Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

rific one.

doing any other work than cutting a breach into his own citadel, by such ferocity. But it is quite possible his wits are touched.'

No, I presume not,' said the first ; 'this is a kind of zeal which, if I have observed aright, the Christians hold in esteem.'

As these separated to distant parts of the shop, I said to Probus, who seemed heavily oppressed by what had occurred, “What dæmon,' said I, dwells in that body that has just departed ?'

• Well do you say dæmon. The bitter mind of that. man seems oftimes seized upon by some foul spirit, and bound, and which acts and speaks in its room. But do you not know him ?'

• No, truly; he is a stranger to me, as he appeared to be to all.'

• Nevertheless, you have been in his company. You forget not the Mediterranean voyage !'

By no means. I enjoyed it highly, and recall it ever with delight.'

Do you not remember, at the time I narrated to you the brief story of my life, that, as I ended, a rough voice from among the soldiers exclaimed, 'Where now are the gods of Rome ? This is that man, the soldier Macer; then bound with fellow soldiers to the service in Africa, now a Christian preacher.'

*I see it now. That man impressed me then with his thin form and all-devouring eyes. But the African climate, and the gash across his left cheek, and which seems to have slightly disturbed the eye, upon that side, have made him a different being, and almost a ter.

Is he sound and sane ?' • Perfectly so,' replied Probus, unless we may say that souls earnestly devoted and zealous, are mad. There is not a more righteous soul in Rome. His conscience is bare, and shrinking like a fresh wound. His breast is warm and fond as a woman's. His penitence for the wild errors of his pagan youth, a consuming fire, which, while it redoubles his ardor in doing what he may in the cause of truth, rages in secret, and, if the sword or the cross claim him not, will bring him to the grave. He is utterly incapable of fear. All the racks and dungeons of Rome, with their tormentors, could not terrify him."

You now interest me in him, I must see and kpow him. It might be of service to him and to all, Probus, methinks, if he could be brought to associate with those whose juster notions might influence his, and modify them to the rule of truth.'

• I fear not. What he sees, he sees clearly and strongly, and by itself. He understands nothing of one truth bearing upon another, and adding to it, or taking from it. Truth is truth with him – and as his own mind perceives it — not another's. His conscience will allow him in no accommodations to other men's opinions or wishes. He is impatient under an argument as a war-horse under the rein, after the trumpet sounds. It is unavoidable, therefore, but he should possess great power among the Christians of Rome. His are the bold and decisive qualifications that strike the common mind. There is glory and applause in following and enduring under such a leader. Many are fain to believe him divinely illuminated and impelled, to unite the characters of teacher and prophet; and from knowing that he is so regarded by others, Macer has come almost to believe it himself. He is tending more and more to construe every impulse of

his own mind into a divine suggestion, and, I believe, honestly experiences difficulty in discriminating between them. Still, I do not deny that it would be of advantage for him more and more to come in contact with sober and enlightened minds. I shall take pleasure, at some fitting moment, to accompany you to his humble dwelling; the rather as I would show you, also, his wife and children, all of whom are, like himself, Christians.'

* I shall not forget the promise.'

Whereupon we separated. I then searched for Publius, and making my purchases, returned home, Milo following with the books.

As Milo relieved himself of his burden, discharging it upon the floor of the library, I overheard him to say:

• Lie there, accursed rolls ! May the flames consume you, ere you are again upon my shoulders ! For none but Piso would I have done what I have. Let me to the temple and expiate.'

• What words are these ? cried Solon, emerging from a recess. • Who dares to heap curses upon books, which are the soul embalmed and made imperishable ? What have we bere ? Aha! a new treasure for these vacant shelves, and most trimly ordered.'

* These, venerable Greek,' exclaimed Milo, waving him away, 'are books of magic! — oriental magic! Have a care! A touch may be fatal. Our noble master affects the Egyptians.'

Magic !' exclaimed Solon, with supreme contempt; 'art thou so idiotic as to put credence in such fancies ? Away! - hinder me not!' And saying so, he eagerly grasped a volume, and unrolling it, to the beginning of the work, dropped it suddenly, as if bitten by a serpent.

