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Do not come near these walls; return home, dearest—and farewell forever.” f A gentleman at this moment stepped from the crowd, and politely tendered to her his services. | “Your services,” exclaimed Agnes bitterly; “yes, I will accept them. Go, save him—I am free—I want no assistance. Save him, and I will bless you—thank you forever.” The gentleman stated to her o apparent impossibility of effecting the release of the prisoner, and pointed to the iron bars of his window, and the living coal of the whole interior of the first floor. She turned from him despairingly, and again called upon her lover. “Break those hideous bars, Ratcliff.” “I cannot, Agnes; they are iron; fareWell.” “Oh, no, no, no-do not bid me farewell, but come to me—I, afm all alone here, Ratcliff—come to me.” Dormer seized hold of the middle bar which crossed his window, and pulled with all his strength; but did not move it. Relinquishing his hold, he darted back into his chamber, as if some new hope had crossed him, and in a moment re-appeared, standing on the sill of the window. “Once more—once more,” repeated the maiden with clasped hands. Dormer again caught the bar, and planting his foot firmly against the wall, pulled with the strength of a giant. The frame of the window, shrivelled and loosened by the
To my Mother.
cracked and scorching walls, presently began to yield. Another and sterner effort—a voice of encouragement from the crowd—it shook —moved, and at last fell into the cell, burying the unfortunate Ratcliff in a pile of the ruined wall, which he had dragged after him. The shout of triumph which had almost escaped the lips of the spectators, died away into a moan of despair. The events we have here last recorded, occurred in less time than we have taken to detail them; and at the moment of the falling in of the wall, the mass which had moved off for implements of operation upon the first recognition of the character of the prisoner, returned to the scene of danger, but it was too late. In vain then were torrents of water poured into the blazing ruin; in vain were ladders erected and screens set up, and fearless hearts and strong arms brought to the rescue. The prisoner was found, and taken out a mangled corpse. The next day a solemn and unusually large line of mourners moved down one of the streets of New York, and directed its course to th cemetery of St. Paul's.
Afflictions are thorough teachers.
Beauties of Salathiel.
Blest mother! I remember thee, (alas ! how sad the spot
BEAUTIES OF SALATHIEL.
While, with my head bent on my knees, I hung in the misery of self abhorrence; sheard the name of Constantius sorrowfully pronounced beside me. The state in which he must be left by my long absence flashed upon my mind; I threw back the mantle, and saw Salome. It was her voice that wept; and I then first observed the work of woe in her form and features. She was almost a shadow; her eye was lustreless, and the hands that she clasped in silent prayer were reduced to the bone.— But before I could speak, Miriam made a sign of silence to me, and led the mourner away; then returning, said, “I dreaded lest you might make any inquiries before Salome for her husband. Religion alone has kept her from the grave. On our arrival here we found our noble Constantius worn out by the fatigue of the time; but he was our guardian spirit in the dreadful tumults of the city. When we were burned out of one asylum, he led us to another. It is but a week since he placed us in this melancholy spot, but yet the more secure and unknown. He himself brought us provisions, supplied us with every comfort that could be obtained by his impoverished means, and saved us from want. But now,” —the tears gushed from her eyes, and she could not proceed. “Yes—now,” said I, “he is a sight that would shock the eye; we must keep Salome in ignorance, as long as we can.” - “The unhappy girl knows his fate but too well. He left us a few days since, to obtain some intelligence of the siege. We sat during the night, listening to the frightful sounds of battle. At day-break, unable any longer to bear the suspense, or sit looking at Salome's wretchedness, I ventured to the Fountaingate, and there heard what I so bitterly anticipated—our brave Constantius was slain!” She wept aloud; and sobs and cries of irrepressible anguish answered her from the chamber of my unhappy child. The danger of a too sudden discovery prevented me from drying those tears; and I could proceed only by offering conjectures on the various chances of battle, the possibility of his being made prisoner, and the general difficulty o ascertaining the fates of men in the irregular combats of a populace. But Salome sat fixed in cold incredulity. Esther sorrowfully kissed my hand for the disposition to give them a ray of comfort; Miriam gazed on me with a sad and searching look, as if she felt that I would not tamper with their distresses, yet was deeply perplexed for the 1SSue. At last the delay grew painful to myself
and taking Salome to my arms, and pressing a kiss of parental love on her pale cheek, I whispered, “he lives.” I was overwhelmed with transports and thanksgivings. Precaution was at an end.— If battle were raging in the streets, I could not now have restrained the generous impatience of friendship and love. We left the tower. There was not much to leave, besides the walls; but such as it was, the first fugitive was welcome to the possession. Night was still within the building, which had belonged to some of the Roman officers of state, and was massive and of great extent. But at the threshold, the grey dawn came quivering over the Mount of Olives. We struggled through the long and winding streets, which even in the fight were nearly impassable. From the inhabitants we met with no impediment; a few haggard and fierce-looking men stared at us from the ruins; but we, wrapped up in rude mantles, and hurrying along, wore too much the livery of despair, to be disturbed by our fellows in wretchedness. With a trembling heart I led the way to the chamber, where lay one, in whose life our general happiness was centred. Fearful of the shock which our sudden appearance might give his enfeebled frame, and not less of the misery with which he must be seen, I advanced alone to the bedside. He gave no sign of recognition, though he was evidently awake; and I was about to close the curtains, and keep at least Salome from the hazardous sight of this living ruin, when I found her beside me. She took his hand, and set down on the bed with her eyes fixed on his hollow features. She spoke not a word, but satcherishing the wasted hand in her own, and kissing it with sad fondness. Her grief was too sacred for our interference; and in sorrow scarcely less poignant than her own, I led apart Miriam and Esther, who, like me, believed that the parting day was come. Such rude help as could be found in medicine,—at a time when our men of science had fled the city, and a few herbs were the only resource,—had not been neglected even in my distraction. . But life seemed retiring hour by hour; and if I dared to contemplate the death of this heroic and beloved being, it was almost with a wish that it had happened before the arrival of those to whom it must be a renewal of agony. But the minor cares, which make so humble, yet so necessary a page in the history of life, were now to occupy me. Food must be provided for the increased number of my inmates; and where was that to be found in the circle of a beleaguered city ? Money was useless, even if I possessed it: the friends who would once have shared their last meal with
me, were exiled or slain; and it was in the midst of a fierce populace, themselves dying of hunger, that I was to glean the daily subsistence of my wife and children. The natural pride of the chieftain revolted at the idea of supplicating for food; but this was one of the questions that show the absurdity of pride; and I must beg, if I would not see them die. The dwelling had belonged to one of the noble families extinguished or driven out in the first commotions of the war. The factions which perpetually tore each other, and fought from house to house, had stripped its lofty halls of every thing that could be plundered in the hurry of civil feud; and when I took refuge under its roof, it looked the very palace of desolation. But it was a shelter; undisturbed by the riots of the crowd, too bare to invite the robber; and even its vast and naked chambers, its gloomy passages, and frowning casements, were congenial to the mood of my mind. With Constantius insensible and dying before me, and with my own spirit darkened by an eternal cloud, I loved the loneliness and darkness. When the echo of the winds came round me, as I sat during my miserable midnights watching the countenance of my son, and moistening his severish lip with water, that even then was becoming a commodity of rare price in Jerusalem; I communed with memories that I would not have exchanged for the brightest enjoyments of life. I welcomed the sad music, in which the beloved voices revisited my soul; what was earth now to me, but a tomb! pomp, nay, comfort would have been a mockery. F. to the solitude and obscurity that gave me the picture of the grave. But the presence of my family made me feel the wretchedness of my abode. And when I cast my eyes round the squallid and chilling halls, and saw wandering through them those gentle and delicate forms, and saw them trying to disguise by smiles and cheering words the depression that the whole scene must inspire, I felt a pang that might defy a firmer philosophy than mine. “Here,” said I to Miriam, as I hastened to the door, “I leave you mistress of a palace. The Asmonean blood once flourished within these walls; and why not we? I have seen the nobles of the land crowded into these chambers; and every spot of them echoing with festivity. They are not so full now; but we must make the most of what we have.— Those hangings, that I remember the pride of the Sidonian who sold them, and the wonder of Jerusalem, are left to us still; if they are in fragments, they will but show’ our handy-work the more. We must make our own music; and, in default of menials, serve with our own hands. The pile in that corner was once a throne sent by a Persian king
Beauties of Salathiel.
the only thing that is to be tried in fire "
She waited my answer with a look of dejected love. “Miriam, I need not say that I respect and honor your feelings. But no resignation can combat the substantial evils of life. Will the finest sentiments that ever came from human lips make this darkness light, turn this bitter wind into warmth, or make these hideous chambers but the dungeon?” “Salathiel, I dread this language;” was the answer, with more than usual solemnity. “It is, must I say it, even ungrateful and unwise: shall the creatures of the power by whom we are placed in life, either defy his wrath, or disregard his mercy! Might we not be more severely tasked than we are : Are there not thousands at this hour in the world, who, with at least equal claims to the divine benevolence, (I tremble when I use the presumptuous phrase,) are undergoing calamities to which ours are happiness! Look from this very threshold: are there not thousands within the walls of Jerusalem groaning in the pangs of unhealed wounds, mad, starving, stripped of every succor of man, dying in hovels, the last survivors of their wretched race; and yet we, still enjoying health, with a roof over our heads, with our children round us safe, when the plague of the first-born has fallen upon almost every house in Judea, can complain! Be comforted, my love; I see but one actual calamity among us; and, if Constantius should survive, even that one would be at an end.” I tried to escape under cover of ridicule. “So, let fancy have its way; and never had it a more boundless field. Let us dream this ruin into our palace, fill its walls with imaginary opulence, and be happy in spite of chance or change. Here will I sit,” said s, throwing myself on the remnant of an embroidered couch; “enjoy the delights of Soci
ety in solitude, and feel every comfort of life in cold, squalidness and privation.” Miriam turned away with a vexed look; but soon, recovering her composure, came back to conquer with her irresistible smile. “I can forgive your unhappiness: the spirit of man is not made to endure with the patience of woman. But, thoughts like yours are nurtured into sadness by inactivity: you must leave us for a while, and see how far our skill may not improve even this dwelling. Go into the streets, and bring us intelligence of what the Romans are doing. Try the ef. fect of sunshine and air; and then return, and allow the wonders that can be done even by helpless woman.” I obeyed the orders of my gentle despot, and hurried through the echoing halls of this palace of the winds. As I approached the great avenues leading from ...' gates to the temple, unusual sounds struck my ears.Hitherto, nothing in the sadness of the besieged city was sadder than its silence.— Death was lord of Jerusalem; and the numberless ways in which life was extinguished, had left but a remnant of its once proud and flourishing population. But now shouts, and still more the deep and perpetual murmurs that bespeak the movements and gatherings of a crowded city, astonished me. My first conception was, that the enemy had advanced in force; and I was turning towards the battlements to witness or repel the general fate, when I was involved in the multitude whose voices had perplexed me. It was the season of the passover; the Roman barrier had hitherto kept back the tribes: but the victory that left it in embers, opened the gates: and we once more saw the sons of Judea filling the courts of the city of cities. Nothing could be more unrestrained than the public rejoicing. The bold myriads that poured in hour by hour, many of them long acquainted with Roman battle, and distinguished for the successful defence of their strong holds; many of them even bearing arms taken from the enemy, or displaying honorable scars, seemed to have come, sent by heaven. The enemy evidently disheartened by their late losses, and the destruction of the rampart which had cost them so much labor, were collected in their camps; and access was free from every quarter. The rumors of our triumph had spread with singular rapidity through the land; and even the fearful phenomenon that wrote our undoing in the skies, stimulated the national hope. No son of Abraham could believe, without the strongest repugnance, that heaven had interposed, and yet, interposed against the chosen people.
284 Beauties of Salathiel. VoI. II. A living torrent was swelling into the the battle is done, the eagerness for immedigates; and the great avenues and public|ate indulgence, and the rude and unhallowed
places were quickly, impassable with the multitude. Jerusalem never before contained such a mass of population. Wherever the eye turned were tents, fires, and feasting; still, the multitude wore an aspect not such as in former days. The war had made its impression on the inmost spirit of our country. The shepherds and tillers of the ground had been forcc.d into the habits of soldiership; and I saw before me, for the †. and joyous inhabitants of the field and garden, bands of warriors, made fierce by the sullen necessities of the time. The ruin in which they found Jerusalem, increased their gloom. Groups were seen every where climbing among the fallen buildings to find out the dwelling of some chief of their tribe, and venting furious indignation on the hands that had overthrown it. The work of war upon the famous defences of the city was a profanation in their eyes. Crowds rushed through the plain to trace the spot where their kindred fell, and gather their bones to the tardy sepulchre. Others were exulting over the wrecks of the Roman, and burning them in heaps, that they might not mix with the honored dead. But it was the dilapidation of the temple that struck them with the deepest wrath. The whole nervous sensibility and native reverence of the Jew were awakened by the sight of the humiliated sanctuary. They knelt and kissed the pavements stained with the marks of civil feud. They sent forth deep lamentations for the dismantled beauty of gate and altar. They wrapped their mantles round their heads, and, covering themselves with dust and ashes, chanted hymns of funeral sorrow over the ruins. Hundreds lay embracing pillar and threshold, as they would the corpse of a parent or a child; or, starting from the ground, gathered on the heights nearest to the enemy and poured out curses upon the abomination of desolation—the idolatrous banner that flaunted over the Roman camps, and by its mere presence insulted and polluted the temple of their fathers. In the midst of this sorrow, and never was there more real sorrow, was the strange contrast of a violent spirit of festivity. The passover, the grand celebration of our law, was till now marked by a grave homage.— Even its recollections of triumphant deliverance and illustrious promise were but slightly suffered to mitigate the general awe. But the character of the Jew had undergone a signal change. Desperate valor and haughty contempt of all power but that of arms, were the impulse of the time. The habits of the camp were transferred through every part of life; and the reckless joy of the soldier when
resources to while away the heavy hour of idleness, were powerfully and repulsively prominent in the final coming up of the nation. As I struggled through the avenues in search of the remnant of my tribe, my ears were perpetually startled by sounds of riot; I saw, beside the spot where relations were weeping over their dead, crowds drinking, dancing, and clamoring. Songs of wild exultation over the enemy were mingled with laments for their country; wine flowed; and the board, loaded with careless profusion, was surrounded by revelers, with whom the carouse was often succeeded by the quarrel.
The Pharisee and Scribe, the pests of society, were as busy as ever, bustling through the concourse with supercilious dignity, canvassing for hearers in the market-places as of old, offering their wordy devotions where they might best be seen, and quarreling, with the native bitterness of religious faction. Blind guides of the blind; vipers and hypocrites; I think that I see them still with their turbans pulled down upon their scowling brows; their mantles gathered round them, that they might not be degraded by a profane touch; and every feature of their acrid and worldly physiognomies wrinkled with pride put to the torture by the assumption of humility.
Minstrels, far unlike those who once led, the way, with sacred song to the gates of the holy city, flocked round the tents; and companies of Greek and Syrian mimes, dancers, and flute-players, the natural and fatal growth of a period of military relaxation, were erecting their pavilions, as in the festivals of their own profligate cities.
Deepening the shadows of this fearful profanation, stood forth the progeny of terror; the exorcist, the soothsayer, the magician girdled with live serpents, the pretended prophet, naked and pouring out furious rhapsodies; impostors of every color and trade; yet, some of those abhorred and frightful beings the dupes of their own imposture; some utterly frenzied; and some declaring and doing wonders, that showed a power of evil never learned from man.
In depression of heart I gave up the effort to urge my way through scenes, that, firm as I was, terrified me; and turned towards my home, through the steep path that passed along the outer court of the temple. There all was the mournful silence suited to the sanctuary, that was to see its altars kindled no more. But the ruins were crowded with kneeling and woe-begone worshipers, that, from morning till night, clung to the sacred soil, and wept for the departing majesty of