« AnteriorContinua »
A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent;
Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks;
Our rivers roll exulting, and their banks Send up hosannas to the firmament !
Fields where the bondman's toil
No more shall trench the soil, Seem now to bask in a serener day;
The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs
Welcoming man to liberty like theirs.
Within that land wert thou enthroned of late,
And they by whom the nation's laws were made,
And they who filled its judgment-seats obeyed Thy mandate, rigid as the will of Fate.
Fierce men at thy right hand,
With gesture of command, Gave forth the word that none might dare gainsay ;
And grave and reverend ones, who loved thee not, Shrank from thy presence, and in blank dismay
Choked down, unuttered, the rebellious thought; While meaner cowards, mingling with thy train, Proved, from the book of God, thy right to reign.
Great as thou wert, and feared from shore to shore,
The wrath of Heaven o’ertook thee in thy pride;
Thou sitt’st a ghastly shadow; by thy side Thy once strong arms hang nerveless evermore.
And they who quailed but now
Before thy lowering brow, Devote thy memory to scorn and shame,
And scoff at the pale, powerless thing thou art.
And they who ruled in thine imperial name,
Subdued, and standing sullenly apart, Scowl at the hands that overthrew thy reign, And shattered at a blow the prisoner's chain. Well was thy doom deserved ; thou didst not spare
Life's tenderest ties, but cruelly didst part
Husband and wife, and from the mother's heart Didst wrest her children, deaf to shriek and prayer ;
Thy inner lair became
The haunt of guilty shame; Thy lash dropped blood; the murderer, at thy side,
Showed his red hands, nor feared the vengeance due. Thou didst sow earth with crimes, and, far and wide,
A harvest of uncounted miseries grew,
With hateful memories of the elder time,
With many a wasting plague, and nameless crime, And bloody war that thinned the human race;
With the Black Death, whose way . Through wailing cities lay, Worship of Moloch, tyrannies that built
The Pyramids, and cruel creeds that taught To avenge a fancied guilt by deeper guilt
Death at the stake to those that held them not. Lo! the foul phảntoms, silent in the gloom Of the flown' ages, part to yield thee room. I see the better years that hasten by
Carry thee back into that shadowy past, * Where, in the dusty spaces, void and vast, The graves of those whom thou hast murdered lie.
The slave-pen, through whose door
Thy victims pass no more,
At which the slave was sold; while at thy feet
Moulder and rust by thine eternal seat.
IV. C. Bryant.
THE CONJUROR. Miss POLE was always the person, in the trio of Cranford ladies now assembled, to have had adventures. She was in the habit of spending the morning in rambling from shop to shop, not to purchase anything (except an occasional reel of cotton, or a piece of tape), but to see the new articles and report upon them, and to collect all the stray pieces of intelligence in the town. She had a way, too, of demurely popping hither and thither into all sorts of places to gratify her curiosity on any pointa way which, if she had not looked so very genteel and prim, might have been considered iinpertinent. And now, by the expressive way in which she cleared her throat, and waited for all minor subjects (such as caps and turbans) to be cleared off the course, we knew she had something very particular to relate, when the due pause came—and I defy any people, possessed of common modesty, to keep up a conversation long, where one among them sits up aloft in silence, looking down upon all the things they chance to say as trivial and contemptible compared to what they could disclose if properly entreated. Miss Pole began:
“As I was stepping out of Gordon's shop to-day, I chanced to go into the “George" (my Betty has a second cousin who is chamber-maid there, and I thought Betty would like to hear how she was), and, not seeing any one about, I strolled up the staircase, and found myself in the passage leading to the Assembly Room (you and I remember the Assembly Room, I am sure, Miss Matty, and the menuets de la cour !); so I went on, not thinking of what I was about, when, all at once, I perceived that I was in the middle of the preparations for to-morrow night--the room being divided with great clothes-maids, over which Crosby's men were tacking red flannel ; very dark and odd it seemed; it quite bewildered me, and I was going on behind the screens, in my absence of mind, when a gentleman (quite the gentleman, I can assure you) stepped forwards and asked if I had any business he could arrange for me. He spoke such pretty broken English, I could not help thinking of Thaddeus of Warsaw, and the Hungarian Brothers, and Santo Sebastiani; and while I was busy picturing his past life to myself, he had bowed me out of the room. But wait a minute! You have not heard half my story yet! I was going downstairs, when who should I meet but Betty's second cousin. So, of course, I stopped to speak to her for Betty's sake; and she told me that I had really seen the conjuror—the gentleman who spoke broken English was Signor Brunoni himself. Just at this moment he passed us on the stairs, making such a graceful bow! in reply to which I dropped a courtesy—all foreigners have such polite manners, one catches something of it. But, when he had gone downstairs, I bethought me that I had dropped my glove in the Assembly Room (it was safe in my muff all the time, but I never found it till afterwards); so I went back, and, just as I was creeping up the passage left on one side of the great screen that goes nearly across the room, who should I see but the very same gentleman that had met me before, and passed me on the stairs, coming now forwards from the inner part of the room, to which there is no entrance--you remember, Miss Matty-and just repeating, in his pretty broken English, the inquiry if I had any business there—I don't mean that he put it quite so bluntly, but he seemed very determined that I should not pass the 'screen-so, of course, I explained about my glove, which, curiously enough, I found at that very moment."
Miss Pole, then, had seen the conjuror—the real, live conjuror! and numerous were the questions we all asked her. “Had he a beard?” “Was he young, or old ?” “Fair, or dark?” “Did he look”—(unable to shape my question prudently, I put it in another form)—“How did he look ?” In short, Miss Pole was the heroine of the evening,