• Ha !' cried Milo, 'said I not so? Art so idiotic, learned Solon, as to believe in such fancies ? How is it with thee? Is thy blond hot or cold ? — thy teeth loose or fast ? — thy arm withered or swollen ?'

Solon stood surveying the pile, with a look partly of anger, partly of sorrow.

• Neither, fool!' he replied. *These possess not the power or worth fabled of magic. They are books of dreams, visions, reveries, which are to the mind what fogs would be for food, and air for drink, innutritive and vain. Papias! – Irenæus ! — Hegesippus ! - Polycarp! Origen! whose names are these, and to whom familiar ? Some are Greek, some are Latin, but not a name famous in the world meets my eye. But we will order them on their shelves, and trust that time, which accomplishes all things, will restore reason to Piso. Milo, essay thy strength — my limbs are feeble --and lift these upon yonder marble ; so may age deal gently with you.'

• Not for their weight in wisdom, Solon, would I again touch them. I have borne them hither, and if the priests speak truly, my life is worth not an obolus. I were mad to tempt my fate farther.'

* Avaunt thee, then, for a fool and a slave, as thou art !'

• Nay now, master Solon, thy own wisdom forsakes thee. Philosophers, they say, are ever possessors of themselves, though for the rest, they be beggars.'

VOL. XI.

[ocr errors]

• Beggars !' sayest thou ? Avaunt ! I say, or Papias shall teach thee' and he would have launched the father at the head of Milo, but that, with quick instincts, he shot from the apartment, and left the pedagogue to do his own bidding.

So, Fausta, you see the Solon is still the inimitable old man he was, and Milo the fool he was. Think not me worse than either, for hoping so to entertain you. I know that in your solitude and grief, even such pictures may be welcome.

When I related to Julia the scene and the conversation at the shop of Publius, she listened not without agitation, and expresses her fears lest such extravagances, repeated and become common, should inflame the minds both of the people and their rulers against the Christians. Though I agree with her in lamenting the excess of zeal displayed by many of the Christians, and their needless assaults upon the characters and faith of their opposers, I cannot apprehend serious consequences from them, because they are so few and rare, and are palpable exceptions to the general character which I believe the whole city would unite in ascribing to the Christians. Their mildness and pacific temper are perhaps the very traits by which they are most distinguished, with which they are indeed continually reproached. Yet individual acts are often the remote causes of vast universal evil — of bloodshed, war, and revolution. Macer alone is enough to set on fire a city, a continent, a world.

I rejoice, I cannot tell you how sincerely, in all your progress. I do not doubt in the ultimate return of the city to its former populousness and wealth, at least. Aurelian has done well for you at last. His disbursements for the Temple of the Sun, alone, are vast, and must be more than equal to its perfect restoration. Yet his overthrown column you will scarce be tempted to rebuild. Forget not to assure Gracchus and Calpurnius of my affection. Farewell.

[blocks in formation]

O THOU whom all admire, adore,

Pursue, but ne'er possess,
Away!- delude some easier fool,

Thou phantom, Happiness!
Thou art life's long, disastrous game,

That can the craftiest beat; When Death looks on, but to reveal,

When 't is too late, the cheat.

11.

Safe is the whirlwind's boding calm,

And true the treacherous sea, And real all the mirage paints,

Compared, thou dreain, with thee! Thy still retreating paradise

Flies as we near the spot;
A land from hope, our Pisgah still,

Explored, bui entered not.

GOD.

The Lord, the high and holy One,

Is present every where;
Go to the regions of the sun,

And thou wilt find him there!

Go to the secret ocean caves,

Where man hath never trod,
And there, beneath the flashing waves,

Will be thy Maker, God!
Fly swiftly on the morning's wing,

To distant realms away,
Where birds, in jewelled plumage, sing

The advent of the day:
And where the lion seeks his lair,

And reindeer bounds alone
God's presence makes the desert fair,

And cheers the frozen zone.
All Nature speaks of Him who made

The land, and sea, and sky;
The fruits that fall, the leaves that fade,

The flowers that bloom to die :
The lofty mount and lowly vale,

The lasting forest trees,
The rocks that battle with the gale,

The ever-rolling seas:
All tell the Omnipresent Lord,

The God of boundless might;
In every age and clime adored,

Whose dwelling is the light!

