Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

waters closing round him; the criminal as he mounts the scaffold, and sees his last hope melt from his grasp,—such persons may have experienced what I felt then, and such persons only.

“My despair now became fixed and total. I felt that my last hour was come: I endeavoured to turn my thoughts from this world, and fix them on the next. But, the effort was dreadful. As I strove to prepare myself for death, the hope of life would flash across me again, and interpose between me and my prayer. If a sound caught my ear, I raised my head to listen; if the variation of a shadow passed over the surface of the rock, I strained my sight to look; but the sound would cease, and the sight would pass away, and I sank again upon the snow, and again I prepared myself to die.

“ At length, (to my dying day I shall recollect that moment,) at length a gust of wind bore to me a sound, which I thought I recognised; I raised myself with an anxiety which almost choked me,I listened-all was still—the wind rose and made me doubtful whether I heard it a second time or not,-a third-all doubt was over! It was the honest voice of faithful Thor, coming at speed, and barking as he came, to show, doubtless, the path to the spot in which I lay Again his deep-mouthed bay sounded loud and distinct as it approached the top of the precipice. There he paused and continued barking, till at length several lights flashed upon the path along which he had come, and advanced rapidly towards him. A halloo came upon the wind: I strove to answer it as loudly as I could. This time it mattered little whether my voice reached the summit or not; for, as soon as the lights seemed at the spot where the dog stood, he dashed down the cliff, clinging to the irregular surface as he came, now holding by a stone, now sliding down with the rolling earth and snow, till he sprang into my bosom, and, almost smothering me with his caresses, made the echoes of the cliffs ring again with his loud and ceaseless baying, “ My companions now perceived where I was. They made a circuit of some little extent, and descended to me by a less precipitous, but still a difficult path.-My young friends, unless you have experienced the transition from despair to safety—from abandonment to kind friendship from death to life-you can form to yourselves no idea of the flood of feelings, both rapturous and gentle, which then poured upon my soul. The chosen of my heart was now no widow! my children were now not fatherless! I was restored to life, to the world, to hope, to happiness! and I owed all this to the loyalty and love of a poor hound! When your hand is next raised to strike your beast in anger, pause—and think upon the service which old Thor rendered to his master. That master had been a kind one."

SUNRISE
From Pollok's Course of Time."
In customed glory bright, that morn the sun
Rose, visiting the earth with light, and heat,
And joy; and seemed as full of youth, and strong
To mount the steep of heaven, as when the stars
Of morning sung to his first dawn, and night
Fled from his face : the spacious sky received
Him blushing as a bride, when on her looked
The bridegroom : and, spread out beneath his eye,
Earth smiled. Up to his warm embrace the dews,
That all night long had wept his absence, flew;
The herbs and flowers their fragrant stores unlocked,
And gave the wanton breeze, that, newly woke,
Revelled in sweets, and from its wings shook health,
A thousand grateful smells: the joyous woods
Dried in his beams their locks, wet with the drops
Of night: and all the sons of music sung
Their matin song : from arboured bower, the thrush
Concerting with the lark that hymned on high :
On the green hill the flocks, and in the vale
The herds rejoiced : and, light of heart, the hind
Eyed amorously the milk-maid as she passed,
Not heedless, though she looked another way.

THE EIGHTH SLEEPER OF EPHESUS. It happened one day in a certain merry party of Genoese, that their conversation fell at last on the noted miracle of Ephesus. Most of the company treated the story of the Seven Sleepers as a pleasant fable, and many shrewd conceits and witty jests were passed on the occasion. Some of the gentlemen, inventing dreams for those drowsy personages, provoked much mirth by their allusions; whilst others speculated satirically on the changes in manners, which they must have remarked after their century of slumber—all of the listeners being highly diverted, excepting one sober gentleman, who made a thousand wry faces at the discourse.

At length, taking an opportunity to address them, he lectured them very seriously in defence of the miracle, calling them so many heretics and infidels: and saying that he saw no reason why the history should not be believed as well as any other legend of the holy fathers. Then, after many other curious arguments, he brought the example of the dormouse, which sleeps throughout a whole winter, affirming that the Ephesian Christians, being laid in a cold place, like a rocky cavern or sepulchre, might reasonably have remained torpid for a hundred years.

His companions, feigning themselves to be converted, flattered him on to proceed in a discourse which was so diverting, some of them replenishing his glass continually with wine-of which, through talking till he became thirsty, he partook very freely. At last, after uttering a volume of follies and extravagances, he dropped his head upon the table, and fell into a profound doze; during which interval, his merry companions plotted a scheme against him, which they promised themselves would afford some excellent sport. Carrying him softly, therefore, to an upper chamber, they laid him upon an old bed of state, very quaintly furnished and decorated in the style of the gothic ages. Thence repairing to a private theatre in the house, which belonged to their entertainer, they arrayed themselves in some Bohemian habits, very grotesque and fanciful, and disguised their faces with paint; and then sending one of their number to keep watch in the bed-chamber, they awaited in this masquerade the awaking of the credulous sleeper.

In an hour or thereabouts, the watcher, perceiving that the other began to yawn, ran instantly to his comrades, who, hurrying up to the chamber, found their Ephesian sitting upright in bed, and wondering about him at its uncouth mouldering furniture. One of them then speaking for the rest, began to congratulate him on his revival out of so tedious a slumber, persuading him, by help of the others and a legion of lies, that he had slept out a hundred years. He thereupon asking them who they were, they answered they were his dutiful great grandchildren. who had kept watch over him by turns ever since they were juveniles. In proof of this, they showed him how dilapidated the bed had become since he had slept in it, nobody daring to remove him against the advice of the physicians.

“ I perceive it well,” said he; "the golden embroideries are indeed very much tarnished—and the hangings, in truth, as tattered as any of our old Genoese standards that were carried against the Turks. These faded heraldries, too, upon the head-cloth, have been thoroughly fretted by the moths. I notice, also, my dear great grandchildren, by your garments, how much the fashions have altered since my time, though you have kept our ancient language very purely, which is owing, of course, to the invention of printing. The trees, likewise, and the park, I observe, have much the same appearance that I remember a century since; but the serene aspect of nature does not alter so constantly as our frivolous human customs.”

Then, recollecting himself, he began to make inquiries concerning his former acquaintance, and in particular

about one Giacoppo Rossi—the same wag that, in his mummery, was then standing before him. They told him he had been dead and buried fourscore years ago.

“Now, God be praised !” he answered, “ for that same fellow was a most pestilent coxcomb, who, pretending to be a wit, thought himself licensed to ridicule men of worth and gravity with the most shameful buffooneries. The world must have been much comforted by his death, and especially if he took with him his fellow-mountebank, Guidolphi, who was as laborious a jester, but duller.”

In this strain, going through the names of all those that were with him in the room, he praised God heartily that he was rid of such a generation of knaves, and fools, and profane heretics; and then recollecting himself afresh,

“ Of course, my great grandchildren,” said he, “ I am a widower ?"

His wife, who was amongst the maskers, at this question began to prick up her ears, and answering for herself, she said,

“ Alas! the good woman that was thy partner has been dead these seventy-three years, and has left thee desolate.”

At this news the sleeper began to rub his hands together very briskly, saying, “ Then there was a cursed shrew gone;" whereupon his wife, striking him in a fury on the cheek, let fall her mask through this indiscretion; and so awaked bim out of his marvellous dream.

PISA EDITION OF MOORE'S MELODIES. No. VI.

ADDITIONAL STANZAS. *

How dear to me the Hour.
Far o'er the waste it spreadsand thou art far ;

'Twill beam agen, but thou wilt ne'er return :
It sets in darkness-thou art my soul's star;

When all is murky, thou dost brightest burn!

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »