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ON LORD BYRON’S LINES UPON THE FIELD OF
Here is the very cunning of the poet - one train of ideas excited to prepare you for receiving, in its full force, the shock of their opposite. The ball-room thrown open to you; beauty and chivalry, in all the splendor that should grace the festive hour, presented to you; the voluptuous swell of music awakened for you; your senses, your imagination, and your affections, environed with scenes and images of sweetness, and grace, and loveliness, and joy — to strike you aghast with alarm, to bring trepidation and terror before you in their most appalling shapes and attitudes. The whole scene, as by the waving of an enchanter's wand, changed in a moment! For smiles, tears; for blushes, paleness; for meetings, partings; for the assembly, the muster; for the dance, the march; for the music, the cannon; for the ball-room, the battle field! This is one of the most favourite feats of poetry, and occurs frequently in the works of all great masters. It is a means by which they provoke that agitation and hurry of spirits, which enable them to take possession of their readers; and which consists in bringing contrarieties into sudden collision. The luxuriant valley opens upon the sterile heath ; the level plain borders upon the rugged mountain ; you walk in imagined security, and find yourself upon the brink of an abyss; you fall asleep with the languor of the calm, and awaken with the fury of the tempest! Campbell soothes the apprehensions of Gertrude-places Albert and his interesting family in their lighted bower, prolonging the joy of converse—when Ontalissa rushes in to tell, that
“ The mammoth comes ! the foe! the monster Brandt!
With all his howling-desolating band !”
Thomson avails himself of the serenity of a placid summer's day, and the security and calm of requited, happy, communing love, to introduce the tempest, whose lightning strikes Amelia to the earth,
a blackened corse! Milton works up his infernal hero to the highest pitch of demoniac exultation, to prepare his ear for the dismal, universal hiss, that aptly gratulates his triumph-extends, expands him into the full dimensions of monarchal pride, to throw him down, a reptile, upon the floor of Pandemonium! Shakspere prepares a feast for the reception of the ghost of Banquo-brings the exultation and the agony of triumphant guilt, into immediate contact-exhibits to us, at the same moment, and in the same person, the towering king, and the grovelling murderer ! or, in the tragedy of Hamlet, makes the grave-digger's carol, the prelude to the dirge of Ophelia !
I said that at sea all is vacancy; I should correct the expression. To one given to day-dreaming, and fond of losing himself in reveries, a sea voyage is full of subjects for meditation; but then they are the wonders of the deep, and of the air, and rather tend to abstract the mind from worldly themes. I delighted to loll over the quarter railing, or climb to the main-top, of a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom vf a summer's sea ;-to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds just peering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy realms, and people them with a creation of my own ;to watch the gentle undulating billows, rolling their silver volumes, as if to die away on those happy shores.
There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe, with which I looked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols. Shoals of porpoises tumbling about the bow of the ship; the grampus slowly heaving his huge form above the surface; or the ravenous shark, darting, like a spectre, through the blue waters. My imagination would conjure up all that I heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of the shapeless monsters vasút lurk among the very foundations of the earth ; and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of fishermen and sailors.
Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean, would be another theme of idle speculation. How interesting this fragment of a world, hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence. What a glorious monument of human invention ! that has just triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of the world into communion; has established an interchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the north, all the luxuries of the south; has diffused the light of knowledge and the charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together those scattered portions of the human race, between which nature seemed to have thrown an insurmountable barrier.
We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance. At sea, everything that breaks the monotony of the surrounding expanse attracts attention. It proved to be the mast of a ship that must have been completely wrecked; for there were the remains of handkerchiefs, by which some of the crew had fastened themselves to this spar, to prevent their being washed off by the waves. There was no trace by which the name of the ship could be ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for many months; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is the crew? Their struggle has long been over-they have gone down amidst the roar of the tempest—their bones lie whitening among the caverns of the deep. Silence-oblivion, like the waves, have closed over them, and no one can tell the story of their end. What sighs have been wafted after that ship; what prayers offered up at the deserted fire-side of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, the mother, pored over the daily news, to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep. How has expectation darkened into anxiety-anxiety into dread--and dread into despair! Alas! not one memento shall ever return for love to cherish. All that shall ever be known, is, that she sailed from her port, “and was never heard of more!
In the evening, the weather, which had hitherto been fair, began to look wild and threatening, and gave indications of one of those
sudden storms that will sometimes break in upon the serenity of a summer voyage. The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed into tremendous confusion. There was a fearful, sullen sound of rushing waves, and broken surges. Deep called unto deep. At times, the black volume of clouds over head seemed rent asunde by flashes of lightning that quivered along the foaming billows, and wade the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. The thunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and prolonged by the mountain waves. As I saw the ship staggering and plunging among these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that she regained her balance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards would dip into the water : her bow was almost buried beneath the waves. Some times an impending surge appeared ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a dexterous movement of the helm preserved her from the shock.
When I retired to my cabin the awful scene still followed me. The whistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like funereal wailings. The creaking of the masts, the straining and groaning of bulk heads, as the ship labored in the weltering sea, were frightful. As I heard the waves rushing along the side of the ship, and roaring in my very ear, it seemed as if Death were raging round this floating prison, seeking for his prey; the mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam, might give him entrance.
A fine day, however, with a tranquil sea and favoring breeze, soon put all these dismal reflections to flight. It is impossible to resist the gladdening influence of fine weather and fair winds at sea. When the ship is decked out in all her canvass, every sail swelled, and careering gaily over the curling waves, how lofty, how gallant she appears—how she seems to lord it over the deep! I might fill a volume with the reveries of a sea voyage, for with me it is almost a continual reverie— but it is time to get to shore.
THE BROKEN HEART.
How many bright eyes grow dim-how many soft cheeks grow pale—how many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is the nature of woman to hide from the world the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself ; but when otherwise, she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her the desire of the heart has failed. The great charm of existence is at an end. She neglects all the cheerful exercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulses, and send the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken-the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams—" dry sorrow drinks her blood" until her enfeebled frame sinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little while, and you find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, and wondering that one, who but lately glowed with all the radiance of health and beauty, should so speedily be brought down to “ darkness and the worm”. You will be told of some wintry chill, some casual indisposition, that laid her low :- but no one knows the mental malady that previously sapped her strength, and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.
She is like some tender tree, the pride and beauty of the grove; graceful in its form, bright in its foliage, but with the worm preying at its heart. We find it suddenly withering when it should be most fresh and luxuriant. We see it drooping its branches to the earth, and shedding leaf by leaf; until, wasted and perished away, it falls even in the stillness of the forest; and, as we muse over the beautiful ruin, we strive in vain to recollect the blast or thunderbolt that could have smitten it with decay.
I have seen many instances of women running to waste and selfneglect, and disappearing gradually from the earth, almost as if they