home, flocked there in terror,

And sat with quivering plumage on the mast:
Flashes were seen, and distant sounds were heard
Presages of a storm.

The sun went down in beauty; but the skies Were wildly changed. It was a dreadful nightNo moon was seen, in all the heavens, to aid Or cheer the lone and sea-beat mariner; Planet nor guiding star broke through the gloom; But the blue lightnings glared along the waters, As if the fiend had fired its torch to light Some wretches to their graves. The tempeșt winds Raving came next, and, in deep hollow sounds, Like those the spirits of the dead do use, When they would speak their evil prophecies, Muttered of death to come; then came the thunder, Deepening and crashing as 't would rend the world Or, as the Deity passed aloft in anger, And spoke to man-despair! The ship was tossed, And now stood poised upon the curling billows, And now 'midst deep and watery chasms—that yawned As 't were in hunger-sank. Behind there came Mountains of moving water, with a rush And sound of gathering power, that did appal The heart to look on: terrible cries were heard; Sounds of despair-some like a mother's anguishSome of intemperate, dark, and dissolute joyMusic and horrid mirth—but unallied To joy; and madness might be heard amidst The pauses of the storm; and when the glare Was strong, rude savage men were seen to dance In frantic exultation on the deck, Though all was hopeless. Hark! the ship has struck, And the forked lightning seeks the arsenal! "Tis fired—and mirth and madness are no more! Midst columned smoke, deep red, the fragments fly In fierce confusion-splinters and scorched limbs, And burning masts, and showers of gold, --torn from The heart that hugged it even till death. Thus doth Sicilian Etna in her angry moods, Or Hecla 'mid her wilderness of snows, Shoot up its burning entrails, with a sound Louder than e'er the Titans uttered from Their subterranean caves, when Jove enchained

Them, daring and rebellious. The black skies,
Shocked at the excess of light, returned the sound
In frightful echoes, -as if an alarm
Had spread through all the elemeats: then came
A horrid silence-deep-unnatural—like
The quiet of the grave.

LESSON CXXVIII.

Twilight.-Halleck. There is an evening twilight of the heart,

When its wild passion-waves are lulled to rest, And the eye sees life's fairy scenes depart,

As fades the day-beam in the rosy west. 'T is with a nameless feeling of regret

We gaze upon them as they melt away, And fondly would we bid them linger yet,

But Hope is round us with her angel lay, Hailing afar some happier moonlight hour; Dear are her whispers still, though lost their early power. In youth the cheek was crimsoned with her glow;

Her smile was loveliest then; her matin song Was heaven's own music, and the note of wo

Was all unheard her sunny bowers among. Life's little world of bliss was newly horn;

We knew not, cared not, it was born to die.
Flushed with the cool breeze and the dews of morn,

With dancing heart we gazed on the pure sky,
And mocked the passing clouds that dimmed its blue,
Like our own sorrows then-as fieeting and as few.
And manhood felt her sway too,-on the eye,

Half realized, her early dreams burst bright,
Her promised bower of happiness seemed nigh,

Its days of joy, its vigils of delight;
And though at times might lower the thunder storm,

And the red lightnings threaten, still the air
Was balmy with her breath, and her loved form,

The rainbow of the heart, was hovering there. "T is in life's noontide she is nearest seen, Her wreath the summer flower, her robe of summer green

But though less dazzling in her twilight dress,

There's more of heaven's pure beam about her now; That angel-smile of tranquil loveliness,

Which the heart worships, glowing on her brow; That smile shall brighten the dim evening star

That points our destined tomb, nor e'er depart,
Till the faint light of life is fled afar,

And hushed the last deep beating of the heart;
The meteor-bearer of our parting breath,
A moon-beam in the midnight cloud of death.

LESSON CXXIX.

Account of the Plague in London.—Galt. In its malignancy it engrossed the ill of all other maladies, and made doctors despicable. Of a potency equal to Death, it possessed itself of all his armories, and was itself the death of every mortal distemper. The touch, yea the very sight of the infected was deadly; and its signs were so sudden, that families seated in happiness at their meals have seen the plague-spot begin to redden, and have widely scattered themselves forever.

The cement of society was dissolved by it. Mothers, when they saw the sign of the infection on the babes at their breast, cast them from them with abhorrence.

Wild places were sought for shelter;---some went into ships, and anchored themselves afar off on the waters. But the angel that was pouring the vial had a foot on the sea as well as on the dry land. No place was so wild that the plague did not visit, -none so secret that the quick-sighted pestilence did not discover,-none could fly that it did not overtake.

It was as if Heaven had repented the making of mankind, and was shovelling them all into the sepulchre. Justice was forgotten, and her courts deserted: the terrified jailors fled from the felons that were in fetters,—the innocent and the guilty leagued themselves together, and kept within their prisons for safety,—the grass grew in the marketplaces,—the cattle went moaning up and down the fields, wondering what had become of their keepers,—the rooks and the ravens came into the towns, and built their nests in the mute belfries,-silence was universal, save when some infected wretch was seen clamoring at a window.

For a time all commerce was in coffins and shrouds; but even that ended. Shrift there was none; churches and chapels were open, but neither priest nor penitent entered, all went to the charnel-house. The sexton and the physician were cast into the same deep and wide grave, the testator and his heirs and executors, were hurled from the same cart into the same hole together. Fires became extinguished, as if its element too had expired,—the seams of the sailorless ships yawned to the sun.

Though doors were open and coffers unwatched, there was no theft; all offences ceased, and no crime but the universal wo of the pestilence was heard of among men. The wells overflowed, and the conduits ran to waste;—the dogs banded themselves together, having lost their masters, and ran howling over all the land;-horses perished of famine in their stalls;-old friends but looked at one another when they met, keeping themselves far aloof;—creditors claimed no debts, and courtiers performed their promises; -Jittle children went wandering up and down, and numbers were seen dead in all corners. Nor was it only in England that the plague so raged, it travelled over a third part of the whole earth, like the shadow of an eclipse, as if some dreadful thing had been interposed between the world and the sun-source of life.

LESSON CXXX.

Rural Occupations favorable to Devotion.-BUCKMINSTER.

No situation in life is so favorable to established habits of virtue, and to powerful sentiments of devotion, as a residence in the country and rural occupations. I am not speaking of a condition of peasantry, (of which in this country we know little,) who are mere vassals of an absent lord, or the hired laborers of an intendant, and who are therefore interested in nothing but the regular receipt of their daily wages; but I refer to the honorable character of an owner of the soil, whose comforts, whose weight in the community, and whose very existence, depend upon

his personal labors, and the regular returns of the abundance from the soil which he cultivates.

No man, one would think, would feel so sensibly his im

« ForrigeFortsæt »