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One arm stretched out as over-bold,
Here tall grass bowed its tasseled head
XLVL—RUINS OF JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT.
I HAVE taken a pleasant ride of sixty miles down the river, in order to see the remains of the first English settlement in Virginia. The site is a very handsome one. The river is three miles broad, and on the opposite shore the country presents a fine range of bold and beautiful hills. But I find no vestiges of the ancient town, except the ruins of a church-steeple and a disordered group of old tombstones.
2. The ruin of the steeple is about thirty feet high, and mantled to its very summit with ivy. It is difficult to look at this venerable object, surrounded as it is with these awful proofs of the mortality of man, without exclaiming, in the pathetic solemnity of our Shakspeare,—
"The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
3. Whence arise the irrepressible reverence and tender affection with which I look at this broken steeple? Is it that my soul, by a secret, subtile process, invests the mouldering ruin with her own powers—imagines it a fellowbeing—a venerable old man, a Nestor, or an Ossian, who has witnessed and survived the ravages of successive generations, the companions of his youth and of his maturity, and now mourns his own solitary and desolate condition, and hails their spirits in every passing cloud? Whatever may be the cause, as I look at it I feel my soul drawn forward, as by the cords of gentlest sympathy, and involuntarily open my lips to offer consolation to the drooping pile.
4. Where is the busy, bustling crowd which landed here two hundred years ago? Where is Smith, that pink of gallantry, that flower of chivalry? I fancy that I can see their first slow and cautious approach to the shore; their keen and vigilant eyes, piercing the forest in every direction, to detect the lurking Indian, with his tomahawk, bow, and arrow.
5. What an enterprise! how full of the most fearful perils! and yet how entirely profitless to the daring men who personally undertook and achieved it! Through what a series of the most spirit-chilling hardships had they to toil! how often did they cast their eyes to England in vain! and with what delusive hopes, day after day, did the little famished crew strain their sight to catch the white sail of comfort and relief! But, day after day, the sun set, and darkness covered the earth; yet no sail of comfort or relief came.
6. How often, in the pangs of hunger, sickness, solitude, and disconsolation, did they think of London; her shops, her markets groaning under the weight of plenty; her streets swarming with gilded coaches, bustling hacks, with crowds of lords, dukes, and commons, with healthy, busy, contented faces of every description; and among them none more healthy or more contented than those of their ungrateful and improvident directors!
7. But now—where are they all? the little famished colony which landed here, and the many-colored crowd of London—where are they? Gone where there is no distinction—consigned to the common earth. Another generation succeeded them; which, just as busy and as bustling as that which fell before it, has sunk down into the same nothingness. Another and yet another billow has rolled on, each emulating its predecessor in height; towering for its moment, and curling its foaming honors to the clouds; then roaring, breaking, and perishing on the same shore.
XLVIL—THE QUAKER MARTYRS.
Giles Corey, a Quaker accused of witchcraft, sentenced, with his wile, to be crushed to death by means of heavy weights; Richard Gardner, a sea-captain; Jailer; Sheriff.
Scene—Salem Jail, 1692.
Enter the Jailer, followed by Richard Gardner.
Jailer. Here's a seafaring man, one Richard Gardner, A friend of yours, who asks to speak with you.
Corey. I 'm glad to see you, ay, right glad to see you.
Gardner. And I most sorely grieved to see you thus.
Corey. Of all the friends I had in happier days,
Familiar with the cries of drowning men,
With fire, and wreck, and foundering ships at sea!
Gardner. Ah, I have never known a wreck like yours! Would I could save you!
Corey. Do not speak of that.
It is too late. I am resolved to die.
Gardner. Why would you die who have so much to live for ? Your daughters, and
Corey. You cannot say the word.
My daughters have gone from me. They are married;
Gardner. Confess and live.
Corey. That's what they said who came here yesterday To lay a heavy weight upon my conscience, By telling me that I was driven forth As an unworthy member of the church.
Gardner. It is an awful death.
Corey. 'Tis but to drown,
And have the weight of all the seas upon you.
Gardner. Say something; say enough to fend off death Till this tornado of fanaticism Blows itself out. Let me come in between you And your severer self, with my plain sense; Do not be obstinate.
Corey. . . I will not plead.
If I deny, I am condemned already
Gardner (aside). Ah, what a noble character is this!
Corey. I pray you do not urge me to do that
Were not the truth; nay, if it did but swerve
A hair's breadth from the truth, I would not say it!
Gardner (aside). How mean I seem beside a man like this!
Corey. As for my wife, my Martha and my martyr,—
Sheriff (without). Giles Corey! Come! The hour has struck!
Corey. I come!
Here is my body; ye may torture it,
H. W. Longfellow.
XLVIIL—LEARNING BY HEART.
TILL he has fairly tried it, I suspect a reader does not know how much he would gain from committing to memory passages of real excellence; precisely because he does not know how much he overlooks in merely reading. Learn one true poem by heart, and see if you do not find it so. Beauty after beauty will reveal itself, in chosen phrase, or happy music, or noble suggestion otherwise undreamed of. It is like looking at one of Nature's wonders through a microscope.
2. Again, how much in such a poem that you really did feel admirable and lovely on a first reading, passes away, if you do not give it a further and much better reading!— passes away utterly, like a sweet sound, or an image on the lake, which the first breath of wind dispels. If you could only fix that image, as the photographers do theirs, so beautifully, so perfectly! And you can do so 1 Learn it by heart, and it is yours forever!
3. Poems and noble extracts, whether of verse or prose, once so reduced into possession and rendered truly our