Графични страници
PDF файл

fixed like a flint towards heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below. How carefully he uses his wasted blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain ! How he economizes his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts! How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the very spot, where if he falls he will not fall alone.

The sun is half-way down in the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in the mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rock, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction to get from this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is in his bosom; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shouts of hundreds, perched upon cliffs and trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands upon the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty more gains must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully foot by foot from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half-inch. The boy's head reels ; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart; his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last flint dash he makes, his knife—bis faithful knife--falls from his little nerveless hand, and ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his hopeless heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there ! one foot swings off !—he is reeling-trembling-toppling over into eternity. Hark !-a shout falls on his ears from above! The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought the noose rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint convulsive effort the swooning boy drops his arm into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words “God!” and “MOTHER !” whispered on his lips just loud enough to be heard in heaven, the tightening rope lifts him out of his last shallow niche. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over the fearful abyss; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him up in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitude—such shouting! and such leaping and weeping for joy never greeted a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.


Virginia.—One of the Southern States of America, called

Virginia after the virgin Queen Elizabeth, in whose reign it was colonised. Virginia is noted for the beauty of its scenery, and still more for its many natural curiosities ; among the most celebrated of which is the natural rock-bridge, formed by some great convulsion of nature, which appears to have rent a mountain asunder by a mighty chasm, and joined it at the top by a mass

of rock. Alexander. — Alexander the Great, the conqueror of Asia. Cæsar.-Julius Cæsar, the most famous of all the Roman

generals. Buonaparte.—Napoleon Buonaparte. Washington.-George Washington, under whom the United

States achieved their independence. He was born in
Virginia, 22nd February, 1732, and died at Mount
Vernon, Virginia, 14th December, 1799. He is still
the most important figure in American history.


ONE morning, earlier than the usual time of rising, the steward awakened us with the news that icebergs were close at hand. This was charming intelligence, for, so late in the season, they are but rarely met with. We were all soon on deck, and for a worthy object. One was a grand object, with two great domes, each as large as that of St. Paul's; the lower part was like frosted silver. Where the heat of the sun had melted the surface, and it had frozen again, in its gradual decay it had assumed all sorts of angular and fantastic shapes, reflecting from its green transparent mass thousands of prismatic colours, while, below, the gentle swell dallied with its cliff-like sides. The action of the waves had worn away a great portion of the base over the water into deep nooks and caves, destroying the balance of the mass. While we were passing, the crisis of this tedious process chanced to arrive; the huge white rock tottered for a moment, then fell into the calm sea with a sound like the roar of a thousand cannon,


spray rose to a great height into the air, and large waves rolled round, spreading their wide circles over the ocean, each ring diminishing till at length they sank to rest. When the spray had fallen again, the glittering domes had vanished, and a long, low island of rough ice and snow lay on the surface of the water.

There is something impressive and dismal in the fate of these cold and lonely wanderers of the deep. They break loose, by some great effort of nature, from the shores and rivers of the unknown regions of the north, where for centuries, perhaps, they have been accumulating, and commence their dreary voyage, which has no end but annihilation. For years they may wander in the Polar Sea, till some strong gale or current bears them past its iron limits; then, by predominance of winds and waters to the south, they


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


« ПредишнаНапред »