THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. 19, No. 549] SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER [PRICE 2d.
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THE ALHAMBRA, IN SPAIN
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Accumulated novelties from Books published within the past month have led to the publication of the present Supplement. Although its contents have not been drawn from works of unfettered fancy, it is hoped they will be found to blend the real with the imaginative in such a degree as to render their knowledge not the less useful for its being amusive. The Engravings are perhaps as appropriate as attractive; since they illustrate, and the artists hope not unworthily, the New Sketch Book of WASHINGTON IRVING.
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by Geoffrey Crayon, Author Of The Sketch Book, &c.
What! Washington Irving, or, as the title-page will have it, Geoffrey Crayon, in SPAIN, wandering up and down the deserted halls of the Alhambra, and weaving its legendary lore with thick coming fancies into sketches of enchanting interest. The origin of the work, (the New Sketch Book,) as it has been inappropriately styled, is told in the dedication to David Wilkie, Esq., R.A. Mr. Irving and the great artist just named were fellow travellers on the continent a few years since. In their rambles about some of the old cities of Spain, they were more than once struck with scenes and incidents which reminded them of passages in the "Arabian Nights." The painter urged Mr. Irving to write something that should illustrate those peculiarities, "something in the Haroun Alrasched style" that should have a dash of that Arabian spice which pervades every thing in Spain. The author set to work, con amore, and has produced two goodly volumes, with a few "Arabesque" sketches and tales founded on popular traditions. His study was THE ALHAMBRA, which must have inspired him for his task. To quote his own words: "how many legends and traditions, true and fabulous; how many songs and romances, Spanish and Arabian, of love and war, and chivalry, are associated with this romantic pile." The Governor of the Alhambra gave Mr. Irving and his companion, permission to occupy his vacant apartments in the Moorish Palace. "My companion," says the author, "was soon summoned away by the duties of his station; but I remained for several months, spellbound in the old enchanted pile."
Such is the plan or frame of the work before us. It has induced us to select the Embellishments on the annexed page; and their description, from so graceful a pencil as that of the author, will, we hope, bespeak the favour of the reader.
"The Alhambra is an ancient fortress or castellated palace of the Moorish kings of Granada, where they held dominion over this their boasted terrestrial paradise, and made their last stand for empire in Spain. The palace occupies but a portion of the fortress, the walls of which, studded with towers, stretch irregularly round the whole crest of a lofty hill that overlooks the city, and forms a spur of the Sierra Nevada, or snowy mountain.
"In the time of the Moors, the fortress was capable of containing an army of forty thousand men within its precincts, and served occasionally as a stronghold of the sovereigns against their rebellious subjects. After the kingdom had passed into the hands of the Christians, the Alhambra continued a royal demesne, and was occasionally inhabited by the Castilian monarchs. The Emperor Charles V. began a sumptuous palace within its walls, but was deterred from completing it by repeated shocks of earthquakes. The last royal residents were Philip V. and his beautiful queen Elizabetta of Parma, early in the eighteenth century. Great preparations were made for their reception. The palace and gardens were placed in a state of repair, and a new suite of apartments erected, and decorated by artists brought from Italy. The sojourn of the sovereigns was transient, and after their departure the palace once more became desolate. Still the place was maintained with some military state. The governor held it immediately from the crown, its jurisdiction extended down into the suburbs of the city, and was independent of the captain general of Granada. A considerable garrison was kept up, the governor had his apartments in the front of the old Moorish palace, and never descended into Granada without some military parade. The fortress, in fact, was a little town of itself, having several streets of houses within its walls, together with a Franciscan convent and a parochial church.
"The desertion of the court, however, was a fatal blow to the Alhambra. Its beautiful halls became desolate, and some of them fell to ruin; the gardens were destroyed, and the fountains ceased to play. By degrees the dwellings became filled up with a loose and lawless population; contrabandistas, who availed themselves of its independent jurisdiction to carry on a wide and daring course of smuggling, and thieves and rogues of all sorts, who made this their place of refuge from whence they might depredate upon Granada and its vicinity. The strong arm of government at length interfered: the whole community was thoroughly sifted; none were suffered to remain but such as were of honest character, and had legitimate right to a residence; the greater part of the houses were demolished and a mere hamlet left, with the parochial church and the Franciscan convent. During the recent troubles in Spain, when Granada was in the hands of the French, the Alhambra was garrisoned by their troops, and the palace was occasionally inhabited by the French commander. With that enlightened taste which has ever distinguished the French nation in their conquests, this monument of Moorish elegance and grandeur was rescued from the absolute ruin and desolation that were overwhelming it. The roofs were repaired, the saloons and galleries protected from the weather, the gardens cultivated, the water courses restored, the fountains once more made to throw up their sparkling showers; and Spain may thank her invaders for having preserved to her the most beautiful and interesting of her historical monuments.
"On the departure of the French they blew up several towers of the outer wall, and left the fortifications scarcely tenable. Since that time the military importance of the post is at an end. The garrison is a handful of invalid soldiers, whose principal duty is to guard some of the outer towers, which serve occasionally as a prison of state; and the governor, abandoning the lofty hill of the Alhambra, resides in the centre of Granada, for the more convenient dispatch of his official duties.
Interior of the Alhambra
"The Alhambra has been so often and so minutely described by travellers, that a mere sketch will, probably, be sufficient for the reader to refresh his recollection; I will give, therefore, a brief account of our visit to it the morning after our arrival in Granada.
"Leaving our posada of La Espada, we traversed the renowned square of the Vivarrambla, once the scene of Moorish jousts and tournaments, now a crowded market-place. From thence we proceeded along the Zacatin, the main street of what, in the time of the Moors, was the Great Bazaar, where the small shops and narrow allies still retain the Oriental character. Crossing an open place in front of the palace of the captain-general, we ascended a confined and winding street, the name of which reminded us of the chivalric days of Granada. It is called the Calle, or street of the Gomeres, from a Moorish family famous in chronicle and song. This street led up to a massive gateway of Grecian architecture, built by Charles V. forming the entrance to the domains of the Alhambra.
"At the gate were two or three ragged and superannuated soldiers, dozing on a stone bench, the successors of the Zegris and the Abencerrages; while a tall meagre varlet, whose rusty-brown cloak was evidently intended to conceal the ragged state of his nether garments, was lounging in the sunshine and gossiping with an ancient sentinel on duty. He joined us as we entered the gate, and offered his services to show us the fortress.
"I have a traveller's dislike to officious ciceroni, and did not-altogether like the garb of the applicant.
"'You are well acquainted with the place, I presume?'
"'Ninguno mas; pues Senor, soy hijo de la Alhambra.'—(Nobody better; in fact, Sir, I am a son of the Alhambra!)
"The common Spaniards have certainly a most poetical way of expressing themselves. 'A son of the Alhambra!' the appellation caught me at once; the very tattered garb of my new acquaintance assumed a dignity in my eyes. It was emblematic of the fortunes of the place, and befitted the progeny of a ruin.
"I put some farther questions to him, and found that his title was legitimate. His family had lived in the fortress from generation to generation ever since the time of the conquest. His name was Mateo Ximenes. 'Then, perhaps,' said I, 'you may be a descendant from the great Cardinal Ximenes?'—'Dios Sabe! God knows, Senor! It may be so. We are the oldest family in the Alhambra,—Christianos Viejos, old Christians, without any taint of Moor or Jew. I know we belong to some great family or other, but I forget whom. My father knows all about it: he has the coat-of-arms hanging up in his cottage, up in the fortress.' There is not any Spaniard, however poor, but has some claim to high pedigree. The first title of this ragged worthy, however, had completely captivated me, so I gladly accepted the services of the 'son of the Alhambra.'
"We now found ourselves in a deep narrow ravine, filled with beautiful groves, with a steep avenue, and various footpaths winding through it, bordered with stone seats, and ornamented with fountains. To our left, we beheld the towers of the Alhambra beetling above us; to our right, on the opposite side of the ravine, we were equally dominated by rival towers on a rocky eminence. These, we were told, were the Torres Vermejos, or vermilion towers, so called from their ruddy hue. No one knows their origin. They are of a date much anterior to the Alhambra: some suppose them to have been built by the Romans; others, by some wandering colony of Phoenicians. Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower; forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress. Within the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept on the stone benches. This portal is called the Gate of Justice, from the tribunal held within its porch during the Moslem domination, for the immediate trial of petty causes: a custom common to the Oriental nations, and occasionally alluded to in the Sacred Scriptures.
"The great vestibule or porch of the gate, is formed by an immense Arabian arch, of the horse-shoe form, which springs to half the height of the tower. On the key-stone of this arch is engraven a gigantic hand. Within the vestibule, on the key-stone of the portal, is sculptured, in like manner, a gigantic key. Those who pretend to some knowledge of Mahometan symbols, affirm that the hand is the emblem of doctrine, and the key of faith; the latter, they add, was emblazoned on the standard of the Moslems when they subdued Andalusia, in opposition to the Christian emblem of the Cross. A different explanation, however, was given by the legitimate son of the Alhambra, and one more in unison with the notions of the common people, who attach something of mystery and magic to every thing Moorish, and have all kind of superstitions connected with this old Moslem fortress.
"According to Mateo, it was a tradition handed down from the oldest inhabitants, and which he had from his father and grandfather, that the hand and key were magical devices on which the fate of the Alhambra depended. The Moorish King who built it was a great magician, or, as some believed, had sold himself to the devil, and had laid the whole fortress under a magic spell. By this means it had remained standing for several hundred years, in defiance of storms and earthquakes, while almost all other buildings of the Moors had fallen to ruin, and disappeared. This spell, the tradition went on to say, would last until the hand on the outer arch should reach down and grasp the key, when the whole pile would tumble to pieces, and all the treasures buried beneath it by the Moors would be revealed.
"Notwithstanding this ominous prediction, we ventured to pass through the spell-bound gateway, feeling some little assurance against magic art in the protection of the Virgin, a statue of whom we observed above the portal.
"After passing through the barbican, we ascended a narrow lane, winding between walls, and came on an open esplanade within the fortress, called the Plaza de los Algibes, or Place of the Cisterns, from great reservoirs which undermine it, cut in the living rock by the Moors for the supply of the fortress. Here, also, is a well of immense depth, furnishing the purest and coldest of water; another monument of the delicate taste of the Moors, who were indefatigable in their exertions to obtain that element in its crystal purity.
"In front of this esplanade is the splendid pile commenced by Charles V., intended, it is said, to eclipse the residence of the Moslem kings. With all its grandeur and architectural merit, it appeared to us like an arrogant intrusion, and, passing by it, we entered a simple, unostentatious portal, opening into the interior of the Moorish palace.
"The transition was almost magical: it seemed as if we were at once transported into other times and another realm, and were treading the scenes of Arabian story. We found ourselves in a great court, paved with white marble, and decorated at each end with light Moorish peristyles: it is called the Court of the Alberca. In the centre was an immense basin or fish-pond, a hundred and thirty feet in length by thirty in breadth, stocked with gold-fish and bordered by hedges of roses. At the upper end of this court rose the great Tower of Comares.
"From the lower end we passed through a Moorish archway into the renowned Court of Lions. There is no part of the edifice that gives us a more complete idea of its original beauty and magnificence than this, for none has suffered so little from the ravages of time. In the centre stands the fountain famous in song and story. The alabaster basins still shed their diamond drops; and the twelve lions, which support them, cast forth their crystal streams as in the days of Boabdil. The court is laid out in flower-beds, and surrounded by light Arabian arcades of open filagree work, supported by slender pillars of white marble. The architecture, like that of all the other parts of the palace, is characterized by elegance rather than grandeur; bespeaking a delicate and graceful taste, and a disposition to indolent enjoyment. When one looks upon the fairy tracery of the peristyles, and the apparently fragile fretwork of the walls, it is difficult to believe that so much has survived the wear and tear of centuries, the shocks of earthquakes, the violence of war, and the quiet, though no less baneful, pilferrings of the tasteful traveller: it is almost sufficient to excuse the popular tradition, that the whole is protected by a magic charm.
"On one side of the court, a portal, richly adorned, opens into a lofty hall, paved with white marble, and called the Hall of the Two Sisters. A cupola, or lantern, admits a tempered light from above, and a free circulation of air. The lower part of the walls is encrusted with beautiful Moorish tiles, on some of which are emblazoned the escutcheons of the Moorish monarchs: the upper part is faced with the fine stucco-work invented at Damascus, consisting of large plates, cast in moulds, and artfully joined, so as to have the appearance of having been laboriously sculptured by the hand into light relievos and fanciful arabesques, intermingled with texts of the Koran, and poetical inscriptions in Arabian and Cufic character. These decorations of the walls and cupolas are richly gilded, and the interstices pencilled with lapis-lazuli, and other brilliant and enduring colours. On each side of the hall are recesses for ottomans and couches. Above the inner porch is a balcony, which communicated with the women's apartments. The latticed 'jalousies' still remain, from whence the dark-eyed beauties of the haram might gaze unseen upon the entertainments of the hall below.
"It is impossible to contemplate this once favourite abode of Oriental manners without feeling the early associations of Arabian romance, and almost expecting to see the white arm of some mysterious princess beckoning from the balcony, or some dark eye sparkling through the lattice. The abode of beauty is here, as if it had been inhabited but yesterday; but where are the Zoraydas and Lindaraxas?
"On the opposite side of the Court of Lions, is the Hall of the Abencerrages; so called from the gallant cavaliers of that illustrious line who were here perfidiously massacred. There are some who doubt the whole truth of this story; but our humble attendant Mateo pointed out the very wicket of the portal through which they are said to have been introduced, one by one, and the white marble fountain in the centre of the hall where they were beheaded. He showed us also certain broad ruddy stains in the pavement, traces of their blood, which, according to popular belief, can never be effaced. Finding we listened to him with easy faith, he added, that there was often heard at night, in the Court of Lions, a low, confused sound, resembling the murmuring of a multitude; with now and then a faint tinkling, like the distant clank of chains. These noises are probably produced by the bubbling currents and tinkling falls of water, conducted under the pavement, through pipes and channels, to supply the fountains; but, according to the legend of the son of the Alhambra, they are made by the spirits of the murdered Abencerrages, who nightly haunt the scene of their suffering, and invoke the vengeance of Heaven on their destroyer.
"From the Court of Lions we retraced our steps through the Court of the Alberca, or Great Fishpool; crossing which we proceeded to the Tower of Comares, so called from the name of the Arabian architect. It is of massive strength and lofty height, domineering over the rest of the edifice, and overhanging the steep hill-side, which descends abruptly to the banks of the Darro. A Moorish archway admitted us into a vast and lofty hall, which occupies the interior of the tower, and was the grand audience chamber of the Moslem monarchs, thence called the Hall of Ambassadors. It still bears the traces of past magnificence. The walls are richly stuccoed and decorated with arabesques; the vaulted ceiling of cedar-wood, almost lost in obscurity, from its height, still gleams with rich gilding, and the brilliant tints of the Arabian pencil. On three sides of the saloon are deep windows cut through the immense thickness of the walls, the balconies of which look down upon the verdant valley of the Darro, the streets and convents of the Albaycin, and command a prospect of the distant Vega.