P. B.

A SLICE OF BRANT:

OR A PASSAGE IN THE EVENTFUL HISTORY OF

THE RENOWNED THAYENDANEGEA.*

BY COLONEL WILLIAM L. STONE.

The month of April, 1780, found Brant on the war-path, at the head of a small party of Indians and Tories, whom he led against the settlement of Harpersfield, which was taken by surprise, and destroyed. In consequence of their exposed situation, most of the inhabitants had left the settlement, so that there were but few persons killed, and only nineteen taken prisoners. Proceeding from Harpersfield, it was Brant's design to make an attack upon the upper fort of Schoharie, should be deem it prudent to eucounter the risk, after duly reconnoitering the situation of the fort, and ascertaining its means of defence. The execution of this part of his project was prevented by an unexpected occurrence. Harpersfield was probably destroyed on the 5th or 6th of April. It happened that nearly. at the same time, Colonel Vrooman, who was yet in command of Old Schoharie, had sent out a scout of fourteen militia.

* We are indebted for this graphic sketch of stirring incidents in one of the border wars of the American revolution, to an unpublished work, which is more parucularly noticed in subsequent pages.

Eds. KNICKERBOCKER.

[ocr errors]

minute-men, with directions to pass over to the head waters of the Charlotte river, and keep an eye upon the movements of certain suspected persons living in the valley of that stream. It being the proper season for making maple sugar, the minute-men were likewise directed to remain in the woods and manufacture a quantity of that article, of which the garrison were greatly in want. On the 2d of April, this party, the commander of which was Captain Alexander Harper, commenced their labors in the sugar-bush,' at the distance of about thirty miles from Schoharie. They were occupied in the discharge of this part of their duty, very cheerfully and with good success, for several days, entirely unapprehensive of danger; more especially as a new fall of snow, to the depth of three feet, would prevent, they supposed, the moving of any considerable body of the enemy, while in fact they were not aware of the existence of an armed foe short of Niagara. But their operations were most unexpectedly interrupted. It seems that Brant, in wending his way from Harpersfield toward Schoharie, fell suddenly upon Harper and his party on the 7th of April, at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and immediately surrounded them - his force consisting of forty-three Indian warriors and seven Tories. So silent and cautious had been the approach of the enemy, that the first admonition Harper received of their presence, was the death of three of his little band, who were struck down while engaged in their work. The leader was instantly discovered in the person of the Mohawk chief, who rushed up to Captain Harper, tomahawk in hand, and observed, 'Harper, I am sorry to find you here! Why are you sorry, Captain Brant ?' replied the other. 'Because,' rejoined the chief, 'I must kill you, alihough we were school-mates in our youth'— at the same time raising his batchet, and suiting the action to the word. Suddenly his arm fell, and with a piercing scrutiny, looking Harper full in the face, he inquired, ' Are there any regular troops at the forts in Schoharie ?' Harper caught the idea in an instant. To answer truly, and admit that there were none, as was the fact, would but hasten Brant and his warriors forward to fall upon the settlements at once, and their destruction would bave been swift and sure. He therefore informed him that a reinforcement of three hundred continental troops had arrived, to garrison the forts only two or three days before. This information appeared very much to disconcert the chieftain. He prevented a farther shedding of blood, and held a consultation with his subordinate chiefs. Night coming on, Harper and his ten surviving companions were shut up in a pen of logs, and guarded by the Tories, under the charge of their leader, a cruel fellow named Becraft, and of bloody notoriety in that war. Controversy ran high among the Indians during the night - the question being, whether the prisopers should be put to death or carried to Niagara. They were bound hand and foot, but were so near the Indian council as to hear much of what was said, and Harper knew enough of the Indian tongue to comprehend the general import of their debates. The Indians were for putting them to death; and Becraft frequently tantalized the prisoners, by telling them, with abusive tones and epithets, that

1

« ПредишнаНапред »