Page images

absorbed in thought; he noticed not the objects that surrounded him; nor did he condescend to return (or perhaps heeded not) the salutation which the superior officers paid him on his arrival.

On Blosset's face, who stood at a little distance from the general, might be discerned an undefinable something that told the beholder all was not right within, an outward restlessness that bespoke the heart ill at ease with itself this sensation was contagious; and as the officers of the "legion" watched the vacillating motion of his body, and the unsettled glance of his eye, they felt a "presentiment" of evil irresistibly steal upon their minds. In this mood, the deep and almost appalling silence that had hitherto reigned was broken by a lengthened roll of muffled drums, and immediately succeeded by a full-toned peal of martial music. It was the dead march in Saul! Every heart vibrated to the sound, every eye was strained to catch a glimpse of the procession, which was now seen slowly advancing by the principal street leading to the "Grande Plaza.' Twelve men (with their arms reversed) headed the line of march; next came six drummers with muffled drums; these were followed by the band of the "legion; " then came the unfortunate criminals, by whose side marched Trayner; twelve more men brought up the rear. This military pomp (an unusual display at the execution of private soldiers) appeared singular. At length the horrid truth flashed upon the mind! An officer was to die! and that officer could be only Hodgkinson* or Risdule, perhaps

[ocr errors]

both! As the procession drew nigh, the doubt was solved. The two mutineers were tied together by the arms. Immediately after them came Risdale, closely escorted by Trayner. They entered the square. Up to that instant, the young man had received no intimation of his doom! When those of his brother-officers who resided in the same quarters had quitted, a short time previous, to attend parade, they left him congratulating himself that his arrest would spare him the painful task of witnessing the death of the very men whose fate he was now unconsciously to share! Blosset now advanced and dropped the point of his sword to Paez, who, without changing his position, replied to this silent but unequivocal demand, "Let the execution proceed!" The two men were now placed on their knees, with their faces towards the wall; the platoon, in double file, took their station at about ten paces' distance from the objects of their aim; then, and not till then, Trayner approached Risdale, and made a motion to dispossess him of his uniform jacket. Risdale started back as though he had trodden on a viper, and the ejaculation of," Am I really one of the unfortunate beings to die!" burst from his lips. The agony of that moment, to be felt, must have been witnessed it cannot be described! He gazed vacantly round him who can paint the unutterable anguish which that look portrayed? A convulsive motion agitated his frame, an involuntary tribute paid to feeble nature; and when Blosset bade him bear his fate like a man, he answered

* Hodgkinson certainly owed the preservation of his life to Blosset's intercession. He was by Paez sent down to Angostura, a town on the banks of the Orinoco, and at that time the seat of Government. Reinstated in his rank by the authorities there, at the conclusion of the truce he joined the army at Barinas, Bolivar's head-quarters, just prior to the opening of the campaign that terminated so gloriously on the field of Caraboba.

+ Blosset, weakly yielding to Trayner's suggestions, had the previous night, in a conference with Paez, stated his opinion, that an example was necessary to restrain the mutinous spirit of the soldiers of the legion, and pointed out Risdale as a proper object to exercise severity upon. Had Blosset, even at the place of execution, spoken a word in the young man's behalf, I have no doubt Paez would willingly have reversed a sentence which did not originate with himself, and which he had no interest in enforcing.

firmly, (in the words of "Macduff,") "I shall, but must likewise feel it as a man!' Another moment restored him to self-possession. He divested himself of his uniform, and cast it with indignation at his feet he then glanced tremulously round, till his eye rested on Captain Scott, who commanded the company on the extreme right of the square: he articulated his name. Scott, yielding to the sudden impulse, sprung towards him, but was arrested by Blosset, and compelled to resume his post. The colonel asked Risdale what he desired? and on his replying that he merely wished his family to be informed of his doom, promised that his wish should be complied with. From this instant, never was greater courage displayed by mortal, than was evinced by Risdale. With unfaltering steps he approached the fatal spot, and knelt in front of the party that was to terminate his existence! His eyes were unbandaged, and, by a refinement of barbarity-which could only have emanated from the villainous Trayner, upon whom the arrangements had devolved-the muskets were unloaded, and each succeeding word of command of the "platoon exercise," as it was audibly pronounced, sounded like a reiterated knell of death on the ears of the unfortunate victims, and protracted the agony of their sufferings. At the word "Make ready," Risdale raised his hands, and crossed them upon his bosom in token of resignation; the next moment his body lay extended a bloody and a breathless corse, and left his pure spirit to wing its flight to brighter realms with the damning record of man's injustice!

