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Beauties of Salathiel.
formed into a field of battle; multitudes poured across it in the 'fiercest convulsions of combat; horsemen charged, and died under their horses’ feet; armor and standards were trampled in blood; column and line burst through each other. At length the battle stooped towards the earth; and, with hearts beating with indescribable feelings, we recognised in the fight the banners of the tribes. It was Jew and Roman struggling for life; the very countenances of the combatants became visible, and each man below saw a representative of himself and his fortunes above. The fate of Jewish war was there written by the hand of heaven; the fate of the individual was there predicted in the individual triumph or fall. What thought of man can conceive the intense interest with which we watched every blow, every movement, every wound of those images of ourselves? [The light illuminated the whole horizon below. The legions were seen drawn out in front of the camps ready for action; ever helmet and spear-point glittering in the radiance; every face turned up, gazing in awe and terror on the sky. The tents spreading over the hills; the thousands and tens of thousands of auxiliaries and captives; the little groups of the peasantry roused from sleep by the uproar of the night, and gathered upon the knolls and eminences of their fields; all were bathed in a flood of preternatural lustre. [But the wonderous battle approached its close. The visionary Romans shook; column and cohort gave way, and the banners of the tribes waved in victory over the field. Then first, human voices dared to be heard. From the city and the plain burst forth one mighty shout of triumph. [But our presumption was to be soon checked. A peal of thunder that made the very ground tremble under our feet, rolled from the four quarters of the heaven. The conquering host shook, broke and fled in utter confusion over the sapphire field. It was pursued, but by no semblance of the Roman. An awful enemy was on its steps. Flashes of forked fire, like myriads of lances, darted af. ter it; cloud on cloud deepened down, as the smoke of a mighty furnace; globes of light shot blasting and burning along its trackThen, amid the doubled roar of thunder, rushed forth the chivalry of heaven; shapes of transcendant beauty, yet with looks of wrath that withered the human eye; armed sons of immortality descended on the wing by millions; mingled with shapes and instruments of ruin, for which the mind has no conception. The circle of the heaven was filled with the chariots and horses of fire.— Flight was in vain: the weapons were soon
to drop from the Jewish host: their warriors sank upon the splendid field. Still the im
mortal armies, poured on, trampling and blasting, until the last of the routed was consumed. [The angry pomp then paused. Countless wings were spread, and the angelic multitudes having done the work of vengeance, rushed upward with the sound of ocean in the storm, The roar of trumpets and thunders was heard until the splendor was lost in the heights of the empyrean. We felt the terrible warning. Our strength was dried up at the sight; despair seized upon our souls. We had now seen the fate of Jerusalem. No victory over man could save us from the coming of final ruin. Thousands never left the ground on which they stood; they perished by their own hands, or lay down and died of broken hearts. The rest fled through the night, that again wrapped them in tenfold darkness. The whole multitude scattered away, with soundless steps and in silence, like an army of spectres.] In the deepest dejection that could overwhelm the human mind I returned to the city, where one melancholy care still bound me to existence. I hastened to my comfortless home; but the battle had fluctuated so far round the walls, that I found myself perplexed among the ruins of a portion of the lower city, a crowd of obscure streets which belonged almost wholly to strangers and the poorer population. The faction of John of Giscala, composed chiefly of the more profligate and beggared class, had made the lower city their strong hold, before they became masters of Mount Moriah; and some desperate skirmishes, of which conflagrations were the perpetual consequence, laid waste the principal part of a district built and kept up with the haste and carelessness of poverty. To find a guide through this scene of dilapidation was hopeless, for every living creature, terrified by the awful portents of the sky, had now fled from the streets. The night was solid darkness. No expiring gleam from the burnt rampart, no fires of the Roman camps, no
lamp on the Jewish battlements, broke the
Beauties of Salathiel.
