« PreviousContinue »
fervent piety in the house of affliction, on the bed of suffering, animating the bereaved parent, the widow, the sufferer; while a mere verbal recognition of their blessings, and often scarcely that, was uttered by the rich, the vigorous, the happy.
A more healthy frame of mind was engendered by these convictions; reverie gave place to activity, gratitude banished idle despondency, and content succeeded to repinings.
Christmas had come, the "Yule log" been burned, the tenantry feasted, and once more it was "New Year's Eve." The ground was crisped with frost, but the trees were not now laden with snow; garlands of variegated lamps hung suspended from their naked branches, apeing leaves and blossoms with their green and varied hues; the portals of Arlham Hall were open, and the ruddy hue of the fire within gleamed cheerfully from the vestibule. Torches, affixed to stakes at intervals all up the avenue, threw their murky glare around, and in the distance was seen a huge bonfire on Arlham Green, blazing furiously aloft, and tinting the sky with a crimson hue, while its lurid smoke might be traced for miles, waving in fantastic wreaths. The moon and silent stars looked peacefully down in their cold frosty brilliancy on the busy throng that moved in and out the hall, and scattered themselves up the avenue, making the hard ground echo again as they tramped vigorously to keep themselves warm, while their voices rose and fell in a deep humming cadence.
Hark! that is a distant hurrah! And now the merry bells of Arlham Church chime in a glad peal. Nearer and nearer come the cheers, louder and louder swell the chimes. And now we can distinguish the far-off tramp of horses and roll of carriage wheels, and the words"Welcome to the Lord of Arlham and our noble Lady Mary!"
Long life and happiness to the bride and bridegroom!"
BY MRS. ABDY.
She lies in slumber calm and deep-
Gaze on, undoubting, undismayed:
Gaze on-soft sleep yet veils her eyes.
See ye yon stranger by her side?
She wakes, but does not wake to bear
Ye who to view this scene are led,
And should we in our future days
(From the French of Dumas.)
A short time after the 18th Brumaire, there was a revolution in Brittany and La Vendée. The First Consul, anxious to obtain peace, employed the likeliest measures to procure tranquillity; but he tried to quell the disturbances in the west in vain. At this period a cadet of the Maillé family was sent by the Chouans from Brittany to Saumur, in order to establish a chain of intelligence between certain individuals of that town and the leaders of the royalist insurrection. Informed of this enterprise, the police of Paris had despatched agents to seize the young emissary on his arrival at Saumur; where he was, in truth, arrested on the very day he reached it, in the disguise of a mariner. Having, however, calculated the chances of his undertaking, his papers and passports were so thoroughly in form, that his captors were afraid they had mistaken their man; and the Chevalier de Beauvais played his part so cunningly, that he was very nearly regaining his liberty; but the alguazils preferring to commit an arbitrary act to letting escape an individual to whose capture the minister seemed to attach such importance, imprisoned him until such time as superior authority had decided on what was to be done with him. He was therefore closely guarded, and transferred to the Château de l'Escarpe, whose name indicates its situation. This fortress, placed upon rocks of immense height, has precipices for ramparts, and chasms for moats on every side the approach is by steep and abrupt passes, the rocks rising up like gigantic spikes in all quarters round it; whilst, like almost all old castellated buildings, the principal entrance was by a drawbridge. The commandant of the prison, delighted in having the charge of a man of rank of agreeable manners, who expressed himself well, and who was more than commonly accomplished, received his captive as a providential boon, sent to relieve his ennui. The prisoner was therefore put upon his parole. Now, though De Beauvais was an honourable fellow, he was also a very handsome one. In addition to a fine figure, a bold and resolute air, and a fascinating address, he possessed great muscular strength. Well set, agile, enterprising, and loving danger, he seemed formed to become the leader of a party.
The commandant assigned to him the most commodious apartment in the citadel-admitted him to his table-and at first did nothing but boast of his Vendean captive. But he was married and a Corsican. His wife, young and beautiful, and (as De Beauvais during his ex
istence continued to declare) pure and innocent, was watched with that intent jealousy which is so peculiarly the characteristic of a Corsican husband. This lady was pleased with De Beauvais-De Beauvais was pleased with the lady; their mutual satisfaction with each other did not decrease with the familiarity that sprang from their domesticating together like brother and sister; perhaps it increased in degree, for love grows rapidly in the soil of a prison. On the gentleman's side it assuredly did; but it has ever remained in obscurity whether he dared to reveal to the lady the nature of his affection. All that is known is, that the commandant's worst passions were aroased; he suddenly deemed it his duty to exercise rigorous treatment towards his erewhile favoured prisoner, who was then confined to a turret, put upon black bread and water, and all the other unpleasant accessories of captivity.
