Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[graphic]

was then that I myself for the first time head, her countenance was calm, and, but heard it.

for the paleness of her lips, and a certain “ The moon, the moon is thine, 0 night, eyes, I should have said that her gravity

something that was just visible in her Not altogether dark art thou ;

i. scarcely partook of sadness. When, how. Her trembling crescent sheds its light, Trembling and pale, upon thine ancient ever, we had exchanged our salutations, it

was evident that some effort had been nebrow.

cessary for all this appearance of serenity; The moon is thine, and round her orb for her voice trembled when she spoke to A thousand sweet stars minister,

me,-yes, her voice trembled in every tone, Whose twinkling rays dark wells absorb, and, as she stooped to caress my young And all the wide seas drink them far and guide, who had sate down by her feet upnear.

on the ground, I saw the tear that had “ They kiss the wide sea, and swift smiles among the bright clusters of the little dam.

been gathering drop heavily, and lose itself Of gladness o'er the waters creep ;

sel's hair. Old hoary rocks rejoice, and isles,

" The girl, in the meantime, perceiving And there is glory on the slumbering deep. nothing of Athanasia's trouble, continued « Afar-Along the black hill's side, to play with a linnet which sate upon her Right blithe of heart the wanderers go. finger, and to imitate, after her childish faWhile that soft radiance, far and wide,

shion, the notes of the bird. From time to Gleams on the winding streams and woods time she turned round, as if to attract the -1 below.

lady's notice to the beauty of her favourite,

and lifted upwards her smiling eyes, the " And gaily for the fragile bark,

pure azure of which reflected the careless Through the green waves its path is shorn, glee of innocence. But, at length, another When all the murmurs of the dark Cold sea lie calm'd beneath that gliding of the damsel, and then she looked upwards

and another drop fell full upon the cheeck horn.

more steadily, and, seeing that, in truth, “Yet hail, ye glittering streaks, that lie

Athanasia wept, her own eyes began im. The eastern mountain tops upon !

mediately to overflow with the ready tears Hail, ye deep blushes of the sky,

of childhood. Athanasia pressed the girl to That speak the coming of the bridegroom but it would not do for her heart was run

her bosom, and made one struggle moresun!

ning to the brim, and, at last, with one pas“ Hail to the healing beam of day, sionate sob, all the sluices gave way, and That rouses every living thing!

she was dissolved at once in a flood of weepThe forest gulphs confess thy sway, ing. I took her unresisting hand, and imi. And upon freshening branches glad birds tated, as best I could, the language of that sing.

consolation, which, alas! I had not to give. 66 And loathsome forms, that crept unseen

But it seemed as if my poor whispers only Beneath the star-light faint and wan,

served to increase the misery they were Cower in their brakes the thorns between,

meant to still. She stooped, and covered Dreading that fervid eye, and its sure scan.

her face with her hands, and sobs and tears

were mingled together, and the blood glow“ Triumphant Welcome life and light; ed red in her neck, in the deep agony of Sing rocks and mountains, plain and sea ! her lamentation. Fearful, though lovely, was the night, “ I looked round, and saw that the old Hail to more perfect beauty-hail to priest was moved at first scarcely less than THEE!”

myself by all this sorrowful sight. Yet

the calmness of age deserted him not long, We have hitherto abstained from and after a moment there remained nothing quoting the passages in which the im

on his countenance, but the gravity and pression of Christianity is made on the the tenderness of compassion. He arose lover's mind. The subject is too so- from his seat, and without saying a single lemn for criticism ; but the interview word either to Athanasia or to myself, with Athanasia, then under the ex- walked quietly towards the end of the pectation of martyrdom, is full of fer. apartment, from which when he returned, vid and hallowed dignity.

after a brief space, there was an ancient vo

lume held open in his hand. Still, without “ The child led me, therefore, into the addressing us, the old man resumed his seat, adjoining chamber, and tapped gently at a which was right over against the disconsodoor on the other side of it. The voice of late maiden, and immediately, in a voice the old priest bade us come in, and Atha- touched and but touched with tremour, nasia, who had been sitting by his side, he began to read aloud, in the Greek tongue, arose with him to receive me. She was words which were then new, and which dressed in a simple white tunic, her hair have ever since been in a peculiar manner was braided in dark folds upon her fore. dear to me. You, my friends, know them

well, and surely none are to be found in the learned and the powerful of the earth all the Scriptures more beautiful than those have combined in this league against the sacred words of the royal poet of the He truth which they know not, of which brews.