"I might go on to describe minutely the other delightful apartments of this side of the palace; the Tocador, or toilet of the queen, an open belvidere, on the summit of a tower, where the Moorish sultanas enjoyed the pure breezes from the mountain, and the prospect of the surrounding paradise; the secluded little patio, or garden of Lindaraxa, with its alabaster fountain, its thickets of roses and myrtles, of citrons and oranges; the cool halls and grottoes of the baths, where the glare and heat of day are tempered into a soft mysterious light, and a pervading freshness.
"While the city below pants with the noontide heat, and the parched vega trembles to the eye, the delicate airs from the Sierra Nevada, play through these lofty halls, bringing with them the sweetness of the surrounding gardens. Every thing invites to that indolent repose, the bliss of southern climes; and while the half-shut eye looks out from shaded balconies upon the glittering landscape, the ear is lulled by the rustling of groves, and the murmur of running streams." Here we must end.
The Sketches bear the very perfection of romance in their titles. Yes, expectant reader, think of the Alhambra by Moonlight—A Ramble among the Hills—Legend of the Arabian Astrologer—The Tower of Las Infantas—Legends of the three beautiful Princesses—The Pilgrim of Love—The Rose of the Alhambra,—the two discreet Statues, &c. &c. What hours of spell-bound delight do these two volumes lock up, yet we hope but for a short season, from all who would vary "life's dull round" with romantic lore.
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The remarkably attractive Number of the Magazine of Natural History for the present month enables us to checker our sheet with a page or two of facts which will be interesting to every inquiring mind.
Hail at Lausanne.
"At Lausanne, on the 14th of July, 1831, about 8 P.M., we witnessed one of those hail-storms which, every summer, cause such ravages in the south of Europe. A great proportion of the hailstones were as big as hen's eggs, and some even bigger: seven nearly filled a common dinner plate. They were mostly oval or globular; but one piece, brought to us after the storm, was flat and square, full 2 in. long, as many broad, and three quarters of an inch thick, with several projecting knobs of ice as big as large hazel nuts. This mass exactly resembled a piece of uniformly transparent ice, but the oval and globular masses had the same conformation as has often been described in these hailstones, and on which Volta founded his ingenious but untenable theory of their formation. In the centre of each was a small, white, opaque nucleus, the size of a pea, and evidently one of the hailstones usually seen in England, to which the French give the name of gresil, confining the term grele to the larger masses of ice now under our observation. This nucleus of gresil was enclosed in a coat about half an inch thick of ice considerably more transparent than it, but still somewhat opaque, as though of snow melted and then frozen again, and externally the rest of the mass was of ice perfectly transparent, and as compact and hard as possible, resounding like a pebble, and not breaking when thrown on the floor. The inhabitants of Lausanne, aware that the cinereous and puffed up appearance of the clouds charged with this tremendous aerial artillery portended more than a mere thunder-storm, had adopted the precaution of closing their Venetian shutters; but such windows as were deprived of this protection had almost every pane broken: and much damage was done to the tiles of all the houses, and to the gardens and vineyards; but less than might have been expected, owing to the short duration of the storm, which did not last longer than seven or eight minutes, and to the circumstance of the hailstones not being very numerous."—(W. Spence.)
"The cedar has been recommended, among other woods, for the purpose of constructing drawers for cabinets of insects. Let the inexperienced collector be warned that this is, perhaps, the very worst wood that can be employed for the purpose; a strong effluvia, or sometimes a resinous gum, exudes from the wood of the cedar, which is apt to settle in blotches on the wings of the specimens, especially of the more delicate Lepidoptera, and entirely discharges the colour. The Rev. Mr. Bree once had a whole collection of lepidopterous insects utterly spoiled from having been deposited in cedar drawers; and he has understood, also, that the insects in the British Museum, collected, he believes, chiefly by Dr. Leach, have been greatly injured from the same cause. Possibly, however, cedar wood, after it has been thoroughly well seasoned, may be less liable to produce these injurious effects."
Habits of the Common Snake in Captivity.
A Staffordshire Correspondent writes thus familiarly:
"This has been a remarkably good season, both for vegetables and animals. It has been a singular time for adders, snakes, and lizards; I never saw so many as I have seen this year in all my life. I have been trying, a great part of this summer, to domesticate a common snake, and make it familiar with me and my children; but all to no purpose, notwithstanding I favoured it with my most particular attention. It was a most beautiful creature, only 2 ft. 7 in. long. I did not know how long it had been without food when I caught it; but I presented it with frogs, toads, worms, beetles, spiders, mice, and every other delicacy of the season. I also tried to charm it with music, and my children stroked and caressed it; but all in vain: it would be no more familiar with any of us than if we had been the greatest strangers to it, or even its greatest enemies. I kept it in an old barrel, out of doors, for the first three weeks: during that time, I can aver, it ate nothing; but, after a very wet night, it seemed to suffer from the cold. I then put it into a glass vessel, and set it on the parlour chimney-piece, covering the vessel with a piece of silk gauze. I caught two live mice, and put them in to it; but they would sooner have died of hunger than the snake would have eaten them: they sat shivering on its back, while it lay coiled up as round as a ball of worstep. I gave the mice some boiled potatoes, which they eat: but the snake would eat neither the mice nor the potatoes. My children frequently took it out in their hands, to show it to their schoolfellows; but my wife, and some others, could not bear the sight of it. I one day took it in my hand, and opened its mouth with a penknife, to show a gentleman how different it was from that of the adder, which I had dead by me: its teeth being no more formidable or terrific than the teeth of a trout or eel; while the mouth of the adder had two fangs, like the claws of a cat, attached to the roof of the mouth, no way connected with its jaw-teeth. While examining the snake in this manner, it began to smell most horridly, and filled the room with an abominable odour; I also felt, or thought I felt, a kind of prickly numbness in the hand I held it in, and did so for some weeks afterwards. In struggling for its liberty, it twisted itself round my arm, and discharged its excrements on my coat-sleeve, which seemed nothing more than milk, or like the chalkings of a woodcock. It made its escape from me several times by boring a hole through the gauze; I had lost it for some days at one time, when at length it was observed peeping out of a mouse-hole behind one of the cellar steps. Whether it had caught any beetles or spiders in the cellar, I cannot say; but it looked as fierce as a hawk, and hissed and shook its tongue, as in open defiance. I could not think of hurting it by smoking it out with tobacco or brimstone; but called it my fiery dragon which guarded my ale cellar. At length I caught it, coiled up on one of the steps. I put it again into an American flour barrel; but it happened not to be the same as he had been in, and I observed a nail protruding through the staves about half way up. This, I suppose, he had made use of to help his escape; for he was missing one morning about ten o'clock: I had seen him at nine o'clock; so I thought he could not be far off. I looked about for him for half an hour, when I gave up the hunt in despair. However, at one o'clock, as the men were going from dinner, one of them observed the rogue hiding himself under a stone, fifty yards from the house. 'Dang my buttons,' said he, 'if here is not master's snake. He came back and told my wife, who told him to go and kill it. It happened to be washing-day: the washerwoman gave him a pailful of scalding soapsuds to throw on it; but whether he was most afraid of me or of the snake is still a question: however, the washerwoman brought it home with the tongs, and dropped it into the dolly-tub. It dashed round the tub with the velocity of lightning; my daughter, seeing its agony, snatched it out of the scalding liquid, but too late: it died in a few minutes. I was not at all angry with my wife: I had had my whim, and she had had hers. I had got all the knowledge I wanted to get; I had learned that it was of no use for a human being, who requires food three times a day, to domesticate an animal which can live weeks and months without food: for, as the saying is, 'Hunger will tame any thing;' and without hunger you can tame nothing. I have also learned that the serpent, instead of being the emblem of wisdom, should have been an emblem of stupidity."
"The stench emitted by the common snake, when molested, is superlatively noisome; and is given off so powerfully and copiously, that it infects the air around to a diameter of several yards. This I witnessed on observing a bitch dog kill a rather large snake; in which act two points beside the odour effused were notable. The coils of the snake formed, as it were, a circular wall; and in the circular space between it, the snake sunk its head, as if for protection. The dog's efforts were to catch and crush the head; and, shrivelling up her fleshy lips, 'which all the while ran froth,' she kept thrusting the points of her jaws into the circular pit aforesaid, and catching at and fracturing the head. During the progress of these acts, she, every few seconds, snorted, and shook off the froth, of which she seemed sedulously careful to free herself, and barked at the conquered snake. The dog was a most determined vermin-killer, and in rats, &c., quite an accomplished one; but snakes did not often come in her way."—J.D.
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CURIOUS FACTS IN VEGETATION
(From Part xiv. of Knowledge for the People, or the Plain Why and Because.)
Why is it improper to consider the turnip a real bulb?
Because it is an intermediate stem which swells into a bulbous form. Turnips have not been cultivated in England, in fields, more than a century; but this agricultural practice now yields an annual return which probably exceeds the interest of our national debt.—Sir Walter Scott.
Why is the Cauliflower so named?
Because of its origin from caulis, the stalk of a herb. Colewort is of a similar origin.
Why are the stems of the Cabbage tribe considered wholesome food?
Because their acrid flavour is dipersed among an abundance of mucilage. Cabbages were commonly used among the ancients, and Cato wrote volumes on their nature. The Indians had so much veneration for them, that they swore by cabbages, and were therein as superstitious as the Egyptians, who gave divine honours to leeks and onions, for the great benefits which they said they received from them.—Lemery on Food.
Why do Cabbages emit a strong animal odour?
Because they contain a great quantity of azote or nitrogen, one of the ultimate elements of animal matter, and strongly characterized in the destructive distillation of horn, hoofs, or bones.
Why do not the leaves of the Cabbage remain wet, after being immersed in water, and again taken out of it?
Because they are powdered with a slight layer of resinous matter, similar to that which covers certain fruits, and, in particular, plums and grapes. Their sea-green colour is also attributed to this resinous layer.
Why is Quassia so called? Because it was named in honour of a negro, Quassia, a drunken doctor, who discovered the virtue of the wood in curing malignant fevers.
Why is the Ice plant so called?
Because its stem is covered with soft tubercles, or excrescences, which have a crystalline appearance.
Why do the leaves of some trees fall very early?
Because they are articulated to the branch; that is, they do not unite with it by the whole of their base, but are simply fixed to it by a kind of contraction or articulation; as in the maple and horse chestnut.
Why do leaves fall at the approach of winter?
Because a separation takes place, either in the foot-stalk, or more usually at its base, and the dying part quits the vigorous one, which is promoted by the weight of the leaf itself, or the action of the gales that blow in autumn on its expanded form. M. Richard explains the cause more philosophically: "Although the fall of the leaves generally takes place at the approach of winter, cold is not to be considered as the principal cause of this phenomenon. It is much more natural to attribute it to the cessation of vegetation, and the want of nourishment which the leaves experience at that season, when the course of the sap is interrupted. The vessels of the leaf contract, dry up, and soon after, that organ is detached from the twig on which it had been developed."
Why do some trees, as the Oak, the Beech, and the Hornbeam, retain their leaves to a late period of autumn?
Because the life of the twigs on which they grow is not sufficiently vigorous to throw them off, after the brown colour indicates that they are dead.
Why have some plants been termed the Poor Man's Weather-glass?
Because they shut up their flowers against the approach of rain. Linnaeus, however, thinks, that flowers lose their fine sensibility, after the anthers have performed their office, or when deprived of them artificially. Sir James Smith also observes, that some species are sometimes exhausted by continued wet; "and it is evident that very sudden thunder showers often take such flowers by surprise, the previous state of the atmosphere not having been such as to give them due warning."
Many flowers have a regular time of opening and shutting. We have already mentioned the Marigold; the goat's-beard is vulgarly called "John go-to-bed at noon," from its closing at mid-day; and at the Cape of Good Hope there is a "four o'clock flower," because it invariably closes at that time. The common daisy is, however, a readier example, its name being a compound of day's and eye—Day's-eye, in which way, indeed, it is written by Ben Johnson. It regularly shuts after sun-set, to expand again with the morning light. Thus,—
The little dazie, that at evening closes.
By a daisy, whose leaves spread, Shut when Titian goes to bed.—G. Withers.
Leyden sings of moist or rainy weather foretold by daisies. Thus we may examine a whole field, and not find a daisy open, except such as have their flowering nearly over, and have in consequence lost their sensibility.
The daisy is one of the pet flowers of the poets. Chaucer is ecstatic in its praise, and calls it his "owne hartes' rest;" Burns, "Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower;" and Wordsworth, in beautiful and touching simplicity, has addressed several poems to "the poet's darling."
Appended to Richard's valuable "Elements," is the Horologium Florae, (timepiece of Flora,) or a table of the hours at which certain plants expand and shut, at Upsal, 60 deg. north latitude. The earliest Meadow Salsafy opens from 3 to 4 A.M.; and closes from 9 to 10 A.M. The latest A.M. is the Mesembryanthemum Modiflorum, (used in the manufacture of Maroquin leather,) which opens 10 to 11 A.M., and closes at 12 P.M. The latest opening P.M. is the Cactus Grandiflorus, 9 to 10 P.M., and closing at 12 P.M., thus remaining open only two or three hours. Other flowers, we may add, are so peculiarly delicate, as scarcely to bear the contact of the atmosphere.
Forster, in his "Researches about Atmospheric Phenomena," notices several prognostics of the weather by plants. Thus, Chickweed has been said to be an excellent weather-guide. When the flower expands freely, no rain need be feared for a long time. In showery days the flower appears half concealed, and this state may be regarded as indicative of showery weather; when it is entirely shut, we may expect a rainy day. If the flowers of the Siberian sowthistle remain open all night, we may expect rain next day. Before showers, the trefoil contracts its leaves. Lord Bacon observes, that the trefoil has its stalk more erect against rain. He also mentions a small red flower, growing in stubble-fields, called by the country people wincopipe, which, if it opens in the morning, assures us of a fine day.
* * * * *
Pen and Pencil Sketches of India, being the Journal of a Tour in India. By Captain Mundy.
These are two very amusing volumes of scenes and situations full of stirring interest, as their criticships would say—for example the four extracts immediately following:
Palankeen Travelling and a Sortie of Tigers.
"To those unitiated into the mysteries of Indian travelling, the prospect of a journey of six hundred miles, night and day, in a hot climate, inclosed in a sort of coffin-like receptacle, carried on the shoulders of men, is somewhat alarming; but to one more accustomed to that method of locomotion, the palankeen would, perhaps, prove less fatiguing and harassing, for a long journey, than any other conveyance.
"The horizontal or reclining position is naturally the most easy to the body; and the exhaustion consequent upon a journey in the heat of the day, generally secures to the traveller as much sleep during the cooller hours of the night, as the frequent interruptions of the bearers at the several stages will allow him to enjoy. I had laid in a good store of tea, sugar, and biscuits, a novel, some powder and shot, a gun, and a sword, and plenty of blankets, as a defence against the coldness of the night. Our baggage consisted of a dozen boxes (patarras) appended to bamboos, and carried by men: these, with two torch-bearers (mussalgees) to each palankeen, completed our cavalcade.
"Nov. 24th, 7 A.M., reached Hazarebaug, a small station, about two hundred and twenty miles from Calcutta. It is a healthy spot; the earth sandy and rocky, presenting a strong contrast to the loomy and alluvial soil of Southern Bengal. From Rogonnathpore to Hazarebaug the road runs through an almost uninterrupted jungle, swarming with wild beasts. At this place we met with a hospitable friend, who stored our palankeens with provisions, after giving us a capital breakfast.
"At eleven o'clock at night we entered the famous pass of Dunghye. The road bears the appearance of a deep sandy ravine; the banks are rocky and woody, and in many places quite overhung by the forest-trees. We had accomplished about half the defile, when I was suddenly and rudely awakened from a dozing sleep by the shock of my palankeen coming to the ground, and by the most discordant shouts and screams. I jumped out to ascertain the cause of the uproar, and found, on inquiry, that a foraging party of tigers—probably speculating upon picking up a straggling bearer—had sprung off the rocks, and dashed across the road, bounding between my palankeen and that of Colonel D., who was scarcely ten yards a-head. The bearers of both palankeens were all huddled together, bellowing like bedlamites, and the mussalgees waving their torches most vehemently. On mustering our forces, we discovered that two of our patarra-bearers were missing, and fearing that the tigers might pick them up, we dispatched four men with spare torches to bring them on. Meanwhile my friend and myself, having brought our palankeens together, armed ourselves with patience and a pair of pistols to await the result. The whole incident, with the time and scene, was highly interesting and wild, with just enough of the awful to give an additional piquancy. The night was dark and stormy, and the wind roared among the trees above our heads: the torches cast a red and flickering light on the rocks in our immediate neighbourhood, and just showed us enough of the depths of the forest to make the back ground more gloomy and unfathomable. The distant halloos of the men who were gone in search of their comrades, came faintly and wildly upon the breeze; and the occasional shots that we fired rang through the rocky jungle with an almost interminable echo. In about three quarters of an hour our bearers joined us, together with the two patarra-bearers. These latter, hearing the vociferations of our men, and guessing the cause, had quietly placed their boxes on the ground, about a mile in the rear of us, and seating themselves on their heels, had determined not to proceed until the break of day.
"All being reported present, we resumed our journey, the men screaming chorus to scare our unwelcome visitors, whom I several times fancied I heard rustling among the brushwood on the road side, as though they were moving on our flanks in order to cut off any straggler who might drop astern. I never saw bearers go more expeditiously, or in more compact order, every man fearing to be the last in the cavalcade. A sheet would have covered the whole party! The tigers, if they had calculated upon one of our number for their evening meal, must have gone supperless to their lair, for we mustered all our twenty-four men in the morning. A dak hurkarah (post messenger) had been carried off in the same spot two days before, probably by the same family of tigers, which according to the bearer's account, consisted of two old ones, and three cubs.
[Footnote 1: It is said, that a tiger lying in wait for a string of passengers usually selects the last of the party.]
Wild Beast Fights
"Early in the morning, the whole party, including ladies, eager for the novel spectacle, mounted elephants, and repaired to the private gate of the royal palace, where the King met the Commander-in-Chief, and conducted him and his company to a palace in the park, in one of the courts of which the arena for the combats was prepared. In the centre was erected a gigantic cage of strong bamboos, about fifty feet high, and of like diameter, and rooffed with rope network. Sundry smaller cells, communicating by sliding doors with the main theatre, were tenanted by every species of the savagest inhabitants of the forest. In the large cage, crowded together, and presenting a formidable front of broad, shaggy foreheads well armed with horns, stood a group of buffaloes sternly awaiting the conflict, with their rear scientifically appuye against the bamboos. The trap-doors being lifted, two tigers, and the same number of bears and leopards, rushed into the centre. The buffaloes instantly commenced hostilities, and made complete shuttlecocks of the bears, who, however, finally escaped by climbing up the bamboos beyond the reach of their horned antagonists. The tigers, one of which was a beautiful animal, fared scarcely better; indeed, the odds were much against them, there being five buffaloes. They appeared, however to be no match for these powerful creatures, even single-handed, and showed little disposition to be the assaulters. The larger tiger was much gored in the head, and in return took a mouthful of his enemy's dewlap, but was finally (as the fancy would describe it) 'bored to the ropes and floored.' The leopards seemed throughout the conflict sedulously to avoid a breach of the peace.
"A rhinoceros was next let loose in open courtyard, and the attendants attempted to induce him to pick a quarrel with a tiger who was chained to a ring. The rhinoceros appeared, however, to consider a fettered foe as quite beneath his enmity; and having once approached the tiger, and quietly surveyed him, as he writhed and growled, expecting the attack, turned suddenly round and trotted awkwardly off to the yard gate, where he capsized a palankeen which was carrying away a lady fatigued with the sight of these unfeminine sports.
"A buffalo and tiger were the next combatants: they attacked furiously, the tiger springing at the first onset on the other's head, and tearing his neck severely; but he was quickly dismounted, and thrown with such violence as nearly to break his back, and quite to disable him from renewing the combat.
"A small elephant was next impelled to attack a leopard. The battle was short and decisive; the former falling on his knees, and thrusting his blunted tusks nearly through his antagonist.
"On our return from the beast fight a breakfast awaited us at the royal palace; and the white tablecloth being removed, quails, trained for the purpose, were placed upon the green cloth, and fought most gamely, after the manner of the English cockpit. This is an amusement much in fashion among the natives of rank, and they bet large sums on their birds, as they lounge luxuriously round, smoking their houkahs.
Hunting with Leopards
"The leopards are each accommodated with a flat-topped cart, without sides, drawn by two bullocks, and each animal has two attendants. They are loosely bound by a collar and rope to the back of the vehicle, and are also held by the keeper by a strap round the loins. A leathern hood covers their eyes. The antelopes being excessively timid and wild, the best way to enjoy the sport is to sit on the cart alongside the driver; for the vehicle being built like the hackeries of the peasants, to the sight of which the deer are accustomed, it is not difficult, by skilful management, to approach within two hundred yards of the game. On this occasion we had three chetahs in the field, and we proceeded towards the spot where the herd had been seen, in a line, with an interval of about one hundred yards between each cart. On emerging from a cotton-field, we came in sight of four antelopes, and my driver managed to get within one hundred yards of them ere they took alarm. The chetah was quickly unhooded, and loosed from his bonds; and as soon as he viewed the deer he dropped quietly off the cart, on the opposite side to that on which they stood, and approached them at a slow, crouching canter, masking himself by every bush and inequality of ground which lay in in his way. As soon, however, as they began to show alarm, he quickened his pace, and was in the midst of the herd in a few bounds.
"He singled out a doe, and ran it close for about two hundred yards, when he reached it with a blow of his paw, rolled it over, and in an instant was sucking the life-blood from its throat.
"One of the other chetahs was slipped at the same time, but after making four or five desperate bounds, by which he nearly reached his prey, suddenly gave up the pursuit, and came growling sulkily back to his cart.
"As soon as the deer is pulled down, a keeper runs up, hoods the chetah cuts the victim's throat, and receiving some of the blood in a wooden ladle, thrusts it under the leopard's nose. The antelope is then dragged away, and placed in a receptacle under the hackery, whilst the chetah is rewarded with a leg for his pains."
[Footnote 1: A pair of fine Chetahs, or Hunting Leopards, may be seen in the Gardens of the Zoological Society.—ED. M.]
An Alligator in the Ganges.
"A beautiful specimen of an alligator's head was here given by Mr. Alexander to Lord Combermere. He was rather a distinguished monster, having carried off at different occasions, six or eight brace of men from an indigo factory in the neighbourhood. A native, who had long laid wait for him, at length succeeded in slaying him with poisoned arrows. One of these notoriously ghaut-frequenting alligators is well nigh as rich a prize to the poor native who is fortunate enough to capture him, as a Spanish galleon is to a British frigate; for on ripping open his stomach, and over-hauling its freight, it is not unfrequently found to contain 'a choice assortment'—as the Calcutta advertisers have it—of gold, silver, or brass bangles and anklets, which have not been so expeditiously digested as their fair owners, victims of the monster's voracity. A little fat Brahminee child, 'farci an ris,' must be a tempting and tender bonne bouche to these river gourmands. Horrific legends such as the above, together with a great deal of valuable advice on the subject, were quite thrown away upon me; for ninety degrees of Fahrenheit, and the enticing blueness of the water generally betrayed me into a plunge every evening during my Gangetic voyage."
"On the occasion of a grand nocturnal bathing ceremony, held at the great tank called the Indra Daman, I went with a party of three or four others to witness the spectacle. The walls surrounding the pool and a cluster of picturesque pavilions in its centre were brilliantly lighted up with hundreds of cheraugs, or small oil-lamps, casting a flickering lustre upon the heads and shoulders of about five hundred men, women, and children, who were ducking and praying, a corps perdu, in the water. As I glanced over the figures nearest to me, I discovered floating among the indifferent bathers two dead bodies, which had either been drowned in the confusion, or had purposely come to die on the edge of the sacred tank; the cool and apathetic survivors taking not the slightest notice of their soulless neighbours."
King John at the Cape.
"The largest house in Simon's Town, and, indeed, the greater part of the town itself, belongs to an Englishman of the name of Osbond, who, however, is more generally known by the dignified title of 'King John.' He was carpenter on board the sixty-gun ship Sceptre, which was wrecked off this coast some yearn ago. Like Juan, he escaped the sea, and like Juan he found a Haidee. Being well-favoured and sharp-witted, he won the heart and the hand of a wealthy Dutch widow, whose dollars he afterwards, in some bold but successful speculations, turned to good account. He is said to have laid out ten thousand pounds on these—to every one but himself—inhospita littora. King John is much respected."
Population of Cape Town.
"The variety of nations, and the numerous shades of complexion among the people in the streets of Cape Town, are very striking to a stranger. First may be remarked the substantial Dutchman, with his pretty, smiling, round-faced, and particularly well-dressed daughter: then the knot of 'Qui hi's,' sent to the Cape, per doctor's certificate, to husband their threadbare constitutions, and lavish their rupees: next the obsequious, smirking, money-making China-man, with his poking shoulders, and whip-like pig-tail: then the stout, squat Hottentots—who resemble the Dutch in but one characteristic!—and half castes of every intermediate tint between black and white. These are well relieved and contrasted by the tall, warlike figures and splendid costume of his Majesty's 72nd Highlanders, who, with the 98th regiment, form the garrison of Cape Town."
Visit to the Residence of Napoleon at St. Helena.
"We soon came in sight of the level plateau of the Longwood estate, the residence of the late emperor, and six miles from Plantation House. Here the country gradually assumes a more desolate and a wilder look; and the English visitor arrives at the unfortunate and unwelcome conclusion, that the best part of the island was not given to the illustrious captive. One cannot avoid agreeing with Sir W. Scott, that Plantation House should have been accorded to him, in spite of the detering reasons of its vicinity to the sea, and its sequestered situation. Longwood, however, has better roads, more space for riding or driving, and in summer must have been much cooler than the less sheltered parts of the isle. As we turned through the lodges the old house appeared at the end of an avenue of scrubby and weather-worn trees. It bears the exterior of a respectable farm-house, but is now fast running to decay. On entering a dirty courtyard, and quitting our horses, we were shown by some idlers into a square building, which once contained the bed-room, sitting-room, and bath of the Empereur des Francois. The partitions and floorings are now thrown down, and torn up, and the apartments occupied for six years by the hero before whom kings, emperors, and popes had quailed, are now tenanted by cart-horses!
"Passing on with a groan, I entered a small chamber, with two windows looking towards the north. Between these windows are the marks of a fixed sofa: on that couch Napoleon died. The apartment is now occupied by a threshing machine; 'No bad emblem of its former tenant!' said a sacrilegious wag. Hence we were conducted onwards to a large room, which formerly contained a billiard-table, and whose front looks out upon a little latticed veranda, where the imperial peripatetic—I cannot style him philosopher—enjoyed the luxury of six paces to and fro,—his favourite promenade. The white-washed walls are scored with names of every nation; and the paper of the ceiling has been torn off in strips as holy relics. Many couplets, chiefly French, extolling and lamenting the departed hero, adorn or disfigure (according to their qualities) the plaster walls. The only lines that I can recall to mind—few are worth it—are the following, written ever the door, and signed '—— ——, Officier de la Garde Imperiale.'
"'Du grand Napoleon le nom toujours cite Ira de bouche en bouche a la posterite!'"
The writer doubtless possessed more spirit as a sabreur than as a poet.
"The emperor's once well-kept garden,
"'And still where many a garden-flower grows wild,'
"is now overgrown and choked with weeds. At the end of a walk still exists a small mound, on which it is said the hero of Lodi, Marengo, and Austerlitz, amused himself by erecting a mock battery. The little chunamed tank, in which he fed some fresh-water fish, is quite dried up; and the mud wall, through a hole in which he reconnoitered passers-by, is, like the great owner, returned to earth!"
Captain Mundy's volumes are illustrated chiefly with sketches of Indian sports from the master-hand of Land-seer; and for spirit of execution they deserve to rank among the finest productions of this distinguished artist.
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RECENT FRENCH LITERATURE.
A novel picture of Paris has lately appeared with the taking title of the Hundred and One. Its origin, as well as its subject, is interesting. It is a voluntary association of almost all the literary talent of France, for the benefit of an enterprising bookseller, whose affairs have, it seems, fallen into the sere, since the commercial embarrassments following on the Revolution. A hundred and one authors of all ranks and political opinions, philosophers, academicians, journalists, deputies, poets, artists, have combined in this work to pass in review before us the humours, follies and opinions of the French capital, painted in colours gay or grave, sketchy or elaborate, according to the manner or mood of the artist. A very amusing work, suitable to all tastes, is the result, and, by aid of the Foreign Quarterly Review, we are enabled to present the reader with a specimen sketch by Leon Guzlan, an author of some celebrity in this species of writing.
[Footnote 1: Several specimens have been ably translated in the Athenaeum.]
VISIT TO THE MORGUE, AT PARIS.
(The Morgue, we should premise, is an establishment in Paris for the reception of all persons found dead in the City or its environs. Thither it is the duty of the police to convey the bodies, where they are exposed in a hall open to the public for a stated time, when, if not identified, and claimed, they are interred in the neighbouring cemetery.)
[Footnote 1: The bodies are stripped, and placed on sloping slabs of marble; above each are hung the clothes of the deceased.]
"After describing the exterior, the Salle de l'Exposition, which is the only portion of the building, of course, with which the public are acquainted, the writer conducts us into the inner recesses of this house of death, the apartments of the superintendant.
"M. Perrin, is a little old man, who coughs incessantly. When I explained to him the object of my visit, he very politely offered to show me all the details of his administration, regretting much, as he said, that there was not so much variety as could be desired. 'But I will show you what I have—be pleased to walk up.'
"As we were climbing the narrow stairs, and he was informing me that his establishment was connected both with the prefecture and the police, with the one on account of the local expenses, with the other from its connexion with the public health, we were obliged to stand close against the wall to allow a troop of young girls to pass, well dressed, gay, but shivering with the cold, which blew from the river through the chink which lighted the stair.
"'These are four of my daughters. I have eight children. Francois, the keeper, has had four, and he has had the good fortune to get them all married. Francois is a kind father.'
"'So,' said I, 'twelve children then have been born in the Morgue. Dreams of joy, and conjugal endearments, and parental delights, have been experienced in this chamber of death. Marriage with its orange flowers, baptism with its black robed sponsors, the communion, and the embroidered veil, love, religion, virtue, have had their home here as elsewhere. God has sown the seeds of happiness every where.'
"'Papa, we are going to a distribution of prizes. My sisters are sure to get a prize. Don't weary, we will be back in good time.'
"'Go, my children,'—and all four embraced him.
"I thought of the body of the little Norman in the dreary room beneath, and of the mother who even now, perhaps, was anxiously looking for her from the window.
"'This is the apartment of Francois'. Francois did the honours with the activity of a man who is not ashamed of his establishment. His room is comfortably furnished; two modern pendules mounted on bronze, a wardrobe with a Medusa's head, a high bed, and a handsome rose-coloured curtain. If the room was not overburdened with furniture, if there was not much of luxury, yet, to those not early accustomed to superfluities, it might even seem gay. It represented the tastes, opinions, and habits of its master. Vases of flowers threw a green reflection on the curtains, for Francois is fond of flowers. Among his gallery of portraits were those of Augereau and Kleber, both in long coats, leaning on immense sabres, with peruques and powder. Napoleon is there three times.
"'Look at these jars,' said Francois, 'these are sweetmeats of my wife's making; she excels in sweetmeats.' I read upon them, 'gooseberries of 1831.' We left Francois's apartment which forms the right wing of the Morgue, while the clerk's house is on the left, and entered the cabinet of administration of M. Perrin.
"If Francois is fond of flowers, M. Perrin has the same penchant for hydraulics and the camera obscura; he draws, he makes jets from the Seine, by an ingenious piece of machinery of his own invention; while he was retouching his syphon, I asked permission to turn over the register, where suicides are ranged in two columns.
"The fatal 'unknown' was the prevailing designation; 'brought here at three in the morning, skull fractured, unknown;' 'brought at twelve at night, drowned under the Pont des Arts, cards in his pocket, unknown;'—'young woman, pregnant, crushed by a fiacre at the corner of the Rue Mandar, unknown;'—'new born child found dead of cold, at the gate of an hotel, unknown.'
"I said to M. Perrin that he must weary here very much occasionally during the long nights of winter.
"'No,' replied he good humouredly, 'the children sing, we all work, Francois and I play at draughts or piquet; the worst of it is, we are sometimes interrupted; a knock comes, we must go down, get a stone ready, undress the new comer and register him: that spoils the game; we forget to mark the points.'
"'And this is the way you generally spend your evenings?'—'Always, except when Francois has to go to Vaugirard at four o'clock: then he must go to bed earlier. Perhaps you do not know that our burying ground is at Vaugirard: as that burying ground is not much in fashion, we have been allowed to retain our privilege of having a fosse to ourselves.'
"'I understand,—it is a fief of the Morgue.'
"'You saw that chariot below near the entrance gate, in which the children were hiding themselves at play,—that is our hearse.'
"'And rich or poor, all must make use of your conveyance? If for instance a suicide is recognised, his relations or friends may reclaim him, take him home, and bestow the rites of sepulture on him at his own house?'
"'No, the Morgue does not give back what has been once deposited here. It allows the funeral ceremonies to be as pompous as they will, but they must all set out from hence; one end of the procession perhaps is at Notre Dame, while the other is starting from the Morgue. The Archbishop of Paris may be there; but Francois's place is fixed. It is the first.'
"'And the priests of Notre Dame, do they never make any difficulty about administering the funeral rites to your dead?'
"'Not even to the suicides?'
"'There are no suicides for Notre Dame: one is drowned by accident, another killed by the bursting of a gun, a third has fallen from a scaffold. I invent the excuse, and the conscience of the priest accepts it. That's enough.'
"So, thought I! Notre Dame, which formerly witnessed the execution at the stake of sorcerers, alchymists, and gipsies on the Grande Place, has now no word of reprobation for the carcass of the suicide, once allowed to rot on the ground, or be devoured by birds. She asks not here what was his faith. The priest says mildly, 'Peace be with you.'
"We walked down, and Francois opened the first room, that which contains the dresses; habits of all shapes, all dimensions, hideously jumbled together; gaiters pinned to a sleeve, a shawl shading the neck of a coat; dresses of peasants, workmen, carters and brewers' frocks, women's gowns, all faded, discoloured, shapeless, flap against each other in the current of air which entered through the windows. There is something here appalling in the sight and sound of these objects, soulless, body-less, yet moving as if they had life, and presenting the form without the flesh. Your eye rests on a handkerchief, the property of some poor labourer, suddenly seized with the idea of suicide, after some day that he has wanted work.
"Francois, who followed the direction of my eyes to see what impression the picture produced on me sighed heavily.
"'Does it move you too,' said I? 'Are you discontented with your lot.—Unhappy?'
"'Not exactly! But, Sir, formerly, you must know, the dresses, after being six months exhibited, became a perquisite of ours; we sold them. Now they talk of taking the dresses from us.'
"I reassured Francois as to the intention of government, and assured him there was no talk of taking away the dresses.
"The second room, that which adjoins the public exhibition room, is appropriated for the dissection of those, the mode of whose death appears to the police to be suspicious. Its only furniture is a marble table, on which the dissections take place, and a shelf on which are placed several bottles of chlorate. This room is immediately above the room of M. Perrin. The dissecting table above just answers to the girls' piano below.
"In this room, which I crossed rapidly to avoid as much as possible the sight of a body extended on the plank, I saw the little girl, who had been stifled the night before in the diligence; she was a lovely child. The other figure was frightfully disfigured; scarcely even would his mother have recognised him.
"There remained only the public room; it is narrow, ill aired; ten or twelve black and sloping stones receive the suicides, who are placed on it almost in a state of nudity; the places are seldom all occupied, except perhaps during a revolution. Then it is that the Morgue is recruited; two more days of glory and immortality in July, and the plague had been in Paris.
"'It is true,' said M. Perrin, 'we worked hard during the three days, and we were allowed the use of two assistants. Corpses every where, within, without, at the gate, on the bank.'—
"'And your girls?'
"'During these days they did not leave their apartment, nor looked out to the street, nor to the river; besides, you are mistaken if you think the spectacle would have terrified them. Brought up here, they will walk at night without a light in front of the glass, which divides the corpses from the public, without trembling; we become accustomed to any thing.'
"Methought I heard the poor children, so familiar with the idea of death, so accustomed to this domestic spectacle of their existence, asking innocently of the strangers whom they visited,—as one would ask where is your garden, your kitchen, or your cabinet,—'where do you keep your dead here?'
"These were all the facts I could gather with regard to the establishment. I was opening the glass door to breathe the fresh air again, when the entrance of the crowd drove me back into the interior; they were following a bier, on which lay a body, from which the water dripped in a long stream. From one of the hands which were closely clenched, the keeper detached a strip of coloured linen, and a fragment of lace. 'Ah!' said he, 'let me look, 'tis she!'
"'Who is it?'
"'The nurse who was here this morning; the nurse of the little Norman girl. Good! they may be buried together.' And M. Perrin put on his spectacles, opened his register, and wrote in his best current-hand—unknown!"
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The Maid of Elvar. By Allan Cunningham.
This is one of the most gratifying "appearances" in the literature of the day. It reminds us that however the poet's harp may have remained unstrung, it has not lost its vigour or sweetness—its depth of feeling, or its melody of tone, and these too are ably sustained through nearly 600 stanzas in an exquisitely embellished narrative. The poem is "a song of other times;" the story is one of chivalrous love; the hero is a young warrior and poet; the Maid of Elvar offers a garland of gold for the best song in honour of one of his victories; "minstrels meet and sing, but the song of Eustace, though on another theme, is reckoned the best; the Maid hangs the gold chain round his neck, and retires, admiring the young stranger;" and thereby hangs the tale. As our limits will not allow us to detach a scene or incident, we must be content, for the present, with culling a few of the choicest flowers of the song.
Woe, woe was ours. Chief drew his sword on chief: Religion with her relique and her brand, Made strife between our bosom-bones, and grief And lawless joy abounded in the land; Our glass of glory sank nigh its last sand; Rank with its treason, priesthood with its craft, Turned Scotland's war-lance to a willow-wand. But war arose in Scotland—civil war; Serf warred with chief, and father warred with son, The church too warred with all: her evil star That rules o'er sinking realms shone like the sun— Her lights waxed dim and died out one by one— Woe o'er the land hung like a funeral pall: The sword the bold could brave, the coward shun, But famine followed fast and fell on all— Pale lips cried oft for food which came not at their call.
Much mirth was theirs—war was no wonder then; Dread fled with danger, and the cottage cocks, The shepherd's war-pipe, called the sons of men When morning's wheel threw bright dew from its spokes, To pastures green to lead again their flocks; The horn of harvest followed with its call; Fast moved the sickle, and swift rose the shocks, Behind the reapers like a golden wall— Gravely the farmer smiled, by turns approving all.
The ripe corn waved in lone Dalgonar glen, That, with its bosom basking in the sun, Lies like a bird; the hum of working men Joins with the sound of streams that southward run, With fragrant holms atween: then mix in one Beside a church, and round two ancient towers Form a deep fosse. Here sire is heired by son, And war comes never; ancle deep in flowers In summer walk its dames among the sunny bowers.
He rose, find homeward by the slumbering stream Walked with the morn-dew glistening on his shoon. The sun was up, and his outbursting beam Touched tower and tree and pasture hills aboon; The stars were quenched, and vanished was the moon; Loud lowed the herds and the glad partridge' cry Made corn-fields musical as groves at noon; Birds left the perch, bee following bee hummed by, And gladness reigned on earth and brightness claimed the sky.
I sing of days in which brave deeds of arms And deeds of song went hand in hand: our kings Heroic feelings had and owned the charms Of minstrel lore—they loved the magic strings More than the sceptre; still their kingdom rings With their gay musings and their harpings high. To noble deeds fair poesie lends wings; She lifts them up from grovelling earth to sky, And bids them sit in light, and live and never die.
Fame, fame—thou warrior's wish, thou poet's thought, Thou bright delusion; like the rainbow thou Glitterest, yet none may touch thee; thing of naught, Star-high with heaven's own brightness on thy brow, Blazoned and glorious I beheld thee grow— Vision, begone,—for I am none of thine. Of all that fills my heart and fancy now, From dull oblivion not one word or line Wilt thou touch with thy light and render it divine.
Even be it so. I sing not for thy smiles— I sing to keep down sighs and ease the smart Of care and sadness, and the daily toils Which crush my soul and trample on my heart. Far mightier spirits of the inspired art Are mute and nameless, mid the muse in grief Calls from the eastern to the western airt, On tale, tradition, ballad, song, and chief On thee, to give their names one passage bright and brief. She calls in vain; like to a shooting star Their storied rhymes shone brightly in their birth, And shot a dazzling lustre near and far; Then darkened, died, as all things else on earth.
The sun Behind the mountain's summit slowly sank; Crows came in clouds down from the moorlands dun, And darkened all the pine-trees, rank on rank; The homeward milch-cows at the fountains drank; Swains dropt the sickle, hinds unloosed the car— The twin hares sported on the clover-bank, And with the shepherd o'er the upland far, Came out the round pale moon, and star succeeding star. Star followed star, though yet day's golden light Upon the hills and headlands faintly stream'd; To their own pine the twin-doves took their flight; From crag and cliff the clamorous seamews screamed, In glade and glen the cottage windows gleam'd; Larks left the cloud, for flight the grey owl sat; The founts and lakes up silver radiance steamed; Winging his twilight journey, hummed the gnat— The drowsy beetle droned, and skimmed the wavering bat.
THE MAID'S FIRST LOVE.
The maiden heard a light foot on the floor, And sidelong looked, and there before her stood Young Eustace Graeme: far from the pasture moor He came: the fragrance of the dale and wood Was scenting all his garments green and good. A sudden flush when tie the maiden saw, Burned through his temples, kindled up his blood— His stifling breath waxed nigh too tight to draw, He bowed, and silent stood in wonderment and awe.
The father smiled, the mother smiled. Now why Are her eyes downcast and his white brow glowing? Say, have they vowed while heaven was witness by With all her radiant lights like fountains flowing, To love while water runs and woods are growing, And stars glowed conscious of the compact pure? They never woo'd, nor, love for love bestowing. Met with the moonshine in the green-wood bow'r, Nor looked and sighed, and looked and drank love by the hour.
Yet they have met. Though not fools of the flock, On whom love like the tiger gives one bound. And then the heart is rent—a thunderstroke That makes men dust before they hear the sound— A shaft that leaves dark venom in the wound— A frost that all the buds of manhood nips— A sea of passion in which true love's drowned— A demon strangling virtue in his grips— A day when reason's son is quenched in dread eclipse.
True gentle love is like the summer dew, Which falls around when all is still and hush— And falls unseen until its bright drops strew With odours, herb and flower, and bank, and bush O love, when womanhood is in the flush, And man's a young and an unspotted thing! His first breathed word and her half conscious blush, Are fair us light in heaven, or flowers in spring— The first hour of true love is worth our worshipping.
LOVE OF COUNTRY.
"I would not leave old Scotland's mountain gray, Her hills, her cots, her halls, her groves of pine, Dark though they be: yon glen, yon broomy brae, Yon wild fox cleugh, yon eagle cliffs outline An hour like this—this white right-hand of thine, And of thy dark eyes such a gracious glance, As I got now, for all beyond the line, And all the glory gained by sword or lance, In gallant England, Spain, or olive vales of France."
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