Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

COUNT GAULTIER'S RIDE.-EDWARD RENAUD.

A. D. 1521.
Nay, ye shall hear how it befell!
It will not take me long to tell
How, on the tall cliff's slippery side,
I wooed and won my peerless bride;
Yet for no respite would I pray:-
Ha! Gaston, 'twas a woeful day
For thee, I know; thy love lies cold,
But mine was fiery, fierce, and bold!
King Francis led the lordly chase
O'er field and fell, till in the race
Of horse and hound the chance was mine
To ride with queenly Catherine.
No soul was nigh, for all the train
Was scattered over hill and plain.
Ay, she was peerless! tall and grand,
The haughtiest lady of the land, -
Mate for an emperor, eye of fire
That flashed out fierce with sudden ire
Beneath the black arch of her brow!
That such a silken slave as thou
Should prosper in thy suit for her
Was strange, in sooth; and that did stir
The very essence of my life
To gall and bitterness and strife,
Setting my inmost soul on fire
With baffled pride and vain desire.
We rode together far and fast;
The huntsman blew a distant blast
To call us back; vain, vain the call!
Fate closed behind us like a wall
To shut us in alone, while she
Rode to her own dark destiny;
For, as we galloped side by side
In fierce career, her evil pride
And scorn of me that curled her lip
Made but a bitter draught to sip.
"Sir Count!” she cried, “ride, ride! and see
If ever thou canst master me
In love, or aught where woman's will
Can make her strong,-ay, look thy fill!

a

Frown is thou wilt, I fear thee not!"
Whereat there flushed an angry spot
Upon her cheek, and bitterly
I swore to conquer her or die!
She laughed a bitter, scornful laugh
That seemed to smite me like a staff
Across the face; the very air
Grew strange and dark with my despair!
Was no good angel hovering nigh
To warn her, proudly sweeping by,
While, like a banner of black death,
Her long, black tresses to the breath
Of the swift wind we left behind
Waved to and fro? Her pride was blind!
Sudden her steed swerved from the track,
And, rearing, fell; then, reining back
My own upon his haunches, I
Leaped down beside her.

Not a cry

a

Of pain she uttered, but arose
Calm, with her hateful, cold repose,
And stood there, leaning 'gainst a tree,
Taking no heed or note of me.
The sun was sinking red as blood;
Beneath our feet the purple flood
Of the broad Loire ran swift and deep,
While from its edge-a beetling steep-
Rose the tall cliff on which we were.
My hand I straightway offered her
To bear her up, but, starting back
As though a serpent crossed her track,-
“Hold, hold, Count Gaultier! touch me not!"
She cried. “ Is honor, then, forgot?
I scoin thee as I scorn thine aid !"
How royally she stood, arrayed
In her rich garments, with one hand
Stretched forth in gesture of command !
Her great, black eyes shot dusky fire
And stung me through!

Then, coming nigber
To where she stood, I felt at last
My fierce love hold her firin and fast,-

Safe, at my mercy, far away
From human aid. The dying day
Grew on a sudden wondrous still,
As conquered by my own wild will,
That with a fierce, unholy joy,
Burst forth to rend and to destroy.
A red mist swam before my eyes,
And all the fiery evening skies
Seemed stained with blood, as if they knew
And blushed for that which I should do.
Fair Nature neither joys nor grieves,
But tremulously the little leaves
Shook for a moment in the calm;
Then far, far off, like saintly psalm,
We heard a distant convent-bell
Toll on the evening air a knell;
While ever and anon the sound
Of the swift river, where it wound
At the cliff's base, rose faintly there, -
Woe's weeds were all her wedding-wear!

Grasping her fiercely by the arı,
I whispered hoarsely: Dame, thy charm
Of power is broken! Swear to me
Thou'lt set the craven Gaston free
To go his way, and pledge thy hand
In troth to me, else, where we stand,
Thou look'st thy last upon the sun!”
In truth, she made me answer none,
But looked unutterable scorn!
Cursed be the day when I was born,
That ever I should live to brook
The bitterness of that last look!
One fiercely-ra vished kiss, then down,
Locked in my sinewy arms and brown,
I leaped with her across the brink
And crashed upon the rocks.

I think,
Sir Gaston, I have won the race !
In her crushed body could'st thou trace
Aught fair as she was once? I know
That thou wilt tarry, but I go
To dwell with her where'er she is,-
Our love was pledged in that one kiss!

Now bear my broken body out
As was the judgment,-let them shout
To see me bound upon the wheel !
Ha, Gaston! never shalt thou feel
The wild, sweet passion of that sin,
Nor how the brave can woo and win!

- Appleton's Journal.

TRAFFIC IN ARDENT SPIRITS.-LYMAN BEECHER.

The amount of suffering and mortality inseparable from the commerce in ardent spirits renders it an unlawful article of trade.

The wickedness is proverbial of those who in ancient days caused their children to pass through the fire unto Moloch. But how many thousands of children are there in our land who endure daily privations and sufferings which render life a burden, and would have made the momentary pang of infant sacrifice a blessing! Theirs is a lingering, living death. There never was a Moloch to whom were immolated yearly as many children as are immolated, or kept in a state of constant suffering, in this land of nominal Christianity. We have no drums and gongs to drown their cries, neither do we make convocations, and bring them all out for one mighty burning. The fires which consume them are slow fires, and they blaze balefully in every part of our land, throughout which the cries of injured children and orphans go up to Heaven. Could all these woes, the product of intemperance, be brought out into one place, and the monster who inflicts the sufferings be seen personified, the nation would be furious with indignation. Humanity, conscience, religion, all would conspire to stop a work of such malignity.

We are appalled and shocked at the accounts from the East, of widows burned upon the funeral-piles of their departed husbands. But what if those devotees of superstition, the Bramins, had discovered a mode of prolonging the lives of their victims for years amid the flames, and by these protracted burnings were accustomed to torture life away? We might almost rouse up a crusade to cross the deep, to stop by force such in humanity. But alas! we should leave be. hind us, on our own shores, more wives in the fire than we should find of widows thus sacrificed in all the East; a fire, too, which, besides its action upon the body, tortures the soul by lost affections, and ruined hopes, and prospective wretchedness.

Every year thousands of families are robbed of fathers, brothers, husbands, friends. Every year widows and orphans are multiplied, and gray hairs are brought with sorrow to the grave. No disease makes such inroads upon families, blasts so many hopes, destroys so many lives, and causes so many mourners to go about the streets, because man goeth to his long home.

Can we lawfully amass property by a course of trade which fills the land with beggars, and widows, and orphans, and crimes,—which peoples the graveyard with premature mor. tality, and the world of woe with the victims of despair?

Could all the forms of evil produced in the land by in. temperance, come upon us in one horrid array, it would appall the nation, and put an end to the traffic in ardent spirits. If, in every dwelling built by blood, the stone from the wall should utter all the cries which the bloody traffic extorts, and the beam out of the timber should echo them back,—who would build such a house?--and who would dwell in it? What if in every part of the dwelling, from the cellar upward, through all the halls and chambers, babblings, and contentions, and voices, and groans, and shrieks, and wailings, were heard, day and night? What if the cold blood oozed out, and stood in drops upon the walls; and by preternatural art all the ghastly skulls and bones of the victims destroyed by intemperance should stand upon the walls, in horrid sculpture within and without the building,-who would rear such a building ? What if at eventide, and at midnight, the airy forms of men destroyed by intemperance were dimly seen haunting the distilleries and stores where they received their bane, -following the track of the ship engaged in commerce,- walking upon the waves,-flitting athwart the deck.--sitting upon the rigging,--and sending up from the hold within, and from the waves without, groans, and loud laments, and wailings ? Who would attend such

« AnteriorContinua »