they fear or despise the knowledge. The “ God," said the old man, and his voice old man paused for a moment, and then gained strength from every word as he ut- laying his hand upon the volume that was tered it,-"God is our refuge and strength: open before him, and casting his eyes up, a very present help in trouble.

wards, said, in a deep and earnest whisper, “Therefore will not we fear though the Surely the truth is mighty, and the gates earth be removed; though the mountains of hell shall not prevail against her.' be carried into the midst of the sea ;

“But, alas ! my dear father,” said Atha" Though the waters thereof roar and nasia, 'I fear me this is not the place, not be troubled ;

the situation, in which Valerius might be “ Though the mountains shake with the most likely to listen to your words. It swelling thereof."

may be that his own narrow.escape, to say “ Athanasia took her hands from herface, nothing of our present danger, has renderand gradually composing herself, looked ed him even more cautious than he was bethrough her tears upon the old man as he fore.' proceeded."

666 And who, my dear child,' he replied “ There is a river, the streams whereof hastily,—and who is he that shall dare to shall make glad the city of God;

blame caution, or to preach, above all in “ The holy place of the tabernacles of such things as these, the rashness that is of the Most High ;

folly? No, no; Valerius will not believe 66 God is in the midst of her.

that we, like the miserable creatures whose “She shall not be moved ;

impious songs we heard last night together, “ God shall help her, and that right are studious only of working upon the fears early.

of the ignorant, and harassing, with dark " The heathen raged ; the kingdoms and lying dreams, the imaginations of the were moved ;

simple. Here, (he laid his hand once more “He uttered his voice ; the earth melted. upon the sacred volume,)—Here are no 6 The Lord of Hosts is with us ; wild stories of blood-thirsty deities, and 66 The God of Jacob is our refuge.” self-sacrificing maniacs. Here all is plain

“ The blood had mounted high in the clear-perspicuous. Here is that which countenance of Aurelius, and his voice had Socrates vainly sought by all the ingenuity become strong and full, ere he reached these of reason. Here is that of which some last words of triumphant confidence. The faint and mysterious anticipations would

rs also had been all dried up on the appear to have been shadowed forth in the pale cheek of Athanasia ; and although her sublime obscurity of the visions of Plavoice was not heard, I saw that her lips to. Here is that which, as that Mighty moved fervently along with those of the Martyr that died in this very city hath fervent priest. Even in me, who knew said, innumerable prophets and kings of not well from whence they proceeded, the the old time desired to see, and yet saw words of the royal prophet produced I not. Do nothing rashly, young man ; but know not what of buoyance and of emo- it is possible, as you yourself well know, tion, and perhaps my lips, too, had involun- that this may be the last opportunity tarily essayed to follow them ; for when he shall ever have of speaking with you ; and paused from his reading, the old man turned therefore, before we part, I must needs to me with a facefull of benignity, and said, charge you solemnly, that henceforth you

Yes, Valerius, it is even so ; Homer, Pinare not one of those who are altogether ig-
dar, Æschylus--these, îndeed, can stir the norant; and that if your knowledge in-
blood; but it is such poetry as this that crease not, the sin shall be upon your head.
alone can sooth in sorrow, and strengthen I charge you, Valerius, (he rose from his
in the hour of tribulation. Your vain-glo- seat as he spake,) I charge you, that when
rious Greeks called all men barbarians but you return once more to your native island,
themselves ; and yet these words, and thou- you blot not out from your memory the
sands not less precious than these, consoled things that you have seen and heard in this
the afflictions, and ennobled the triumphs great city of light and of darkness. Exa-
of the chosen people of the race of Israel mine-judge-ask aid, and aid shall not be
long, long years, ere ever the boasted me refused you—but I charge you, as your soul
lody of Ionian or Doric verses had been is precious, I charge you once more, young
heard of. From this alone, young man, man, neither to overlook in carelessness, nor
you may judge what measure of candour to reject in rashness. I take Athanasia to
inhabits along with the disdain of our proud witness for me, that I have given you the
enemies, how fairly, without question, or warning that is needful.””
opportunity of defence, the charge of bar-
barity is heaped upon what they are plea The concealments and sufferings of
sed to call our superstition...how wisely the early Christians, make a consider-

