The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

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fire sparkled in his eyes, and altogether he
seemed to exult, rather than, as of late, to
mourn. There was general satisfaction ex-
pressed at the happy change. The page's steed
seemed determined that day to show his master
to the greatest possible advantage. He went
snorting with courage; sometimes playing dis-
dainfully with the earth, which he struck with
short bounds; then rearing as if in fury; then
springing forward as if maddened by restraint,
yet all the while proud of his rider's sway,

and never for one instant escaping, or seeking
to escape, from the secret invisible power of
his flexible practised hand. All eyes were fixed
on the gallant youth, and above all those of
the Duchess who that day seemed to herself
to feel an interest in him of a more remarkable
nature than what she had ever before experi-
encedand which created something like an
agitation in her heart for which she could not
account. His pale face, his beaming eyes,
rivetted her attention. She could not take her
looks from them; and once or twice &he uttered a
short hasty cry of alarm, as the spirited charger
appeared to expose his rider to peril. The
page on these occasions bowed gracefully but
seriously towards his mistress; and altogether
he seemed like one who had suddenly acquired
new and high privileges, which he was in-
capable to abuse, but proud of possessing.

A sumptuous banquet was given to the
knights and retainers on the great lawn before
the Castle; and, after this, Etha took her seat
beneath a splendid canopy to witness the games.
They were many and various, of an athletic
kind, and in these the page distinguished him-
self, as he was wont few could compete with
him, either in agility or courage. The last
trial of both now only remained: it had been
ordered by the masters of the festival, that,
to conclude the day's exercises, a prize of a
golden chain should be awarded to him who
should dare to climb the warder's lofty tower
overlooking the precipice on the brink of
which the Castle stood by the projecting
stones of the external wall a difficult and
perilous task, which it was thought few would
attempt, and perhaps none perform. The
conditions were, that the successful person (if
any succeeded) when standing on the extreme
parapet, should receive a goblet, filled with
wine, from the warder's hand: that, thus ele-
vated in the eyes of all, he should pronounce
the name of his mistress, drink her health in
the contents of the cup, and then, descending,
receive the chain he had won from the hands
of the Duchess herself.

Many young cavaliers made the attempt,
but soon relinquished it. The danger and
fatigue was too great. At last the trumpets
announced that Henry of Chila was about to
essay the enterprise. He was observed to look
earnestly at the Duchess as he advanced to the
foot of the rock. He was soon seen ascending;
and, while the crowd held their breaths, under
the influence of admiration and horror mingled,
the adventurous youth gained the summit,
and stood erect and firm on the fearful height.
The warder held out to him the bowl filled



with wine; a shout from below greeted his
triumph; the utmost silence then prevailed,
for all burned with curiosity to hear pronounced
the name of her who had gained the heart of
Henry of Chila.

"He is about to utter the name .of Agnes,"
said the Duchess to one of her ladies and as
she said this she sighed. "He has done a
dangerous feat for her," she added.

Henry raised the cup in his right hand:
the sun was setting, its rays flashed upon
him horizontally, kindling the fair locks that
streamed about his face, disordered by the
exertion of climbing. He stood like a divine
messenger, about to communicate the will of
Heaven to mortals. The silence grew more
fixed and deep. Not a breath was suffered to

"I drink," exclaimed he, with a loud voice,
"to my mistress to her whom I love to
Etha, Duchess of Liegnitz wife of my most
honoured and esteemed master the Duke
whom I have ever served with fidelity, and to
whom in the moment of death I declare my

A piercing shriek was uttered by the Duchess,
as she turned away her head; for too well she
foresaw what was about to happen. The Duke
sprung forward, exclaiming, "In the name of
God! hold!" A loud cry of Jesu Maria! was
the next instant set up by the whole multitude,
and the body of the unfortunate page lay
mangled and lifeless on the stones beneath the
Castle wall!

Deep sobs and stifled screams were heard
to come from under the canopy; and a sad
agitation and hurried moments prevailed there
amongst the attendants. The Abbot of Lambus
advanced towards the corpse, crossing his hands
over his breast, and exclaiming in a trembling
voice, " To his poor soul may God have mercy ! "
"To his poor soul may God have mercy,"
was solemnly ejaculated by the crowd, as with
one voice; and the echoes in the mountains
around were thrice heard to repeat the word
"mercy." The Duke ordered the remains of
his page to be collected for burial in the ducal
vault at Liegnitz; and masses were celebrated
at Warmbrunn for the soul of the departed.
London Mag.


