Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the blood cf many worthy Virginians; when I see that no longer any aborigines" are to be found there, and that the vast herds of elks, deer, and buffaloes, which once pastured on these hills and in these valleys, making for themselves great roads to the several salt springs, have ceased to exist; when I reflect that all this grand portion of our Union, instead of being in a state of nature, is now more or less covered with villages, farms, and towns, where the din of hammers and machinery is constantly heard; that the woods are fast disappearing under the axe by day and the fire by night; that hundreds of steamboats arc* gliding to and fro, over the whole length of the majestic river, forcing commerce to take root and to prosper at every spot; when I see the surplus population of Europe coming to assist in the destruction of the forest and transplanting civilization into its darkest recesses; when I remember that these extraordinary changes have all taken place in the short period of twenty years — I pause, wonder, and, although I know all to be true, can scarcely believe its reality.

4. Their Retreat Westward. Sprag-ue.

As a race, they have withered from the land. Their arrows are broken, their springs are dried up, their cabins are in the dust. Their council-fire has long since gone out on the shore, and their war-cry is fast dying away to the untrodden West. Slowly and sadly they climb the distant mountains, and read their doom in the setting sun. They are shrinking before the mighty tide which is pressing them away; they must soon hear the roar of the last wave, which will settle over them forever. Ages hence, the inquisitive white man, as he stands by some growing city, will ponder on the structure of their disturbed remains, and wonder to what manner of person they belonged. They will live only in the songs and chronicles of their exterminators. Let these be faithful to their rude virtues as men, and pay due tribute to their unhappy fate as a people.

CXLIII.—WAR THE CHILD OF BARBARISM.

1. It is only from the soldier himself, and in the language of the eye that has seen its agonies, and of the ear that has heard its shrieks, that we can obtain a correct idea of the miseries of war. Though far from our happy shores, many of us may have Been it in its ravages and in its results, — in the green mound

which marks the recent battle-field, in the shattered foicst, in the razed and desolate village, and, perchance, in the widows and orphans it made! And yet, this is but the memory of war, the faint shadow of its realities, the reflection but of its blood, and the echoes but of its thunders. I shudder when imagination carries me to the sanguinary field, to the death-struggles between men who are husbands and fathers, to the horrors of the siege and sack, to the deeds of rapine, and violence, and murder, in which neither age nor sex is spared. In acts like these the soldier is converted into a fiend, and his humanity even disappears under the ferocious mask of the demon or the brute.

2. To men who reason, and who feel while they reason, nothing in the history of their species appears more inexplicable th.an that war, the child of barbarism, should exist in an age enlightened and civilized, when the arts of peace have attained the highest perfection, and when science has brought into personal communion nations the most distant, and races the most unfriendly. But it is more inexplicable still that war should exist where Christianity has for nearly two thousand years been shed

» ding its gentle light, and that it should be defended by arguments drawn from the Scriptures" themselves. When the pillar of fire conducted the Israelites to their promised home, their Divine Leader no more justified war, than he justified murder by giving

, skill to the artist who forges the stiletto, or nerve to the arm that wields it. If the combativeness of man, as evinced in his history, is a necessary condition of his humanity, and is ever to have its issue in war, his superstition, his credulity, his ignorance, his lust for power, must also be perpetuated in the institutions to which they have given birth. Where, then, are the orgies, the saturnalia^' of ancient times,—the gods who were invoked, and the temples where they were worshipped?

3. If the sure word of prophecy has told us that the time must come when men shall learn the art of war no more, it is doubtless our duty, and it shall be our work, to hasten its fulfilment, and upon the anvil of Christian truth, and with the brawny arm of indignant reason, to beat the sword" into the ploughshare, and the spear into the pruning-hook. I am ashamed in a Christian community to defend on Christian principles the cause of universal peace. He who proclaimed peace on earth and good-will to man, who commands us to love our enemies, and to do good to them who despitefully use us and persecute us, will never acknowledge as disciples, or admit into his immortal family, the sovereign or the minister who shall send the fiery cross over tranquil Europe, and summon the blood-hounds of war to settle the disputes and gratify the animosities of nations.

US CAVXD fiREWSISS.

thing to

CXLIV. — AN ADVENTURE IN CALABRIA, .reakfast.

ild us, wo

FROM A LETTER TO THE AUTHOR'S COUSIN, MADAME PI^iese J aJ

1. I Was once travelling in Calabria," a land of wicked people, who, I believe, do iiot love anybody over much, and least of all a Frenchman. To tell you the why and the wherefore would take too long; suffice it to say, that they hate us with a deadly hatroi, and that one of our countrymen who falls into their hands is notUikely to fare very weft In these mountains the roads are precipices. It was with difficulty that my horse made his way o^or them. I had for a companion a young man who took the lead. Thinking that he had hit upon a shorter and more practicable route," he led us astray. It served me right. What business had I to trust to a head of only twenty years?

2. We sought, while the day lasted, our way through these woods; but the more we sought the more we were baffled; and it was black night when we drew near to a very black-looking house. We entered, — not without suspicion, — but what could we do? There we found a whole family of charcoal-burners, seated round a table, at which they forthwith invited us to take places. My young man did not wait for a second invitation. We soon made ourselves at home, and began to eat and drink; or rather my companion did. As for myself, I was occupied in examining the place and the aspects of our hosts. That they Were charcoal-burners, their faces gave ample pledge; but as for the house — you would have taken it for an arsenal.

3. What an assortment of guns, pistols, sabres, knives, and cutlasses! Everything displeased me, and I saw that I also displeased everybody. My comrade, on the contrary, made himself quite one of the family; laughed and chatted with them, and, with an imprudence that I ought to have foreseen (but, alas! fate would have it so), informed them whence we came, where we were going, who we were. He told them, in short, that we were Frenchmen! Conceive of it! We, all the while, poor, bewildered travellers, far from all human succor, and in tho power of our mortal enemies!

4. And then, as if to omit nothing that might contribute to our destruction, he played the rich man; promised to pay these people whatever they might ask for our entertainment, and for guides the next day. Then he spoke of his valise," requested that they would take particular care of it, and put it at the head of his bed, remarking that he wanted no better bolster. Ah 1 youth, youth, you are to be pitied. Cousin, one would have thought we had charge of the crown diamonds! All that there which mar* companion's valise to occasion this amount of solicitude the razed »Ue of his sweetheart's letters!

and orphans ir being ended, our hosts left us. They slept below, the faint sha room above that where we had supped. A loft, to which we had to mount seven or eight feet by a ladder, was our destined place of repose. It was a sort of nest, into which one had to insinuate himself by creeping under cross-beams, hung with provisions for the whole year. My comrade made his way up alone, and threw himself down, already half-asleep, with his head on the precious valise. As for myself, I determined to watch: and, making a good fire, I sat down near it.

6. The night wore away tranquilly enough, and was at length near its end. I was beginning to be reassured, when, just before the break of day, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing down stairs. Listening intently at the chimney, which communicated with that below, I distinctly heard the husband utter these words: "Well, come, now, must we kill them both?" To which the woman replied, "Yes; " and I heard nothing more. How shall I describe my emotions? I remained almost breathless, my whole body frigid as marble. To have seen me, you would not have known whether I was dead or alive. Ah! when I but think of it, even now!

7. Two of us, almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen, so remarkably well provided! And my comrade halfdead with sleep and fatigue! To call him — to make a noise — I did not dare; escape by myself I could not; the window was not very high from the ground, but beneath it were two savage bull-dogs, howling like wolves. Imagine, if you can, in what a dilemma I found myself. At the end of a long quarter of an hour I heard some one on the stairs, and, through the cracks of the door, I saw the father, with a lamp in one hand, and one of his big knives in the other. Up he came, his wife after him, I behind the door: he opened it; but, before entering, he put down the lamp, which his wife took; then he entered barefoot, and she, outside, said, in a low tone, shading the light with her hand, "Softly, go softly!"

8. When he got to the ladder he mounted, holding the knife between his teeth. Approaching the head of the bed, where my poor young companion, with throat uncovered, was lying, with

one hand the monster grasped his knife, and with the other

Ah! cousin — with the other — he seized a ham, which hung from the ceiling, cut a slice, and retired as he had entered. The door closed, the lamp disappeared, and I was left alone to my reflections.

9. As soon as the day dawned, all the family came bustling to i

waken us, as we had requested. They brought us something to eat, and spread, I assure you, a very clean and nice breakfast. Two chickens formed part of it, of which, our hostess told us, wo were to eat one and take away the other. Seeing these, I at length comprehended the meaning of those terrible words, "Must tee kill them both?" And I think you, too, cousin, will have penetration enough to guess now what they signified.

10. Cousin, I have a favor to ask: do not tell this story. In the first place, as you cannot fail to perceive, I do not play a very enviable part in it. In the next place, you will spoil it. Indeed, I do not flatter: it is that face of yours which will ruin the effect of the recital. As for myself, without vanity I may say, I have just the countenance one ought to have in telling a tale of terror. Original Translation From P. L. Courier

CXLV. — IN ROME.

1. I Ah in Rome! Oft as the morning ray
Visits these eyes, waking, at once I cry,
"Whence this excess of joy? "What has befallen me'
And from within a thrilling voice replies,
Thou art in Rome! A thousand busy thoughts
Rush on my mind, a thousand images;
And I spring up as girt to run a race!

"2. Thou art in Rome! the city that so long
Reigned absolute, the mistress of the world;
Thou art in Rome! the city where the Gauls,
Entering at sunrise through her open gates,
And, through her streets silent and desolate,
Marching to slay, thought they saw gods, not men;
The city that by temperance, fortitude,
And love of glory, towered above the clouds,
Then fell — but, falling, kept the highest seat,
And in her loneliness, her pomp of woe,
Where now she dwells, withdrawn into the wild,
Still o'er the mind maintains, from age to age,
Her empire undiminished.

3. There, as though

Grandeur attracted grandeur, are beheld
All things that strike, ennoble — from the depths
Of Egypt, from the classic fields of Greece,
Her groves, her temples—all things that inspire
"Wonder, delight! Who would not say the forms
Most perfect, most divine, had by consent
Flocked thither to abide eternally,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »