Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Two of his daughters, pale, with dishevelled bair, ani) whose tears added to their beauty, disputed with him the honour of the martyrdom. I at length succeeded in snatching them by violence from the asylum, under which they would otherwise soon have been buried. These unhappy creatures, when they again saw the light, contemplated with indifference the loss of all iheir property, and were only astonisied that they were still alive. Notwithstanding they were convinced that they would be protected from all personal injury, they did not exhibit any tokens of gratitude; but, like those wretches, who, having been ordered to execution, are quite bewildered, when a reprieve unexpectedly arrives, and the agonies of death render them insensible to the gift of life.

Desirous of terminating the recital of this horrible catastrophe, for which history wants expressions, and poetry has no colours, I shall pass over, in silence, many circumstances re. volting to humanity, and merely describe ihe dreadful confusion which arose in our army, when the fire had reached ever ry part of Moscow, and the whole city was become one immense flame.

A long row of carriages were perceived through the thick smoke, loaded with booty. Being too heavily laden for the ex. hausted cattle to draw them along, they were obliged to halt at every step, when we heard the execration of their drivers, who terrified at the surrounding flames, endeavoured to push for. ward, with dreadful outcries. The soldiers, still armed, were diligently employed in forcing open every door. They seemed to fear lest they should leave one house untouched. Some when their carriages were laden almost to breaking down, bore the rest of their booty on their backs. The fire, however, obstructing the passage of the principal streets, often obliged them to retrace their steps. Thus, wandering from place to place, throigh an immense town, the avenues of which they did not know, they sought, in vain, to extricate themselves from this labyrinth of fire. Many wandered further from the gates by which they might have escaped, instead of approach. . ing them, and thus became the victims of their own rapacity.. In spite, however, of the extreme peril which threatened them, the love of plunder induced our soldiers to brave every dan-.' ger. Stimulated by an irresistible desire of pillage, they prea : cipitated themselves into the midst of the flames. They wa. ded in blood, treading upon the dead bodies without remorse, while the ruins of the houses, mixed with burning coals, fell thick on their murderous hands. They would probably all have pet rished, if the insupportable heat had not forced them at lengih... to withdraw into the camp.

The fourth corps having received orders to leave Moscow, we proceeded, (September 17th,) towards Peterskoe, where our divisions were encamped. At that moment, about the dawn of day. I witnessed the most dreadful and the most affecting scenes which it is possible to conceive ; namely, the unhappy inhabitants drawing upon some mean vehicles all that they had been able to save from the conflagration. The soldiers, ha ving robbed them of their horses, the men and women were slowly and painfully dragging along these little carts, some of which contained an infirm mother, others a paralytic old man, and others the miserable' wrecks of half-consumed furniture; children, half naked, followed these interesting groups. Affliction, to which their age is commonly a stranger, was impressed even on their features, and, when the soldiers approached them, they ran crying into the arms of their mothers. Alas! what habitation could we have offered them which would not constantly recall the object of their terror ? Without a shelter and without food, these unfortunate beings wandered in the field, and filed into the woods ; but, wherever they bent their steps, they met the conquerors of Moscow, who frequently ill-treated them, and sold before their eyes, the goods which had been stolen from their own deserted habitations.

MANNER OF HATCHING CHICKENS IN EGYPT.

This secret, which the Bermeans reveal to none but their children, consists not in the structure of the oven, but the manner of managing the eggs when they are there. Each oven consists of two brick buildings 9 feet high, 38 long, and 12 broad, with a kind of passage between them 3 feet wide, closed up at each end by the walls which terminate the two buildings, and arched over, forming a gallery of the same height.

The two buildings are divided by cross walls, each into 8 chambers, 9. feet high, and each chamber is again separated horizontally into two by a very flat arch, perforated in the middle with an aperture 2 feet diameter ; so that each building contains two ranges of chambers 3 feet high, the upper range communicating with the lower by these apertures ;

the apartments, though not very commodious for the Bermeans that enter them, are very fit for supporting the degree of heat necessary to hatch the eggs, which must be nearly 32 degrees above freezing on Reaumur's thermometer.

The door to every one of these chambers, above and below, is å round hole a foot and a half in diameter, which forms a double

range of ox eyes on either side of the gallery; and the

door of the gallery itself, is a like hole, being the only entrance into the oven.

The eggs are disposed in the lower chambers, upon mats, or beds of hair or hemp, and the door which communicates from each lower chamber to the gallery, is carefully closed up with a wadding of the same matter. The fire is kindled in the upper chambers, and the smoke, which passes into the gallery through the before mentioned apertures, escapes from thence by the holes in the arch, which are carefully closed up as soon as the oven is become hot enough, and the fire is extinguished. They burn neither wood nor coals, which would make too fierce a fire, but a mixture of the dried dung of animals and straw.

From the time of putting out the fire in the oven, part of the eggs are removed into the upper chambers, which though they are now useless, as to their first office, become yet a commodious receptacle for the chickens when hatched, and suit better with the frequent visits which the Bermeans make, to turn the eggs, and carefully pick out, and take away the rotten ones; the stinking vapour of which would otherwise spoil the rest, or kill the young

chickens. The requisite time for hatching each brood in the oven as well as under the hen, is about 21 days; but as they keep up the heat of their ovens six months together, each oven can very well produce 8 broods of about 45,000 eggs

each. The Ber. mean, who has the management of the oven, is to furnisk 30,000 chickens every brood; the other 15,000 either perish, or turn to his own profit. Every oven, therefore, produces annually to its master 240,000 chickens, and the number of these ovens being 386, the whole number of chickens, exclusive of those which are allowed to the manager, amounts to 492,640,000.