Not to unveil before the gaze

Of an imperfect sympathy
In aught we are, is the sweet praise

And the main sum of modesty.




" One small spot

Where my tired mind may rest and call it home.
There is a magic iu that little word;
It is a mystic circle that surrounds
Comforts and virtues never known beyond
The hallowed limit."

SOUTHEY'S Hymn to the Penates.

Here have I found at last a home of peace

To hide me from the world; far from its noise,

To feed that spirit, which, though sprung from earth,

And linked to human beings by the bond

Of earthly love, hath yet a loftier aim

Than perishable joy, and through the calm

That sleeps amid the mountain- solitude,

Can hear the billows of eternity,

And hear delighted.

Many a mystic gleam,
Lovely though faint, of imaged happiness
Fell on my youthful heart, as oft her light
Smiles on a wandering cloud, ere the fair moon
Hath risen in the sky. And oh ! ye dreams
That to such spiritual happiness could shape
The lonely reveries of my boyish days,
Are ye at last fulfilled ? Ye fairy scenes,
That to the doubting gaze of prophecy
Rose lovely, with your fields of sunny green,
Your sparkling rivulets and hanging groves
Of more than rainbow lustre, where the swing
Of woods primeval darkened the still depth
Of lakes bold-sweeping round their guardian hill*
Even like the arms of Ocean, where the roar
Sullen and far from mountain cataract
Was heard amid the silence, like a thought
Of solemn mood that tames the dancing soul
When swarming with delights; ye fairy scene* I
Fancied no more, but bursting on my heart
In living beauty, with adoring song
I bid you hail ! and with as l.oly love
As ever beautified the eye of saint
Hymning his midnight orisons, to you
I consecrate my life, till the dim stain
Left by those worldly and unhallowed thought*
That taint the purest soul, by bliss destroyed,
My spirit travel like a summer sun,
Itself all glory, and its path all joy.

Nor will the musing penance of the soul,
Performed by moonlight, or the setting sun,
To hymn of swinging oak, or the wild flow
Of mountain torrent, ever lead her on
To virtue, but through peace. For Nature speaks
A parent's language, and, in tones as mild
Aa e'er hushed infant on its mother's breast,
Wins us to learn her lore. Yea I even to guilt,
Though in her image something terrible



Weigh down his being with a load of awe,
Love mingles with her wrath, like tender light
Streamed o'er a dying storm. And thus where'er
Man feels as man, the earth is beautiful.
His blessings sanctify even senseless things,
And the wide world in cheerful loveliness
Returns to him its joy. The summer air,
Whose glittering stillness sleeps within his soul,
Stirs with its own delight: the verdant earth,
Like beauty waking from a happy dream,
Lies smiling : each fair cloud to him appears
A pilgrim travelling to the shrine of peace;
And the wild wave, that wantons on the sea,
A gay though homeless stranger. Ever blest
The man who thus beholds the golden chain
Linking his soul to outward Nature fair,
Full of the living God !

And where, ye haunts

Of grandeur and of beauty ! shall the heart,
That yearns for high communion with its God,
Abide, if e'er its dreams have been of you?
The loveliest sounds, forms, hues, of all the earth
Linger delighted here; here guilt might come,
With sullen soul abhorring Nature's joy,
And in a moment be restored to Heaven.
Here sorrow, with a dimness o'er his face,
Might be beguiled to smiles almost forget
His sufferings, and, in Nature's living book,
Read characters so lovely, that his heart
Would, as it blessed them, feel a rising swell
Almost like joy ! O earthly paradise !
Of many a secret anguish hast thou healed
Him, who now greets thee with a joyful strain.

And oh ! if in those elevated hopes
That lean on virtue^ in those high resolves
That bring the future close n\ on the soul,
And nobly dare its dangers; if in joy
Whose vital spring is more than innocence,
Yea ! faith and adoration ! if the soul
Of man may trust to these and they are strong,
Strong as the prayer of dying penitent
My being shall be bliss. For witness, Thou !
Oh mighty One ! whose saving love has stolen
On the deep peace of moonbeams to my heart
Thou ! who with looks of mercy oft has cheered
The starry silence, when, at noon of night,
On some wild mountain thou hast not declined
The homage of thy lonely worshipper
Bear witness, Thou ! that, both in joy and grief,
The love of nature long hath been with me
The love of virtue : that the solitude
Of the remotest hills to me hath been
Thy temple : that the fountain's happy voice
Hath sung thy goodness, and thy power has stunned
My spirit in the roaring cataract !