This turret, situated under the platform, was vaulted with stone, the walls being of desperate thickness, and it overlooked the steepest part of the precipice. When poor De Beauvais saw the impossibility of an evasion, he fell into those reveries, which are both the despair and the consolation of a prisoner. He occupied himself with those trifles that become to such as are similarly situated grand affairs; he counted the hours as well as the days; he began his apprenticeship to captivity, and with it learnt to appreciate liberty and the open air. At the end of fifteen days he was seized with that craving fever for escape which stimulates the captive to the most daring sublimities, whose wonderful results seem to us as inexplicable as they are real.
One morning his jailor, who had the care of bringing him food, instead of retiring as soon as he had placed the meagre allowance beside him, seemed to hesitate at the door, crossing his arms, and regarding him significantly. Hitherto the conversation between them had been brief, confining itself to few things, and never commenced by the custodian. The chevalier was therefore much surprised to hear this man address him: "Monsieur," said he, “you have no doubt some reason for assuming the name of Citizen Lelue, but that is no affair of mine. It is all one to me whether you call yourself Peter or Paul. This I know"-winking his eye"that you are the Chevalier de Beauvais, cousin of the Duchess de Maillé. Well?" And he looked triumphantly at the prisoner, who seeing himself incarcerated beyond hope of release, did
not think it would make things worse if he confessed his real name.
"Suppose I were the Chevalier de Beauvais," said he," of what use is the knowledge of the fact to you?"
"Oh, of all the use in the world," replied the turnkey, in a low voice." Listen! I have received money to facilitate your escape; but if I were to be suspected of the slightest thing of the sort, I should be shot without a moment's warning. However, to gain a little gold I don't mind meddling in this matter. There, monsieur, is a little key" (taking a small file from his pouch): "with this you can saw through the iron bars of the window. By our lady, it is not very convenient," added he, looking at the narrow aperture which admitted light into the tower-chamber. It was a sort of bay-window, constructed above the parapet that ran round the outside of the turret, and among those large projecting stones which served both to support and ornament the battlements. "Mind you saw away enough of the iron to admit of your passing through, monsieur."
"Never fear-I'll do so," said De Beauvais. "But," added the man, "leave the highest bar untouched, in order that you may fix your rope to it."
"And the rope-where is it?" "Here;" throwing him the desired article, knotted into steps to form a ladder: "it is made of linen, to lead them to suppose it your own fabrication; and it is exactly the right length. When you have got to the last step, drop down gently the rest is your own affair. Perhaps you may find some of your friends in attendance to ensure your flight. I need not tell you that there is a sentinel to the right, so you had better choose a dark night, and watch your opportunity, by which you may escape a bullet."
"Very well, my friend," said the happy prisoner; "I shall not rot here, be assured.”
"Ah! as well rot here as elsewhere," said the turnkey, with an idiotic smile.
De Beauvais took the remark as only one of those stupid comments which escape from the ignorant or the apathetic-the expectation of regaining his freedom making him so merry that he scarcely knew what he was about. He set to work on the instant, and at the close of day had sawn through the bars. Fearing a visit from the commandant, he concealed his work by covering over the cuttings with crumbs of bread, rubbed over with rust to give them the colour of iron. But he might have spared himself the trouble-the commandant came not. With that concentrated impatience and profound agitation which dramatize the life of a captive, he awaited for a favourable night; and at length, one dark autumnal evening, he cut through the remaining portions of the bars, fixed firmly the ladder of linen, and towards morning, when the sentinels were most likely to be sleepy, if not asleep-when the last sounds of the patrol had passed-and when the nearest watchman had gone out of reach of hearing-periods which a captive knows almost intuitively-he forced him
self through the opening, and commenced his descent, step by step, between heaven and earth, holding the cords with the strength of a giant.
All went well at the last step but one-he knew their number, and had counted them as he descended-a thought struck him as he was about to let himself drop down. He stretched out his foot to search for the ground, but it did not reach it. His situation was rather an embarrassing one for a man perspiring with fatigue, perplexed as to the distance that might remain for him to leap, and playing a game for life or death. However, the space from the ground could not be very great, and he was on the point of dropping down, when a frivolous cause prevented him. His cap fell off-he listened for the sound it would make when it touched the ground, for it was not light, but heavy-but he heard nothing. Vague fears and suspicions arose within him; what if the commandant had planned a snare for him? What if beneath him gaped some swallowing chasm, some perilous pit, destined to be his grave? A prey to incertitude, he resolved on deferring his attempt till another night. His unusual strength enabled him to remount the ladder-a far greater labour than the descent-but when he once more rested on the stone-work outside the window, it was nearly gone. Presently the feeble light of morning began to show the real state of affairs, and casting his eyes below, he saw that between the last step of the ladder and the jagged points of the rocks, there was at least a distance of a hundred feet!
"Thank you, commandant," said he, with constitutional coolness" I owe you one!"
Reflecting on this dreadful and diabolical stratagem, he still judged it necessary to re-enter the tower. He left the ladder of linen dangling from the window, to make the jailer believe that their plot had succeeded; and crouching quietly behind the door, awaited his arrival, holding in his hand the largest and thickest bar he had sawn from the window. Nor was it long ere the turnkey came earlier, indeed, than was his wont-doubtless in the persuasion that the vengeance of his employer had been accomplished. He entered, whistling; but no sooner had he taken a few steps into the room, than De Beauvais struck him so violent a blow on the head, that the traitor fell like a mass, without uttering a single cry. The chevalier, stripping him of his apparel, arrayed himself in it, and imitating the gait and manner of his jailer as nearly as he could, proceeded down stairs. Thanks to the early hour, he met nobody; and without any difficulty effected his exit from the chateau.
only is it generally applied-to the knowledge of Education has various systems, though to one various facts and rules, acquired by years of toil and application, perhaps forgotten as soon as known. Ah, wise parent, teach your child to think; then and then only will he be educated, and equal to the emergencies of life.-Evelyn Stuart.
Like a chain of ocean alps,
Bright stars! that beam upon us like the eyes
To soothe and cheer, when in the dusty ways
And fretful murmur of our misery.
And stain'd our soul with falsehood, doubt, and ill.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE GIFTED.
"A poet could not sleep aright;
Many years ago, in a green, quiet field, not far from Basingstoke, sat a poet with a book. Sometimes he looked upwards into the clear blue sky, or watched the cloud-shadows as they passed over the waving grass; and sometimes he looked down and read, or rather, seemed to read. He was about the middle size; of a pale complexion, with grey, dreamy-looking eyes, and a countenance of intense thoughtfulness, Presently a poor woman drew near, with a baby in her arms. The poet was struck with her wretched appearance, and instinctively felt for his purse, in order to relieve her; but forgetting his benevolent purpose even in the very act, he withdrew his hand and smiled, while the woman passed on with a disappointed air. But the smile was not one of mockery; just so had he smiled upon the birds and the flowers, and the little children as they stopped to gaze on him: so that a casual observer might have supposed him to be what he was not-a happy man. All around him were lights, and forms, and tints, and sounds of beauty; among which he sat like one who has been born blind. They called forth no delight, and awoke no train of sweet association: the golden chords of memory and imagination were jarred and out of tune, and a dark shadow hung over the genius which had once reflected back the loveliness of nature as in a poetic mirror.
Evening came slowly on, with all those indications and accompaniments which he had immortalized in times past: but the poet still sat, with his head bowed down upon his bosom, like one who sleeps without dreaming, until aroused by a cheerful voice at his side. It was the Rector of Winslade, himself something of a poet, besides being a man of profound and unquestionable learning and abilities. He had now come from his study and his Greek transla- | tions, in search of his guest; and even as he spoke he passed his hand over his thoughtful brow, as if to clear away some of the erudite perplexities which still haunted him. "It is getting late," said he, "and the dew begins to fall let us return."
The poet arose, and followed him, without a word.
"How beautiful!" exclaimed the Rector, pointing to the rose-coloured clouds which still
Miss E. B. EARRETT.
lingered in the far-west, and looked as though they were fringed with gold.
"Cloud-land!" murmured his companion, with the same wandering smile. "Yes, it is very beautiful!"
Pleasant looked the little sitting-room at the Rectory, with the crimson curtains drawn close, and sweeping the floor; and the fire-for it was now the middle of autumn, when fires begin to look comfortable-blazing cheerfully on the hearth, as the young Rector said, they wanted no other light to talk by: but he had a better reason, and remembered with thoughtful kindness how the eyes of his companion grew every day weaker and weaker, and seemed, to use his own words, as if thousands of bright stars were constantly dancing before them; and yet, when he shut them, they ached still more, while the pain appeared to penetrate into his very brain.
"Do you recollect, William," said the Rector, "the first verses that we ever wrote, and sent to the 'Gentleman's Magazine; and how anxious we were until we heard that they were accepted; and how beautiful they looked to us in print?"
"Yes," replied his companion. Fame, like heaven, seemed nearer then than it has ever done since!"