Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

“ I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall | “ Oh! sweet is the new violet, that comes beneath never wake,

the skies, If you do not call me loud when the day begins to And sweeter is the young lamb's voice to me that break;

cannot rise, But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds, and And sweet is all the land about, and all the flow. garlands gay,

ers that blow, For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be And sweeter far is death than life to me that long Queen 'o the May.”

to go.” How pretty the coquetry with which in How touching to the thought of the dying the heyday of her triumph she treats her girl, how holy the kind consideration now lover

that strength has faded away with the flush * As I came up the valley whom think ye should I

of conquest, for that same lover whom in her see,

brighter but scarcely happier moments she But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel treated so coquettishly. How sacred seems tree?

the transition from the sensuous beauty, He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him

with lovers at her feet, to the chastened inyesterday, But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be

valid welcoming death as a bridegroom,Queen o' the May."

And say to Robin a kind word, and tell him Dot How lovely the leaning of her innocent

to fret;

There's many worthier than I, would make him nature to the beautiful which wreathes

happy yet. sweet flowers round her imagination as she

If I had lived-I cannot tell-I might have been binds garlands round her head.

his wife; “ The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its

But all these things have ceased to be, with my

desire of life.” wavy bowers, And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint, sweet Our space compels us reluctantly to pass cuckoo-flowers;

over “St. Simeon Stylites," in which we see And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in

painted by the hand of genius, the ambitious swamps and hollows gray, And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be

hopes and the besetting fears—the debaseQueen o' the May."

ment and degradation of self, with the love Then when the summer and its May glo

of the worship of others—the mingled cerries has flown and chill winter reigns, and

tainty and doubt which throng through the

mind of the fanatic who seeks to gain a the old year is dying out to make way for

crown of glory, not by elevating and making the new, the May Queen lies on her sick-bed and speaks again. How altered the strain,

happy others, but by mortifying, torturing,

and debasing his own humanity. yet how wonderfully preserved the unity of

We cull a few extracts from another the individual.

poem embodying perhaps more than any “ If you're waking call me early, call me early, other the metaphysical philosophy of Tenmother dear,

nyson. The poem to which we refer, “The For I would see the sun rise upon the glad New

Two Voices," represents a man's own nature year, It is the last New-year that I shall ever see,

divided against itself. The evil voice Then you may lay me low i' the mould, and think making life dark and counselling self-destrueno more of me.”

tion; the good voice whispering hope and She still loves the sweet flowers, but with comfort, and painting much of joy and what a chastened, altered love-a love no brightness amid the despair and darkness of longer associated with the saucy flush of the world. How subtilely the dark spirit health.

counsels suicide, u There's not a flower on all the hills: the frost is

“ A still small voice spake unto me, on the pane:

Thou art so full of misery, I only wish to live till the snowdrops come again :

Were it not better not to be?'” I wish the snow would melt and the sun come out

| How artfully it insinuates the possible inon high : I long to see a flower so before the day I die.” feriority of man to other beings who may

existAnd then comes the conclusion. The May

“This truth within thy mind rehearse, Queen who loves the flowers so earnestly

That in a boundless universe does live till the flowers come again,

Is boundless better, boundless worse."

With what emphatic briefness it points to

From “ Bentley's Miscellany." the presumed annihilation of Death as the

MY VOLUNTEER TROOP IN KAFIR“Sov'reign cure” for all,

LAND. “Go, vexed Spirit, sleep in trust; The right ear, that is fill'd with dust,

ANOTHER Kafir war has burst upon the Hears little of the false or just.”

Cape Colony. How very faint are our How triumphantly the good voice points ideas of the horrors of such an event when to examples of the great and good of all

we read the records of it, comfortably ages who, defying trouble

ensconced in our easy chairs by “our ain " rowing hard against the stream, firesides." It is true that we shudder a Saw distant gates of Eden gleam,

little at the idea of a village full of peaceful And did not dream it was a dream;

inhabitants, quietly sitting down to their But heard by secret transport led, Even in the charnels of the dead,

Christmas dinners, being suddenly attacked The murmur of the fountain head"

by hundreds or thousands of armed savages, And goes on to express the fear which Shak barbarously murdered, and their habitations speare makes Hamlet express as a reason committed to the flames. We are conscious for not casting off mortality,

of a slight glow of indignation when we

hear of our brave soldiers way laid and over“ I said, “I toil beneath the curse, But, knowing not the universe,

powered, and left naked, bleeding, and I fear to slide from bad to worse.

ghastly corpses in the highway. Our pulse And that, in seeking to undo

throbs with anxiety as we read of the brave One riddle and to find the true

old General Sir Harry Smith, the hero of I knit a hundred others new.'"

Aliwal and a dozen other well-fought fields, The darkness of a pre-existence as well as surrounded by hordes of these faithless and of an after immortality seems to form a part bloodthirsty fiends, and escaping, as it were, of Tennyson's creed; for the good voice, by a hair's breadth from their clutches, and replying to the argument that a beginning from a fearful and ignominious death. But implics an ending, says

after all, our feelings are not much more " Yet how should I for certain bold,

harrowed by all these details than perchance Because my memory is so cold,

by a well-acted tragedy on the boards of That I first was in human mould ?”. Drury Lane Theatre, or the Haymarket, or The doctrine of the metempsychosis he some heart-rending melodrama at the Surdoes not deem unworthy of a thought-as rey or the Porte Saint Martin. The comhe philosophically puts it, - ,

fortable sensation of our own security in old “ It may be that no life is found,

England (notwithstanding the warnings of Which only to one engine bound

Sir Francis Head) is a powerful antidote Falls off, but cycles always round.”

against the otherwise too violent dose of And at last hope proves stronger than fear, horrors we might have to swallow. Nay, so as it always will in the lives of men, and thoroughly do we maintain our character as the uncertain light of argument fades before “a nation of shopkeepers,” that our very the mystic thoughts it conjures up.

first impulse is not that of horror at the « Moreover, something is or seems,

atrocities committed, or pity for the innoThat touches me with mystic gleams, cent and the brave exposed to them, or Like glimpses of forgotten dreams

indignation at the perpetrators, or fear for Like an Æolian harp, that wakes

the safety of our colony; but a "pretty No certain air, but overtakes

considerable" anxiety as to who is to pay Far thought with music that it makes."

the expense of thrashing the Kafirs ! ImaAnd last and above all, the recognition of.

gine, good reader, the Arabs attacking the power and goodness, and the capacity for

French colonists in Algeria, and some Cobthem in humanity prevails.

denite Member of the National Assembly in “So variously seem'd all things wrought, Paris getting up to “protest" against the I marvellid how the mind was brought

| nation paying the expense of punishing the To anchor by one gloomy thought;

| insurgents! Do you think there is an insurAnd wherefore rather I made choice To commune with that barren voice,

ance-office in Europe that would insure that Than him that said, Rejoice! Rejoice po | wretched individual's existence for two days i But I must not begin political allusions of to the town. It was our only fortification, any kind, for they are apt to make men our sole place of refuge. Judge, then, of our very ill-tempered and very disagreeable consternation on learning that the man who companions, while my object is to entertain should venture to fire one of those guns the reader with a few of my personal remi would certainly be sent higher into the air niscences “ touching the Kafirs,” and with a than the whole Kafir nation could blow him; veracious history of the deeds of my own while the fort itself would inevitably tumble volunteer troop in the former Kafir war. to pieces and come rattling about our ears in

I was living in a peaceful, quiet, thriving the town. little seaport in the Eastern Province of the Now, it must be confessed, that though Cape Colony, when we were all startled all this may look very ludicrous, we were from our usual monotonous state of existence far from seeing the joke of it at the time. I by the news that the Kafirs were in arms, can positively declare that we took a very and bad sent messages of defiance to the lugubrious view of the subject, and uttered governor. Now, as these turbulent gentry rather strong imprecations on “the authori. can bring from thirty to fifty thousand ties” for taking no better care of “our armed men into the field, (most of them arm- national defences." ed, too, with good long guns,) and as the It is true there was the sea left us ; but, whole of our military force on the frontier alas! there were but four or five little was probably something short of one thou-coasting vessels at hand, and our town con sand, it may easily be conceived that the tained three or four thousand inhabitants. news I have mentioned was heard with There was no hope of escape. I repeat, we any thing but indifference. To form any had nothing to do but to fight or die! thing like an adequate conception of our We immediately began to form ourselves feelings on the occasion the reader has only into companies or troops of volunteers, and to fancy himself in a quiet country town to choose our officers from among ourselves. with his wife and his olive-branches around One troop, mounted and armed with doublehim, and a breathless messenger rushing barrelled guns, conferred the honor of being into the room to inform him that the com- their captain on me. And I don't mind bined armies of France, Austria, and Russia telling the reader that I felt very proud of are safely landed hard-by, and marching on it, and fancied myself already an embryo with fire and sword to his dwelling, vowing hero. The only thing we called on Governto spare neither sex nor age. To say that ment to supply us with was ammunition we instantly rose en masse to defend our | Every day I led my troop into a valley hard selves would be no proof of our heroism, by the town, and drilled them with the but only an evidence of the instinctive feelpertinacity of a serjeant of Life Guards. ing of self-preservation. It was a case of Where I learnt the art myself is my own fighting or dying, and, like heroes and men, secret, and I am not going to divulge it, we chose the former.

