Imágenes de páginas


cloth, and upon it lay a human skull. "Jacob, said my companion to a man with a frightful physiognomy, make a fire in the chimney, and bring provision for my guest. In a few moments a fire blazed on the hearth; he took me by the hand, and we seated ourselves before it.

I had now for the first time an opportunity of examining this extraordinary man. I must candidly confess that I never beheld a more perfect model of manly beauty, but never were the characters of the most profound sorrow and affiction so legibly inscribed on any brow.

No sooner did our conversation commence than esteem and astonishment took possession of my soul; never had I met with a man who combined such a variety of attainments; he passed with perfect ease from one subject to another, and it appeared as though he had devoted a whole life to the study of each. Meanwhile a clock that stood in the next room struck twelve, and at the same time I heard the report of a gun from without. I started. "That is the signal for dinner, said my host; we turn day into night, and night into day. You will sit down with the refuse of mankind, with a band of robbers, but you have nothing to fear. At the table of kings you may often eat with greater villains, and the rights of hospitality are with us sacred and inviolable."

He took me by the hand; a table was spread beneath a moss-grey oak in the front of the hut. I seated myself beside my host; eighteen other persons partook of the simple repast, seasoned

I hesitated not a moment to accept this proposal. He walked along by my side in profound silence, answered none of my questions, and appeared to be quite absorbed in thought. At length he said "You have not been long in this kingdom." No, replied I, but who made you acquainted with my situation?" "Your-only by the narratives of the leader. All listened self." I stood still, and looked at him with the utmost astonishment. "Myself," cried I, in amaze. "Yes, yourself; this wood is frequented by robbers, and you seem not to be afraid." "Why should I be afraid, I have nothing about me that can be of any value to robbers." He How grasped my hand with eagerness. "Young man, said he, you have nothing to fear; the robbers in this wood never commit murder."

attentively to him; there was nothing that could be construed into the slightest breach of de. corum, but the conversation was such as you scarcely expect to find in the most polished private houses.



FAMILY affairs obliged me to undertake a Journey to the mountainous region of Bohemia, and I arrived without the slightest accident at the estate of my uncle in that kingdom. There I used generally to spend the evening in walking. In one of these perambulations night overtook me in a wood bordering on my uncle's domain, and extending on the contrary side to a chain of My imagination was so occupied with the idea of my native land, and the dear objects I had left behind, that I wandered unconsciously from the path. On awaking from this delicious dream, I found that I had totally lost my way; all my endeavours to regain the right track were unavailing, and such was my situation, when I heard a sudden rustling near me in the thicket. On raising my eyes, a man stood by my side, and enquired whither I was going? I replied that I had lost my way, and at the same time mentioned the name of my uncle's mansion, requesting him to conduct me the nearest road to it. He paused for a few seconds, and then answered:- 'Tis a great way, and I cannot possibly conduct you now; but if you will accept of a night's lodging in my house, follow me."

Amidst this conversation we arrived at the door of a habitation concealed in a deep recess of the wood. My companion knocked three times; a rough voice cried from within,-" Who is there?" "A son of night," was the reply of my conductor. The door opened; I saw myself, by the light of a lamp, in a spacious apartment, painted black; the walls were decorated with arms; a few chairs, and two tables, composed the whole of the furniture. One of them stood beneath a looking-glass, was covered with a white

The repast being finished, I returned with my former companion alone to the apartment we had quitted. Our conversation was renewed, but not with the same vivacity. My host had become more grave, and all that he now said bore the character of gloomy misanthropy. I was struck with the unusual colour of his room, and at length asked,-" Why did you chuse black, that colour makes one sad, and it is our duty to be cheerful " "You are right," replied he, in a sarcastic, but by no means offensive tone. You are right if you speak of yourself, but as for me, I know joy only by name; to me that sensation has long been a stranger. You look at these walls; their black colour excites your sur