ANECDOTE OF WILLIAM TELL. Geisler, governor of Uri, had ordered his hat to be fixed upon a pole in the market-place of Altorf, and commanded every passenger on pain of death to pay the same obeisance to it as to himself. William Tell, of Burglen, in the valley of Uri, son-in-law to Walter Fust, indignant at this insulting mark of wanton tyranny, disdained to pay an homage so absurd and so humiliating. This manly resolution was punished by the tyrant with the sentence of death. Tell was eondemned to be hanged, unless he should be able to strike with his arrow an apple placed upon the head of his son: being an excellent marksman, Tell accepted the alternative, and fortunately cleft the apple without injuring the child. The tyrant Geisler, perceiving another arrow in his belt, asked him for what purpose that was intended; when Tell replied, " It was designed for thee, if I had killed my son." For this heroic answer, he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in a dungeon at Kuffnacht, the residence of Geisler: he was accordingly bound, and placed in a boat, that Geisler himself might convey him across the lake of Altorí to his castle.

Scarcely, however, had the boat performed half the passage, when a furious squall covered the surface of the lake with threatening waves. Geisler, as humble in the hour of danger as he had been arrogant when fear was at a distance, entreated Tell, who was accounted the most skilful boatman in the canton, to save him; and unbound his prisoner with his own hands. Tell seated himself at the helm, steered the boat towards the rock, leaped upon it; and then in an instant, with the same manly strength, pushed back the boat into the lake, escaped, and concealed himself. At length the storm abated, and Geisler gained the shore. As he was about to enter his fortress, Tell, who had by a circuitous route reached the spot before him, discharged an arrow at the tyrant which pierced his heart; and thus paved the way for that conspiracy which laid the foundation of his country's liberty.

CÆSAR'S PASSAGE OF THE RUBICON. The Romans had been taught to consider this river as the sacred boundary of their domestic empire ; the senate had long before made an edict, which is still to be seen engraven on a pillar near Rimini, by which they solemnly devoted to the infernal gods, and branded with sacrilege and parricide, any person who should presume to pass the Rubicon with an army, a legion, or even a single cohort. Cæsar, therefore, having advanced at the head of his army to the side of the river, stopped upon the banks, as if impressed with awe at the greatness of his enterprise. The dangers he was to encounter, the slaughters that might ensue, the calamities of his native city, all rushed upon his imagination in gloomy perspective, and struck him with remorse. He pondered for some time in fixed melancholy, as he eyed the stream, debating with himself whether he should venture : “ If I pass this river,” said he to one of his generals who stood by," what miseries shall I bring upon my country! and, if I stop, I am undone.” Thus saying, and resuming all his fornier intrepidity, he plunged in, crying out, that the die was cast, and all was now over. His soldiers followed him with equal promptitude, and quickly arriving at Ariminum, made themselves masters of the place, without resistance,

DEATH OF REGULUS.

Fourteen years of disastrous war exhausted the Carthaginian resources, and they again showed an inclination for peace, hoping to have better terms than those insisted upon before. They, therefore, resolved to send to Rome to negotiate this business, or at least to procure an exchange of prisoners. For this purpose, they supposed that Regulus, whom they had now for four years kept in a dungeon, and treated with extreme severity, would be a proper solicitor.

It was hoped, that, being wearied of imprisonment and bondage, he would gladly endeavour to persuade his countrymen to a discontinuance of the war, which only prolonged his captivity. He was accordingly sent with their ambassadors to Rome, but with a promise, previously exacted from him, to return in case of being unsuccessful. To this he consented, and set out on his embassy with a determination how to act.

When arrived at the gates of Rome, Regulus refused to enter them. “I am,” said he," no longer a Roman citizen, but a Carthaginian slave: the senate always gives audience to strangers without the gates.” His wife Marcia came to meet him, and presented to him his two children; but this wretched parent fixed his eyes on the ground, and rejected their ca

The senate being assembled, and Regulus admitted into their presence with the Carthaginian ambassadors, thus addressed ihem : “Conscript fathers, a slave of the Carthaginians, I come from my masters to obtain a peace, or at least an exchange of prisoners.” He would have retired during the debate, the senate pressed him to remain, but he refused till ordered to do so by the ambassadors.

Whilst the elders of the senate gave their opinion, he kept his eyes steadfastly down, till it was his turn to speak, when he thus began : “A slave at Carthage ; at Rome I am free, and freely I shall speak.” He then proceeded to prove it not the interest of the republic to make peace. 6 The forces of Carthage," said he," are exhausted. You have been but once conquered, and that once through my fault, which fault Metellus has nobly repaired; whilst the Carthaginians have so often been beaten that they scarcely dare meet a Roman. Their finances are so exhausted, they can no longer pay those mercenaries who are their chief strength. It is therefore my advice to pursue the war more vigorously than ever. As for the exchange of prisoners, amongst the officers in your hands, many who are still in the prime of life, may yet be of service to their country, In the few years I have to expect of life, and

resses.

« ElőzőTovább »