this was difficult to discover, and I was hopelessly returning to take my chance in the open air, when I discovered the glimmer of a lamp through a crevice in the upper part of the building. My first impulse was to approach and obtain assistance. But the abruptness of the ascent gave me time to consider the hazard of breaking in upon such groups as might be gathered at that hour, in a period when every atrocity under heaven reigned in Jerusalem. My patience was put to but brief trial; for in a few minutes, I heard a low hymn. It paused, as if followed by prayer. The hymn began again, in accents so faint, as evidently to express the fear of the worshippers. But the sound thrilled through my soul. I listened in a struggle of doubt and hope. Could I be deceived? and, if I were, how bitter must be the discovery : I sat down on the foot of the rude stair, to feed myself with the fancied delight, before it should be snatched from me forever. But my perturbation would have risen to madness, had I stopped longer. I climbed up the tottering steps; half-way I found myself obstructed by a door; I struck upon it, and called aloud. After an interval of miserable delay, a still higher door was opened, and a figure, disguised in a mantle, tremblingly looked out, and demanded my purpose. I saw, glancing over her, two faces, that I would have given the world to see. I called out “Miriam " . Overpowered with emotion, my speech failed me. Ilived only in my eyes. I saw Miriam fling off the mantle with a scream of joy, and rush down the steps. I saw my two daughters follow her with the speed of love: the door was thrown back, and I fell fainting into their arms. Tears, exclamations, and gazings, were long our only language. My wife flung her arms round me, and hung over my wasted frame with endless embraces and sobs of joy. My daughters fell at my feet, bathed my cold hands with their tears, smiled on me in speechless delight, and then wept again.— They had thought me lost to them forever. I had thought them dead, or driven to some solitude which forbade us to meet again on this side of the grave. For two years, two dreadful years, a lonely man on earth, a wifeless husband, a childless father, tried by every misery of mind and body; here, here I found my treasure once more. On this spot, wretched and destitute as it was, in the midst of public misery and personal woe, I had found those whose loss would have made the riches of mankind beggary to me. My soul overflowed. Words were not to tell the feverish fondness, the strong delight that quivered through me: I wept with woman's weakness; I held my wife and children at arm's length,
that I might enjoy the full happiness of gazing on them; then my eyes would grow dim, and I caught them to my heart, and in silence, the silence of unspeakable emotion, tried to collect my thoughts, and to convince myself that my joy was no dream. The night passed in mutual inquiries. The career of my family had been deeply diversified. On my capture in the great battle with Cestius, in which it was conceived that I had fallen, they were on the point of coming to Jerusalem to ascertain their misfortune. The advance of the Romans to Masada precluded this. They sailed for Alexandria, and were overtaken by a storm. “In that storm,” said Miriam, with terror painted on her countenance, “we saw a sight that appalled the firmest heart among us, and to this hour recalls horrid images. The night had fallen intensely dark. Our vessel, laboring through the tempest during the day, and greatly shattered, was expected to go down before morn, and I had come upon the deck prepared to submit to the general fate; when I saw a flame upon the horizon. I pointed it out to the mariners; but they were paralyzed by weariness and fear; and instead of approaching what I conceived to be a beacon, they let the vessel drive before the wind. I watched the light; to my astonishment I saw it advancing over the waves. It was a large ship on fire, and rushing down upon us. Then indeed there was no insensibility in our mariners; they were like mad men through excess of fear; they did every thing but make a resolute effort to escape the danger. “The blazing ship came towards us with terrific rapidity. As it approached, the figure of a man was seen on the deck, standing unhurt in the midst of the burning. The Syrian pilot, hitherto the boldest of our crew, at this sight, cast the helm from his hands in despair, and tore his beard, exclaiming, that we were undone. To our questions he would give no other answer than pointing to the solitary being who stood calmly in the centre of conflagration, more like a demon than a man. “I proposed that we should make some efforts to rescue this unfortunate man. But the pilot was horror-struck at the thought, and then gave up the tale, that it cost him agonies even to utter. He told us that the being whom our frantic compassion would attempt to save, was an accursed thing; that for some crime too inexpiable to allow of his remaining among creatures capable of hope, he was cast out from men, stricken into the nature of the condemned spirits, and sentenced to rove the ocean in fire, ever burning, and never consumed !” I felt every word, as if that fire were devouring my flesh. The sense of what I was, and what I must be, was poison. My head No. 11.
The Unopened Letter.
swam; mortal pain overwhelmed me. And this abhorred thing I was; this sentenced and fearful wretch I was, covered with wrath and shame, the exile from human nature: and I heard my sentence pronounced, and my existence declared hideous, by the lips on which I hung for confidence and consolation against the world. Flinging my mantle over my face to hide its writhings, I seemed to listen ; but my ears refused to hear. In my perturbation, I once thought of boldly avowing the truth, and thus freeing myself from the pang of perpetual concealment. But the offence and the retribution were too real and too deadly to be disclosed, without destroying the last chance of happiness to those innocent sufferers. I mastered the convulsion, and again bent my ear. “Our story exhausts you,” said Miriam; “but it is done. After a long pursuit, in which the burning ship followed us, as if with the express purpose of our ruin; we were snatched from a death by fire, only to undergo the chance of one by the waves, for we struck upon a rock. Yet it may have been owing even to that chase that we were saved. The ship had driven us towards land. At sea we must have perished; but the shore was found to be so near, that the country people, guided by the flame, saved us without the loss of a life. Once on shore, we met with some of the fugitives from Masada, who brought us to Jerusalem, the only remaining refuge for our unhappy nation.” To prevent a recurrence of this torturing subject, I mastered my emotion so far as to ask some question of their means of support during the siege. . But Miriam's thoughts were still busy with the sea. After some hesitation, and as if she dreaded the answer, she said; “One extraordinary circumstance made me take a strong interest in the fate of that solitary being on board of the burning vessel. It once seemed to have the most striking likeness to you. I even cried out to you under that impression; but fortunate it was for us all that my heedless cry was not answered; for, when it approached us, I could see its countenance change; it threw a sheet of flame across our vessel that almost scorched us to death; and then, perhaps thinking that our destruction was complete, the human fiend ascended from the waters in a pillar of intense fire.” I felt deep pain in this romantic narrative. My mysterious sentence was the common talk of mankind My frightful secret, that I had thought locked up in my own heart, was loose as the air! This was enough to make life bitter. But, to be identified in the minds of my family with the object of universal horror, was a chance which I determined not to contemplate. My secret there was still safe;
Sisters. Vol. II.
It was a beautiful moonlight evening in the month of September,- the leaves were slightly tinged with the sombre hues of autumn, just sufficient to give the woods a variagated and pleasing appearance. Several tiny boats filled with smiling and happy companies, were sailing on the calm surface of the lake; all seemed happy, and in unison with the quiet of nature's soft repose.
Seated on a balcony that overlooked the lake were two fair girls. The looks of the elder were bent in sorrowing silence on the wasted form and pale features of her sister: Poor Emma! she began life with every prospect of happiness before her, that usually awaits the young and beautiful; but disease laid his hand on her fair form, and she faded like a rose that the rough blast suddenly crops from its slender stem . She raised her eye, languid and already dimmed by the shades of death, to her sisters face, whose tears flowed afresh as she beheld the cold dews fast gathering on her brow—and saw her increasing weakness. Alas! what anguish to gaze on the beloved companion of her childhood, and to think in how short a time the cold grave must conceal for ever one so dear to her heart. Maria fully realized at that moment the truth of those feelings. Emma observed her anguish. Do not weep for me, dearest Maria—I do not sigh to quit this world, but for thee my sister! It is easier for me to go now, when all is bright and beautiful before me! If I have known but little of what the world calls pleasure, I have also known but few of its many sorrows. Dear Maria, you have long deceived yourself with false hopes of my recovery. I knew long e'er this that my days were numbered, that my pilgrimage would soon end—that I should soon go to that mansion “where the wea are at rest,” which the blessed Saviour hat promised to the faithful. Do not think of me sadly when I am gone. All is calm around us: the moon walks in silent majesty through
