« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
icy points of which13 the hues of the rainbow seem dancity. The once variegated and wide-spreading landscape is transformed, by its white and dazzling mantle, into a scene simple and uniforin as some exquisite marble statue. What profound stillness fur and near! What a hush in the forest, as if the very winds were frozen!
2. And yet it is not the universal stillness which broods over the snow-clad plains, not the icy jewels which adorn both twig and branch, not the mirror-like surface of the ice on river and lake, which are worthy of our admiring wonder ; but the creative power of the Father of the universe, and the plenitude of His divine goodness. Thus did David contemplate" the wonders of nature. Ever did his adoring soul ascend from the incoin. prehensible grandeur of creation, to the Omnipotent Creator. “ Great is the Lord,” he sang, “and great is His power ; yea, El and His wisdom is infinite.” “lle giveth snow like wool, and scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.” “Ile casteth His ice like morsels : who is able to abide His frost ?”.
3. Yes, great is He, and incomprehensible, as He governs !92 But how few are they who are sensible of the greatness and mysterious wonder displayed in the benevolent'l appearances of nature! And yet, each single snow-flake, as it floats down from its cloud, is a subject for wonder, and proclaims lle is great, and incomprehensible, as He governs! How do these mighty masses of delicately frozen water originate in the chambers of the heavens ?80 Who holds these weighty volumes of snow, under which the branches of the trees are broken, and many huts are hidden" from sight; volumes which in the aggregate weigh mauy thousand tons, yet which float with feathery lightness, long invisible, in the expanse of the heavens, in order that they may not sink to earth till the proper time, and then so sofuiy as to be rendered harmless, and which give a nourishing warmth to the sceds of the fields, the food of the ensuing year for man and beast ?
4. If we examine with minuteness the falling snow, we will observe, particularly if the air be calm, that each fake consists of a number of exceedingly delicate particles of ice, which are united together with wonderful regularity. Thus they usually form little, six-cornered, and finely-united stars, the half-trans, parent crystals of which are exquisitely pointed. Now they resemble fur with its regularly shooting points; now they assume the form of feathers; and now they may be likened unto fibrous flowers, as if of braid and moss. So extremely delicate are these Geavenly images, that the gentlest breeze severs them, and gives dhem another ford
5. With whatever penetration man may contemplate, and with whatever ingenuity he may endeavor to account for the origin, in the heights of the atmosphere, E' of these myriads of starry crystals of inimitable beauty and wondrous shape, there must ever remain to the inquirer an unanswerable how ? ZSCHOKKE.
XXVI. — THE TWO ROADS. 1. It was New Year's night. An agëd man was standing at a window.94 He mournfully raised his eyes towards the deep blue sky, where the stars were floating like white lilies on the surface of a clear calm lake. Then he cast them on the earth, where103 few more helpless beings than himself were moving towards their inevitable goal — the tomb, 45 Already he had passed sixty of the stages which lead to it, and he had brought from his journey nothing but errors and remorse. His health was destroyed, his mind unfurnished, his heart sorrowful, and his old age devoid of comfort.
2. The days of his youth rose up in a vision before him, and he recalled the solemno momento when his father had placed him at the entrance of two roads, one leading into a peaceful, sunny land, covered with a fertile harvest, and resounding with soft, sweet songs; while the other conducted the wanderer into a deep, dark cave, whence there was no issue,95 where poison flowed instead of water, and where serpents hissed and crawled.
3. He looked towards the sky, and cried out, in his anguish :“ 0, youth, return! O, my father, place me once more at the crossway of life, that I may choose the better road!” But the days of his youth had passed away, and his parents were with the departed. He saw wandering lights float over dark marshes, and then disappear. “ Such,” he said, “were the days of my wasted life!” He saw a starEl shoot from Heaven, and vanish in darkness athwart the church-yard. “Behold an emblem of myself!” he exclaimed; and the sharp arrows of unavailing remorse struck him to the heart.
4. Then he remembered his early companions, who had entered life with him, but who, having trod the paths of virtue and industry, were now happy and honored on this New Year's night. The clock in the high church-tower struck, and the sound, fall. ing on his ear, recalled the many tokens of the love of his parents for him, their erring son; the lessons they had taught him; the prayers they had offered up in his behalf. Overwhelmed with shame and grief, he dared no longer look towards that Heaven where they dwelt. His darkened eyes dropped tears, and, with one despairing effort, he cried aloud, “ Come back, my early days! Come back!”
