Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The appalled discoverer with a sigh
Looks round to learn the history.

From those abrupt and perilous rocks

The man had fallen, that place of fear,

At length upon the shepherd's mind

It breaks, and all is clear:

He instantly recalled the name,

And who he was, and whence he came;

Remembered, too, the very day

On which the traveller passed that way.

But hear a wonder, for whose sake

This lamentable tale I tell;

A lasting monument of words

This wonder merits well.

The dog, which still was hovering nigh,

Kepeating the same timid cry,

This dog had been through three months' space

A dweller in that savage place.

Yes, proof was plain that since the day
When this ill-fated traveller died,
The dog had wutched about the spot,
Or by his master's side:
How nourished there through that long time,
He knows who gave that love sublime;
And gave that strength of feeling, great,
Above all human estimate.—Wordsworth.

LESSON LXXXIV. ELEPHANTS DRINKING.

In the height of the dry season, at Nuerakalana, the streams are all dried up, and the tanks nearly so. All animals are then sorely pressed for water, and they coagregate in the vicinity of those tanks, in which there may remain ever so little of the precious element.

During one of these seasons I was encamped on the bund or embankment of a small tank, the water in which was so dried that its surface could not have exceeded an area of 500 square yards. It was the only pond within many miles, and I knew that of necessity a very large herd of elephants, which had been in the neighbourhood all day, must resort to it at night.

On the lower side of the tank, and in a line with the embankment, was a thick forest, in which the elephants sheltered themselves during the day. On the upper side, and all around the tank, there was a considerable margin of open ground. It was one of those beautiful, bright, clear, moonlight nights, when objects could be seen almost as distinctly as by day; and I determined to avail myself of the opportunity to observe the movements of the herd, which had already manifested some uneasiness at our presence. The locality was very favourable for my purpose, and an enormous tree, projecting over tbe tank, afforded me a secure lodgement in its branches. Having ordered the fires of my camp to be extinguished at an early hour, and all my followers to retire to rest, I took up my post of observation on the overhanging bough; but I had to remain for upwards of two hours before anything was to be seen or heard of the elephants, although I knew they were within 500 yards of me. At length, at about 300 yards from the water, an unusually large elephant issued from the dense cover, and advanced cautiously across the open ground to within 100 yards of the tank, where he stood perfectly motionless. So quiet had the elephants become (though they had been roaring and breaking the jungle throughout the day and evening) that not a movement was now to be heard. The huge vidette remained in his position, still as a rock, for a few minutes, and then made three successive stealthy advances of several yards (halting for some minutes between each, with ears bent forward to catch the slightest sound), and in this way he moved slowly up to the water's edge. Still he did not venture to quench his thirst; for though his forefeet were partially in the tank, and his vast body was reflected clear in the water, he remained for some minutes listening in perfect stillness. Not a motion could be perceived in himself or his shadow. He returned cautiously and slowly to the position he had at first taken up, on emerging from the forest. Here in a little while he was joined by five others, with which he again proceeded as cautiously, but less slowly than before, to within a few yards of the tank, and then posted his patrols. He then re-entered the forest, and collected around him the whole herd, which must have amounted to between eighty and a hundred individuals; led them across the open ground with the most extraordinary composure and quietness till he joined the advanced guard, when he left them for a moment and repeated his former reconnaissance at the edge of the tank. After which, having apparently satisfied himself that all was safe, he returned and obviously gave the order to advance, for in a moment the whole herd rushed into the water with a degree of unreserved confidence, so opposite to the caution and timidity which had marked their previous movements, that nothing will ever persuade me that there was not rational and preconcerted co-operation throughout the whole party, and a degree of responsible authority exercised by the patriarch leader.

When the poor animals had gained possession of the tank (the leader being the last to enter), they seemed to abandon themselves to enjoyment without restraint or apprehension of danger. Such a mass of animal life I had never before seen huddled together in so narrow a space. It seemed to me as though they would have nearly drunk the tank dry. I watched them with great interest until they had satisfied themselves, as well in bathing as in drinking, when I tried how small a noise ■would apprise them of the proximity of unwelcome neighbours. I had but to break a little twig, and the solid mass instantly took to flight, like a herd of frightened deer, each of the smaller calves being apparently shouldered and carried along between two of the older ones.—Tennent's " Ceylon."

LESS. LXXXV. WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

In one of those sober and rather melancholy days, in the latter part of autumn, when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, and throw a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours in rambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial to the season in the mournful magnificence of the old pile; and as I passed its threshold it seemed like stepping back into the region of antiquity, and losing myself among the shades of former ages.

I entered from the inner court of Westminster School, through a long, low, vaulted passage, that had an almost subterranean look, and pursued my walk to an arched door, opening to the interior of the abbey. On entering here, the magnitude of the building breaks fully upon the mind, contrasted with the vaults of the cloisters.

The eye gazes with wonder at clustered columns of gigantic dimensions, with arches springing from them to such an amazing height; and man, wandering about their bases, shrinks into insignificance in comparison with his own handiwork. It seems as if the awful nature of the place presses down upon the soul, and hushes the beholder into noiseless reverence. We feel that we are surrounded by the congregated bones of the great men of past times, who have filled history with their deeds, and the earth with their renown. And yet it almost provokes a smile at the vanity of human ambition to see bow they are crowded together and jostled in the dust; what parsimony is observed in doling out a scanty nook, a gloomy corner, a little portion of earth, to those whom, when alive, kingdoms could not satisfy; and how many shapes and forms and artifices are devised to catch the casual notice of the passenger, and save from forgetfulness, for a few short years, a name which once aspired to occupy ages of the world's thought and admiration.

I passed some time in the Poets' Corner, which occupies an end of one of the transepts or cross-aisles of the abbey. The monuments are generally simple; for the lives of literary men afford no striking theme for the sculptor. Shakespeare and Addison have statues erected to their memories; but the greater part have busts, medallions, and sometimes mere inscriptions. Notwithstanding the simplicity of these memorials, I have always observed that the visitors to the abbey remained longest about them. A kinder and fonder feeling takes place of the cold curiosity or vague admiration, with which they gaze on the splendid monuments of the great and heroic. They linger about these,

« ElőzőTovább »