« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
consternation, and perishing by thousands at every change of his station.
Among the victims, however, there were some splendidly apparelled, whose business it was to preserve the rest from being crushed by his steps, yet who appeared to delight in the misfortunes of their fellow, creatures, whom they urged to push one another down in the path of the monster, for their own amusement. At the same time, with goads in their hands, which had been entrusted to them expressly for the pur. pose of keeping him off, they incessantly pricked him on, even when he would have been quiet, or have taken a different road. One of these especially distinguished himself; he was a little man, in a green coat, with an eagle's head on his shoulders, and a cock's comb upon it, of which he was prodigiously vain. This nondescript being had the pow. er of driving the destroyer whithersoever he pleased, except across the straits of Dover.
After the giant had thus ex cised himself (with one short interval of slumber) for more than twenty years, twenty years in a reverie may be passed in twenty seconds,-he appeared utterly exhausted. Suddenly, as if he had been struck with apoplexy, he lay down, and stretching himself out at full length, from the rock of Gibraltar, across the whole continent of Europe, and beyond the arctic circle, he made his pillow of the Polar ices, and fell fast asleep,--for “ Peace is only the sleep of war."
The deponent in this case followed him into his slumber ; for, lo ! the monster dreamed ; and the first thing he dreamed was, naturally enough, that he was awake. He imagined himself standing upright upon his forest of legs, with all his arms spread out in the sky, amidst the breezes, the dew, and the sunshine of a lovely spring morning. The songs of the birds, the fragrance of the flowers, the glory of the heavens, and the beauty of the earth ravished his senses, and renovated his very existence; he found himself, notwithstanding his former con. sciousness, a different being, with new feelings, affections, and desires. His opposite faces, reciprocally gazing and admiring, by degrees grew so amiable in each other's eyes, that they smiled, and blushed, and kissed, and said the softest, sweetest things that his four ears had ever heard. His manifold arms embraced, shook hands together, and ex. changed rings in token of eternal reconciliation. His legs all stood up in one phalanx ; all ran in one direction, and at last fell to dancing, till he was forced to sit down upon the Alps with fatigue of enjoyment. Meanwhile this chimera of chimeras, who before had frozen the beholder of his person and performances with fresh horror at every look, grew so gentle, intellectual, and graceful, in manners, in aspect, and in form, that the present witness (though slow to believe any good of him) be. came as fully persuaded as he himself was, that he could be no longer the same, but that he must actually have undergone a metamorphosis as marvellous as any thing in OviD, from the Demon of War being transformed into the Angel of Peace : and so in truth he was, for he was asleep, and “ peace is only the sleep of war."
As soon as he could divert his attention from his own altered char. acter and novel situation, he began to look round him, and was enchanted to find, that the world had been happily regenerated in the transition from war to peace as he was. Instead of mourning and poverty, rapine, devastation, and carnage, violence in every shape, and misery in every degree, that could be inflicted or endured, there was one face of gladness, one heart of affection, among millions and millions of beings, of divers claims, and languages, and governments, who had been heretofore fellow-sufferers without sympathy, and mortal enemies without knowledge of each other. The plough was following in the track where armies had marched ; the battle-fields were already green with the creeping herbage of spring; nature herself was scattering flowers on the graves of those whom man had first murdered, and then abandoned ; cities burnt or demolished were rebuilding with more than original splendour ; people were travelling in every direction into foreign countries, not to plunder and depopulate, but for purposes of pleasure, or in pursuit of knowledge ; ships were sailing on the ocean, not to burn, sink, and destroy, but to convey the peculiar riches of every land to all the rest. In a word, order and harmony, love and sincerity appeared to prevail universally.
On a nearer inspection, indeed, the giant in his dream saw that there were yet many roots of bitterness left in the soil of Europe, and many tares sown by an enemy among the good seed of concord, which might spring up and ripen into future mischiefs. There were certain things also, (easily discovered,) which stirred his former spirit within him, but he resolutely kept it down ; for while he beheld the little man in the green coat, with the eagle's head, but without the cock's comb, busily employed, in building, farming, and legislating, on an island of the Mediterranean, no longer than the palm of one of his own pacific hands,
he felt a tranquillity of soul, which all the wrongs of Norway, Saxony, Poland, or Italy could not destroy--though they did occasionally disturb it; and he sometimes wondered how his blood came to be so cool, that he could endure the sight of such enormities, and not move earth and ocean to redress them. As for the perpetuation of the slave-trade, by a solemn treaty of Christian potentates, the revival of the Holy Inquisition, and its concomitant plagues in Spain ; the reluctant and hollow submission of a profligate soldiery to a family of princes whom they hated and despised in France, whenever these exasperated his feelings beyond that moderate pitch of indignation which evaporates in invective, but never breaks out into blows, he instantly turned for consolation towards the august congress of sovereigns and statesmen at Vienna, who were calmly, solemnly, and deliberately setting the boundaries of nations never to be passed, and dividing the “ souls” of men among themselves with more than paternal solicitude, and the nicest mathematical precision. In their wisdom, magnanimity, and disinterestedness, he welcomed, with all the ardour of inexperience, the pledges of universal and everlasting amity among all the families of the civilized world.
Ten months had already elapsed in this charming illusion,--for time in a dream is as evanescent as it hath already been shown to be in a brown study,when, all in an instant, our ruminator felt a shock on his left side, as if the man in the moon, from that astounding elevation, had lept upon him, broken through his ribs, and crushed his heart ; while a voice more terrible than he had ever heard during the French Revolution, from the tribune, the guillotine, or the throne, thundered in his ears, " Le congrès est dessous.'
He started up, and the first object he saw, (for instinctively he looked that way,) was the little man in the green coat, with the eagle's head, who had jumped on shore, in the south of France. The giant fixed his eye intensely upon him, and never winked, nor withdrew it, day nor night, for two whole weeks, while he watched his old tormentor carried in the arms of Fortune herself, seated again, without resistance, on the throne of France, and the cock's comb replaced by her on the eagle's crest. Every moment of this ghastly interval, the phantom himself was visibly relapsing into his former ferocity; and no sooner was the audacious adventurer re-established, than his two heads began to frown, and snarl, and snap ; his hands to combat, and his feet to wrestle. The demon of war was alive, awake, and in action again ; " for peace is only the sleep of war."- -When will he sleep, and what will be his dream, next time ?
P. Ś. After an interval of eight years, (Midsummer, 1823,) every reader may answer this question in the way that will best satisfy himself.
THE VOICE OF SPRING.
From the “ New Monthly Magazine.”
I COME, I come ! ye have call’d me long,
I have breathed on the South, and the chesnut-flowers,
I have passed o'er the hills of the stormy North,
I have sent through the wood-paths a gentle sigh,
From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain ;
Come forth, Oye children of gladness, come!
Away from the dwellings of care-worn men,
But ye! ye are changed since ye met me last ;
Ye are changed, ye are changed ! and I see not here
There were steps, that flew o'er the cowslips head,
-Are they gone?-is their mirth from the green hills past ? -Ye have look'd on Death since ye met me last !
I know whence the shadow comes o'er ye now,
Ye have given the lovely to the earth’s embrace,
They are gone from amongst you the bright and fair,
The summer is hastening, on soft winds borne,
A TRUE STORY.
From the " Indicator."
WHEN I was a young boy, I lad delicate health, and was somewhat of a pensive and contemplative turn of mind : it was my delight, in the long summer evenings, to slip away from my noisy and more robust companions, that I might walk in the shade of a venerable wood, my favourite haunt, and listen to the cawing of the old rooks, who seemed as fond of this retreat as I was.
One evening I sat later than usual, though the distant sound of the cathedral clock had more than once warned me to my home. There was a stillness in all nature that I was unwilling to disturb by the least motion. From this reverie I was suddenly startled by the sight of a tall slender female who was standing by me, looking sorrowfully and steadily in my face. She was dressed in white, from head to foot, in a fashion that I had never seen before; her garments were unusually long and flowing, and rustled as she glided through the low shrubs near me, as if they were made of the richest silk. My heart beat as if I was dying, and I knew not that I could have stirred from the spot ; but she seemed so very mild and beautiful, I did not attempt it. Her pale brown hair was braided round her head, but there were some locks that strayed upon her neck; and altogether she looked like a lovely picture, but not like a lovely woman. I closed my eyes forcibly with my hands, and when I looked again she had vanished.
I cannot exactly say why I did not on my return speak of this beautiful appearance, nor why, with a strange mixture of hope and fear, I went again and again to the same spot that I might see her. She