Page images
[ocr errors]


And their baked lips, with many a bloody crack,

Suck'd in the moisture, which like nectar stream'd; Their throats were ovens, their swoln tongues were black,

As the rich man's in hell, who vainly scream'd To beg the beggar, who could not rain back

A drop of dew, when every drop had seem'd
To taste of heaven — If this be true, indeed,
Some Christians have a comfortable creed.

There were two fathers in this ghastly crew,

And with them their two sous, of whom the one Was more robust and hardy to the view,

But he died early; and when he was gone, Ilis nearest messmate told his sire, who threw

One glance at him, and said, " Heaven's will be I can do nothing," and he saw him thrown [done! Into the deep without a tear or groan.1

The other father had a weaklier child,

Of a soft cheek, and aspect delicate ; 2
But the boy bore up long, and with a mild

And patient spirit held aloof his fate; Little he said, and now and then he smiled,

As if to win a part from off the weight
Bo saw increasing on his father's heart,
With the deep deadly thought, that they must part.

And o'er him bent his sire, and never raised
His eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam

From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed,
And when the wish'd-for shower at length was come,

And the boy's eyes, which the dull film half glazed,
Brighten'd, and for a moment seem'd to roam,

He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain

Into his dying child's mouth — but in vain, f

The boy expired — the father held the clay.
And look'd upon it long, and when at last

Death left no doubt, and the dead burthen lay
Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were past,

1 [" Mr. Wade's boy, a stout healthy lad, died early, and almost without a groan; while another, of the same age, but of alecs promising appearance, held out much longer. Their fathers were both in the fore-top, when the boys were taken i!!. Wade, hearing of his son's illness, answered, with inference, that he could do nothing for him, and left him to his fate." — Juno.}

1 [" The other father hurried down. By that time only three or four planks of the quarter-deck remained, just over the weather-quarter gallery. To this spot the unhappy man led his son, making him fast to the rail, to prevent his being •ashed away." — Ibid.]

5 [" Whenever the boy teas seized with a fit of retching, the father lifted him up and wiped away the foam from his lips; and if a shower came, he made him open his mouth to receive the drops, or gently squeezed them into it from a rag." —Ibid.)

4 [" In this affecting situation both remained four or five days, till the boy expired. The unfortunate parent, as if unwilling to believe trie fact, raised the body, looked wistfully at it, and when he could no longer entertain any doubt, watched it in silence unlit it was carried off'by sea; then wrapping himself in a piece of canvas, sunk down, and rose no more; though he must have lived two days longer, as we judged from the quivering of his limbs, when a wave broke over him." _ Ibid.]

1 [This sublime and terrific description of a shipwreck is strangely and disgustingly broken by traits of low humour and buffoonery; — and we pass immediately from the moans of an agonising father fainting over his famished son, to facetious stories of Juan's begging the paw of his father's dog, and refusing a slice of his tutor I — as if it were a fine thing to

He watch'd it wistfully, unUl away

'T was borne by the rude wave wherein't was cast ;* Then he hjmself sunk down all dumb and shivering, And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering. 1


Now overhead a rainbow, bursting through

The scattering clouds, shone, spanning the dark sea,

Resting its bright base on the quivering blue;
And all within its arch appear'd to be

Clearer than that without, and its wide hue
Wax'd broad and waving, like a banner free,

Then changed like to a bow that's bent, and then

Forsook the dim eyes of these shipwreck'd men.


It changed, of course j a heavenly chameleon,
The airy child of vapour and the sun,

Brought forth in purple, cradled in vermilion,
Baptized in molten gold, and swathed in dun,

Glittering Uke crescents o'er a Turk's pavilion,
And blending every colour into one,s

Just Uke a black eye in a recent scutHe

(For sometimes we must box without the muffle).


Our shipwreck'd seamen thought it a good omen —
It is as well to think so, now and then;

'T was an old custom of the Greek and Homan,
And may become of great advantage when

Folks are discouraged ^ and most surely no men
Had greater need to nerve themselves again

Than these, and so this rainbow look'd like hope —

Quite a celestial kaleidoscope.'


About this time a beautiful white bird,

Wcbfooted, not unlike a dove in size
And plumage (probably it might have err'd

Upon its course), pass'd oft before their eyes,
And tried to perch, although it saw and heard

The men within the boat, and in this guise
It came and went, and Hutter'd round them UU
Night feU: — this seem'd a better omen still. 8

lie hard-hearted, and pity and compassion were fit only to be laughed at jErpaEY.

"I will answer your friend, who objects to the quick succession of fun and gravity, as if in that caso the gravity did not (in intention, at least,) hplghten the fun. His metaphor is, that • we are never scorched and drenched at the same time.' Blessings on his experience I Ask him these questions about 'scorching and drenching.' Did he never play at cricket, or walk a mile in hot weather? Did he never spill a dish of tea over himself in handing the cup to his charmer, to the great shame of his nankeen breeches ? Did he never swim in the sea at noonday with the sun in his eyes and on his head, which all the foam of ocean could not cool? Did he never draw his foot out of too hot water, d—ning his eyes and his valet's? Did he never tumble into a river or iake, fishing, and sit in his wet clothes in the boat, or on the bank, afterwards, ' scorched and drenched," like a true sportsman? 'Oh for breath to utter 1 — but make him my compliments; he is a clever fellow for all that—a very clever fellow." — Lord Byron to Mr. Murray. Aug. 12. 1819.]

8 [" Look upon the rainbow, and praise Him that made It; very beautiful it is In its brightness; it encompasses the heavens with a glorious circle, and the hands 01 the Most High have bended it." — Son of Sirach.]

1 [An instrument, invented by Sir David Brewster, which pleases the eye by an ever-varying succession of splendid tints and symmetrical forms, and has been of great service in suggesting patterns to our manufacturers.]

■ [" About this time a beautiful white bird, web-footed, and not unlike a dove in size awl plumage, hovered over the mast-head of the cutter, and. notwithstanding the pitching of the boat, frequently attempted to perch on it, and continued

« PreviousContinue »