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

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better than beauty, and make that superfluous
and ugly. But they must be marked by fine
perception, the acquaintance with real beauty.

They must always show self-control: you
shall not be facile, apologetic, or leaky, but
king over your word ; and every gesture and
action shall indicate power at rest. Then they
must be inspired by the good heart. There
is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or
behaviour, like the wish to scatter joy and not
pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger
a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis % better to
be hospitable to his good meaning and thought,
and give courage to a companion. We must
be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture,
which we are willing to give the advantage of
a good light. Special precepts are not to be
thought of: the talent of well doing contains
them all. Every hour will show a duty as
paramount as that of my whim just now; and



yet I will write it that there is one topic
peremptorily forbidden to all well-bred, to all
rational mortals, namely, their distempers.
If you have not slept, or if you have slept,
or if you have headache, or sciatica, or lep-
rosy, or thunder- stroke, I beseech you by
all angels to hold your peace and not pollute
the morning, to which all the housemates
bring serene and pleasant thoughts, by cor-
ruption and groans. Come out of the azure.
Love the day. Do not leave the sky out of
your landscape. The oldest and the most
deserving person should come very modestly
into any newly-awakened company, respecting
the divine communications, out of which all
must be presumed to have newly come. An
old man who added an elevating culture to a
large experience of life, said to me, "When
you come into the room, I think I will study
how to make humanity beautiful to you."

As respects the delicate question of culture,
I do not think that any other than negative
rules can be laid down. For positive rules,
for suggestion, nature alone inspires it. Who
dare assume to guide a youth, a maid, to per-
fect manners? the golden mean is so delicate,
difficult say frankly, unattainable. What
finest hands would not be clumsy to sketch the
genial precepts of the young girl's demeanour?
The chances seem infinite against success: and
3 T et success is continually attained. There
must not be secondariness, and 'tis a thousand
to one that her air and manner will at once
betray that she is not primary, but that there
is some other one or many of her class, to
whom she habitually postpones herself. But
nature lifts her easily, and without knowing
it, over these impossibilities, and we are con-
tinually surprised with graces and felicities not
only unteachable, but undescribable.


In thine April eyes

The watery pearls are set :
For Love? Oh ! sigh no more,

Beautiful Amoret.

For Love? so cruel-kind
That never will he flee,

So long as he can nurse
In the soul jealousy;

Self-scorn that comes and goes
Doubt which ever flies;

Pale Hope, and radiant tears,
Sad yet pleasant sighs :

For Love? so cruel-kind
That seldom will he stay,

While he can leave behind
Remorse and heart decay.

If he cometh not,

The simple joys will rain
Unharming mirth on us :

But desires vain,

And hot trancing pleasures,
And entangled dreams,

"Which the day discovers
Like all idle themes,

Fill his path, and fling
As the morn-bright hours

In Aurora's path
Flung the rose-leaf flowers.

These were fresh and fair;

But his upas-leaves
Shed a sweet despair,

Till the wrung heart heave*,

"With unmingled pain,
Doubt that never flies,

And desires vain :
So the lover dies.

London Mag.



One dark and stormy night we were on a
voyage from Bergen to Christiansand in a small
sloop. Our captain suspected that he had ap-
proached too near the Norwegian coast, though
he could not discern any land, and the wind
blew with such violence that we were in mo-
mentary dread of being driven upon a lee-shore.
We had endeavoured for more than an hour
to keep our vessel away; but our efforts proved
unavailing, and we soon found that we could
scarcely hold our own. A clouded sky, a hazy
atmosphere, and irregular showers of sleety
rain, combined to deepen the obscurity of
night, and nothing whatever was visible, ex-
cept the sparkling of the distant waves when
their tops happened to break into a wreath of
foam. The sea ran very high, and sometimes
broke over the deck so furiously that the men
were obliged to hold by the rigging lest they
should be carried away. Our captain was a
person of timid and irresolute character, and
the dangers that environed us made him grad-
ually lose confidence in himself. He often
gave orders and countermanded them in the
same moment, all the while taking small quan-



tities of ardent spirits at intervals. Fear and
intoxication soon stupified him completely, and
the crew ceased to consult him, or to pay any
respect to his authority, in so far as regarded
the management of the vessel.

