Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the midst of all this stern evidence of war, a certain amount of lively conversation began to spring up, in which the Russian officers indulged in a little badinage. Some of them asked our officers, 'When we were coming in to take the place ?' others, 'When we thought of going away?' Some congratulated us upon the excellent opportunity we had of getting a good look at Sebastopol, as the chance of a nearer view, except on similar occasions, was not in their opinion very probable. One officer asked a private, confidentially, in English, how many men we sent into the trenches ? Begorra, only seven thousand a night, and a wake covering-party of ten thousand !' was the ready Irishman's reply. The officer laughed, and turned away.

At one time a Russian with a litter stopped by a dead body, and put it into the litter. He looked round for a comrade to help him. A Zouave at once advanced with much grace and lifted it, to the infinite amusement of the bystanders; but the joke was not long-lived, as a Russian brusquely came up and helped to carry off his dead comrade. In the town we could see large bodies of soldiery in the streets, assembled at the corners and in the public places. Probably they were ordered out to make a show of their strength.

General Bosquet and several officers of rank of the allied army visited the trenches during the armistice, and staff-officers were present on both sides, to see that the men did not go out of bounds. The armistice was over about three o'clock. Scarcely had the white flag disappeared behind the parapet of the Mamelon, before a roundshot from the sailors' battery went slap through one of the embrasures of the Russian work, and dashed up a great pillar of earth inside. The Russians at once replied, and the noise of cannon soon re-echoed ough the ravines.

THE BALD KNIGHT.

A certain knight growing old, his hair fell off, and he became bald, to hide which imperfection he wore a periwig. But as he was riding out with some others a-hunting, a sudden gust of wind blew off the periwig, and exposed his bald pate. The company could not forbear laughing at the accident; and he himself laughed louder than anybody, saying : ‘How was it to be expected that I should keep strange hair upon my head, when my own would not stay there?

THE ASS'S SHADOW.

A youth, one hot summer's day, hired an ass to carry him from Athens to Megara. At mid-day the heat of the sun was so scorching that he dismounted, and would have sat down to repose himself under the shadow of the ass. But the driver of the ass disputed the place with him, declaring that he had an equal right to it with the other.

What !' said the youth,“ did I not hire the ass for the whole journey?'

· Yes,' said the other, “you hired the ass, but not the ass's shadow.'

While they were thus wrangling and fighting for the place, the ass took to his heels and ran away.

HE NEVER SMILED AGAIN.

It is recorded of Henry I. that after the death, by drowning, of his son Prince William, he never was seen to smile.

1.
The bark that held a prince went down,

The sweeping waves rolled on;
And what was England's glorious crown,

To him that wept a son ?
He lived—for life may long be borne,

Ere sorrow break its chain :
Why comes not death to those who mourn?

He never smiled again !

2.
There stood proud forms before his throne,

The stately and the brave;
But which could fill the place of one-

That one beneath the wave?
Before him passed the young and fair,

In pleasure's reckless train;
But seas dashed o'er his son's bright hair-

He never smiled again !

3.
He sat where festal-bowls went round;

He heard the minstrel sing;
He saw the tourney's victor crowned,

Amidst the knightly ring :
A murmur of the restless deep

Was blent with every strain ;
A voice of winds that would not sleep

He never smiled again!

4.
Hearts in that time closed o'er the trace,

Of vows once fondly poured,
And strangers took the kinsman's place,

At many a joyous board.
Graves which true love had bathed with tears

Were left to Heaven's bright rain;
Fresh hopes were born for other years—

He never smiled again!

FRIENDSHIP.

Small service is true service while it lasts ;

Of friends, however humble, scorn not one:
The daisy by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.

WORDSWORTH.

LEICHARDT.

"He who travels the untracked forest is in a continual state of excitement; now buoyed with hope as he urges on his horse towards some distant range or blue mountain, or as he follows the favourable bend of a river; now all despairing and miserable, as he approaches the foot of the range without finding water, from which he could start again with renewed strength, or as the river turns in an unfavourable direction, and slips out of his course. Evening approaches; the sun has sunk below the horizon for for the dark verdure of a creek, or strives to follow the arrow-like flight of a pigeon, the flapping of whose wings had filled him with a sudden hope, from which he relapses again into a still greater sadness. With a sickened heart he drops his head to a broken and interrupted rest, while his horse is standing hobbled by his side, unwilling, from excess of thirst, to feed on the dry grass.

ne, but still he strains his eye through the gloom

some

How often have I found myself in these different states of the brightest hope and the deepest misery, riding along, thirsty, almost lifeless, and ready to drop from my saddle with fatigue. The poor horse, tired like his rider, stumbling over every stone, running heedlessly against the trees, and wounding my knees. But suddenly the note of Grallina Australis, the call of cockatoos, or the croaking of frogs, is heard, and hopes are bright again. Water is certainly at hand; the spur is applied to the flank of the tired beast, which already partakes in its rider's anticipations, and quickening his pace, a lagoon, a river, or a creek is before him !

The horse is soon unsaddled, hobbled, and well washed; a fire is made, the teapot is put to the fire, the meat is dressed, the enjoyment of the poor reconnoiterer is perfect, and a prayer of thankfulness to the Almighty God, who protects the wanderer on his journey, bursts from his grateful lips.

A STATE DIFFICULTY.

Amongst the presents carried out by our first embassy to China was a state-coach. It had been specially selected as a personal gift by George III.; but the exact mode of using it was an intense mystery to Pekin. The ambassador,

« PreviousContinue »