Imatges de pÓgina
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in his charge to buy, I walked up to the top of the hill under which the town stands, and on the east side of the town, to get a prospect of the river ; but it was a surprising sight to see the number of ships which lay in rows, two and two, and in some places two or three such lines in the breadth of the river; and this not only up to the town, between the houses which we call Ratcliff and Redriff, which they name the Pool, but even down the whole river, as far as the head of Long Reach, which is as far as the hills give us leave to see it.

I cannot guess at the number of ships, but I think there must be several hundreds of sail ; and I could not but applaud the contrivance, for ten thousand people and more, who attended ship affairs, were certainly sheltered here from the violence of the contagion, and lived very safe and very easy.

I returned to my own dwelling very well satisfied with my day's journey, and particularly with the poor man; also I rejoiced to see that such little sanctuaries were provided for so many families on board, in a time of such desolation. I observed also that as the violence of the plague had increased, so the ships which had families on board removed and went farther off, till, as I was told, some went quite away to sea, and put into such harbours and safe roads on the north coast as they could best come at.

But it was also true that all the people who thus left the land, and lived on board the ships, were not entirely safe from the infection, for many died and were thrown overboard into the river, some in coffins, and some, as I heard, without coffins, whose bodies were seen sometimes to drive up and down with the tide in the river.

Defoe,

XL.

THE SWAN-SONG OF PARSON AVERY.

WHEN the reaper's task was ended, and the summer

wearing late, Parson Avery sailed from Newbury, with his wife and

children eight, Dropping down the river-harbour in the shallop 1 “Watch

and Wait.” Pleasantly lay the clearings in the mellow summer-morn, With the newly-planted orchards dropping their fruits

first-born, And the homesteads like green islands amid a sea of

corn,

Broad meadows reached out seaward the tided creeks

between, And hills rolled wave-like inland, with oaks and walnuts

green ; A fairer home, a goodlier land, his eyes had never seen. Yet away sailed Parson Avery, away where duty led, And the voice of God seemed calling, to break the living

bread To the souls of fishers starving on the rocks of Marble

head.

1

All day they sailed : at nightfall the pleasant land-breeze

died, The blackening sky, at midnight, its starry lights denied, And far and low the thunder of tempest prophesied ! Blotted out were all the coast-lines, gone were rock, and

wood, and sand; Grimly anxious stood the skipper with the rudder in his

hand, And questioned of the darkness what was sea and what

was land. And the preacher heard his dear ones, nestled round

him, weeping sore: “Never heed, my little children! Christ is walking on

before To the pleasant land of heaven, where the sea shall be

no more." All at once the great cloud parted, like a curtain drawn

aside, To let down the torch of lightning on the terror far and

wide;

And the thunder and the whirlwind together smote the

tide. There was wailing in the shallop, woman's wail and

man's despair, A crash of breaking timbers on the rocks so sharp and

bare, And, through it all, the murmur of Father Avery's prayer. From his struggle in the darkness with the wild waves

and the blast, On a rock, where every billow broke above him as it

passed, Alone, of all his household, the man of God was cast.

There a comrade heard him praying, in the pause of

wave and wind : "All my own have gone before me, and I linger just

behind; Not for life I ask, but only for the rest Thy ransomed

find !

“In this night of death I challenge the promise of Thy

word ! Let me see the great salvation of which mine ears have

heard ! Let me pass from hence forgiven, through the grace of

Christ, our Lord! “In the baptism of these waters wash white my every sin, And let me follow up to Thee my household and my

kin! Open the sea-gate of Thy heaven, and let me enter in !" When the Christian sings his death-song, all the listening

heavens draw near, And the angels, leaning over the walls of crystal, hear How the notes so faint and broken, swell to music in

God's ear.

The ear of God was open to His servant's last request; As the strong wave swept him downward the sweet hymn

upward pressed, And the soul of Father Avery went singing to its rest. There was wailing on the mainland, from the rocks of

Marblehead; In the stricken church of Newbury the notes of prayer

were read; And long, by board and hearthstone, the living mourned the dead.

P

And still the fishers outbound, or scudding from the

squall, With grave

and reverent faces, the ancient tale recall, When they see the white waves breaking on the rock of Avery's Fall!

J. G. Whittier.

XLI.

WHITE OWLS.

SOME young men went down lately to a pond on the verge of Wolmer Forest to hunt flappers, or young wild ducks, many of which they caught, and, among the rest, some very minute yet wellfledged wild fowls alive, which upon examination I found to be teals. I did not know, till then, teals ever bred in the south of England, and was much pleased with the discovery: this I look upon as a great stroke in natural history.

We have had, ever since I can remember, a pair of white owls that constantly breed under the eaves of this church.

As I have paid good attention to the manner of life of these birds during their season of breeding, which lasts the summer through, the following remarks may not perhaps be unacceptable: About an hour before sunset (for then the mice begin to run) they sally forth in quest of prey, and hunt all round the hedges of meadows and small enclosures for them, which seem to be their only food. In this irregular country we can stand on an eminence and see

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