10

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

4

1

able portion of this work. The subject, her dreaming lips. The light streamed redinteresting as it is, has, we believe, der and more red-All in an instant became never been touched before in novels, as quiet without as within. I approached the and the author deserves the praise of open window, and saw Cotilius standing having brought forward this solemn far below in the midst of the prison-court;

the torches all around the horsemen drawn portion of our history in its appropri- up in silence on either side and a single ate spirit-deep, reverent, and scriptu- soldier close behind him, resting upon an ral. On one of those meetings-sublime unisheathed glittering sword, as in expectaand melancholy meetings —that ga- tion of the signal. thered the persecuted people of God at “Sabinus, meantime, who sate on horsemidnight in caves, and tombs, and fo- back immediately over against the prisonrests, to pray and read the Bible, Va- er, was stooping down and speaking with lerius has been an unintentional in- Silo; but ere I had looked for another truder, and he becomes an almost un moment, he dismissed the jailor, and I saw conscious convert. But the Christian him nod to the trumpeter, who immediassemblies have been from time to ately lifted his trumpet to his mouth. Cotime mingled with individuals who he understood the meaning of the nod, and

tilius shewed, by one rapid gesture, that looked to them for the materials of fu- seemed to plant himself with more firm. ture public convulsion. Cotilius, a

ness upon his feet, his eye all the while traitor, under the disguise of a prose- being fixed stedfastly upon the Centurion. lyte, is seized, and the Christians in- The glare of the torches was so strong, that volved with him. His execution is a

I saw every thing as clearly as if the scene powerful picture of the fierce resolu- had passed at noon-day. "I saw Cotilius' tion, that “ dies and makes no sign.” keen blue eye as fierce as ever-I saw his The contrast between the sleeping

and lips pressed together steadily upon his teeth innocent beauty in the chamber, and I saw that the blood was still fervid in the daring villain girding up his his cheeks, for the complexion of this man strength for death in the square be

was of the same bold and forid brightness low, is admirable.

so uncommon in Italy, which you have

seen represented in the pictures of Sylla, “ No lamp was burning within the and even the blaze of the torches seemed to chamber, but through one of its two win. strive in vain to heighten its natural scarlet. dows, both of which stood open to receive The trumpet was, as I have said, at the the mild air of the evening, there entered man's lips, and the soldier had lifted his a wavering glare of deep saffron-coloured sword from the ground, and my eye was light, which shewed me Athanasia extend- fixed, as if by fascination, upon the bare ed on her couch, her head pillowed upon throat of the prisoner, when suddenly a her left arm, and her right hand buried in deep voice was heard amidst the deadly the mazes of her dark hair, which lay loose silence, calling several times, Cotilius! and dishevelled upon her placid bosom. I Cotilius !-look up, Cotilius ! say placid, for, fierce and unnatural as was “ The eye of Cotilius obeyed the sumthe inconstant gleam that passed and re mons more slowly than that of any other passed over her features, its ominous and person who was present there—but at last it troubled hue had no power to mar the image did obey it; and he, and I, and all the rest, of her sleeping tranquillity. There lay she, beheld Aurelius Felix, the Christian priest, her large serene eye-lids closed in their standing at an open window, not far discalmness upon orbs that were so soon to be tant from that at which I myself was plaawakened upon all the fierceness of peril— ced; and it was evident to all, that it was all the gloom of terror. A smile—a sweet from the old man's lips the voice had procomposed smile sate on her virgin lips, and ceeded. Cotilius regarded him stedfastly her tunic scarce betrayed the modest hea. for a moment, and then resumed his former ving of her bosom. I hung over her for a posture ; but the old man called again more moment, and was about-Oh! how unwill. loudly than before_Cotilius, Cotilius !" ingly to disturb that slumber--perhaps said he, and he stretched forth his fettered that last slumber of peace and innocence hand as he spake, and the sound of his voice when the chamber-walls were visited with was alike clear, earnest, and solemn-Coa broader and a yet deeper glare, and my tilius ! I charge thee, look upon the hand footsteps, I know not by what instinct, from which the blessed water of baptism were drawn half unconsciously to the win- was cast upon thy head. I charge thee, dow by which the light had access. look upon me, and say truly, ere yet the

“ • Caius, Caius," she whispered, as I blow be given, upon what hope thy thoughts stepped from beside the couch ; why do are fixed ?-_Is this sword bared against the you leave me, Valerius ; stay, stay, my rebel of Cæsar, or a martyr of Jesus ?--I Valerius.'

charge thee, speak ere thy blood flows; • I looked back, but her eye-lids were and for thy soul's sake, speak truly.' still closed ; the same calm smile was upon 6 Cotilius kept his eye upon the old man,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

not

while he was speaking, but I could not ob “At the gate-way, which opened a little serve the least change in the expression of farther on into the gardens, we found the his counterance. When he was done, and two faithful freedmen, Boto and Dromo, even the soldiers that stood about appear. waiting for us with horses richly caparisoned to be expecting his answer a single ed, (for they knew not how we might trabitter motion of derision passed over his vel from the city,) and with change of dress lips, and he nodded, as if impatiently, to for the whole of us. We passed under the the Prætorian whose lips were apon the porch of a small rural chapel that stood near end of the trumpet. The man blew, and the gate, and there Sabinus and I exchanged whule yet the surrounding arches were our military attire for the peaceful gown, echoing the sound, the sword bearer had in which alone we could with propriety executed his office, and the headless trunk appear in the nuptial celebration. Athafell heavily upon the pavement. Instinc- nasia, for her part, threw over all her dress tively I turned me on the instant from a long veil of white, for she alone durst not the bloody spectacle, and my eye rested shew her face in the precincts, where of again upon the couch of Athanasia—but right she was mistress. We then mounted

upon the vision of her tranquillity. the new steeds that had been prepared for The clap with which the body of Cotilius us, and dashing through the grove that fall upon the smooth stones of the court, edged the lawn, joined the bridal procession had, perhaps, reached the sleeping ear, and just at the moment when it had come in we all know with what swiftness thoughts front of the villa and all the merry clachase thoughts in the wilderness of dreams. mour of shouting, and all the bursting meSo it was that she started in her sleep, at lody of lutes and cymbals, saluted the first the very moment when the mortal blow was appearance of the curtained litter, in which giren."

the young Sempronia was borne in the Difficulties continue to crowd round and chariots.

midst of her attendant pomp of horsemen the lovers, till, by the lenity of Tra

“Conspicuous in front of all rode, in his jan

, and the persevering friendship of lofty car, the Flamen of Jupiter, arrayed the Prætorian Sabinus, they leave be in his long purple robe, and wearing on his hind them the dangerous grandeurs of head the consecrated diadem. The priestess the Imperial City, and embark for of Apollo, too, was there, surrounded with Britain. Sabinus marries the widow, all her damsels, ruling, or seeming to rule and Sextus, made happy with a young- with her own hand, the milk-white horses er and more gentle bride, inhabits the of the sun that pawed the ground before Roman villa of Valerius. Before he her burnished wheels. Gay horsemen checkleaves Italy for ever, the Briton is wit- ed their steeds amidst the blaze of torches,

and the peals of music. White-robed damness to the rejoicings on his friend's sels and youths, advancing from the portal, marriage.

chaunted the Hymenæan. Far and wide " He pointed through an opening among nuts and rose-buds were scattered among the thick trees on the right hand, and we the torch-bearing throng. Young Sextus perceived, indeed, at some distance below leaped from his horse, and the litter touchus by the river side, innumerable symp- ed the ground, and the bride, wrapped all toms of magnificent festivity. The great over in her saffron-coloured veil

, was lifted, arcades of the villa were blazing from end gently struggling, over the anointed threshto end with lanıps and torches, displaying hold. Sabinus swelled the hymenæal choin distinctness that almost rivalled that of rus with his ever-cheerful voice ; while poor noon-day, every gilded cupola and sculp- Athanasia-my own unsaluted brideshe tured porch, and all the long lines of mar- stood apart from all the clamour, gazing ble columns that sustained the proud fabric through her veil—it may be through her of the Valerian mansion.

tears---upon the festal pageant. In front of the main portico, and all “ We ventured not into the blazing hall, along the broad steps of its ascent, stood till all the rest had entered it. The syncrowds of people, as if in expectation. Be bolic fleece had already been shorn from fore them, girls and boys als clad in white the spotless lamb, and all were preparing raiment, were dancing on the lawn to the to pass into the chambers beyond, where sound of a joyful tabor. A confused hum the tables appeared already covered with of gladness ascended from every part of the wedding-feast. Every one was glad, the illuminated pile. Come, my boy, and every one was busy, and no one repush on cheerily,' quoth the Centurion; garded us as we stood beneath the pillars of if you don't, we may chance after all to the hall,--contemplating the venerableima. be too late for the great moment. The ges of my ancestors, that were arranged all procession, it is evident, can be bat a little around us from the mouldered bust of the way before us—and I, Valerius,' he added great Publicola, down to the last of the li. in a whisper, 'must not lose the benefit of neage, the princely Cncius, whose inherita

ance was and was not mine. There were

O

66

the rehearsal.'

Vou XI.

[ocr errors]

moments, I cannot conceal it, in which Centurion--tenderly the kind man bade some feelings of regret were mingled with us both adieu and I lifted my Athanasia, the admiration, which I could not refuse to weeping natural tears devoid of bitterness, saks kin the spectacle of all the ancient grandeur into the little boat which had been prepared that for the first, and for the last time, I for us." was gazing on. But Athanasia leaned upon me as I stood there, and all things seemed best evidence of our gratification in the

The extent of our quotations is the well, when I felt the pressure of her bosom work. It has some trivial peculiarities ***

“ Ere long, Dromo approached us, and led us aside from the scene of all the noisy of style. The cadence of the prose is siza, a merriment into an upper chamber, where, sometimes too measured; it has even divested of her veil, the lovely bride of

a scriptural formality. Occasional Sextus stood waiting to fold Athanasia in phrases occur unusual to, at least, a one parting embrace to her bosom. I turn. Southern ear. “Of a surety-so sayed aside, and witnessed not their farewell ing--a certain man-ere long-in a anwar bl

word-mine for my,” &c. 66 Licinius, Lucius, Velius, and the Priestess, came into the bridal chamber,

Those blemishes are too trivial to be suchen, ir with the wreathed cup. It was then that, observed on, but as matters of simple s let a s in their presence, I proclaimed Athanasia alteration. The writer has shewn high- advertit ef for my bride. They kissed her pale cheek ly valuable acquirements, for the illusonce and again she returned the salute- tration of ancient times, in the most and with slow steps we took our

departure
. pleasing

form of graceful fiction; he mi re Sabinus, the good Sabinus, walked along has the learning, the language, and with us down the dark alley that led to the the imagination. His triumph is seriver side. The two freedmen were already sitting at their oars--we bade adieu to the

tears.

cure.

[ocr errors]

John Wils

[ocr errors]

NEW-YEARS'S DAY CONGRATULATIONS.
Dear PUBLIC,

on
There exists in the bosom of every parent, as you well know, a bond of natu-
ral affection, which, while it acts as a corrective of all animosity towards his
children, likewise operates as an incentive to a free and unreserved communi-
cation of sentiment. Therefore, as you are quite aware of our regarding you
with truly fatherly affection, it is to be expected that we sometimes descend
from our lofty seat of magisterial authority, unbend ourselves before you, and,
forgetting the formalities of wisdom, lay open those minutiæ of the heart ;
which, of however little importance they may be of themselves, form a great
part of the happiness or misery of every human being.

Sure never Editor was more respected, or had greater cause for being contented with mankind in general than ourselves. Universally read at home, or nearly so,-translated into the continental languages-transported to America, perhaps to New South Wales and the text book of either India—we are quite a citizen, and civilizer of the world, and perhaps a greater philanthropist than Mr Bennet himself. Contributions crowd in upon us from the four winds of heaven ; and we can boast of being a favourite in almost every considerable city of the earth, always excepting Tombuctoo; the reading public being there, we should suspect, things of futurity.

But, notwithstanding all this happiness, we have a small complaint to make, and it regards you, my dear Public. Does it never strike you (with reverence be it spoken,) that your overwhelming civility may not a little usurp the time, that would otherwise be dedicated to the promotion of science, and to the cause of loyalty and good humour? But errors, which proceed from excess of goodheartedness, we shall ever be the first to pardon, and to pass over quietly. Here are we, on the 10th January; nor, since Christmas day, have we been allowed an hour's solitude in our study, or a single meul, save breakfast, in our domicile; and, for a fortnight to come, we have partial engagements for every day,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »