« ПредишнаНапред »
float past the desolate coasts of Newfoundland. Already the summer sun makes sad havoc on their strength, melting their lofty heights; but each night's frost binds up what is left, and still on, on glides the great mass, slowly, solemnly. You cannot perceive that it stirs; the greatest storm does not rock it, the keenest eye cannot discover a motion; but moment by moment, day by day, it passes to the south, where it wastes away, and vanishes at last.
In June and July they are most numerous in these seas, and there is often much danger from their neighbourhood in the dark moonless nights; but the thermometer, if consulted, will always indicate their approach ; it fell eight degrees when we neared the iceberg which I have now described, and the cold was sensibly felt.
ANONYMOUS St. Paul's.—St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the great
masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, stands upon an
elevation to the north of the Thames. Polar Sea.—The sea that lies round the Poles ; but, when
not otherwise distinguished, it is always employed to designate the North Polar Sea. Newfoundland. -An Island in the Atlantic, belonging to
British North America, from which it is separated by the Straits of Belle Isle and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, first discovered by Sebastian Cabot in 1497.
THE CAVE OF DAHRA. [DOUGLAS JERROLD, dramatist, novelist, and journalist, born
3rd January, 1803, died 8th June, 1857. He was one of the chief early contributors to Punch. Our extract is taken
from a magazine which he edited under his own name.] Some three centuries ago two Highland clans urged fierce warfare. They lived by rapine. They held their glens by the tenure of cumbrous broadswords and rude bows and arrows. They looked at each other as each other's natural enemies, and the many gray cairns, which dotted with dim specks their brown moorland, told each its tale of battle lost and won; when hunting parties met and shed their own instead of the wild deer's blood.
These clans were cruel aud vindictive, for they were densely ignorant. Pent up in their rocks, and surrounded by their lochs and torrents, they were secluded from the world. No softening influence reached them. They had no commerce to civilise, no peaceful industry to employ them. They were hunters, and fishermen, and warriors-just as are the savages of North America, and the rude inhabitants of New Zealand. Only the Scotch barbarians used the dirk for the scalping-knife, and the Lochaber axe was their tomahawk.
The principal stronghold of one of the contending tribes was a little island of the Hebridean group ;-a barren, rocky spot, girt by eternal surf. Here their women and children were bestowed, and thither one mild winter's day resorted the galleys of their enemies. Their intention was of course to plunder, burn, kill. They did plunder and burn the huts they found on shore, but they found no human beings to massacre. The island appeared deserted, desolate, as though never trodden by man. The invaders ransacked it well, threaded its every glen, scoured its every ravine, but all was solitary and desert. Baulked of their victims, they prepared to leave the place, when a sharp pair of eyes espied, by the uncertain light of a winter's dawn, the figure of a man, cautiously moving over the rocks. A shout announced the discovery, and the islander disappeared. But the secret had been betrayed. The invaded had hidden themselves in their island, not deserted it. The assailants set themselves with awakened hope to the search. This time it was not a vain
Snow had fallen during the previous night, and the footsteps of the solitary man (whose imprudence had betrayed his clan) were easily distinguished. The
Highlanders exultingly followed up the trail. The fugitive heard their shouts behind him, and practised every trick he might to deceive his pursuers; but the sleuth-hounds have not truer noses for blood than had his hereditary enemies. · So they tracked him to the general hiding-place.
It was a curious natural cavern :- the entrance through clefts and chinks of riven rock, overgrown with the furzy shrubs and dark fern which constitute the principal vegetation of these barren islands. Within were collected the women and children of the clan, with a few of the men-principally the old and infirm. The secret cave was long a secure and unsuspected hiding-place ; but they were the last refugees who ever sought its shelter. With shouts of triumph and exulting wrath, the assailants gathered wood and sea-weed, and the dried heath, and piled it round the entrance to the cavern.—Those within maintained the silence of despair. In a short space, a huge bonfire burned at the cavern's mouth, and the scorching heat and stifling smoke rolled in upon its occupants. Then rose the dismal wail of their misery. Over the crackling and roaring of the fire-over their yelling hurrahs-over the triumphant screams of their pibrochs, —the murderers heard the cries of the stifling women, the clamour of the dying wretches—fighting desperately, as it seemed, with each other, or struggling to burst through the fiery barrier which kept them from the cool fresh air, One by one these sounds ceased, the blaze sank :-died away. It had done its workno living creature remained within the rock. There was a clan less in the Highlands. The invaders sailed away in triumph, leaving the dead unburied as they lay. They never were buried. The island was deemed accursedhaunted by the spirits of those who met their fate there. And often during the winter's storms, and sometimes even whe the summer sea and sky were alike tranquil, the western fishermen said they heard low wailings and sharp piercing shrieks,ghastly and unearthly,—come from the deserted island. In process of time these superstitious notions died away.
Now the island is inhabited ; but the evidences of the truth of the legend are still in being; and many a summer tourist has seen the bones whitening in the sand, which lie in wreaths in the celebrated cave of Uig.
And now there is another cave in the world with a similar legend.–Future travellers, in future times, will often toil up the hot ridges of the Atlas Mountains, to see the cavern of Dahra, where a whole tribe of Arabs were foully murdered :—and how? Were they halfnaked savages, in deadly feud with another tribe as barbarous as themselves ? Were the murderers some nameless African clan, obscure in the world's history as those they put to death? Was the whole catastrophe one of those which inevitably must occur when savage wars against savage? No:—it occurred in a struggle between civilised man and semi-savage man; and (foul disgrace !) the civilised were the murderers—the savage the victims. It occurred in a war between the invaders of a country, and the inhabitants, who fought for their old possessions—their property, and their rights; and (foul blot !) the assailants piled up the faggots, and the defenders perished! It occurred in a war, waged by the nation which arrogates to itself the position of leader of European civilisation :—which claims the title of the most civilised, the most enlightened, and the most polished people of the earth. The Arabs pretend to no such distinction.—They form roving clans of uncivilised men living a primitive pastoral life, in caverns and tents :—yet it was the enlightened, the polished, the humane aggressors, who roasted some eight hundred of the savages, for the crime of defending their own country—of daring, in legitimate warfare, to resist the legions which would have wrested it from them.
The work was coolly gone about too; the murder was no deed of a few minutes, no sudden outbreak of wrath, no massacre prompted by fiery longings for revenge. The cavern, into which the Arabs retreated, was a vast one; it had many chinks and crannies, and it was long ere the stifling smoke and baking fire did their work.
The Frenchmen heard the moans and shrieks, and the tumult of despair, as dying men and women turned furiously on each other, and thought to free themselves from lingering agony by more sudden death : they heard the butchering strokes of the yatagan and the pistol-shots, which told that suicide, or mutual destruction, was going on in the darkness of the cavern : they heard all this renewed at intervals, and continued hour after hour, but still they coolly heaped straw upon the blaze, and tranquilly fed the fire, until all was silent but its own roaring ; and burnt, maimed, and convulsed corpses, blackened (some of them calcined) by the fire, remained piled in mouldering, rotting masses in the cave, to tell that a few hours before a tribe of men, women, and children, had entered its dreary portals.
And now, La grande Nation, what think ye Europe says of you? You plume yourselves on being the most mighty, the most advanced people of the earth, the very focus of light, intelligence, and humanity. Of course the claim is just,—the Cave of Dahra proves it. All is fair in war, and war you hold to be man's chief and noblest employment on earth : the false glare of military glory which continually bedazzles you, shows massacre and rapine decked in the colour of good deeds. The itch of conquest seems to make you confound good and evil. A prime minister in his place in your legislature, coldly “regretted the occurrence.” The most influential of your journals preserve a guarded silence. No word of censure is breathed against the man who caused the massacre of Dahra-hardly a word of pity