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might again unite their shattered and scattered “Of what, sir ?” forces ; these, in broken bands, were straggling This question imperiously, fiercely put, in to and fro, and several companies of Gari- fact. baldians were deputed to decimate these “Of an-thro-po-pha-gi,” pronouncing it gentry, if they objected to be taken prisoners, slowly. and so put up with the casualties of fair and Under any circumstances it is not a nice open war.
word, and perhaps the slower the better. "Some considerable distance from the city Lucy Parker, resuming the narrative form, of Palermo there lies a region of wild and nodded her head at each syllable, as though sterile mountains for the most part, the she meant to master it thoroughly. interior of which is traversed by a valley “ An-thro-pop-poff-pooh! what ?” almost parallel to one much better known as “Men who eat one another, whose heads do the Valley of Ispica, the former being shunned grow beneath their shoulders, who--" by the dwellers of the region from superstitions “Whatever can he be talking about ?” said of a most formidable character, and which, in Rosy Parker, Lucy's pretty giggling sister. fact, are its especial property, thus rendering “ Hadn't you better let me proceed ?” put its precincts unapproachable; and even those in Steve. who have by hap strayed into its recesses have “We-ll,-hem,-yes; proceed, move on.” brought back such a catalogue of its horrors “ With all my heart. Well, one morning
was always calculated, from immemorial with my party,—we had bivouacked for the time, to curdle the very blood! Ugh!” night under the shelter of some crags,-I found
Steve Lidyard shuddered as he spoke, and myself and comrades waking up in the chill sent a “sensational" thrill through his listeners. morning air ; but we soon astir and
“ In fact, the Harz Mountains, the Black warm with motion once more, and I really Forest, with their charcoal-burners, their Erl admired the place of our retreat : some overkings and grisly hunters, the witch-haunted hanging rocks completely sheltering us from
Brocken,' the impish Blocksberg, scarcely the dews, which are very copious, and in other rival in diablerie the traditions of this eldrich respects the spot was very eligible-well, we valley, and certainly do not outvie them.” awoke
“But, goodness gracious me, Mr. Lidyard," “ Famished, no doubt.” cried Lucy Parker, “what was there in these, “Hungry, if you please, not famished ! -these stories, after all ?”
No, we had in our haversacks some cold fowl, Steve turned on the fair speaker one of bread, and so on, and each one had his flask those looks peculiar to him, shaking his head of wine or brandy, as the case might be : in as in mild reproach, and affecting surprise at fact, we had provided for a couple of days the interruption ; to which, Lucy Parker being at least ; leaving it to chance to renew our strong-minded, she paid little heed, and, re- supplies when necessity should urge us to forage
, assured by the encouraging laughter of the for them. rest, came to the charge once more.
“I must tell you that we had travelled, “Come, don't be silly, sir ; let us know at with our rifles, revolvers, ammunition, haveronce,” she exclaimed, with startling well- sacks, and so on, through a country which, the affected severity.
more we ascended, seemed to consist of nothing Steve sighed, shook his head, still reproach- but huge boulders, all presenting an aspect of fully, as though he would plainly say, “This grim and sterile desolation inexpressibly dismal is really too bad.”
to contemplate. Vast masses of fractured “Do you mean to speak, Mr. Lidyard, do rocks, a very Arabia Petrea of a region ; rugged you intend to answer my question ?” demands ravines, and as difficult as dangerous to clamber the imperious young beauty, to which, entre through and over ; while below us, far away
, nous, Steve is a slave.
now, we could distinctly behold the fair' greenSteve nods assent.
eries ' fringing the lower slopes of the moun“Did you ever hear of ghouls ?” asks Steve, tain, or, rather, mountains ; for the chain in a deep tragedy whisper,
seemed to run on in endless links,-colossal, “O!” ejaculated the ladies.
rugged, with a touch of the horribly sublime “Of vampires ?” proceeds Steve, improving about it. his opportunity.
“ We beheld then—what, as clearly we “ Gracious! Goodness !"
had not remarked on the preceding evening, — This time the ejaculations go as in “ a horror that this was the way (entrance it could scarcely skilfully moved.”
be called) into the shunned valley I have just “Of anthropophagi ?” proceeds the bearded mentioned, and, looking downward now, on the narrator,
opposite side found all 'beautiful exceeding'
pass before !”
to the eye ; for green and purple blended and across the peaks of the mountain ridge, formed a mirage round the vast stems of great a singular conglomeration of limestone and old trees ; the rich-green leafage, the yellow lava, —there appeared a dozen military caps oranges and citrons, the ruddy grapes, a wan- with beards peeping beneath their fronts, -caps dering intertwining under and over growth; and which we knew but too well ; and presently oh, didn't we wish we had found that inviting more appeared, making in all about twenty
men, including rifles,–
-a trifle not to be forThere now occurred a slight pause, which | gotten. gave the narrator the opportunity of moisten- “ They crossed the ridge, evidently having a ing his throat with a glass of sherry. He then suspicion that we were somewhere about,resumed.
crossed the ridge, as I have said,—descended “ Turning the eye from the valley, as we into a ravine, and watching for about an hour, sat, pipe in mouth,—we had halted to look I began to understand that they were seeking about us, -I may say that a lovelier panorama to circumvent and trap us, intending, by the than that which now greeted our eager gaze détour they took, to ascend and surprise us on would be difficult to meet with, save alone in the plateau we occupied. those golden climes which border the Mediter- "Keep your fire, lads,' said I, while I ranean on its European side.
clamber up in this direction.' I saw a path“The morning sun,” continued Steve, rising way bearing upward, looking very much like now from a poet into a colourist, flashing a fissure or enormous rent. "I will fire as a across the Ægean, tinting with myriad mira- signal if they are likely to outflank us ;' and, culous hues what soon became a waving sea of rifle in hand, I ascended, soon attaining a molten splendour, fell on a gaunt spur of rock height where, at a turn, a perpendicular wall which overlooked the mysterious valley—the of rock barred farther progress. Val di Dimône, forming, in the midst of this “ Nevertheless, I could look down from my fervid glare, a wondrous association, as real as bad eminence.' Heavens! what a hideous unreal, of mountain ridges and darkling gloom, gorge descended sheer below into fathomless enshrouded valleys,-fathomless gulfs rather, deeps, as if it were the black and cindery rugged grim rivers, which ran, but irregularly crater of some volcano, which, having 'shut -east and west across the length of this half- up shop' there, had transferred its business enchanted island.
elsewhere ; but, joking apart, anything more “What, in fact, did we not see within the appalling than that measureless depth, its limits of the horizon of blending gold and indescribable and lonely aggregate of all that is purple which faded between sea and air, and hideous, its black, cindery, and rifled interior, was crossed by pearly lines, these again tinted exceeded in the aggregate of what is stupenrosily here and there ! What an enchanting dously terrible, all I had ever read of. prospect—so boundless, so indescribably lovely! “ Well and fitly was that awful region below Islands, continents, seas, bays, cities, shifting called the Val di Dimône. and changing everlastingly! I believe now in “Stretching forward to have a fuller view Turner's painting of Ulysses and Polyphemus,' of this Tartarean region, and leaning against
, all vague, wandering, dreamy, as it is ; but some loose conglomerate to look into the here we had it in its actual reality, from the Hades where the ancient fires had burnt out, mountain peaks to the cities far below : the I found the small rampart yield, and—horror latter, marble-white, dotting the distance; the of horrors !—I felt myself sliding helplessly blue level of the calm sea beyond, over which towards the verge of this awful gulf !” we could see stately ships glide along, the huge At this juncture of the narrative, and natusteam-frigate forging ahead, the smoke coming rally so,-for during a short pause ever so many out of her vast funnel and curling into a thin minor events may occur, such as a glass of vapour as it does now from the tip of my wine, a fresh cigar, &c.,—the lady listeners cigar.
gave utterance to a suppressed scream, and “The sound of a bugle waking up the sleep- the gentlemen turned pale, each one shifting ing echoes in the mountains put every ear on uneasily in his seat. the stretch. I knew by the call," continued “Where I was descending to," went on the Steve, " that it didn't belong to our side, young man,
or how I was stayed in my way as, for obvious reasons, there's a difference in into the depths of an abyss that would have notation, so to speak. We were at once on fitted one of the dismallest books of Dante's the qui vive ; and by Jove, I can tell you, not | ‘Inferno,' I know not. I found myself seated before it was necessary.
on a ledge, where I was safe for the present, “All eyes were turned in one direction, though a little scratched and bruised ; and I -that, of course, from whence the sound came ; had clung with instinctive tenacity to my rifle :
this indispensable adjunct to my further safety, saucily, as though by way of relief; “but, I and very likely what for a time I might have beg your pardon, Steve ; it is growing interest. to depend on for sustenance, was still in my ing, so please to go on. possession.