prize. It is the colour of my fate, and― Oh! that it were also the colour of my heart!—An extraordinary wish!-It only appears so to you. With a black heart I had perhaps been happy, now I am wretched, inexpressibly wretched! all my riches consist in yonder skull (at the same time pointing to it with a terrific look and distorted features). It is my all, continued he; when in the hours of serious meditation I stand before it, and the thought that I too shall cease to exist arises in my soul, then alone am I rich, richer than your princes, or the greatest of fortune's favourites. They lose, I gain; to them death is terrible, to me it is a blessing. To die never to wake more, what a delightful thought, on which I can never contemplate enough! I shall once sleep, and those serpents with me that prey upon my vitals! Whoever shakes my faith in annihilation, robs me of felicity! Oh, there are moments in which it would be happiness to be deprived of reason, a fearful truth, which in the days of prosperity I could not have believed. Sorrow and anguish impress deeper wrinkles on the brow than the tooth of time; but they are not mortal."

The clock now struck two. My host shuddered. "Already so late?" said he, and added in a milder tone :-"Pardon me, stranger, for having so long cheated you of your rest; in that room my bed is prepared for you; sleep and be not afraid."

I cordially grasped his right hand. "You have told me too much, said I; you have excited my curiosity; may I intreat you to communicate to me your history?" But heavens ! what request had I made! his features assumed a terrific appearance; his look was that of despair.


"My history, replied he, with a ghastly smile, would not lull you to pleasing dreams; it would make the hair of your head stand on end, it would cause you to repent your request, and never will I violate the rights of hospitality. I wish my guests to sleep in peace beneath my roof. But to-morrow, before you depart, you shall hear the history of my life,-short, but not agreeable as a moment of pleasure."

I went and threw myself upon the bed, but was unable to sleep. From time to time I heard a noise in the hut, and then again profound silence. At last the clock struck five; I could restrain myself no longer, sprung up from the bed, and opened the door of the chamber. My host was still seated before the chimney, with his eyes fixed on the extinguished ashes. "You have not slept, said he is this dwelling doomed to chase sleep from every eye?" He then made me sit down beside him, and a simple rustic breakfast soon made its appearance. Our con

versation was of considerable length. It was about seven o'clock when I prepared to depart; for I would not for the wealth of both the Indies have reminded him of a promise which seemed to give him so much pain. Then you are going," said he. "I must, replied I; at home all my friends will be under apprehensions on my account." "You are right; for they know that this is the retreat of robbers; but wait a few moments." He then ordered a couple of horses to be saddled, and led me back to my seat. "Young man, said he, in a grave and solemn tone, I will keep the promise I gave you, and you shall know the history of my life. the only son of a man of high rank in this kingdom; my father, who was very rich, expended large sums on my education, and I flatter myself that they were not thrown away. I shall pass over the early years of my life, which cannot have any interest for you, and shall begin my narrative with my leaving the academy. On my return I received promotion, and in a few years had the fairest prospect of being called to conduct the helm of the state. Insatiable pride swayed the bosom of my father; he loved me only be. cause my progressive elevation was flattering to that passion. Such was my situation; surrounded with brilliant prospects, I, arrogant boy, imagined that I could read the book of futurity, forgetful that the wisest of men cannot predict with certainty the events of the next minute. I saw a young female belonging to the lower class of the people. That inexplicable passion which has precipitated many a useful statesman, many a valiant warrior, from the pinnacle of glory, took entire possession of my heart. At first I employed every possible expedient to subdue her virtue. She repulsed me with contempt, and the fire burned still more fiercely. I threw myself at the feet of my father, and implored his consent to our union. Are you mad?' thundered he, spurning me from him, a drab, from the scum of the people, my daughter-in-law ! rather could I see you and her on the gallows than at the altar.' What room had I now for hope? Half a year passed away; I saw her seldom, but my passion daily increased in violence. In more tranquil hours, I certainly advanced every possible objection that could be made against such an union; but what influence has cold reason over a heart replete with glowing passions? Vanquished at length in this conflict, I fled with her to one of the remotest provinces of the kingdom, where the hand of the priest united us. With the little money I had taken with me I purchased a small farm. Here Rosalia and myself lived by the labour of our hands. These, these were the halcyon days of my life! Beneath the lowly roof of my cottage

I am


I enjoyed greater happiness than the prince with his diadem, or the hero crowned with laurels. But let us hasten over these scenes. At the expiration of a year I pressed a pledge of our love to my bosom, and for two more blissful years, continued to taste the delights of conjugal and paternal love, out of the cup of human felicity. One evening, on my return from the chase, I found my father at home with my wife. This spectacle excited sensations which it is impossible to express. Rosalia, penetrated with gratitude, was embracing his knees, my little boy was bathing his hand with tears of infantine love. Joy threw me senseless on his bosom, for his consent was alone wanting to complete the measure of my happiness. In a word, it was the greatest festival. that filial love and gratitude ever celebrated. But pardon me, stranger, I scarcely know how to proceed. In three days my wife and child died of poison, given them by my father; and on the fourth died that father by the dagger of his son Adieu, stranger."

He pressed my hand at parting; the copious tears trickled from his large blue eyes, and attested the truth of his narrative. "Adieu! that was the skull of my wife." I departed; at the door I stopped, and once more turned towards him. "Will you never return again to the society of men?"-"Never; all that could impart felicity is consigned to the grave; and, besides, I am more serviceable here than I should be among you. I am the Captain of a band of robbers; now they only venture to plunder, whereas were it not for me they would assuredly murder too."


I left him, and accompanied by his servant, arrived at the skirt of the wood, whence I easily found my way back to the mansion of my uncle.

Most certainly there are men, guilty of the greatest crimes, who are proudly condemned by the multitude, but who, were we acquainted with their history, would not only be found deserving of indulgence but perhaps of esteem.


THIS account is dated 15th July, 1806, from Resina, which is four miles distant from Naples, at the foot of the mountain leading to the tom of the cone that forms the volcano.

a light, that at a league's distance, one might easily have read a letter. I endeavoured to conbot-jecture in what other part of the mountain it was probable another eruption would take place; when at four o'clock precisely, the volcano began to discharge inflamed matter through three new mouths, without the discharge having been preceded by an earthquake. These mouths, or issues, were near one another, at about one hundred toises from the top of the mountain The lava issued from the side of the Torre del Greco, and l'Annunziata, near Portici, on the road from Naples to Pompeia. I went in the evening to the foot of Vesuvius, to examine a torrent of lava that had already reached to a distance from the mountain. Although it was the most inconsiderable branch, yet it was at least, 12 or 13 feet wide, and 8 deep; a very torrent of fire.

June 2, between six and seven o'clock in the morning, the smoke began to rise with greater violence than on the preceding day; it was also thicker During the whole day a hollow sound prevailed, similar to that of two armies engaged, whose artillery and musketry are well served. Towards night I approached the great torrent of lava, which was rather slow in its progress. I estimated it 200 feet long, and 15 deep. The whole mass resembled a wall of glass in the act of melt

On May 31, about ten o'clock in the evening, as I was retiring to bed, I heard a noise something like a violent gust of wind; at which I was so much the more surprised, as a moment before I had observed that the sky was fine and clear. However, I would not take the trouble of enquiring into the cause of this unexpected change, but a person whom I had sent to Naples returning a quarter of an hour after, I got up to speak with him. As I passed near the stair-case, I could see through the trees of a grove, a blaze issuing from Mount Vesuvius, in height about 100 toises. This flame alternately rose and sunk, and resembled those beautiful sheaves which are so greatly admired in well executed fire-works. It was a confused mixture of stones and inflammable matter, thrown up from the crater of the volcano, and which, as they fell, seemed to be fluid. We were then threatened with two dreadful calamities, an earthquake which generally precedes the eruption, and the eruption itself, on that side where the lava would flow. I spent the whole night in observing this sheaf of fire which continually increased, and diffused such

ing; sometimes I could see flashes of lightning shooting from it, and these were followed by a report as loud as that of gun of a large calibre. Whatever happened to impede the course of the lava, vines, trees, houses, &c. was instantly melted or devoured. I arrived at the moment when the lava was sapping the foundations of a wall in front of which was the bed of a torrent from thirty to forty feet deep. I saw the wall give way, and the lava precipitate itself like a cataract of fire, nearly perpendicular, into the bed of the torrent. This kind of sea of fire, which covers three miles of a most fruitful country, and forms but one mass from the mouth whence it issued to the point where it stops, is a sight, at once amazingly grand and dreadful. June 3, the lava ran very slowly, and through a single opening. The matter which on the 2d ran from the other two apertures, had stopped at the foot of Vesuvius. At night the whole mass had ceased to advance, the borders were already cool, although the mid-' dle was burning. A few detonations were heard, but not so frequently as on the preceding day. The mountain continued to emit clouds of smoke.

We then proceeded, and were ob. ged to climb rather than to walk; however by half after one o'clock, we arrived at the summit. We found the ascent very difficult, as the eruption had destroyed the former path-way. We were under a necessity of proceeding up a new one on the opposite side, which was almost perpendicular. This path-way was composed of ashes and stones, in which we sunk up to our knees. We found the mountain totally altered Those parts which had formerly been filled with the lava and pebbles, and over which it was equally difficult and dangerous to proceed, are now become a plain, and so levelled, that an army might maneuvre there. If the volcano were but extinguished, certain hillocks here and there might be cultivated; but no doubt it is far from that state.

The former crater has disappeared, it is filled up with ashes and lava, but a new one has been formed at the eastern part of the mountain, which is about one hundered fathoms deep, and nearly as wide at its opening. We descended about half way, but dared not proceed any farther. We were already close to the flames, and felt a most violent heat. In this position we continued half an hour, admiring the spectacle offered by the liquid lava bubbling at the bottom of the crater; which resembles the melted matter in the boiler of a glass-house. The stones that we threw into it were instantly melted. The mountain is considerably lowered, and has two large clefts, one facing la Torre del Greco, the other fronting Resina. A new eruption is very much apprehended, on account of the large quantity of melted matter which remains in the craver, and of the clefts observed in the mountain. These clefts are not in the crater, some are a mile distant from it; the most considerable hardly reaches the



On the 4th and 5th the hollow noise from the interior of the mountain became much louder, and continued during much longer periods than before. The bellowing was distinctly heard both at Naples and at Portici, notwithstanding they are two leagues distant from one another. A thick smoke continued to issue from every part of the crater. Soon after, clouds of ashes rose, and overspread the country around; the lava next followed. It issued from the same chasin, as the most considerable torrent had ran in the same direction. On the 6th and 7th the volcano vomited a large quantity of ashes: Portici, Resina, and la Torre del Greco, were entirely covered with them, but the internal noise had subsided. It was renewed with still greater violence on the 8th and 9th, over Portici and Resina, and poured a sable and thick rain, consisting of mud and sulphureous particles. On the following days, the noise from the interior rolled at long intervals only; the smoke, though not so thick, continued to rise from the mountain; a small quantity of ashes also rose, but fell back into the crater.

July 1, as I supposed the eruption to be terminated, although the mountain continued to sinoke, I set off with a few friends to visit Vesuvius. At 10 o'clock in the evening we reached the hermitage, where we stopped till midnight.


The damage occasioned by this eruption is imThe governor of la Torre del Greco, has reported the great distress of so many families, and of most of the country people, whose whole harvest has been destroyed. The first step towards their relief has been exempting from all taxes the property that had suffered A resolution has also passed that the Benevolent Commission should in future raise a fund to indemnify such landowners or fanners in the neighbourhood of Vesuvius, as might become sufferers by eruptions of the volcano; a subscription will be opened for the immediate relief of the unfortunate sufferers.






