Imágenes de páginas

siasm, the triumph, and glory of the conqueror." At these words he rose, as if impatient to go forth and meet our expected Saviour; but the action dispelled the moment's dream, and sinking in his seat, he said, bitterly: "And now the Roman is our Lord and conqueror; daily we must meet him in the street, and bend to him as such, for him to put his foot on our neck. The Roman centurion, the Roman soldier, dare look with scorn upon us, as well he may, a poor, forlorn, crushed people, as we are, who can be yoked and goaded into obedience. Alas, for Jerusalem! It shall be a reproach and a taunt, and an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee, in anger and in fury, and in fierce rebuke; I, the Lord, have said it.' Ah me, I fear the people; though they talk bravely in secret, yet they are becoming at last more used to their fetters, which daily grow stronger. Not long ago they listened, even for a day, to a man who preached submission to the Romans, and declared it was God's intention to gather all nations into one through them, and then convert the nations to him, and by intermarriage and conversion, render them children of Abraham; that some new coming Cæsar would be the Christ! I fear me, this nation will utterly lose itself and be ruined, unless Christ comes speedily." As he finished speaking, he covered his face in his mantle, and was silent. Benaiah's step had become more rapid, and now coming to Helon, he said, "We must be wary, indeed. Our great Master will not condemn us for watching and waiting, for he will know that for Him we would lose life and soul. Come, Helon, let us go out towards the Mount of Olives; a walk in the night air will calm us; it is many days since we have talked together. The girls must have arrangements to make about Miriam's visit; and Sarai, dear, do not neglect showing Miriam the bridal dresses."

The young man obeyed Benaiah, but his excitement was intense; he could not speak, as he kissed Sarai, good night. Me he scarcely noticed; and then Sarai and I being alone and very much awake, have talked hours and hours. Neither was the bridal wardrobe neglected. Untold riches seem to have been expended upon the preparations for the marriage; it is to be in a month's time. Laban has gone south to visit his kinsfolk, and the usual Nyrsan messenger has just departed from Jerusalem; another one does not go for five weeks, so that I shall be able to tell you all things concerning the wedding festival.

The morning sun has fairly risen as I write; tired, weary and sick, I pray that pleasant dreams of you may come, to be rest and peace to you daughter,


Adar 10th.

Mother, dear, the messenger goes this afternoon, and I can add but a few words to-day. Indeed, I have been a naughty girl, and am rightly punished, by the fact, that the omission of a pleasant duty has caused me more pain than it can you; give me credit, however, for a copious journal for the first three weeks of my sojourn here; and in it were full details of all matters interesting, concerning kinspeople of ours, friends and acquaintances of yours, beside a history of the rise and progress of the popular excitement in favor of the false Christ, as well as his right punishment. Who, but the people, should stone to death so vile an impostor and traitor? And for all his treason, death would have been his, for the Romans would not have looked kindly on him long.

In the last two weeks, forgive me, I have scarcely written, I see; yet so often have I thought of you, that it seemed as if I had said more to you. Those weeks, I expected to be so engaged in festivals, have been spent in earnest, close attention to embroidering an ephod for the high-priest! A troublesome and time-taking compliment so Sarai's and my skill. Helon's disappointment at the non-appearance of a friend, delays the marriage. No time is now marked; but it is supposed it will surely be before a month is over. Sarai has worked so steadily that she looks pale and wearied. I can see her now, as she sits in the court by the fountain, her head bent down over her work. Work, work-nothing but work for the last two weeks; yet our young friends, hearing of our occupation, have come around us, and we have rarely been alone. Now Sarai is alone; and, possibly, it may interest her to hear my impressions. I will read them to her. So, dear mother, I will say farewell to you. No letter yet from you! Heaven speed the northern messenger. May God love thee, is the prayer of Miriam.

Dear mother, I have that yet to add to this letter; but I wished to read all I had as yet written, to Sarai. Poor girl! she needs all comfort; and it is wonderful she has so much character as to bear her trial as well as she does. To strangers she appears only like one who is properly subdued by the approach of so solemn a rite; but me she cannot deceive, although her father seems utterly unconscious of aught wrong. Woman can best read woman. I have not spoken of this before, because I hoped that it would be past and gone; neither have I dared to probe Sarai's suffering, or press her to my heart with sympathy; twice I have neared the subject, and her supplicating gaze and clasped hands told me she knew it best for her to suffer alone. Mother, I fear that Helon, she so worships, has ceased to love her. About the time of the stoning of the false Saviour, he was oppressed with melancholy, for he even had become somewhat infatuated. I found reasons for it, and had hope that the shadows would fly. But no; they deepened. He requested the marriage might be a still more distant thing, and gave, I thought, a hasty reason and excuse. Haughty, cold and distant he seems when he comes, which is rarely; no longer sits near us, and seems often agitated; and I have noticed him looking at Sarai, at times, with so pitiful and questioning a glance-as if he dreaded to see her suffer by telling her, the spell-the dream was over. He pleads illness, matters of business, anything, everything-contradicts himself in his excuses-is constrained-is wretched. Benaiah has been interested in this vile Christ, and mourns himself so much, that I suppose he attributes Helon's change of manner to their common disappointment. Indeed, Benaiah has been much absent for the last three weeks; his country estate requires his attention and oversight. To-morrow he goes again for a week Pray Heaven, before he returns, this gloom, this mystery, this wretchedness, may be displaced by a joy as great as this sorrow is cheerless. Mother, pray for us, and we will try and wait with patience, for the chill oppressive night to give place to bright, beautiful morning.


(To be Continued)



"What pleasant visitations and divine
Light to the dulness of my being lend!

Great friends I bave who seem to have no friend,
For winged shapes of soul come unto mine;
Bold Milton will his place in heaven resign,
With me an hour in gravest talk to spend:
And Homer from Elysium, without end,
Make known the grandeur of an epic line.
And not alone with poets, old and blind,-

The never-dead, communing do I dwell,

Bright rays from God, within, clear entrance find,

And clouds gold-tinged round massive columns swell;
Such glory fills the temple of my mind-

Am I in heaven or not, I cannot tell!"-HowITT.

We have already seen that books and the pen are the truest resources of solitude, and the chosen soothers of misfortune, while their pleasures are among the most elevating and refined of enjoyments. It is with authorship, in some sort, as with heaven-born charity-each bring their own reward. If, referring to the latter, the divine axiom be admitted as unquestionable that "it is more blessed to give than to receive," the innate pleasures of literature seem scarcely less. The Scholar, in Chaucer, would rather have

"at his bedde's head

A twenty bokes, clothed in blacke and red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,

Than robes rich, or fiddle, or psalterie."

It must be remembered, too, that this fact derives some corroborative testimony from the fact, that there have been more than one votary of the muse among the ancients as well as moderns, whose genius towered up as high Olympus in the world of mind, notwithstanding their deprivation of sight. The latest instance of the kind is presented in the case of Lieutenant Holman, of the British navy, who, though wholly blind, has produced several amusing books of travel in different parts of Europe. He has lately returned to England, from a tour of six years in Spain, Portugal, Egypt and other eastern lands; and what is more remarkable still, he usually travels without any stated attendant, relying on picking up companions and information en route. His notes of travel are usually put together by any fellow-traveller who may confer the service. What object is to be gained by a blind man's description of countries and people oneself has never seen, it is difficult to define. Says the author of "Servia in 1843," speaking of this extraordinary individual,—

"One day I was going out of the gate-way, and saw a strange figure, with a long white beard and a Spanish cap, mounted on a sorrel horse, and at once recognized it to be that of Holman, the blind traveller.

We have somewhere read, that one Sir William Read, who wrote a book upon optics, could neither read nor write; and that, when his work was printed, he did not know which was the right side from the left. If a verity, this is somewhat marvellous, forsooth! Perhaps the reader can explain the strange phenomenon ;-at any rate, it proves a passion for the pen beyond all precedent.

[blocks in formation]

"How do you do, Mr. Holman?' said I.

664 I know that voice well.'

"I saw you in Aleppo,' said I; and he at once named me.

[ocr errors]

I then got him off his horse and into quarters.

"This singular individual had just come through the most dangerous parts of Bosnia in perfect safety-a feat which a blind man can perform more easily than one who enjoys the most perfect vision, for all compassionate and assist a fellowcreature in this deplorable plight.

"Next day, I took Mr. Holman through the town, and described to him the lions of Belgrade; and taking a walk on the esplanade, I turned his face to the cardinal points of the compass, successively explaining the objects lying in each direction; and after answering a few of his cross-questions, the blind traveller seemed to know as much of Belgrade as was possible for a person in his condition. "He related to me that, since our meeting at Aleppo, he had visited Damascus and other eastern cities; and at length, after sundry adventures, had arrived on the Adriatic, and visited the Vladika of Montenegro, who had given him a good reception. He then proceeded through Herzegovina and Bosnia to Seraievo, where he passed three days; and he informed me that from Sarievo to the frontiers of Servia it was nearly all forest, with here and there skeletons of robbers hung up in chains.

"Mr. Holman subsequently went, as I understood, to Wallachia and Transylvania."

"My great stimulus in writing," says Shelley, in one of his letters, "is to have the approbation of those who feel kindly towards me.

In an enthusiastic paper on the Fortunes of Genius, the London Atlas ob


"An acquaintance with the biography of illustrious musicians, proves that they reason incoherently and with a short sight, who eternally talk of having the path of genius smoothed, and of setting it above circumstances; for the lives of eminent men of this class display the most admirable energies developed, and the most enthusiastic projects brought to bear, purely by the pressure of the very annoyances sought to be removed. Possession of the creative faculty pre-supposes a superiority to adverse circumstances and low-thoughted care;' and Goldsmith's poet, sitting in his garret with worsted stocking on his head, in spite of bailiffs, writs, debts and duns, the most horrible that even Hogarth imagined, was still a happy fellow. The individual Mr. Jones, seated before a delicate leg of lamb and a bottle of sherry, is an abstraction of the Mr. Jones who owes £284 18s. 4d., and has, as the Dutchmen say, nix to pay.' Satisfied that he would pay if he could, which is all that is necessary to place the morale of his character upon high ground, he leaves the affairs of the world to right themselves, and enjoys the everlasting dayrule of the imagination."

So it was with Fielding, with Goldsmith, with Steele, and others honorable in literature; and so also with Handel, Mozart and Weber, in music; and it is one of the kindly recompenses of Nature, by which she contrives, on the whole, to adjust so equitably the good and the evil in this life, that where injury to the individual arises from an excess of sympathy with the mass, that injury is commonly but lightly felt. We owe that magnificent oratorio, the "Messiah," and others of his masterly productions, to the author's most adverse circumstances; and it is doubted, whether men of genius generally would have achieved half as much as they have, had their circumstances in life been more propitious and conciliatory. Sir Walter Scott wrote his " Waverly," however, for love-not of pelf, but of his pen. Not so his subsequent romances, "Old Mortality," and the long retinue that followed, from which he derived such princely pecuniary proceeds in addition to his high meed of fame. Beaumont was of opinion that a man of

genius could no more help putting his thoughts on paper, than a traveller in a burning desert can help drinking when he sees water.

Leaving, however, this point, let us glance for a moment at some of those localities usually known by the unambitious title of book-stalls-establishments which, however humble in themselves, have yet been the resort in past days of many a true son of genius. Our collective literary spoils are not exclusively to be found garnishing the shelves of the library, or the bookseller's store; there are sundry other interesting little nooks and corners in the wide world as attractive to the real book-worm as the honey-pot to bees, or carrion to a vulture, where learned personages seek their literary aliment, and with as eager an appetite.

Chambers has an admirable paper on this subject-so much to our point that we cannot refrain from citing a passage or two:

"Book-stalls were the cheap literature of a former age. Their business was with a humble kind of new publications, and the worn-out of the old. Ben Jonson, who was probably a haunter of them, since it is told of him that, when a working brick-layer, he used to be seen with a trowel in one hand and a book in the other, says, in his Underwoods

'It is a rhyming age, and verses swarme
At every stall.'

Ballads and other poems, in single sheets or half sheets, together with a great variety of homely prose productions of similar form, were then hung up at stalls to attract the attention of passers by; and many compositions thus introduced to the world have been gathered by our literary antiquaries, our Percies, Evanses, and Ritsons, and transfused into grave-looking volumes for the admiration of learned and polite readers. Time out of mind, these humble marts of literature have been the resort of the curious youth, the struggling scholar, and the pains-taking bookcollector."

Lackington, it will be recollected, was a constant frequenter of these lowly depositories of literary wares. The amusing anecdote of his book vs. a leg of mutton, which his spouse commissioned him to purchase, his process of reasoning the matter, and final decision in favor of the food intellectual, shows the first glimpses of his extraordinary character. Charles Lamb relates a somewhat similar story of his purchase of a folio, “Beaumont and Fletcher," at a book-stall. He had marked it longingly, but was delayed by want of funds. While these were gathering, he almost daily passed the place to see if the book was still there, fearful lest it should be gone. At length, late one Saturday night, having mustered the sum wanted -thirteen shillings-off he set to the shop, never dreaming of the possibility of its being shut. Finding this the case, and the worthy proprietor gone to his nocturnal repose, he was not yet, however, to be baulked of his prey, for he presently commenced a rattling at the door sufficient to have awakened the seven sleepers. The bookseller came out, at length, in the direst alarm, half-clad, and grumblingly took the thirteen pieces of silver in exchange for the twin dramatists, whom the delighted author carried away in high exultation and rapture.

Stall-readers a class of porers who don't buy-are as old as the days of John Milton, if not still more remote of origin, for he alludes to such; while, to quote the phrase of the London Quarterly, "to poor lovers of learning, old and young, these stalls are to the famishing as tables spread in the wilderness."

An early habit of frequenting book-stalls is never quite overcome, even

« AnteriorContinuar »