Such solitude to me ! Yet are there hearts
Worthy of good men's love, nor unadorned
With sense of moral beauty to the joy

That dwells within the Almighty's outward shrine,

Senseless and cold. Ay, there are men who see

The broad sun sinking in a blaze of light,

Nor feel their disembodied spirits hail

With adoration the departing God;

Who on the night-sky, when a cloudless moon

Glides in still beauty through unnumbered stars,

Can turn the eye unmoved, as if a wall

Of darkness screened the glory from their souls.

With humble pride I bless the Holy One

For sights to these denied. And oh ! how oft

In seasons of depression vihen the lamp

Of life burned dim. and all unpleasant thoughts

Subdued the proud aspirings of the soul

When doubts and fears withheld the timid eye

From scanning scenes to come, and a deep sense

Of human frailty turned the past to pain,

How oft have I remembered that a world

Of glory lay around me, that a source

Of lofty solace lay in every star,

And that no being need behold the sun,

And grieve, that knew Who hung him in the sky.

Thus unperceived I woke from heavy grief

To airy joy: and seeing that the mind

Of man, though still the image of his God,

Leaned by his will on various happiness,

I felt that all was good; that faculties,

Though low, might constitute, if rightly used,

True wisdom ; and when man hath here attained

The purpose of his being, he will sit

Near mercy's throne, whether his course hath been

Prone on the earth's dim sphere, or, as with wing

Of viewless eagle, round the central blaze.

Then ever shall the day that led me here
Be held in blest remembrance. I shall see,
Even at my dying hour, the glorious sun
That made Winander one wide wave of gold,
When first in transport from the mountain-top
I hailed the heavenly vision ! Not a cloud,
Whose wreaths lay smiling in the lap of light,
Not one of all those sister-isles that sleep
Together, like a happy family
Of beauty and of love, but will arise
To cheer my parting spirit, and to tell
That Nature gently leads unto the grave
All who have read her heart, and kept their own
In kindred holiness.

But ere that hour

Of awful triumph, I do hope that years
Await me, when the unconscious power of joy
Creating wisdom, the bright dreams of boul
Will humanize the heart, and I shall be
More worthy to be loved by those whose love
Is highest praise: that by the living light
That burns for ever in affection's breast,
I shall behold how fair and beautiful
A rmman form may be. Oh, there are thoughts
That slumber in the soul, like sweetest sounds
Amid the harp's loose strings, till airs from Heaven



On earth, at dewy nightfall, visitant,
Awake the sleeping melody ! Such thoughts,
My gentle Mary, I have owed to thee.
And if thy voice e'er melt into my soul
With a dear home-toned whisper, if thy face
E'er brighten in the unsteady gleams of light
From our own cottage hearth, O Mary! then
My overpowered spirit will recline
Upon thy inmost heart, till it become,
O sinless seraph ! almost worthy thee.

Then will the earth that oftimesto the eye
Of solitary lover seems o'erhung
With too severe a shade, and faintly smiles
With ineffectual beauty on his heart
Be clothed with everlasting joy; like land
Of blooming fa3ry, or of boyhood's dreams
Ere life's first flush is o'er. Oft shall I turn
My vision from the glories of the scene
To read them in thine eyes; and hidden grace,
That slumbers in the crimson clouds of even,
Will reach my spirit through their varying light,
Though viewless in the sky. Wandering with thee,
A thousand beauties never seen before
Will glide with sweet surprise int my soul,
Even in those fields where each particular tree
Was looked on as a friend where I had been
Frequent, for years, among the lonely glens.

Nor, 'mid the quiet of reflecting bliss,
Will the faint image of the distant world
Ne'er float before us: Cities will arise
Among the clouds that circle round the sun,
Gorgeous with tower and temple. The night-voice
Of flood and mountain to our ear will seem
Like life's loud stir: And, as the dream dissolves,
With burning spirit we will smile to see
Only the moon rejoicing in the sky.
And the still grandeur of the eternal hills.