the blue vault of heaven—and the stars which stud the skies so thickly, look as though they exercised that mysterious power over the fate of mortals that ancient seers have assigned to them. I have often thought, Maria, that after the spirit leaves this burdensome clay, it may visit again those spots most dear to it while on earth. Hark to those strains of distant music—the tall trees bend in graceful worship—all nature, to the contemplative mind, speaks a language well understood,— for our . hours, she cheers us with happiness and plenty—with a never-ending song of enjoyment—for our sadder musings, she presents to us emblems on which to moralize —the fall of the leaf and the quick decay of all that is most beautiful on earth; at the same time she imparts her own consolations, showing us, by the return of spring, that from the withered root the flower will again arise —so from the “grave shall bloom immortal youth and beauty!” See, dear sister, yon little child playing among the flowers on the shores of the lake; he is happy and innocent, unacquainted with the ways of the world, he neither thinks nor knows what may befall him;-he looks for comfort in every little affliction, to the soothing voice of his mother, and relies with full confidence in what she tells him. So it was with our first parents, when, in the beauty of unsullied innocence, they roved among the groves of Eden; while they trusted and obeyed the commands of God as implicitly as that little child obeys his parents, they were happy; but when temptation assailed they yielded— when pardoned by their indulgent Father, theirs was no longer the peace of innocence, but the chastened feeling of contrition and repentance. This world is described by gloomy misanthropes as a wild waste—a field of thorns—a scene of unceasing trouble. It has not been so to me: No! it is most beautiful! Surely the works of an Almighty Architect must be perfect. It is from ourselves that flow most of the sorrows of life. But my strength fails! Support me, Maria—my spirit longs to depart! I see angels waiting for me! I hear celestial music! Angelic forms are hymning sweet melody—all nature joins in worship—it is indeed a Sabbath eve. To-morrow the bells will sound my requiem: Thou wilt stand here on many such evenings—but not with me! Thou shalt not see me, yet I will hover around thee, waking memories of former days. Hush, Emma, hush! said Maria, passionately, thou wilt break my heart! How can I live without thee! My dearest Maria, give not up thus to despair. It will be but a short separation,-we shall soon meet again. In that spot so oft
: Similie—Grace Wentworth.
admired let me rest! There the first violets blow, and there the last flower sheds, its leaves. I would not that any thing melancholy should record the name of one whose death was joyful. Dear, dear Maria, farewell.
She ceased. Maria bent over. her; her spirit seemed fluttering on her lips; those beautiful eyes were closed, which were wont to beam on Maria expressive of affection; her hand still clasped her sister—Maria felt it loosened—a slight convulsion shook her frame, and there remained in the arms of her sister the unconscious clay of the lovely being whom she had watched so long and so tenderly. Bitterly did Maria weep for her beloved sister, and with a mournful pleasure attended to her last wish—and she now rests in that quiet spot where in life she loved to linger. No splendid monument marks her grave. The simple words “My sister,” engraved on the stone, points to her resting place.
superficially must they have examined the springs of human feeling, who trace happiness to any other source than the heart. Mrs. Wentworth had not a grateful one; and while all good and pleasant things were profusely scattered in her path, she passed them unheeded, or received them as her due; but never as gifts from the bounteous Father of all good, to be meted out to others. In the arrangements of her domestic establishment, at a period when females were celebrated for their knowledge of household goods, Mrs. Wentworth was unrivalled. The quick, glancing eye of a Miss Pratt, would never have “seen a broom where a broom should not be,” nor detected" a mote in her elaborately neat abode. Then her dinners, they, like the chef d’aeuvre of the Grecian artist, comprised the pride of every cook, and the perfection of every receipt-book. So extremely exact was she, in all the observances of etiquette, that, by the good people of Boston, she was pronounced the very mirror of decorum :—and, like the mirror, she was bright, polished and unfeeling; like the mirror, her heart received no abiding impression. Mr. Wentworth's character was most rich in Christian graces. With him the sovereign good was to communicate happiness; for he deemed it the first principle of action, with the Author of all existence. Happily for him, their daughter Grace possessed none of her mother's traits of character, and it was delightful to her father, to watch the gradual developement of a disposition, so free from all that was cold, calculating, or selfish. So fearful was he of making her an artificial character, that he suffered her to remain, much as nature formed her,-with the faults of an open and confiding temper, and most in danger of erring from “excess of feelings edged too keenly.” Grace Wentworth had a highly cultivated mind, though not what is termed a masculine one. She had judgment, and discrimination, and taste, and a rich, beautiful imagination, which cast its roseate hues over all, and through which she delighted to view the world, and its living men and women, spiritualized and beautified. Her countenance expressed every emotion of her soul, and its animated, varying expression, rendered it beautiful—most beautiful to those who knew her, and saw how much the joyous and benignant emotions prevailed over the gloomy and discontented. Mr. Wentworth loved his daughter with fond, engrossing affection; and Grace repaid his love with attachment the most devoted. When his spirits were depressed, she would cheer him; when weary, she would amuse him; when sick, she would sooth him; and would laugh with so much good nature, at some fancied disease, that the