5. And his youth did return; for all this had been but a dream, visiting his slumbers on New Year's night. He was still young; his errors only were no dream. He thanked God ferrently that time was still his own; that he had not yet entered the deep, dark cavern, but that he was free to tread the road leading to the peaceful land where sunny harvests wave.
6. Ye who still linger on the threshold of life, doubting which path to choose, remember that when years shall be passed, and your feet shall stumble on the dark mountain, you will cry. bitterly, but cry in vain, “ O, youth, return! O, give me back my early days !”
XXVII. — THE PRESENT TIME,
1. Or Memory many a poet sings;
And Hope hath oft inspired the rhyme ;
To celebrate the present121 time?
While youth and health are in their primo
That awful" point — the present time!
The next may hear thy funeral-chime;
Where all shall be the present time.
XXVIII. — THE BLIND STREET-FIDDLER.
He sways them with harmony merry and loud;
Was aught ever heard like his fiddle and him?
The weary have life, and the hungry have bliss ;
And the guilt-burthened soul is no longer opprest.
What matter ? he's caught - and his time runs to waste.
The newsman33 is stopped, though he stops on the fret,
And the half-breathless lamplighter - he's in the net!
The lass with her burrow wheels202 hither her store ; -
She sees the musician, 't is all that she sees!
His hat gives hin vigor, with boonsEl dropping in,
The one-penniedu boy has his penny to spare.
Of the pleasure it spreads through so thankful a band;
If they speak 't is to praise, and they praise with a smile.
Not an inch of his body is free from delight;
The music stirs in him like wind through a tree.
To dance to the strain and to fling his crutch by!-
While she dandles the babe in her arms to the sound.
Here are twenty souls happy as souls in a dream ;
XXIX. — GLADIATORIAL COMBAT WITH A TIGER.
1. INSIDE of the great amphitheatreki of Alexandria, es sixty thousand spectators were assembled ; and an equal number sur. rounded the outside. The hum of voices, the uproar which proceeded from this immense assemblage, resembled the noise of the ocean in a storm. Indeed, the amphitheatre itself might be compared to a vessel, the hold of which has been invaded by the waves and filled to overflowing, while, outside, other waves are climbing its sides and dashing over its deck. A horrible roaring, responded to by the cries of the multitude, 95 announced the arrival of a tiger who had just been let out of his cage.
2. At one of the extremities of the arena, El a man lav couched half-naked upon the sand, and apparently asleep, so little interest did he seem to take in the affair which was vele
mently agitating the crowd. This man, while the tiger, impatient to encounter his expected prey, rushed from side to side through the empty arena, leaned himself unconcernedly upon his elbow, his eyes languid and heavy, like those of a hay-maker, who, fatigued with toil on a warm summer-day, throws himself on the grass and is about falling asleep.
3. Meanwhile, from the crowded benches a number of eager spectators called upon the munerātor, or intendant of the games, to bring forward the victim; for either the tiger had not discovcred him, or had disdained to touch him, seeing him so resigned and passive. The officers of the arena, armed with long pikes, hastened to obey the will of the cruel and bloody-minded people, and with the sharpened ends of their weapons stirred up the gladiator. El
4. No sooner did he feel the puncture of their lances, than he rose with a cry so wild and terrible that the savage beasts, shut up in the cells of the vast amphitheatre, responded with a howl of affright. Snatching at one of the lances with which his skin had been pricked, he wrested it, by a single effort, from the hand which held it, broke it into two pieces, threw one at the intendant's head, prostrating him by the blow, and then, retain ing the sharpened remainder of the lance, went, provided with this weapon, to meet his ferocious foe.
5. When the gladiator had first101 risen from the sand, and offered to the multitude the spectacle of the shadow cast by his colossale stature, a murmur of astonishment” ran through the crowd, and more than one voice, calling him by name, recounted anecdotes of his prowess in the circus and his exploits in moments of popular sedition. The multitude were well content: tiger and gladiator were worthy of each other.
6. In the mean time, the gladiator advanced with measured steps to the very centre of the arena, turning occasionally toward the imperial box, and letting fall his arnis with a rude show of obeisance, or scooping with the point of his lance the earth which he was about to crimson with gore. As it was contrary to custom for criminals to be armed, several voices exclaimed : “ No arms for the bes'tia'ry !E! The bestiary without arms!” But he, brandishing the fragment which he had retained, and exhibiting it to the multitude, exclaimed between his teeth, with pale lips, and a hoarse voice, almost stilled with rage, “ Come and take it!”
7. The cries having redoubled, however, he haughtily raised his head, skimmed his glance over the whole assembly, smiled on them disdainfully, and then, breaking anew between his hands the weapon he had been called upon to lay down, threw the remn