Yet, though the fulness of domestic joy
Bless our united beings, and the home
Be ever happy where thy smiles are seen,
Though human voice might never touch our ear
From lip of friend or brother; yet, oh! think
What pure benevolence will warm our hearts,
When with the uudelaying steps of love
Through yon o'ershadowing wood we dimly see
A coming friend, far distant then believed,
And all unlooked for. When the short distrust
Of unexpected joy no more constrains,
And the eye's welcome brings him to our arms,
With gladdened spirit he will quickly own
That true love ne'er was selfish, and that man
Ne'er knew the whole affection of his heart
Till resting on another's. If from scenes
Of noisy life he come, and in his soul
The love of Nature, like a long-past dream,
If e'er it stir, yield but a dim delight,
Oh I we shall lead him where the genial power
Of beauty, working by the wavy green

Of hill ascending wood, the misty gleam

Of lakes reposing in their peaceful vales,

And, lovelier than the loveliness below,

The moonlight Heaven, shall to his blood restore

An undisturbed flow, such as he felt

Pervade his being, morning, noon, and night.

When youth's bright years passed happily away

Among his native hills, and all he knew

Of crowded cities was from passing tale

Of traveller, half believed, and soon forgotten.

And fear not, Mary! that, when winter comes,
These solitary mountains will resign
The beauty that pervades their mighty frames,
Even like a living soul. The gleams of light
Hurrying in joyful tumult o er the cliffs,
And giving to our musings many a burst
Of sudden grandeur, even as if the eye
Of God were wandering o'er the lovely wild,
Pleased with his own creation; the still joy
Of cloudless skies; and the delighted voice
Of hymning fountains these will leave awhile
The altered earth: But other attributes
Of nature's heart will rule, and in the storm
We shall behold the same prevailing Power
That slumbers in the calm, and sanctify,
With adoration, the delight of love.

I lift my eyes upon the radiant moon,
That long unnoticed o'er my head lias held
Her solitary walk, and as her light
Recalls my wandering soul, I start to feel
That all has been a dream. Alone I stand
Amid the silence. Onward rolls the stream
Of time, while to my ear its waters sound
With a strange rushing music. O my soul !
Whate'er betide, for aye remember thou
These mystic warnings, for they are of Heaven.



The great examples of Bacon, of Milton, of
Newton, of Locke, and of others, happen to be
directly against the popular inference, that a
certain wildness of eccentricity and thought-
lessness of conduct, are the necessary accom-
paniments of talent, and the sure indications
of genius. Because some have united these
extravagances with great demonstrations of
talent, as a Rousseau, a Chatterton, a Savage,
a Burns, or a Byron, others, finding it les
difficult to be eccentric than to be brilliant,
have therefore adopted the one, in the hope
that the world would give them credit for the
other. But the greatest genius is never so
great as when it is chastised and subdued by
the highest reason ; it ia from such a combina-



tion, like that of Bucephalus, reined in by ]
Alexander, that the most powerful efforts have
been produced. And be it remembered, that
minds of the very highest order, who have given
an unrestrained course to their caprice or to
their passions, would have been so much higher
by subduing them; and that so far from pre-
suming that the world would give them credit
for talent, on the score of their aberrations
and their extravagances, all that they dared
hope or expect has been, that the world would
pardon and overlook those extravagances, on
account of the various and manifold proofs
they were constantly exhibiting of superior
acquirement and inspiration. We might also
add, that the good effects of talent are univer-
sal, the evil of its blemishes confined. The light
and heat of the sun benefit all, and are by all
enjoyed; the spots on his surface are discover-
able only to the few. But the lower order of
aspirers to fame and talent have pursued a
very different course; instead of exhibiting
talent in the hope that the world would forgive
their eccentricities, they have exhibited only
their eccentricities in the hope that the world
would give them credit for talent.

Avarice begets more vices than Priam did
children, and, like Priam, survives them all.
It starves its keeper to surfeit those who wish
him dead; and makes him submit to more
mortifications to lose heaven, than the martyr
undergoes to gain it. Avarice is a passion
full of paradox, a madness full of method; for
although the miser is the most mercenary of
all beings, yet he serves the worst master more
faithfully than some Christians do the best,
and will take nothing for it. He falls down
and worships the god of this world, but will
have neither its pomps, its vanities, nor its
pleasures for his trouble. He begins to ac-
cumulate treasure as a mean to happiness, and
by a common but morbid association, he con-
tinues to accumulate it as an end. He lives
poor to die rich, and is the mere jailer of his
house and the turnkey of his wealth. Im-
poverished by his gold, he slaves harder to
imprison it in his chest than his brother slave
to liberate it from the mine. The avarice of
the miser may be termed the grand sepulchre
of all his other passions, as they successively
decay. But, unlike other tombs, it is enlarged
by repletion and strengthened by age. This
latter paradox, so peculiar to this passion, must
be ascribed to that love of power so inseparable
from the human mind. There are three kinds
of power wealth, strength, and talent; but as
old age always weakens, often destroys the two
latter, the aged are induced to cling with the

greater avidity to the former. And the attach-
ment of the aged to wealth must be a growing
and a progressive attachment, since such are
not slow in discovering that those same ruth-
less years which detract so sensibly from the
strength of their bodies, and of their minds,
serve only to augment and to consolidate the
strength of their purse.

We should justly ridicule a general who,
just before an action, should suddenly disarm
his men, and putting into the hands of all of
them a Bible, should order them, thus equipped,
to march against the enemy. Here we plainly
see the folly of calling in the Bible to support
the sword; but is it not as great a folly to call
in the sword to support the Bible ? Our Saviour
divided force from reason, and let no man pre-
sume to join what God hath put asunder.
When we combat error with any other weapon
than argument, we err more than those whom
we attack.

None are so fond of secrets as those who do
not mean to keep them; such persons covet
secrets as a spendthrift covets money, for the
purpose of circulation.

There are minds so habituated to intrigue
and mystery in themselves, and so prone to
expect it from others, that they will never
accept of a plain reason for a plain fact, if it
be possible to devise causes for it that are ob-
scure, far-fetched, and usually not worth the
carriage,. Like the miser of Berkshire, who
would ruin a good horse to escape a turnpike,
so these gentlemen ride their high-bred theories
to death, in order to come at truth through
by-paths, lanes, and alleys, while she herself
is jogging quietly along upon the high and
beaten road of common sense. The conse-
quence is, that they who take this mode of
arriving at truth are sometimes before her
and sometimes behind her, but very seldom
with her. Thus the great statesman who re-
lates the conspiracy against Doria, pauses to
deliberate upon, and minutely to scrutinize
into divers and sundry errors committed, and
opportunities neglected, whereby he would wish
to account for the total failure of that spirited
enterprise. But the plain fact was, that the
scheme had been so well planned and digested,
that it was victorious in every point of its
operation, both on the sea and on the shore, in
the harbour of Genoa no less than in the city,
until that most unlucky accident befel the
Count de Fiesque, who was the very life and
soul of the conspiracy. In stepping from one
galley to another, the plank on which he stood
upset, and he fell into the sea. His armour
happened to be very heavy the night to be



very dark the water to be very deep and
the bottom to be very muddy. And it is an-
other plain fact, that water, in all such cases,
happens to make no distinction whatever be-
tween a conqueror and a cat.

Fortune has been considered the guardian
divinity of fools; and, on this score, she has
been accused of blindness; but it should rather
be adduced as a proof of her sagacity, when
she helps those who certainly cannot help

In the obscurity of retirement, amid the
squalid poverty and revolting privations of a
cottage, it has often been my lot to witness
scenes of magnanimity and self-denial as much
beyond the belief as the practice of the great
a heroism borrowing no support either from
the gaze of the many or the admiration of the
few, yet flourishing amidst ruins and on the
confines of the grave; a spectacle as stupendous
in the moral world as the falls of the Missouri
in the natural; and, like that mighty cataract,
doomed to display its grandeur only where
there are no eyes to appreciate its magnifi-

There is this difference between those two
temporal blessings, health and money: money
is the most envied, but the least enjoyed ;
health is the most enjoyed, but the least en-
vied; and this superiority of the latter is still
more obvious when we reflect that the poorest
man would not part with health for money, but
that the richest would gladly part with all their
money for health.

To know a man, observe how he wins his
object, rather than how he loses it ; for when
we fail our pride supports us, when we succeed
it betrays us.

After hypocrites, the greatest dupes the devil
has are those who exhaust an anxious existence
in the disappointments and vexations of busi-
ness, and live miserably and meanly, only to
die magnificently and rich. For, like the
hypocrites, the only disinterested action these
men can accuse themselves of is, that of serving

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 49 of 75)