I have little more to add : it may, however, gratify my reader to learn, that the "Eye of Providence " winked not at oppression. Six weeks had scarcely elapsed since the dreadful scene I have related took place, when Blosset was wounded in a duel by Major Power, who had served in the same regiment with him in Egypt; and after lingering three days, a prey to all the horrors of remorse, he died unlamented, and was interred in the aisle of the small church of Achaquas with all the pomp of military and masonic honors !

The vile and detested Trayner, scouted by his countrymen (with the rank of lieutenant-colonel conferred upon him by Paez in reward of his meritorious services), joined a native corps and accompanied it to a distant province. In an action which took place some time after, he was wounded, and with the Creole colonel ("Penango "), deserted by his men, left upon the field of battle, writhing with pain, and parched with thirst, he was found by the Spaniards, and by the order of their general (the savage Morales), unresistingly butchered, thus affording a terrible example of Divine retribution !

Several of the personages mentioned in my tale still, I believe, exist. Years may revolve, and various be the vicissitudes of their fortune, yet memory will never cease to associate in its reminiscence, with the town of Achaquas, or the name of the Colombian "Liberator," a recollection of the horrors that resulted from the sanguinary festival of the Eve of Saint Simon!


Ir a variety of taste in things is beneficial, how great is its advantage as to persons ! "Fair is not fair, but that which pleaseth ;" and "Fancy passes Beauty;" are two 9 ATHENEUM, VOL. 5, 3d series.

proverbs, the truth of which should be gratefully acknowledged by a large proportion of mankind. If none but blue eyes and alabaster skins could gain admirers, what

would become of the darker part of this yearning of our nature after

the fair sex ?—if none but tall, gentlemanly men, with aquiline noses, could hope to woo successfully, where would nine-tenths of modern beaux procure partners for life?

"Only think of that mawkin being my son's passion," said the Electress Sophia, speaking of George the First's mistress, the Duchess of Kendal, who was neither handsome nor clever; and some such depreciating remark not unfrequently passes our mind when we are introduced by our friend to the bride of whom we have heard so much, and search in vain for personal or intellectual perfection in her who has been described to us as "sovereign to all the creatures on the earth." On such occasions what have we to do but to recollect that "non è bello quel ch'è bello, ma è bello que che piace," and to rejoice that the silly custom practised in days of chivalry has been abolished, and that a man of honor is not any longer bound to prove the superior charms of his lady-love by that illogical and unsatisfactory argument, the point of the sword. He who admires a brunette so exclusively that, like the Ethiopians, he would almost paint the devil white, is not now maimed for life because some remarkably good fencer of his acquaintance happens to fall in love with a blonde.

liking and love be gratified, if we were all of one mind as to the qualities which excite those feelings? Where would the host of insignificant bores, dull dunces, and tiresome old maids, get their little share of praise and kindness, if there were not some in the world who did not think them dull, tiresome, and insignificant? Those who are rich in "honor, love, obedience, troops of friends," like those who are rich in gold, have no idea with what small and humble nutriment the mass of their fellow beings is supported: yet to lose that portion, small as it is, would be to exchange contentment for misery, sufficiency for starvation. Nor can we judge of the degree of estimation in which persons, to us extremely unpleasing, may be held in their own little circle. I remember once traveling in a public conveyance with a female who seemed to connect in herself everything that is disagreeable and repulsive-the most unprepossessing countenance-the most absurd and unsuitable dress, in which poverty and finery mingled-manners at once vulgar and affected—a loud harsh voice-and an inexhaustible flow of silly and conceited chatter. As the coach stopped to set her down, the thought involuntarily passed my mind, "how sorry they must be you are come !"-when, lo! to But, incredible as it may seem to rebuke my rash judgment, out rushthe young and the ardent, neither ed a whole party of anxious expectLove nor Hymen is essential to the ants, and, amidst showers of welhappiness of life, much as, under comings and embraces, my traveling favorable circumstances, they both companion passed in triumph along promote it. It is possible to live the little gravel-walk which led to and die happily unmarried, without the house, leaving me to admire that either wealth to gild our solitude, or bounteous arrangement which had intellectual riches to supply all other converted my poison into others' wants; but (to pass by those higher sugar-plum. If, therefore, we are resources open to the poor and the sometimes annoyed by the absurd ignorant, which it were irreverent tastes of our acquaintance, and into mention here, and without which clined to wish that everybody were life is an aimless, insipid dream), as wise as ourselves, let us recollect there is one essential of happiness that this difference of opinion is the for the want of which nothing can fertile source of a thousand blessings compensate, and this is affection to society and individuals, and that felt and returned. But how would multitudes are indebted for the

[blocks in formation]

* Whoever thou mayest be who enterest here, remember that what may seem strange to thee is agreeable to me. If thou art pleased, thou canst remain; if displeased, depart—either will please me.

Lo! the golden orbed shield
Freedom flames before the van;
Sons of slavery to the field,

Foot to foot, and man to man!
As to-day the evening clouds,
Let those banners be your shrouds.

Shrouds of crimson, steep'd in blood,
Blood of foemen in the fight;
Let him live a slave who would,
Fetters are a coward's right.
Let him veil his eyes to see
Banners of the brave and free!

Front to front, and hand to hand,

Shield to shield, and glaive to glaive;
Dauntless breast, and light'ning brand,
Here is life and there the grave.
Let thine own hand close the strife,
Death is but to leap to life!

What is blood that's not thine own,

Fever'd by a tyrant's toils?
What are lips that have no tone

But for fetter'd beauty's smiles?
What's affection that is nursed
For an offspring chain'd and cursed?

There is thunder on the heaven

Hark! it rolls from shore to shore !
Thunders by a nation given,
Despotism's reign is o'er.
Chains are riven, fetters flee
From the man who would be free.

Sons of Lusitania! read,

Read the record proud and high;
Learn like freemen once to bleed,

Or like freemen learn to die.
Learn to die with patriot glee,
'Neath the banners of the free!


duce is Genteel Education for young Ladies, which is supplied by numerous manufactories bearing the various designations of seminaries, establishments, institutions, &c. or, as-ere the march of intellect began

termed, boarding-schools; and its
population consists of about-
But away with the hundreds and the
thousands! for since the Wadds
have abandoned the place, the re-
maining souls are mere nobodies in
our estimation.

"HUMBOLDT," said a certain Captain in the West-Middlesex militia, "Humboldt is an over-rated man; there is very little in him; and he knows nothing of geography!""How that celebrated traveller knows nothing of geography?"--with vulgar propriety they were "No more than my black terrier there, Sir. I met him once at a party at the Russian Ambassador's at Paris, and put him to the proof. As long as he was talking about the Andes, and the Cordilleras, and places which nobody but himself had ever heard of, he carried it all his own way; but the moment I put a straight-forward question to him, which any school-boy might have answered, he was floored. Now, Baron,' said I-taking him by surprise- Now, Baron, can you tell me where Turnham Green is?' Upon-my-honor, he knew no knew no more about it than I know about Jericho !

[ocr errors]

Now, for the information of Baron Humboldt, and of such other persons whose education in that important branch of knowledge called geography may have been neglected, it will be useful to state that Turnham Green is a village situated on the Western road, distant about five miles from London, and two from the well-paved and agreeable town of Brentford. Its chief pro

Who that has ever journeyed from the giant metropolis towards the town beloved of surgeons, wheelwrights, farriers, and blacksmiths, the one and unparalleled Brentford, but must have observed, on the lefthand side of the road, at the farthermost corner of the rural Alma Mater I have described, a house remarkable for an air of snugness and comfort, and an appearance, altogether, bespeaking respectability and solid wealth in its owner. stood alone; that circumstance told of independence it was no more than two stories high, and was as square as a chess-board; to these would the intelligent observer at once attribute snugness and comfort; and for an indication of wealth, there it stood, as plain as a pikestaff, in the plate-glass which filled


« PreviousContinue »