“ A turning to which I came at last, -there "I now heard the faint sound of dropping always is a turning in the very longest lane, shot coming from the other side of the riven you know,-a turning indeed invited me to pass shell I now occupied, and believing that my lads into a wide, a spacious, a noble street ; pillars, were hotly engaged, I sought for a way back ; pilasters, pediment, frieze—I know not what but, following the course of the ledge, found adornment it had or had not-were there, and that it descended and wound round, in and which would have challenged admiration for out, in a most curious manner, until, at last their rare beauty and finish had not the towerlosing sight of the accursed place, I found ing scale been so colossal as to be absolutely myself sole occupant of a spot, a glance round crushing in its vastness. which made my heart beat ; for if the other “As I strolled on, my astonishment, my was but a simple and unpicturesque horror, awe, hovering on the confines of terror, this was calculated to inspire one with a more increased ; for while I admitted the singular than nameless awe.
harmony of proportion carried out on either “ I stood in the midst of an excavated city, side, I could not but think of Polyphemus of -a city as old, probably, as the mythic ages the Titans, of some one-eyed Cyclop, some themselves ; and, since all I saw suggested bruising Lestrigonian, who might be thrusting mythic types, this must have been one that his huge arm forth and snatching me up as a may have assisted Hesiod in his Genesis.' mere mouthful, after which morsel he would
“ I stood," continued Steve,—descending a scarcely deign to pick his teeth. little from the ladder Lemprière had lent him, “ The unearthly sense of life, of existence _“I stood in the midst of a street, wide, suspended, and so remaining petrified, was smooth, level, clean, as if newly swept ; subter- almost overwhelming. As I still rambled on, I ranean pathways, hewn streets, stretched out on came to porticoes again leading to openings either hand, and, looking upward along the where there were no doors. "Were there ever solid walls—or rather, exterior of houses, any doors to these wondrous edifices ?' I asked palaces, I know not what they may have been myself. Towering pillars outlived windows,
, -all hewn, pillared, carved, some exquisitely, where windows there were none.
• Were there others on a more colossal scale of rudeness- ever any ?' As I walked now almost breathall having a wild fantastic sort of life-in-death lessly along, having totally forgotten my purin their aspect. A strip of sky clipping sharply suers in the novelty of my position, I could not over the extreme edge of these singular cut- : but expect to see some one or other of the old tings, allowed the red sun to pour his rays dwellers come to the doorway and salute me. downward, where they lighted up this enormous Taking courge now, I entered into a dwelling “trench'- I can call it nothing else, street as it that might perhaps be statelier than the rest, may have been, and stupendously beautiful too, its chambers and stone staircases lighted up -lighted it up and filled it with a stream of by means I cared not to account for, though meandering, but unreal and shadowy gold. the light was rather a softened gloom than
“Everything,” he continued, as I looked a clear bright daylight such as I had left upward in bewilderment, took almost without. Alpine altitude, and row after row, the habi- " Without !—but where? tations, cut, carved, hollowed from the bottom “To my surprise, to my dismay rather, I to the very top, gave indications of an enor- , soon found that what I had taken for a dwellmous humanity which must have existed here ing was only the section of a vast catacomb, at one time.
and the real ancient city, whose (once) living “ These streets, these chambers, these weird, had peopled the grand and gloomy receptacle solemn, silent receptacles of the mighty dead, of the dead, must be contiguous to this spot, now dust,—for I began to gather into my con- but which, as yet, I had not fallen upon ; or, jecture catacombs as adjuncts of a once mighty that it might have been subject to the influence city, a city of that far, far off infinite past, of earthquake or volcanic fires, and so blended which may be in the dreamland of mythology itself and become lost in the formless chaos of or the earliest cradles of fable, if you like, the surrounding mountain region. - made me dumb with astonishment, with “ Retracing my steps and again passing on, awo; and I was traversing those awful si- the light began to stream along the floor, so lent spaces where the foot of man had trod- to call it, ruddier, brighter, until, as I arrived when
at the extremity of the passage, it became a “ The last time, of course," broke in Lucy perfect blaze of sunshine. Before quitting the
said broad commodious passage, I took the stony, fiendish eyes, all so living, as it were, in opportunity to turn and look back.
the very force of expression-froze me. The “Well, at the extreme end where I had ample tide and flow of descending hair, flying entered a few minutes ago, a diminished orifice too in every direction, had, under the skill of giving entrance to a circle of light showed the the workman, become a petrifaction quite as opening, while on either hand, to the right and wonderful ; for the highest, if distorted, form of to the left, were darker and gloomier passages art was evident. It was as fantastic in design leading farther and deeper into recesses more as it seemed to be revelling in a phantasy of mysterious, and which, I promise you, I did Gorgonian horrors, and which it may be the not care to explore.
province of a particular age and clime to “Nothing had impeded my footsteps introduce, but which really seems to belong to hitherto,-no mounds, no fallen rocks, no insanity alone to invent. crumbling bit of ruin lay in my path ; no evil “ This, and such as this, formed the frontage odours had assaulted the sense. Where, then, facing where I stood. The ghostly towering had they placed their dead, after all ?
frontage to my right might have represented a “With my own life in peril, which might Macaber' dance-a Dance of Death, but after meet me at any moment for aught I knew, I an antique fashion far more appalling than could not forbear asking myself two or three Holbein's, and utterly destitute of his sinister curious questions, arising naturally from all humour. that was at hand, but principally, Where did “The frontage to the left consisted of one the dead of this dead' city repose ?
vast human face, its dimensions being only to “Evidently,” he continued thoughtfully, be guessed at. It was so calm, terrible, appal“the dead I was so curious about must have ling, even in its awful quietude, 'that I scarcely been sepultured and walled-in in the living rock, knew whether that or its magnitude overfor I could now distinctly trace the outlines of whelmed me most. slabs, mural tablets, covered with inscriptions "I could look no more, bear no more, and characters of quite an unknown form, and endure nothing further. I turned and fled, quite beyond my comprehension.
regaining the streets of the catacombs, where, “So, concluding my thinking, and follow- at least, I had no sufficiency of fresh terrors to ing my way, I crossed the last granite thres- feast upon. Hurrying on, almost deliriously, hold, and stood in the very heart and burst I emerged at last by a narrow way leading to of the sunshine. But what a place, what a a ravine, and presently stood panting in the scene, what horror mingled with a startling open air, inhaling gratefully the refreshing sublimity, met my bewildered gaze now ! coolness of the passing breeze. I then sat “I stood in a great square, the four sides of down to think-to try to think, rather ; but I
; which, in pillar and cornice, in frieze, pedi- could not. All seemed like a dream, a nightment, and every imaginable form of architec- mare ; all surely must be a dream, but a dream tural splendour, all rose upon a scale of dimen- out of which I found it impossible to awaken; sions which quite baffled the powers of calcula- and which therefore must, with all its phantion ; and there clomb up, hundreds of feet tasy, partake of reality. above me, a superb square into which the sun “ By degrees I began to recall certain vague poured down its rays as into a well, so that for mythic traditions found in wonderful old a moment I was half blinded, and indeed, half books, to the effect that in some part of the stupefied.
island there was a 'Palace of Monsters ;' that “ But this was not all. Looking around this place, in very ancient times, was haunted me on every side, I certainly uttered a cry of and infested by a race of evil creatures, who, irrepressible fear ; but the fear chained my feet under the forms of women, and denominated to the ground, and I could not move a step. • Lamiæ,' 'Striges,' 'Phorkyas,' and other
“What I could take in, in my bewildered hard names, worked out all sorts of hideous glance, were countless enormous pillars, sixty mischiefs among men ; and the colossal pile I or eighty feet high, supported by pediments had quitted, so gorgeous yet so hideous,—this equally colossal. Eachpillar was à c aryatide, m
monstrous monument hewn and carved by a which, to simplify the matter, means that it might allied to the supernatural, in order to was carved in the shape of a woman; and they perpetuate a creed of darkness, — was ocular were multiplied by scores, by hundreds, by and demonstrative proof that fables are not myriads, I verily believe. But the distor- so remote from fact as men are willing to tion of these monstrous figures, the insufferable suppose. horror of their vast distorted countenances, “ While musiug thus, I again heard gunshots the demoniac expression stamped on their ringing in a valley beyond. varying faces-faces !—the glaring of their cold, “I had had quite enough of this, and was
not sorry to be in motion again. Grasping my cursed chasm. He intended no doubt that we rifle, after seeing that the charges were right, should both go down together. I strode out by an aperture so narrow that I “His body was hanging over the ledge, and could scarcely discern a faint glimmer of light by an effort I managed to release myself from at the extremity, and went on, slowly feeling his relaxing grasp, and then I heard- " my way, for I knew not what awful pitfall Here Steve slightly changed colour. might yawn before me till in the blessed sun- “I heard that horrid crash which succeeds shine once more. So, having taken a pull at the fall of a human being from some great my flask, I toiled on, and, after about an height, - a sound that, I venture to say, has not hour, found myself descending a mountain its equivalent in nature : it carries a horror slope, not a vestige of the astounding vision beyond words ; and I fainted. I had seen being within sight : all lay behind me buried in silence and solitude, a vast and
"How I got back to Palermo safe and cavernous tomb, never again to be wended, sound needs further details ; but as I am here perhaps, by the foot of man.
in good trim to tell you my story, why, my “Suddenly, however, I was brought up wine, and if there's another cigar about, I'll
service to you. Lucy, my love, a glass of with a start, a cry of suppressed terror escaping my lips ; for all of a moment I pulled up
thank you to hand it over.” on the verge of a chasm some seven or eight
“BEHIND THE SCENES." feet wide, while it descended down, down
Long, long ago, I had an aunt, below, as into a bottomless pit, lost in a dark
Who took me to the Play,ness which the sun never lighted up.
An act of kindness that I sha'n't “I hai blindly, at sudden sight of this
Forget for many a day. horrible chasm, cast my rifle across ; and lo! a
I was a youngster at the time,
Just verging on my teens, moment after, a mocking laugh greeted me :
And fancied that it must be "prime" an olive-tinted scoundrel I had come into
To get behind the scenes / collision with before, and had no reason to
I ventured to express the same, love, stood on the opposite side, on a space
In quite a candid way, somewhat lower than the one I occupied. By
And shock'd my aunt-a proper dame, this he had caught up my rifle, and then put
Although she loved the Play.
'Twas just the moment when Macbeth it butt down, leaning against the rock, and
(Whose voice resembled Kean's) within reach of his hand.
Was pe“petrating Duncan's death “His laugh absolutely chilled me ; but,
0.P.-behind the scenes / besides his own rifle, he had also mine, and
I recollect that evening yet, was doubly armed, and had a command of my
And how my aunt was grieved ; life any moment he chose.
I had no way
And, oh! I never can forget
The lecture I received. of escape. Deliberately I saw him lift up his
It threw a light upon the class weapon, take aim at me, and I closed my eyes,
Of knowledge that one gleans, feeling my knees double under me as I mur
Through being privileged to pass mured a brief prayer.
His time behind the scenes! " He fired. Why the bullet missed me, as
The Columbine I worshipped then it did, I know not; and attribute it to his
Was forty, I should think ;
My Count, the commonest of men ; having aimed at my head, which my moment
My Villain, fond of drink; ary collapse removed out of his line. A
The Fairies I believed so fair, moment, and I nerved myself to the worst.
Were not by any means “I sprang across the chasm like a panther,
The sort of people I should care
To know behind the scenes / and found myself in his grasp
I cannot boast that I enjoy shaped bayonet, which I had instiuctively
Those stage-illusions still ; drawn, was driven through his breast, the force
I'm getting far too old a boy of the leap having given me this advantage,
To laugh or cry at will. and we fell together on the platform.”
And I can look with languid eye
On mimic kings and queens, “Ugh! how shocking! how lucky for
And boast that nothing makes me sigh you !” And once more every listener's heart
To go behind the scenes ! experienced a delightfully horrible thrill.
Ah, shallow boastings ! false regrets! “ The impetus of my desperate leap cast us
The world is but a stage, both at the moment from the extreme verge
Where Man, poor player, struts and frets
From infancy to age ; more upon the platform. I was faint with reaction, but this was speedily dissipated by
And then leaps blindly, in a breath,
The space that intervenes feeling myself being drawn, by the last efforts
Between this stage-career and Death, of a dying determined man, to the edge of the
Who lurks behind the scenes! H. S. LEIGH.