About midnight our mainsail was split, and
shortly after we found that the sloop had
sprung a leak. We had before shipped a good
deal of water through the hatches, and the
quantity that now entered from below was so
great, that we thought she would go down every
moment. Our only chance of escape lay in
our boat, which was immediately lowered.
After we had all got on board of her except
the captain, who stood leaning against the
mast, we called to him, requesting that he
would follow us without delay.

"How dare you quit the sloop without my
permission?" cried he, staggering forwards.
"This is not fit weather to go a-fishing. Come
back back with you all!"

"No, no," returned one of the crew, "we
don't want to be sent to the bottom for your
obstinacy. Bear a hand there, or we'll leave
you behind."

"Captain, you are drunk," said another;
"you cannot take care of yourself. You must
obey us now."

"Silence! mutinous villain," answered the
captain. "What are you all afraid of? This
is a fine breeze: up mainsail, and steer her
right in the wind's eye."

The sea knocked the boat so violently and
constantly against the side of the sloop, that
we feared the former would be injured or upset
if we did not immediately row away; but an-
xious as we were to preserve our lives, we could
not reconcile ourselves to the idea of abandon-
ing the captain, who grew more obstinate the
more we attempted to persuade him to accom-
pany us. At length one of the crew leaped on
board the sloop, and having seized hold of him,
tried to drag him along by force ; but he strug-
gled resolutely, and soon freed himself from
the grasp of the seaman, who immediately re-
sumed his place among us, and urged that we
should not any longer risk our lives for the
sake of a drunkard and a madman. Most of
the party declared they were of the same opin-
ion, and began to push off the boat; but I
entreated them to make one effort more to
induce their infatuated commander to accom-
pany us. At that moment he came up from
the cabin, to which he had descended a little
time before, and we immediately perceived
that he was more under the influence of ardent
spirits than ever. He abused us all in the
grossest terms, and threatened his crew with

severe punishment if they did not come on
board and return to their duty. His manner
was so violent that no one seemed willing to
attempt to constrain him to come on board the
boat; and after vainly representing the absur-
dity of his conduct, and the danger of his
situation, we bid him farewell, and rowed

The sea ran so high, and had such a terrific
appearance, that I almost wished myself in
the sloop again. The crew plied the oars in
silence, and we heard nothing but the hissing
of the enormous billows as they gently rose up
and slowly subsided again without breaking.
At intervals our boat was elevated far above
the surface of the ocean, and remained for a
few moments trembling upon the pinnacle of
a surge, from which it would quietly descend
into a gulf, so deep and awful that we often
thought the dense black mass of waters which
formed its sides were on the point of over-
arching us, and bursting upon our heads. We
glided with regular undulations from one bil-
low to another; but every time we sunk into
the trough of the sea my heart died within
me, for I felt as if we were going lower down
than we had ever done before, and clung in-
stinctively to the board on which I sat.

Notwithstanding my terrors I frequently
looked towards the sloop. The fragments of
her mainsail, which remained attached to the
yard and fluttered in the wind, enabled us to
discern exactly where she lay, and showed by
their motion that she pitched about in a terri-
ble manner. We occasionally heard the voice
of her unfortunate commander, calling to us
in tones of frantic derision, and by turns vocif-
erating curses and blasphemous oaths, and
singing sea-songs with a wild and frightful
energy. I sometimes almost wished that the
crew would make another effort to save him ;
but next moment the principle of self-preser-
vation repressed all feelings of humanity, and
I endeavoured, by closing my ears, to banish
the idea of his sufferings from my mind.

After a little time the shivering canvas dis-
appeared, and we heard a tumultuous roaring
and bursting of billows, and saw an unusual
sparkling of the sea about a quarter of a mile
from us. One of the sailors cried out that the
sloop was now on her beam-ends, and that the
noise to which we listened was that of the
waves breaking over her. We could sometimes
perceive a large black mass heaving itself up
irregularly among the flashing surges, and
then disappearing for a few moments, and knew
but too well that it was the hull of the vei-sel.
At intervals a shrill and agonized voice uttered



some exclamations, but we could not distin-
guish what they were; and then a lonrj-drawn
shriek came across the ocean, which suddenly
grew more furiously agitated near the spot
where the sloop lay, and in a few moments
she sunk down, and a black wave formed itself
out of the waters that had engulfed her, and
swelled gloomily into a magnitude greater than
that of the surrounding billows.

The seamen dropped their oars, as if by one
impulse, and looked expressively at each other
without speaking a word. Awful forebodings
of a fate similar to that of the captain appeared
to chill every heart, and to repress the energy
that had hitherto excited us to make unremit-
ting exertions for our common safety. While
we were in this state of hopeless inaction, the
man at the helm called out that he saw a light
a-head. We all strained our eyes to discern
it, but at the moment the boat was sinking
down between two immense waves, one of
which closed the prospect, and we remained in
breathless anxiety till a rising surge elevated
us above the level of the surrounding ocean.
A light like a dazzling star then suddenly
flashed upon our view, and joyful exclamations
burst from every mouth.

"That," cried one of the crew, "must be
the floating beacon which our captain was
looking out for this afternoon. If we can but
gain it we'll be safe enough yet."

This intelligence cheered us all, and the
men began to ply the oars with redoubled vig-
our, while I employed myself in baling out
the water that sometimes rushed over the gun-
nel of the boat when a sea happened to strike

An hour's hard rowing brought us so near
the light-house that we almost ceased to appre-
hend any further danger; but it was suddenly
obscured from our view, and at the same time
a confused roaring and dashing commenced at
a little distance, and rapidly increased in loud-
ness. We soon perceived a tremendous billow
rolling towards us. Its top, part of which had
already broke, overhung the base, as if unwill-
ing to burst until we were within the reach of
its violence. The man who steered the boat
brought her head to the sea, but all to no pur-
pose, for the water rushed furiously over us,
and we were completely immersed. I felt the
boat swept from under me, and was left strug-
gling and groping about in hopeless desperation
for something to catch hold of. When nearly
exhausted, I received a severe bloT on the side
from a small cask of water which the sea had
forced against me. I immediately twined my
arms round it, and, after recovering myself a

j little, began to look for the boat, and to call to
i my companions; but I could not discover any
vestige of them or of their vessel. However,
I still had a faint hope that they were in
existence, and that the intervention of the
billows concealed them from my view. I con-
tinued to shout as loud as possible, for the
sound of my own voice in some measure relieved
me from the feeling of aAvful and heart-chilling
loneliness which my situation inspired; but
not even an echo responded to my cries, and,
convinced that my comrades had all perished,
I ceased looking for them, and pushed towards
the beacon in the best manner I could. A long
series of fatiguing exertions brought me close
to the side of the vessel which contained it,
and I called out loudly, in hopes that those on
board might hear me and come to my assist-
ance; but no one appearing, I waited patiently
till a wave raised me on a level with the chains,
and then caught hold of them, and succeeded
in getting on board.

As I did not see any person on deck, I went
forwards to the sky-light and looked down.
Two men were seated below at a table, and a
lamp which was suspended above them, being
swung backwards and forwards by the rolling
of the vessel, threw its light upon their faces
alternately. One seemed agitated with passion,
and the other surveyed him with a scornful
look. They both talked very loudly, and used
threatening gestures, but the sea made so much
noise that I could not distinguish what was
said. After a little time they started up, and
seemed to be on the point of closing and wrest-
ling together, when a woman rushed through a
small door and prevented them. I beat upon
deck with my feet at the same time, and the
attention of the whole party was soon trans-
ferred to the noise. One of the men immedi-
ately came up the cabin-stairs, but stopped
short on seeing me, as if irresolute whether to
advance or hasten below again. I approached
him, and told my story in a few words; but
instead of making any reply, he went down to
the cabin, and began to relate to the others
what he had seen. I soon followed him, and
easily found my way into the apartment where
they all were. They appeared to feel mingled
sensations of fear and astonishment at my
presence, and it was some time before any of
them entered into conversation with me, or
afforded those comforts which I stood so much
in need of.

After I had refreshed myself with food, and
b en provided with a change of clothing, I
went upon deck, and surveyed the singular
asylum in which Providence had enabled me



to take refuge from the fury of the storm. It
did not exceed thirty feet long, and was very
strongly built, and completely decked over,
except at the entrance to the cabin. It had a
thick mast at midships, with a large lantern,
containing several burners and reflectors, on
the top of it; and this could be lowered and
hoisted up again as often as required by means
of ropes and pulleys. The vessel was firmly
moored upon an extensive sand- bank, the
beacon being intended to warn seamen to avoid
a part of the ocean where many lives and vessels
had been lost in consequence of the latter run-
ningaground. The accommodations below decks
were narrow, and of an inferior description ;
however I gladly retired to the berth that was
allotted me by my entertainers, and fatigue and
the rocking of billows combined to lull me into
a quiet and dreamless sleep.

Next morning one of the men, whose name
was Angerstoff, came to my bedside, and called
me to breakfast in a surly and imperious man-
ner. The others looked coldly and distrustfully
when I joined them, and I saw that they re-
garded me as an intruder and an unwelcome
guest. The meal passed without almost any
conversation, and I went upon deck whenever
it was over. 'The tempest of the preceding
night had in a great measure abated, but the
sea still raged, and a black mist hovered over
it, through which the Norway coast, lying at
eleven miles distance, might be dimly seen.
Not a bird enlivened the wide expanse of
waters, and I turned pondering from the
dreary scene and asked Morvalden, the younger
of the two men, when he thought there was a
chance of getting ashore.

"Not very soon, I'm afraid," returned he.
"We are visited once a month by people from
yonder land, who are appointed to bring us
a supply of provisions and other necessaries.
They were here only six days ago, so you may
count how long it will be before they return.
Fishing-boats sometimes pass us during fine
weather, but we won't have much of that this
moon at least."

No intelligence could have been more depress-
ing to me than this. The idea of spending
perhaps three weeks in such a place was almost
insupportable, and the more so as I could not
hasten my deliverance by any exertions of
my own, but would be obliged to remain in a
state of inactive suspense till good fortune, or
the regular course of events, afforded me the
means of getting ashore. Neither Angerstoff
nor Morvalden seemed to sympathize with my
distress, or even to care that I should have it
in my power to leave the vessel, except in so

far as my departure would free them from
the expense of supporting me. They returned
indistinct and repulsive answers to all the
questions I asked, and appeared anxious to
avoid having the least communication with
me. During the greater part of the forenoon
they employed themselves in trimming the
lamps and cleaning the reflectors, but never
conversed any. I easily perceived that a mut-
ual animosity existed between them, but was
unable to discover the cause of it. Morvalden
seemed to fear Angerstoff, and, at the same
time, to feel a deep resentment towards him,
which he did not dare express. Angerstoff
apparently was aware of this, for he behaved
to his companion with the undisguised fierce-
ness of determined hate, and openly thwarted
him in everything.

Marietta, the female on board, was the wife
of Morvalden. She remained chiefly below
decks, and attended to the domestic concerns
of the vessel. She was rather good-looking,
but so sullen and forbidding in her manner
that she formed no desirable accession to our
party, already so heartless and unsociable in
its character.

As night approached, after the long, weari-
some, and monotonous day, I went on deck to
see the beacon lighted, and continued walking
backwards and forwards till a late hour. As
the light of the lantern flashed along the sea,
I fancied I saw men struggling among the bil-
lows, and at other times I imagined I could
discern the white sail of an approaching vessel.
Human voices seemed to mingle with the noise
of the bursting waves, and I often listened in-
tently, almost in the expectation of hearing
articulate sounds. My mind grew sombre as
the scene itself, and strange and fearful ideas
obtruded themselves in rapid succession. It
was dreadful to be chained in the middle of
the deep to be the continual sport of the
quietless billows to be shunned as a fatal
thing by those who traversed the solitary ocean.
Though within sight of the shore, our situation
was more dreary than if we had been sailing a
thousand miles from it. We felt not the plea-
sure of moving forwards, nor the hope of reach-
ing port, nor the delights arising from favour-
able breezes and genial weather. When a
billow drove us to one side, we were tossed
back again by another; our imprisonment had
no variety or definite termination; and the
calm and the tempest were alike uninteresting
to us. I felt as if my fate had already be-
come linked with that of those who were on
board the vessel. My hopes of being again
permitted to mingle with mankind died away,



and I anticipated long years of gloom and de-
spair, in the company of these repulsive persons
into whose hands fate had unexpectedly con-
signed me.

Angerstoff and Morvalden tended the beacon
alternately during the night. The latter had
the watch while I remained upon deck. His
appearance and manner indicated much per-
turbation of mind, and he paced hurriedly from
side to side, sometimes muttering to himself,
and sometimes stopping suddenly to look
through the sky-light, as if anxious to discover
what was going on below. He would then
gaze intently upon the heavens, and next
moment takeout his watch, and contemplate
the motions of its hands. I did not offer to
disturb these reveries, and thought myself alto-
gether unobserved by him, till he suddenly
advanced to the spot where I stood, and said,
in a loud whisper,

" There's a villain below a desperate villain
this is true he is capable of anything
and the woman is as bad as him."

I asked what proof he had of all this.

"Oh, I know it," returned he: "that wretch
Angerstoff, whom I once thought my friend,
has gained my wife's affections. She has been
faithless to me yes, she has. They both wish
I were out of the way. Perhaps they arc now
planning my destruction. What can I do?
It is very terrible to be shut up in such narrow
limits with those who hate me. and to have no
means of escaping, or defending myself from
their infernal machinations."

" Why do you not leave the beacon," inquired
I, "and abandon your companion and guilty

"Ah, that is impossible," answered Morval-
den; "if I went on shore I would forfeit my
liberty. I live here that I may escape the
vengeance of the law, which I once outraged
for the sake of her who has now withdrawn
her love from me. What ingratitude! Mine
is indeed a terrible fate, but I must bear it.
And shall I never again wander through the
green field.*, and climb the rocks that encircle
my native place? Are the weary dashings of
the sea and the meanings of the wind to fill
my ears continually, all the while telling me
that I am an exile! a hopeless, despairing
exile. But it won't last long," cried he, catching
hold of my arm; "they will murder me! I am
sure of it I never go to sleep without dreaming
that Angerstoff has pushed me overboard."

"Your lonely situation and inactive life
dispose you to give way to these chimeras,"
said I; ''yon must endeavour to resist them.
Perhaps tilings aren't so bad as you suppose."

YUi* IV.

"This is not a lonely situation," replied
Morvalden, in a solemn tone. "Perhaps you
will have proof of what I say before you leave
us. Many vessels used to be lost here, and a
few are wrecked still; and the skeletons and
corpses of those who have perished lie all over
the sand-bank. Sometimes, at midnight, I
have seen crowds of human figures moving
backwards and forwards upon the surface of
the ocean, almost as far as the eye could reach.
I I neither knew who they were nor what they
did there. When watching the lantern alone,
I often hear a number of voices talking to-
gether, as it were, under the waves; and I
twice caught the very words they uttered, but
I cannot repeat them they dwell incessantly
in my memory, but my tongue refuses to
pronounce them, or to explain to others what
they meant."

"Do not let your senses be imposed upon by
a distempered imagination," said I ; " there is
no reality in the things you have told me."

"Perhaps my mind occasionally wanders a
little, for it has a heavy burden upon it,'' re-
turned Morvalden. " I have been guilty of a
dreadful crime. Many that now lie in the
deep below us might start up and accuse me
of what I am just going to reveal to you. One
stormy night shortly after I began to take
charge of this beacon, while watching on deck,
I fell into a profound sleep; I know not how
long it continued, but I was awakened by
horrible shouts and cries I started up, and
instantly perceived that all the lamps in the
lantern were extinguished. It was very dark,
and the sea raged furiously; but notwithstand-
ing all this, I observed a ship aground on the
bank, a little way from me, her sails fluttering
in the wind, and the waves breaking over her
with violence. Half frantic with horror, I
ran down to the cabin for a taper, and lighted
the lamps as fast as possible. The lantern,
when hoisted to the top of the mast, threw a

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 65 of 75)