[Continued from Vol. I. Page 478.]


THE good king of Sheshian, proceeded Nur- | mahal in her narrative, who gave occaion to this laudable remark of a great monarch, whatever may have been his name, deserves at least the praise of a good taste in the choice of his favourites; for the beautiful Lili, his favourite, was a compound of all that can render a person of our sex amiable. And even should the poets, painters, statuaries, and medalists of her time have flattered her, yet it is not to be denied, that the nation had cause to bless her memory. Never was there a greater patroness of the arts than the beautiful Lili. She introduced the culture of silk into Sheshian, and drew thither a multitude of Persian, Chinese, and Indian artists, who, by her encouragement, brought the several arts and manufactures to a high degree of excellence. The Sheshianese, under her government-this is the very expression of the historian-became acquainted with the conveniences and the luxuriesing of life, of which the generality had hitherto had no notion. They thought themselves indebted to her for the enjoyment of a new and an infinitely more pleasing existence. She brought the public treasure into an animating circulation, which had been buried in useless state in the exchequer of the former kings, like the bodies of the Pharaohs in their pompous pyramids. Her example allured the great and opulent to imitation. The capital modeled itself after the court, and the provincial towns adopted the manners of the capital. Genius and industry vied with each other to put the whole kingdom in a lively and beneficial activity; for ingenuity and diligence were the direct methods to attain conveniency and abundance, and who is not desirous to pass his life as agreeably as possible? The beneficent Lili even brought the inhabitants of Sheshian to an acquaintance with the charms of music and the drama; and however prejudicial these presents were in the sequel to their welfare, it is nevertheless undeniable, that at first they had a very wholesome effect. In proportion as the sentiments of the Sheshianese became inore refined, their manners visibly increased in elegance. They became more companionable, more mild and tractable, they were more pleasant in their behaviour to each other, their social enjoy- || ments were heightened, and each felt his own portion of happiness augmented as he saw the

of their sentiment, will make no scruple to draw as much as they can from the property of the poor to swell their hoards. The poor will be not a whit more consciencious in doing and suffering any thing, however unjust and disgraceful, so it may but afford the means of raising them to the envied condition of the nich. Monstrous vices, unnatural excesses, treasons, plots, and parricides will, from their frequency, lose the horrors they present to the uncorrupted mind; and not till the nation is irrecoverably lost, will it be perceived that the beautiful Lili was the fascinating and beloved authoress of our ruin.

number of the happy increased around him. To
conclude, it would be unnecessary to enumerate
to your highness all the good effects of the taste
and the arts, of which you yourself are so great
a judge and promoter. Here and there were
some splenetic people, become unfit for friend-
ship and the superior joys of life, who raised a
lamentable cry against those innovations. What
horror! exclaimed they, shaking their uncombed
heads with portentous looks. What will be the
fruit of all this? This fondness for conveniency
and pleasure, this refined taste, this reigning in-
clination to sensuality will be the ruin of the na-
tion. Pompous festivals will dissipate the profits
of the days of labour, and luxurious expence
consume the superfluity of parsimony and temper
ance; pleasure will introduce idleness, and idle-
ness the whole corrupt brood of vices. The rich
will become insatiable, and with all the refin-

Some old people who had lived so prudently for sixty or seventy years, as not yet to be obliged to give up all share in the joys of life, saw the affair in another light. Our splenetic and enervated brethren, are not altogether in the wrong, said they; dissipations and amusements, as the seasoning of life, may, by immoderate enjoyment, become certainly pejudicial. Nature intended them as the recompence of labour, not as the solace of idleness. Yet it is undeniable, that not the beautiful Lili, but Nature herself, is the enchantress who presents us with this celestial nectar, which she has prepared for us with her own hands, and of which a few drops are suffi cient to make us forget all the troubles of life. Or, is it not Nature who conducts mankind from one step of improvement to another, and by

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »