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Close by the form mankind desert, one thing a vigil keeps;
More near and near to that still heart it wistful, wondering creeps.
It gazes on those glazed eyes, it hearkens for a breath;
It does not know that kindness dies, and love departs from death.
It fawns as fondly as before upon that icy hand;
AncTKears from lips that speak no more the voice that can command
To that poor fool, alone on earth, no matter what had been
Semir'amis of England, hail! thy crime secures thy sway;But when thine eyes shall scan the tale those hireling scribes convey,
SIB E. BULWEll LYTTON.
CXVI. — CONVERSATION SPOILERS.
1. Though Nature weigh our talents, and dispense
2. Ye powers, who rule the tongue, — if such there are. —
Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate
3 Dubius is such a scrupulous, good man —
4. A story in which native humor54 reigns
CXVII.—THE YOUTH OF WASHINGTON.
1. Just as Washington was passing from boyhood to youth, the enterprise and capital of Virginia were seeking a new field for exercise and investment, in the unoccupied public domain beyond the mountains. The business of a surveyor immediately became one of great importance and trust, for no surveys82 were
executed by the government. To this occupation the youthful Washington, not yet sixteen years of age, and well furnished with the requisite mathematical knowledge, zealously devoted himself. Some of his family connections possessed titles to large portions of public land, which he was employed with them in surveying.
2. Thus, at a period of life when, in a more advanced stage of society, the intelligent youth is occupied in the elementary studies of the schools and colleges, Washington was carrying the surveyor's chain through the fertile valleys of the Biue Ridge and the Alleghany Mountains; passing days and weeks in the wilderness, beneath the shadow of eternal forests; listening to the voice of the waterfalls, which man's art had not yet set to the healthful music of the saw-mill or the trip-hammer; reposing from the labors of the day on a bear-skin, with his feet to the blazing logs of a camp-fire; and sometimes startled from the deep slumbers of careless, hard-working youth, by the alarm of the Indian war-whoop.
3. This was the gymnastic" school in which Washington was brought up; in which his quick glance was formed, destined to range hereafter across the battle-field, through clouds of smoke and bristling rows of bayonets;" the school in which his senses, weaned from the taste for those detest'able indulgences, miscalled pleasures, in which the flower of adolescence1' so often languishes and pines away, were early braced up to the sinewy manhood which becomes the
"Lord of the lion heart and eagle eye."
W 4. There is preserved among the papers of Washington a letter, written to a friend while he was engaged on his first surveying tour," and when he was, consequently, but sixteen years of age. I quote a sentence from it, in spite of the homeliness of the details', for which I like it the better, and because I wish to set before you, not an ideal hero, wrapped in cloudy generalities and a mist of vague panegyr'ic, but the real, identical man, with all the peculiarities of his life and occupation.
5. "Your letter," says he, "gave me the more pleasure, as I received it among barbarians and an uncouth set of people. Since you received my letter of October last, I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed; but, after walking a good deal all the day, I have lain down before the fire, upon a little hay, straw, fodder, or a bear-skin, — whichever was to be had, — with man, wife, and children, like dogs and cats; and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire. Nothing would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon" is my constant gain, every day that the weather will permit my going out and sometimes six pistoles.""
6. If there is an individual in the morning of life who has not yet made his choice between the flowery path of indulgence and the rough ascent of honest industry, — if there is one who is ashamed to get his living by any branch of honest labor, — let him reflect that the youth who was carrying the theod'olite" and surveyor's chain through the mountain passes of the Alleghanies, in the month of March, sleeping on a bundle of hay before the fire, in a settler's log-cabin, and not ashamed to boast that he did it for his doubloon a day, is George Washington; that the life he led trained him up to command the armies of United America; that the money he earned was the basis of that fortune which enabled him afterwards to bestow his services, without reward, on a bleeding and impoverished country.
7. For three years was the young Washington employed, the greater part of the time, and whenever the season would permit, in this laborious and healthful occupation; and I know not if it would be deemed unbecoming, were a thoughtful student of our history to say that he could almost hear the voice of Providence, in the language of Milton, announce its high purpose,
"To exercise him in the wilderness;
CXVIII. — VESUVIUS.
1. My first sight of Vesuvius" was from the upper end of the street Tp-le'do, in Naples. From that point the prospect is uninterrupted. Your eye passes directly to the mountain, over the tops of the streets, houses, churches, palaces, of the intervening villages, to the summit of the crater. The clear, transparent air, and the inky blackness of the whole hill, — its only tint, — bring it so near to you that you almost start as it is first revealed. It seems to hang over and threaten the city. It is eight miles distant, yet you would think it scarce three.
2. Every roughness, the deep ravines' and fissures with which the face of the mountain is everywhere seamed, the rude piles of extinct lavas, the ragged angular masses of fallen and shattered rocks, are all visible at that distance; and the effect is as of some vast natural ruin — a wide scene of fearful desolation. The soft, green turf, the richly-variegated shrubbery, the almost tropical vegetation, the gentle elevations and depressions of the soil, which must once have clothed the hill with an unequalled loveliness—and such is the testimony of antiquity to its appearance before the eruption of 79 — of all this, now, not a leaf, not a tint remains. Neither man, nor beast, nor insect, can inhabit there — and the solitary bird could not light in hope of a single berry or worm.
3. But it must be — not described — but by your own imaginations represented, in one other aspect, as it appeared, after a long repose of centuries, when, in the year 79 of our era, in the reign of Titus, it suddenly was converted to a mountain of tire; burying the surrounding territories, in first the thickest darkness for several days, then from beneath the canopy of cloud pouring out from its sides rivers of lava and other melted substances, which with more than the light of the sun illuminated the earth and the overhanging cloads, and, making their way down the mountain, overwhelmed the city of Hercula'neum, burying it to a depth of from sixty to a hundred feet below the molten mass; and at the same time destroying Pompeii and Stabise by successive showers of stifling ashes.
4. The younger Pliny, living at that time, describes the terrific scene in a letter to the historian Tac'itus.46 His uncle, Pliny the naturalist, stationed at Mi-se'-num, twenty miles from the mountain, as commander of the Roman fleet at that place, drawn first by a scientific curiosity to witness nearer the dreadful scene, then by a sentiment of compassion for the multitudes whom he saw perishing in the most miserable manner, and venturing too near the scene of danger, was himself overtaken by blasts of the suffocating smokes and gas'es that raged everywhere around the hill, and perished among those whom he went to save.
5. Pliny addresses two letters to Tac'itus; in the first confining himself chiefly to the circumstances attending the death of his uncle, in the second relating his own experiences and observations during the eruption of the mountain. From this I make an extract: "There had been," he says, "many days before, shocks of an earthquake, which the less surprised us as they are extremely frequent in Campania; but they were so particularly violent this night, that they not only shook everything about us, but seemed indeed to threaten universal destruction. My mother flew to my chamber, where she found me rising, in order to awaken me. We went out into a small court belonging to the house, which separated the sea from the buildings.
6. "Though it was now morning, the light was extremely faint and languid; the buildings all around tottered, and though