Page images
PDF
EPUB

become of his boy?” “He shall not drop,” said my uncle Toby firmly. “ A-well-a-day, do what we can for him," said Trim, maintaining his point, “the poor soul will die.” “He shall not die,” cried my uncle Toby.

My uncle Toby went to his bureau, put his purse into his pocket, and, having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician, he went to bed and fell asleep.

The sun looked bright, the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fevre's and his afflicted son's; the hand of death pressed heavy upon his eyelids. My uncle Toby, who had got up an hour before his wonted time, went directly to the inn, to see how the case stood. He immediately entered the lieutenant's room, and, without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bedside, and, independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain, in the manner an old friend and brother-officer would have done it, and asked him how he did, - how he had rested in the night, — what was his complaint, — where was his pain, — and what he could do to serve him; - and, without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal, the night before, for him.

You shall go home directly, Le Fevre,” said my uncle Toby, "to my house, — and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter, — and we'll have an apothecary, and the corporal shall be your nurse, — and I'll be your servant, Le Fevre!”

There was a frankness in my uncle Toby, not the effect of familiarity, but the cause of it, which let you at once into his soul, and showed you the goodness of his nature. To this there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him; so that, before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, the son had insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him.

The blood and spirits of Le Fevre, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart, rallied back — the film forsook his eyes for a moment - he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby's face — then cast a look upon his boy. And that ligament, fine as it was, was never broken.

Nature instantly ebbed again — the film returned to its place — the pulse fluttered — stopped — went on — throbbed - stopped again — moved — stopped. Shall I go on? — No!

STERNE

114. Lochinvar.

O, YOUNG Lochinvar is come out of the west !
Through all the wide border his steed was the best;
And, save his good broadsword, he weapon had none;
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone!
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar!

He staid not for brake, and he stopped not for stone,
He swam the Esk River where ford there was none;
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late ; .
For a laggard in love and a dastard in war
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar!

So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,
Among bridemen, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword,
For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word. --
“O, come ye in peace here, or come ye in war?
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?

“I long wooed your daughter; my suit you denied :
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide!
And now am I come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine!
There be maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar!"

The bride kissed the goblet; the knight took it up,
He quaffed off the wine, and he threw down the cup!
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh, -
With a smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, -
“Now tread we a measure !” said young Lochinvar

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace!
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume,
And the bridemaidens whispered, “ 'Twere better by far
To have matched our fair cousin with young Lochinvar!"

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reached the hall door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur ;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow !” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting 'mong Græmes of the Netherby clan;
Fosters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran ;
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see!
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

SCOTT

115. Ruins of the Settlement at Jamestown.

I have taken a pleasant ride of sixty miles down the river, in order to see the remains of the first English settlement in Virginia.

The site is a very handsome one. The river is three miles broad; and on the opposite shore, the country presents a fine range of bold and beautiful hills. But I find no vestiges of the ancient town, except the ruins of a church steeple, and a disordered group of old tombstones. On one of these, shaded by the boughs of a tree, whose trunk has embraced and grown over the edge of the stone, and seated on the headstone of another grave, I now address you.

The ruin of the steeple is about thirty feet high, and mantled to its very summit with ivy. It is difficult to look at this venerable object, surrounded as it is with these awful proofs of the mortality of man, without exclaiming, in the pa. thetic solemnity of our Shakspeare,

“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temple, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve ;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind." Whence arises the irrepressible reverence and tender affection with which I look at this broken steeple? Is it that my soul, by a secret, subtile process, invests the mouldering ruin with her own powers — imagines it a fellow-being - a venerable, old man, a Nestor, or an Ossian, who has witnessed and survived the ravages of successive generations, the companions of his youth and of his maturity, and now mourns his own solitary and desolate condition, and hails their spirits in every passing cloud? Whatever may be the cause, as I look at it, I feel my soul drawn forward, as by the cords of gentlest sympathy, and involuntarily open my lips to offer consolation to the drooping pile.

Where is the busy, bustling crowd which landed here two hundred years ago? Where is Smith, that pink of gallantry, that flower of chivalry? I fancy that I can see their first slow and cautious approach to the shore; their keen and vigilant eyes piercing the forest in every direction, to detect the lurking Indian, with his tomahawk, bow, and arrow. Good Heavens! what an enterprise! how full of the most fearful perils ! and yet how entirely profitless to the daring men who personally undertook and achieved it!

Through what a series of the most spirit-chilling hardships had they to toil! how often did they cast their eyes to England in vain! and with what delusive hopes, day after day, did the little famished crew strain their sight to catch the white sail of comfort and relief! But, day after day, the sun set, and darkness covered the earth; but no sail of comfort or relief came. How often, in the pangs of hunger, sickness, solitude, and disconsolation, did they think of London; her shops, her markets groaning under the weight of plenty; her streets swarming with gilded coaches, bustling hacks, with crowds of lords, dukes, and commons, with healthy, busy, contented faces of every description ; and among them none more healthy or more contented than those of their ungrateful and improvident directors !

But now — where are they all ? the little famished colony which landed here, and the many-colored crowd of London

- where are they? Gone, where there is no distinction consigned to the common earth. Another generation succeeded them; which, just as busy and as bustling as that which fell before it, has sunk down into the same nothingness. Another and yet another billow has rolled on, each emulating its predecessor in height; towering for its moment, anc curling its foaming honors to the clouds ; then roaring, breaking, and perishing, on the same shore.

WILLIAM WIRT.

« PreviousContinue »