especially as the reader knows nothing of Every body was to be a soldier. Every me or my previous occupations. Then we double-barrelled fowling-piece became an used to practise firing at a mark—a great implement of war; decrepit blunderbusses white board, whereon was drawn with black were furbished up to shoot Kafirs, or their chalk the figure of an imaginary Kafir, I own possessors, (which seemed as likely :) must confess I was rather disheartened, the stores were ransacked for arms of all de- first day of drill and practice, at seeing only scriptions; every man began casting bullets one shot within the outlines of the Kafir; with any piece of lead he could lay hands and I began to fear that my troop would be on; some even hinted at turping the gutters less formidable in the field than it was desirof their roofs to such purposes ; while a able it should be. However, we improved man who had a sword was such an envied day by day till after a week's practice our mortal that he was in daily and hourly fear imaginary Kafir looked considerably riddled. of being robbed of his treasure. All eyes Then there was the drilling! How shall I were immediately turned to "the fort,” ever describe its ludicrous scenes ? Fifts where four or five scaly old guns poked men of all sizes are mounted on fifty horses their noses out and looked fiercely down on or ponies of equally various dimeusions. There is a fat, greasy-looking man who rides Five or six ox-wagons were prepared to a low punchy little gray pony, with a re- carry our commissariat and ammunition; markably lively little tail; and whenever our horses were saddled, our farewells (with the order is given to “fire,” the punchy little many a heartache) exchanged, and one fine gray bobs down his head, elevates his heels, morning we marched forward " to conquer and pitches the fat man on to the grass over or to die.” Perhaps it would be difficult to his head. That man never will ride. There conceive a more disagreeable duty than that is a little, weazen-faced tailor mounted on a which we had to perform-to fight against high, long-legged, raw boned brute that savages, with the certainty of the most hortakes him wherever it pleases, and at the rible deaths if we fell into their hands, and same moment that the stout gentleman is no "glory" if we thrashed them instead. seen sprawling on the ground, the little What glory could be gained by fighting tailor on his tall Rosinante is galloping hordes of barbarians ? What military rewildly across the country, and is never nown could await a lot of burghers, battling heard off till tea-time the same evening, for their own lives? What gazettes or prowhen he drops in at home and tells his wife motions could be in store for a set of halfbig stories about his martial deeds. There armed civilians, sallying forth to protect is that highly respectable man in the green their homes and their property? Still, we wide-awake, and the perverse pair of trow. went forward with a firm determination to sers that will work up to his knees, who is a be heroes at all hazards. steady, persevering fellow at his drill; but Our first day's march was about thirty who has a remarkable tendency to take his miles, to Sundny's river, on the banks of right hand for his left, and when ordered to which we pitched our camp. After I had face to the former invariably twists to the taken all due precautions to fortify our polatter, and thereby comes into violent col-sition as well as our rough means and small lision with his neighbor, to the occasional experience would enable me; after having upsetting of both. There is a mild, gentle duly posted the pickets and “made all manly-looking, middle-aged man, with a snug," as the sailors say, I retired to my new double-barrelled gun, and mounted on tent to cogitate over the strange course of a decently-groomed animal, who, if not a events which had turned me into a hybrid very soldier-like figure, will at all events captain of a troop of burghers on the plains pass muster ; but has an awkward habit of of South Africa. forgetting the difference between ball-car- I was aroused from my reverie by the tridges and blank ones, whereby he occa- entrance of my sergeant. The good man sionally sends a bullet whizzing over his (who was a cooper by trade) gave me the captain's head, which he misses only through military salute, and proceededa tendency he has to fire high. There is the “If you please, captain, I have to report " tall man" of the troop, who rides a "jib- private Brooks." ber;" and when ordered to “charge” is “What's the matter?” I asked. generally seen backing like an equestrian at “Why, you see, captain, (another military Astley's retiring from the ring, but driving salute—we were very au fait at these mihis spurless heels frantically into the brute's nor“ dandyisms ” of our new profession)sides to make him go forward, while the more you see, sir, I posted him on guard at the he labors the more his animal won't do it. turn of the river yonder, where the bush

Notwithstanding these little drawbacks, joins it; and says he, ‘Do you mean to say however, my troop was voted the “crack” | as how I'm to walk up and down this cursed one of the place. Some of us—most of us, place for two hours with my gun ?? Of indeed—could both ride and shoot well, and course you are,' says I; it's the captain's began to be anxious to try the effects of our orders.' - Then,” says he, I'll just tell you bullets on the thick skulls of the Kafirs. what it is, I'll see you d-d first.'. When, therefore, it was suggested, though | This was the first specimen I had of the not absolutely commanded, that one of the perfection of our state of military discipline, troops raised in our town had better advance and I had great trouble to refrain from towards the frontier, we forthwith volun- | bursting out laughing. But, assuming a stern teered to do so.

look, I said,

" Place him under arrest and wait my | inglorious" peace. On the fourth day we orders."

were ordered to proceed to a certain spot, “ Begging your pardon, captain, that's known as Trompetter's Drift,-“ drift" just what he wants—there's a good fire that meaning, in the language of the colony, a he wants to get nigh.”

“ford,” where we were to remain until “Oh, that's it, is it? Then tie him to one joined by other forces. On looking at the of the wagons, away from the fire, and stop map, and taking a careful view of the posihis rations till he's willing to return to duty.” | tion we were to occupy, I became convinced

The sergeant seemed to think I was a ge that we were about to have all our soldiernius for hitting on such a plan, and I may as like qualities called into play: for a more well declare, that I always found it the most diabolical spot, one better adapted for Kafirs efficacious method of quelling turbulent to surround even the most vigilant of volunspirits, stopping the supplies. Private teer captains, to hem in his troop, eat them Brooks behaved like a trump ever after-up, (as they call it,) and utterly annihilate wards.

| them, I never saw. Moreover, the bush Next morning we marched forwards again, around it was reported to be full of Kafirs, approaching the Addo Bush, which is a and for that very reason my troop was sent dense forest, extending miles in every direc- to look for them ; because, in fact, we were tion, and with only one wagon road through looked upon as a set of regular fire-eating it. It is always full of something horrible, devils ! both in peace and war, if you believe the We marched forward again. Our desti. reports of a couple of roadside innkeepers nation lay only about thirty or forty miles who live on the borders of it, and express from the town; but I made a two days' the greatest anxiety for the personal safety march of it, because I judged it imprudent of any visitors who think of quitting their to put my neck into such a place of jeophospitable roofs to penetrate its depths ardy, for the first time, after dark. On the For my own part, the number of times I second day we reached the “Drift," which have been about to be torn to pieces by lions, was a ford on a branch of the Great Fish trampled to death by elephants, eaten by River. I must explain, however, to the tigers, and chased by hyenas in that bush reader, who may be ignorant of the peculi(according to the warnings of those same | arities of South Africa, that many of the innkeepers) makes me look upon myself as a beds of rivers there are quite dry. Such rival of Van Amburgh, so often have I es was the case with this one ; so that there caped the jaws of wild beasts. On the pres was merely a “blind river," or ravine, ent occasion, of course, it was full of Kafirs where there should have been a noble enough to dine on my troop--men, horses, stream. Crossing this blind river, I led my wagons, and oxen—without suffering the men to an open space beyond it, according slightest indigestion from a surfeit. On we to the wise instructions I had received from proceeded notwithstanding these gloomy as the powers that were. Here we prepared surances ; and although we fired at one or to encamp. To fortify such a position eftwo blackened stumps of trees, seen from fectually was almost impossible, but I did the distance through the leaves; although my best. Before us lay a dense, impenewe charged in pursuit of a black bullock, trable bush, which may be said to have ocand nearly murdered a wandering Fingo cupied two sides of the triangle on which herdsman, we did not fall in with a single we were placed, the third side being the Kafir.

deep bed of the blind river before menThree further days' march brought us to tioned. Graham's Town, the head-quarters of the We were careful enough about our senfrontier. We marched into the town a very tries all night, I can assure the reader. As dirty, tired, sleepy, unshaven, and wretched for myself, I was riding or walking from one looking set; yet we felt ourselves heroes, post to another nearly the whole of the and flattered ourselves that many fair eyes time. Not a sound disturbed us, however; looked on us as such.

not the faintest hint that a Kafir was in the I am not going to trouble the reader with dark, black-looking bush beyond us. our doings for the next three days in "mute, In the morning, some of the party began

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »