« ElőzőTovább »
hand, by far the greater number are taken by enterprising individuals, who have only their own steadiness of head, strength of muscle, and dauntless spirit, to ensure success. We will describe the means and proceedings of those in St. Kilda, a small speck of an island, the most westward and distant, (save a still smaller needlcpointed uninhabited spot, called Rockall,) in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, containing a few people, who, from infancy accustomed to precipices, drop from crag to crag, as fearlessly as the birds themselves. Their great dependence is upon ropes of two sorts; one made of hides,—the other of hair. The former are the most ancient, and still continue in the greatest esteem, as being stronger, and less liable to wear away, or be cut, by rubbing against the sharp edges of rocks. These ropes are of various lengths, from ninety to a hundred and twenty, and nearly two hundred feet in length, and about three inches in circumference.
So valuable are these ropes, that one of them forms the marriage portion of a St. kilda girl; and to this secluded people, to whom monied wealth is little known, an article on which often life itself, and all its comforts, more or less depends, is far beyond gold and jewels.
The favorite resort for sea-fowl, particularly the oily Fulmars, is a tremendous precipice, about thirteen hundred feet high, formed by the abrupt termination of Conachan, the most elevated hill in the island, and supposed to be the loftiest precipitous face of rock in Britain.
How fearful And dizzy 'tis, to cast ones eyes so low! The Crows and Choughs. that wine: the midway air, Show scarce so gross as beetles; half way down Hanes one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade! Methinks he seems no higgei than his head; The fishermen that walk upon the beach Appear like mice; and you tall anchoring bark. Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes, Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more; Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight Topple down headlong.
Such is the beautiful description of Dover Cliff, by Shakspeare; but what would he have said, could he have looked down from this precipice in St. Kilda, which is nearly three times higher, and so tremendous, that one who was accustomed to regard such sights with indifference, dared not venture to the edge of it alone? But, held by two of the islanders, he looked over into what might be termed a world of rolling mists and contending clouds. As these occasionally broke and dispersed, the ocean was disclosed below, but at so great a depth, that even the roaring of itssurf, dashing with fury against the rocks, and rushing, with a noise like thunder, into the caverns it had formed, was unheard at this stupendous height. The brink was wet
and slippery,—the rocks perpendicular from their summit to their base; and yet, upon this j treacherous snrlace, the St. Kilda people apiproached, and sat upon the extremest verge; the youngest of them even creeping down a little way from the top, after eggs or birds, building in the higher range, which they take in great numbers, by means of a slender pole like a fishing-rod, at the end of which was fixed a noose of cowhair, stiffened at one end
.with the feather of a Solan Goose.
j But these pranks of the young are nothing when compared to the fearful feats of the older and more experienced practitioners. Several ropes of hide and hair are first tied together to increase the depth of his descent. One extremity of these ropes, so connected, is of hide, and the end is fastened, like a girdle, round his waist. The other extremity is then let down the precipice, to a considerable depth, by the adventurer himself, standing at the edge: whtn, giving the middle of the rope to a single man, he descends, always holding by one part of the rope, as he lets himself down by the other, and supported
I from falling only by the man above, who has no part of the rope fastened to him, but holds
Jit merely in his hands, and sometimes sup
] ports his comrade by one hand alone, lookmg at the same time over the precipice, without
(any stay for his feet, and conversing with the other, as he descends to a depth of nearly four hundred feet. A bird-ratcher, on finding himself amongst the Fulmars' nests, took four, and with two in each hand, contrived,
j nevertheless, to hold the rope as he ascended;
!and, striking his foot against the rock, threw himself out from the face of the precipice, and returning with a bound, would agam fly
lout, capering anil shouting, and playing all sorts of tricks. Frightful as such a display
i must be to those unaccustomed to it, acci
]dents are extremely rare; and the St. Kildians seem to think the possibility of a fatal termination to these exploits almost out of the question.
It is, indeed, astonishing to what a degree habit and practice, with steady nerves, may remove danger. From the island of the South j Stack above mentioned, boys may be seen frequently scrambling by themselves, or held on by an urchin or two of their own age, letting themselves down the picturesque precipice opposite the island, by a piece of rope so slender, and apparently rotten, that the wonder is why it does not snap at the first strain. Yet, without a particle of fear, heedless of consequences, they will swing themselves to a ledge barely wide enough to admit the foot of a goat, and thence pick their way with or without a rope, to pillage the nest of a Gull, which. if aware of its own powers, might flap them headlong to the bottom.
Here, too, as in St. Kilda, accidents are said to be of rare occurrence, though, of course, they do occasionally happen; but escapes, sufficiently appalling to make the blood run cold to hear of, are common enough.
The first we shall mention happened about two miles from the South Stack, on the rocky coast of Rhoseolin. A lady, living near the spot, sent a boy in search of samphire, with a trusty servant lo hold the rope at the top. While the boy was dangling midway between sky and water,' the servant, who was unused to his situation, whether owing to a sudden dizziness from looking down on the boy's motions, or misgivings as to his own powers of holding him up, felt a cold, sickly shivering, creep over him, accompanied with a certainty that he was about to faint; the inevitable consequence of which, he had sense enough left to know, would be the certain death of the boy, and, in all probability of himself, as in the act of fainting, it was most likely he would fall forward, and follow the rope and boy down the precipice. In this dilemma, he uttered a loud despairing scream, which was fortunately heard by a woman working in an adjoining field, who, running up, was just in time to catch the rope, as the fainting man fell senseless at her feet.
We shall add two more, equally hazardous, and one fatal. Many bird-catchers go on these expeditions without any companion to hold the rope or assist them. It was on such a solitary excursion, that a man, having fastened his rope to a stake on the top, let himself down far below; and, in his ardor for collecting birds and eggs, followed the course of a ledge, beneath a mass of overhanging rock: unfortunately, he had omitted to take the usual precaution of tying the rope round his body, but held it carelessly in his hand; when, in a luckless moment, as he was busily engaged in pillaging a nest, it slipped from his grasp, and, after swinging backwards and forwards three or four times, without coming within reach, at last became stationary over the ledge of the projecting rock, leaving the bird-catcher apparently without a chance of escape,—for to ascend the precipice without a rope was impossible, and none were near to hear his cries, or afford him help. What was to be done? Death stared him in the face. After a few minutes' pause, he made up his mind. By a desperate leap he might regain the rope, but if he failed, and, at the distance at which it hung, the chances were against him, his fate was certain, amidst the pointed crags ready to receive him, over which the waves were dashing far, far, below. Collecting, therefore, all his strength, with outstretched arms he sprang from the rock, and lived to tell the tale,—for the rope was caught!—[See Engraving.]
The next occurred at St. Kilda; where, amongst other modes of catching the sea-fowl, that of setting gins or nooses is adopted.— They are fixed in various places frequented by the birds. In one of these, set upon a ledge a hundred and twenty feet above the sea, a bird-catcher entangled his foot, and not being at the moment aware of it, was, on moving onwards, tripped up, and precipitated over the rock, where he hung suspended. He, too, as in the preceding case, had nocompanion;and, to add to his misfortune, darkness was at hand, leaving little prospect of his being discovered, before morning. In vain he exerted himself to bend upwards, so as to reach the noose or grapple the rock. After a few fruitless efforts, his strength was exhausted, and in this dreadful situation, expecting, moreover, that the noose might give way every instant, did he pass a long night. At early dawn, by good fortune, his shouts were heard by a neighbor, who rescued him from his perilous suspension.
The last we shall relate, terminated in a" more awful manner. A father and two sons were out together, and, having firmly attached their rope at the summit of a precipice, descended, on their usual occupation. Having collected as many birds and eggs as they could carry, they were all three ascending by the rope,—the eldest of the sons first,—his brother, a fathom or two below him; and the father following last. They had made considerable progress, when the elder son looking upward, perceived the strands of the rope grinding against the sharp edge of rock, and gradually giving way. He immediately reported the alarming fact. "Will it hold together till we can gain the summit?" asked the father. "It will not hold another minute," was the reply: "our triple weight is loosening it rapidly!" "Will it hold one?" said the father. "It is as much as it can do," replied the son, " even that is but doubtful." "There is then a chance, at least, of one of us being saved; draw your knife, and cut away below!" was the cool and intrepid order of the parent;—" Exert yourself, you may yet escape, and live to comfort your mother!" There was no time for discussion or further hesitation. The son looked up once more, but the edge of rock was cutting its way, and the rope had nearly severed. The knife was drawn,—the rope was divided,—and his father and brother were launched into eternity!
Humility is the vital principle of Christianity: that principle by which, from first to last, she lives and thrives: and in proportion to the growth or decline of which, she must decay or flourish.— Wilbcrforce.
Written for the Ladies' Garland.
The impressions connected with our early associations, are deeply engraven upon the heart. The precepts and sentiments inculcated at a riper age, although sanctioned by our better judgment, may be forgotten in the luring mazes of temptation and sin. But the truths first impressed by maternal tenderness and affection, will abide there for ever. They are indeed the last to yield up their conservative influence to the wayward tendencies of passion. It is true they may become dormant, and lie for a season upon the heart, as fruitless as inscriptions upon the marbles of the dead; but there will be times when they will recur to the mind with resistless power, and arouse it to moral vitality. Truth from other sources and other instructors, may fail of its legitimate tendency—we can evade its cogency without feeling we are sacrilegious; but when a mother has taken the hand and silently pointed us to heaven, we instinctively feel that God has set his signet to her commission, and she has a right to " lead us into the way of all truth." She has our respect, our confidence, and our affections, and it is usually in connection with her precepts that conscience does its first office. Hence her power, and the abiding influence of her instructions. Let, then, religion and virtue be associated with maternal endearments and filial duty, and "the still small voice" that mildly breathes its teachings into the ear of childhood, will echo in the bosom, when the tempest of transient feeling, which the appeals of holy eloquence excited, has passed away, and the soul has settled back into apathy.
Some poet has made Eve to say, as she turned in sorrow from the garden of Paradise—
Ever in their earliest days,
I'll teach my sons God's holy will;
Teach them to fear, to love and praise,
This may be regarded merely as a poetic fancy—but surely, since then, the mother (of whom Eve was a prototype) whether Pagan, Mahomedan, or Christian, has generally endeavored to imbue her offspring with such sentiments of faith and practice, as she supposed would at last restore them to their primitive inheritance. And God, as if to aid her in her resolves, has made the mother the living oracle of childhood, and the first lessons she may impart, indellible. And however degraded man may become, he cannot, if he would, erase them from his memory. Nor can he forget her; for, like Pollock's image of "Virtue hovering evermore before
the vision," she will haunt him wherever he turns, and "the maddest cup of sin" cannot banish her from his sight. If she has been faithful to him, and urged upon his thoughts the great considerations of life and death, and judgment and eternity, by precept and an exemplary life, she has made him a better man than he would otherwise have been, even though he may have lived in dishonor, and died in disgrace. He may have rejected her counsels, but he has not despised them; and in his moments of reflection his most pungent sorrows have bern, that he has embittered the existence of her who nurtured him in infancy. He may be callous to the appeals and entreaties of conjugal affection, and the suffering innocence of his offspring; but if his mother has once inspired the strong and active sympathies of his moral nature, her monitions will outreach every other.
In estimating the influences which have elevated those whom the world calls good or great, we are prone to think too much of the force of those circumstances which have operated when they have started in their course. We forget where the primary impulse was received. Tributaries may enlarge, and give sweep and power to the current, but its direction is determined by the patent fountain. Maternal instruction has made the brightest ornaments of humanity. Upon every department of human interest and industry—from him, whose humble cares are circumscribed by the mere wants of his family, to him whose high career is a nation's glory, and whose wisdom is its law— the advice and example of the mother tells. jjHer supervision is felt when her authority has ceased. The thought that she is watching our progress with unabated interest, creates many a high resolve, and nerves us yet to struggle, ere we yield to a current that may be bearing us downward.
Why may not the Oriental legend that gives to mortals one visible Guardian Angel, that ever anxiously hovers over them and points upward, have been an allegorical symbol of the ceaseless and affectionate interest which is manifested by the mother ?—and why may not the golden chain, one end of which that angel is represented as endeavoring to bind about the heart, and attach the other in Heaven, be a bright emblem of the strong moral sympathies by which she would allure us heavenward? B. VV., Jr.
Yates, JV. Y, July, 1842.
Simplicity is nature and truth, and is equally opposite to affectation and vulgarity, both of which are the proofs of want of right feeling.—Danby.
Written for the Ladies' Garland.
THE NEWLY MARRIED.
BY H. J. BOGUS.
A something light as air—a look,
A word unkind, or wrongly taken—
A breath, a touch like this, hath shaken.
As though its waters ne'er could sever,
Break into floods that part forever.—Moore.
"Are you unwell, Emily V
"Oh! do not speak to mo; I am unable to bear your language; very soon I will be better," sobbed the wife.
"Do, I entreat you, Emily, do tell me what is the matter. Why do you conceal the cause of your tears ?" anxiously inquired the husband.
"Ah, Richard, [ once foolishly fancied that such unfeeling language never would be addressed to me," said the wife in a loud tone.
"Unfeeling language! Why, 1 cannot find out what has distressed you, unless you tell me. I entreat you to do so at once," Richard said with much affection.
"It seems passing strange to me that you are so absent-minded at present. As, however, you cannot guess the cause of my trouble, I will tell you. List evening I was annoyed, because you lavished such marked attentions on that odious flirt, Alice Allerton. I do not like her, and I would have made known that dislike, had she appealed to me as she hinted, about a certain play that she had read," said the wife with warmth.
"Can it be possible! That lady is in every respect a desirable acquaintance," replied the husband.
"You and I differ very much upon that subject, and I am pained to have seen you pay more than common politeness to a person whom you have not seen a dozen times?"
"You wrong me, Emily, you wrong me. I paid nothing more than the ordinary politeness expected from every well-bred man towards the woman he sits by at table," answered Richard in a mild manner.
"There is a difference in looking with tenderness on a person almost a stranger, and occasionally glancing at your wife. I never before saw so much disgusting levity in a coquettish woman, and you ought to have been ashamed to have permitted it," said Emily, glancing sharply at her husband's countenance.
"You wrong me, you do, indeed."
"Now I see things more plainly. You cannot bear to hear of her having any fault. You think her all goodness; but others are not of that opinion."
"Well, Emily, it is useless for me to attempt to explain to you, or to pacify your ridiculous suspicions. I shall say nothing more," answered Richard, placing his head upon his hand.
"I have always found it to be the way udopted by too many men, to remain silent when they cannot justify their conduct. And the more I have reflected upon your imprudence, the more foolish I am to suffer from your unkindness. I should consider myself single and pay all attention to my neighbor at table, as you do; all this would be easy if I loved as little as you do. But I—I—" her tears flowed freely, and sobs choked her utterance.
This avowal of love awakened the tenderness of the husband, and contrasted it with her first display of unfounded jealousy. He did all in his power by soothing expressions to prove to his wife, that he loved her and none other. He lavished on her all the touching demonstrations of tenderness which are the comforts of the newly married, before continual fault-finding has nipped the delicate blossom of love, which, like the bloom on the peach, constitutes one of the chief attractions of matrimony; but if once destroyed, real affection can seldom be restored.
This conversation occurred between a couple who had been married two weeks, which were passed at Saratoga Springs, where a delightful dwelling, occupied by a relation, had enabled the newly wedded pair to enjoy all the privacy so much desired during the early days of marriage. The supper which gave rise to the domestic dissension, was given by a rich merchant, as soon as Emily and Richard returned to their home in this city. The wife, previous to this evening, had been so sweetly tempered since marriage that the husband was astonished to perceive this inexplicable chagrin on her part,.
The next day there was a smile on the face of Emily. The husband breathed a prayer that he might never again experience such painful emotions, as he endured on the previous evening. And desirous of preventing a recurrence of similar scenes, he entered into an explanation of the conduct expected in general society; and were she to act for the future, as she had done, she would be named a jealous wife, which would be painful and humiliating to him; he thought it a wiser plan to abandon society altogether than suffer mentally, as he had done.
Further conversation was precluded by the entrance of the father of Emily* Richard repaired to his counting room: on the way thither he was met by on old friend, Benjamin Buley, who congratulated him for having left. the ranks of the bachelors. This friend had been a fellow collegian with him, and they had not seen e;:ch other since their graduation. Richard, therefore, was delighted to meet him, and invited him to dinner, being anx'ous to present him to his wife. The invitation was accepted. They parted, and as Richard was proceeding towards his store, he glanced round to have another look at Benjamin, and said to himself—
"He is a good-humored follow; I wonder if my wife will like this man whom I most esteem."
At the appointed hour Benjamin came, and Richard conducted him with all the unceremonious cordiality of gentlemanly freedom to his wife.'"
"We have so often made you a subject of discourse, my dear Ben, thnt my wife feels as if she were as long acquainted with you as myself"
A formal nod from Emily ill accorded with this assertion. But Benjamin attributed this mode of reception to the bashfulness of the wife, whose exquisite loveliness justified Richaid's taste, and agreeably surprised the friend.
"Whom do you think I met yesterday?" said Benjamin to the husband, who appeared mortified at the coldness of his wife, as they seated themselves on a sofa: Emily sat near a window.
"On the life of me I do not know," replied the husband, suddenly recovering from displeasure.
"I saw the 'bewitching widow,' as we used to call her; she has not found a second husband yet; she looked as 'bewitching'as ever. She made many inquiries about you. We spent some pleasant hours in her mirth loving society," said Benjamin. This troubled Richard, who endeavored to turn the conversation by inquiring—
"Did you visit our old haunts in Southwark, since you came to Philadelphia? You doubtless remember the pranks we played there?"
Emily gave her husband a look of displeasure.
"Apropos of our old haunts," observed Benjamin, "I was only one day in this city, after my return from the Mediterranean, when I sauntered about that quarter and met our interesting Sarah, still in single blessedness; she was my sweetheart; you thought to cut me nut, but now 1 have no opposition."
Emily appeared restless, and Richard again endeavored to direct the conversation toother topics. Had^Benjamin observed the expression of the husband, he would have been
aware of the indiscretion he had committed. The wife arose to withdraw, and though affectionately urged by her husband to remain, she replied—
"The agreeable reminiscences of by-gone days can be talked over by yourselves," and a cloud of displeasure was on her countenance. Then the husband anticipated another scene of tears, as he excused himself to his friend for the absence of a few minutes, offering as an apology the sudden indisposition of his delicate wife.
"I regret it, my dear fellow, and hope she will soon be better; I will call another time," said Benjamin, rising.
He accordingly left the house, and on his way to his lodgings he was unable to answer the many questions that arose in his mind about the conduct of Emily, whom he first thought possessed true amiability.
In the meantime Richard and Emily in an adjoining room were endeavoring to convince each other by arguments, n»y more, by tears, of their own conduct, for each considered the other unreasonable. Mutual affection, however, operated more powerfully in their domestic dissensions than it had in the first; and, like un April sun which quickly dries up the rain that preceded its appearance, soon banished every trace of discontent, and again the skies of true affection became serene. This halcyon term of happiness was of brief duration. A late night at an Association of which Richard was an active officer, led to an angry discussion, more out of order than any the husband had witnessed while in the Presidential chair. This domestic disagreement was not so easily adjusted as the two preceding ones, for these passionate quarrels have this peculiarity, that each succeeding one finds those engaged in them less disposed to make or accept concessions.
The high value of mental cultivation was a weighty motive for giving attendance to this literary and scientific Society. Richard was well aware that knowledge mainly distinguishes a man from the brute. It forms the principal difference between men, as they exist in the same society. Knowledge raised Franklin from the humble station of a printer's boy, to tfie highest honors of his country. It took Sherman from his shoemaker's bench, gave him-*a seat in Congress, and thereby made his voice heard among the wisest and best of his compeers. It raised Simon from the weaver's loom, to a place among the first mathematicians; and Ilerschel from a poor filer's boy in the army, to a station among the first of astronomers. Knowledge, therefore. is power. It is the philosopher's stone; the true alchymy, that turns every thing ittouches intogold. It is the sceptre that gives our dominion over nature;