« AnteriorContinuar »
A thousand cups of gold,
The godless heathen's wine!
In that same hour and hall,
A solitary hand
Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
The monarch saw and shook,
Chaldea's seers are good,
But here they have no skill; And the unknown letters stood Untold and awful still.
And Babel's men of age
Are wise and deep in lore;
But now they were not sage,
They saw but knew no more.
A captive in the land,
A stranger and a youth,
He heard the King's command,
He saw the writing's truth.
He read it on that night, -
"Belshazzar's grave is made,
The Persian on his throne ! "
MY CASTLES IN SPAIN.
BY GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.
I am the owner of great estates. Many of them lie in the west, but the greater part in Spain.
You may see my western possession's any evening at sunset, when their spires and battlements flash against the horizon. But my finest castles are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, and my castles are all of perfect proportions and appropriately set in the most picturesque situations.
I have never been in Spain myself, but I have naturally conversed much with travelers to that country; although, I must allow, without deriving from them much substantial information about my property there.
The wisest of them told me that there were more holders of real estate in Spain than in any other region he had ever heard of, and they are all great proprietors.
Every one of them possesses a multitude of the stateliest castles. It is remarkable that none of the proprietors has ever been to Spain to take possession and report to the rest of us the state of our property there, and it is not easy for me to say how I know so much about my castles in Spain.
The sun always shines upon them. They stand lofty and fair in a luminous, golden atmosphere, a little hazy and dreamy, perhaps, like the Indian summer, but in which no gales blow and there are no tempests.
All the sublime mountains and beautiful valleys and soft landscapes that I have not yet seen are to be found in the grounds:
They command a noble view of the Alps; so fine, indeed, that I should be quite content with the prospect of them from the highest tower, and not care to go to Switzerland.
I have often wondered how I should reach my castles. I have inquired very particularly, but nobody seemed to know the way. It occurred to me that Bourne the millionaire must have ascertained the safest and most expedi tious route to Spain; so I stole a few minutes one afternoon and went into his office.
He was sitting at his desk, writing rapidly, and surrounded by files of papers and patterns, specimens, boxes, everything that covers the tables of a great merchant.
In the outer rooms clerks were writing. Upon high shelves over their heads were huge chests covered with
dust, dingy with age many of them, and all marked with the name of the firm in large letters, " Bourne & Dye."
They were all numbered also with the proper year; some of them with a single capital B, and dates extending back into the last century, when old Bourne made the great fortune before he went into partnership with Dye. There were several gentlemen in waiting to converse with Bourne (we all call him so familiarly down town), and I waited until they went out. But others came in. There was no pause in the rush. were made and answered.
All kinds of inquiries At length I stepped up.
"A moment, please, Mr. Bourne." He looked up hastily, wished me good morning, which he had done to the others, and which courtesy I attributed to Spanish sympathy.
"What is it, sir?" he asked blandly, but with wrinkled brow.
“Mr. Bourne, have you any castles in Spain?” said I, without preface. He looked at me for a few moments without speaking and without seeming to see me. His brow gradually smoothed, and his eyes apparently looking into the street were really, I have no doubt, feasting upon the Spanish landscape.
"Too many, too many," said he, at length, musingly, shaking his head and without addressing me.
I suppose he felt himself too much extended, as we say in Wall Street.
He feared, I thought, that he had too much impracticable property elsewhere to own so much in Spain: so I asked:
"Will you tell me what you consider the shortest and safest route thither, Mr. Bourne? for of course a man who drives such an immense trade with all parts of the world will know all that I have come to inquire."
'My dear sir," answered he, wearily, “I have been trying all my life to discover it; but none of my ships have ever been there none of my captains have any report
'They bring me, as they brought my father, gold dust from Guinea, ivory, pearls, and precious stones from every part of the earth; but not a fruit, not a solitary flower, from one of my castles in Spain.
"I have sent clerks, agents, and travelers of all kinds, philosophers, pleasure hunters, and invalids, in all sorts of ships, to all sorts of places, but none of them ever saw or heard of my castles, except a young poet, and he died in a madhouse."
"Mr. Bourne, will you take five thousand at ninetyseven?" hastily demanded a man whom, as he entered, I recognized as a broker. "We'll make a splendid thing
Bourne nodded assent, and the broker disappeared.
'Happy man!" muttered the merchant, as the broker went out; "he has no castles in Spain."
“I am sorry to have troubled you, Mr. Bourne,” said I, retiring.
"I'm glad you came," returned he; "but, I assure you, had I known the route you hope to ascertain from me I should have sailed years and years ago. People sail for the Northwest Passage, which is nothing when you have found it. Why don't the English Admiralty fit out expeditions to discover all our castles in Spain?"