Page images

under pain of answering it in their own names and persons, to seal or sign any pardon or reprieve in cases of this nature, whatever orders they might receive from him and lastly, to add to the terror and infamy of the punishment, he ordered that all who were killed in a duel should be not only deprived of burial, but hung by the feet to a gibbet. This vigorous edict, supported as it was by circumstances, was effectual; and, for the last year of the reign of the late king, and the first two of the present, there was but one instance of a violation of it.

[Marshal Bassompierre goes on to say that the practice of duelling gradually revived as the law against it was mitigated, or enforced, according to the caprice of those in power. At last, the edict came to be outraged and despised, and men were again left to assert their honour after the barbarian fashion that has so long prevailed in Christian Europe.]


PLINY THE YOUNGER. [CAIUS PLINIUS SECUNDUS, commonly called Pliny the Elder, is supposed to have been born A.D. 23. The manner of his death, A.D. 79, is recorded in a letter to Tacitus, by his nephew Caius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus, commonly called Pliny the Younger. Of the writings of the elder Pliny, his 'Natural History' has come down to us, which was justly called by his nephew "a work of great compass and erudition, and as varied as Nature herself." The younger Pliny was born A.D. 61, and was in his eighteenth year when the great eruption of Vesuvius occurred, which he describes. Of his writings, there remain to us his 'Panegyric upon Trajan,' and his Epistles,' in ten books. Of these curious and interesting letters there is an English translation by Melmoth. He is supposed to have died about the end of Trajan's reign.]

Your request that I would send you an account of my uncle's death, in order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity, deserves my acknowledgments; for, if this accident shall be celebrated by your pen, the glory of it I am well assured will be rendered for ever illustrious. And notwithstanding he perished by a misfortune, which, as it involved at the same time a most beautiful country in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities, seems to promise him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he has himself composed many and lasting works; yet I am persuaded the mentioning of him in your immortal writings will greatly contribute to eternalise his name. Happy I esteem those to be whom Providence has distinguished with the abilities either of doing such actions as are worthy of being related, or of relating them in a manner worthy of being read; but doubly happy are they who are blessed with both these uncommon talents; in the number of which my uncle, as his own writings and your history will evidently prove, may justly be ranked. It is with extreme willingness, therefore, I execute your commands, and should indeed have claimed the task if you had not enjoined it. He was at that time with the fleet under his command at Misenum. On the 23rd of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual size and shape. He had just returned from taking the benefit of the sun, and after bathing himself in cold water, and taking a slight repast, was retired to his study: he immediately rose, and went out upon an eminence from whence he might more distinctly view this very uncommon appearance. It was not at that distance discernible from what mountain this cloud issued, but it was found afterwards to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I cannot give a more exact description of its figure than by resembling it to a pine-tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a trunk, which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches; occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud itself, being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in this manner; it appeared sometimes bright and sometimes dark and spotted, as it was either more or less impreg

nated with earth and cinders. This extraordinary phenomenon excited my uncle's philosophical curiosity to take a nearer view of it. He ordered a light vessel to be got ready, and gave me the liberty, if I thought proper, to attend him. I rather chose to continue my studies, for, as it happened, he had given me an employment of that kind. As he was coming out of the house he received a note from Rectina, the wife of Bassus, who was in the utmost alarm at the imminent danger which threatened her; for, her villa being situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, there was no way to escape but by sea; she earnestly entreated him, therefore, to come to her assistance. He accordingly changed his first design, and what he began with a philosophical, he pursued with an heroical, turn of mind, He ordered the galleys to put to sea, and went himself on board with an intention of assisting not only Rectina but several others, for the villas stand extremely thick upon that beautiful coast. When hastening to the place whence others fled with the utmost terror, he steered his direct course to the point of danger, and with so much calmness and presence of mind as to be able to make and dictate his observations upon the motion and figure of that dreadful scene. He was now so nigh the mountain that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice-stones and pieces of burning rock; they were likewise in danger not only of being aground by the sudden retreat of the sea, but also from the vast fragments which rolled down from the mountain and obstructed all the shore. Here he stopped to consider whether he should return back again, to which the pilot advising him, "Fortune," said he, " befriends the brave; carry me to Pomponianus." Pomponianus was then at Stabiæ, separated by a gulf which the sca, after several insensible windings, forms upon that shore. He had already sent his baggage on board; for though he was not at that time in actual danger, yet being within the view of it, and indeed extremely near, if it should in the least increase, he was determined to put to sea as soon as the wind should change. I was favourable, however, for carrying my uncle to Pomponianus, whom he found in the greatest consternation: he embraced him with tenderness, encouraging and exhorting him to keep up his spirits, and, the more to dissipate his fears, he ordered, with an air of unconcern, the baths to be got ready; when, after having bathed, he sat down to supper with great cheerfulness, or at least (what is equally heroic) with all the appearance of it. In the meanwhile the eruption from Mount Vesuvius flamed out in several places with much violence, which the darkness of the night contributed to render still more visible and dreadful. But my uncle, in order to soothe the apprehensions of his friend, assured him it was only the burning of the villages which the country people had abandoned to the flames: after this he retired to rest, and it is most certain he was so little discomposed as to fall into a deep sleep; for, being pretty fat and breathing hard, those who attended without actually heard him snore. The court which led to his apartment being now almost filled with stones and ashes, if he had continued there any time longer it would have been impossible for him to have made his way out; it was thought proper, therefore, to awaken him. He got up, and went to Pomponianus and the rest of his company, who were not unconcerned enough to think of going to bed. They consulted together whether it would be most prudent to trust to the houses, which now shook from side to side with frequent and violent concussions; or fly to the open fields, where the calcined stones and cinders, though light indeed, yet fell in large showers, and threatened destruction. In this distress they resolved for the fields as the less dangerous situation of the two; a resolution which, while the rest of the company were hurried into it by their fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate consideration. They went out then, having pillows tied upon their heads with napkins; and this was their whole defence against the storm of stones that fell around them.

Though it was now day everywhere else, with them it was darker than the most obscure night, excepting only what light procecded from the fire and flames. They thought proper to go down farther upon the shore to observe if they might safely put out to sea, but they found the waves still run extremely high and boisterous. There my uncle, having drunk a draught or two of cold water, threw himself down upon a cloth which was spread for him, when immediately the flames and a strong smell of sulphur, which was the forerunner of them, dispersed the rest of the company, and obliged him to rise. He raised himself up with the assistance of two of his servants, and instantly fell down dead; suffocated, as I conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapour, having always had weak lungs, and frequently subjected to a difficulty of breathing. As soon as it was light again, which was not till the third day after this melancholy accident, his body was found entire, and without any marks of violence upon it, exactly in the same posture that he fell, and looking more like a man asleep than dead. During all this time my mother and I, who were at Misenun- But as this has no connection with your history, so your inquiry went no farther than concerning my uncle's death; with that, therefore, I will put an end to my letter: suffer me only to add, that I have faithfully related to you what I was either an eyewitness of myself or received immediately after the accident happened, and before there was time to vary the truth. You will choose out of this narrative such circumstances as shall be most suitable to your purpose; for there is great difference between what is proper for a letter and a history, between writing to a friend and writing to the public.-Farewell.


THE Poets luxuriate in their descriptions of Morning and Evening. These descriptions belong more especially to the mornings and evenings of Summer, when "the breath of morn" is sweet, and "the coming on of gentle evening" is "mild."

First let us hear a quaint and simple old master sing the charms of MORNING.

The Sun, when he hath spread his rays,
And shewed his face ten thousand ways,
Ten thousand things do then begin
To show the life that they are in,
The heaven shews lively art and hue,
Of sundry shapes and colours new,
And laughs upon the earth; anon,
The earth, as cold as any stone,
Wet in the tears of her own kind,
'Gins then to take a joyful mind.
For well she feels that out and out,
The sun doth warm her round about,
And dries her children tenderly ;
And shews them forth full orderly.
The mountains high, and how they stand!
The valleys and the great mainland !
The trees, the herbs, the towers strong,
The castles, and the rivers long.
And even for joy thus of this heat
She sheweth forth her pleasures great,
And sleeps no more; but sendeth forth
Her clergions, her own dear worth,

To mount and fly up to the air;
Where then they sing in order fair,
And tell in song full merrily,
How they have slept full quietly
That night, about their mother's sides.
And when they have sung more besides,
Then fall they to their mother's breast.
Whereas they feed or take their rest.
The hunter then sends out his horn,
And rangeth straight through wood and


On hills then shew the ewe and lamb,
And every young one with his dam.
Then lovers walk, and tell their tale,
Both of their bliss and of their bale;
And how they serve, and how they do,
And how their lady loves them too.
Then tune the birds their harmony;
Then flock the fowl in company;
Then everything doth pleasure find
In that, that comforts all their kind.

Cowley's Hymn to Light' is a noble performance, from which we extract a few stanzas:

First-born of Chaos, who so fair didst come

From the old Negro's darksome womb;

Which when it saw the lovely child,

The melancholy mass put on kind looks and smiled.

Thou tide of glory which no rest doth know,

But ever ebb and ever flow!

Thou golden show'r of a true Jove!

Who does in thee descend, and heaven to earth make love!

Hail active Nature's watchful life and health!

Her joy, her ornament, and wealth!

Hail to thy husband, Heat, and thee!

Thou the world's beauteous bride, the lusty bridegroom he!

Say, from what golden quivers of the sky

Do all thy winged arrows fly?

Swiftness and Power by birth are thine;

From thy great Sire they come, thy Sire, the Word Divine.

Thou in the moon's bright chariot, proud and gay,
Dost thy bright wood of stars survey,

And all the year dost with thee bring

Of thousand flow'ry lights thine own nocturnal spring.

Thou, Scythian-like, dost round thy lands above

The Sun's gilt tent for ever move,

And still, as thou in pomp dost go,

The shining pageants of the world attend thy show.


The dramatic Lyrists, Shakspere and Fletcher, have painted some of the characteristics of Morning with rainbow hue3:

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace.

Lo! here the gentle lark, weary of rest,
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high,

And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast
The sun ariseth in his majesty;

Who doth the world so gloriously behold,

The cedar-tops and hills seem burnish'd gold.

See, the day begins to break,
And the light shoots like a streak

Of subtile fire; the wind blows cold,
While the morning doth unfold;
Now the birds begin to rouse,



And the squirrel from the boughs
Leaps, to get him nuts and fruit;
The early lark, that erst was mute,
Carols to the rising day

Many a note and many a lay.


Shepherds, rise, and shake off sleep!
See, the blushing morn doth peep
Thro' the windows, while the sun
To the mountain tops is run,
Gilding all the vales below
With his rising flames, which grow
Greater by his climbing still.
Up, ye lazy grooms, and fill
Bag and bottle for the field!
Clasp your cloaks fast, lest they yield
To the bitter north-east wind.
Call the maidens up, and find
Who lays longest, that she may
Go without a friend all day;
Then reward your dogs, and pray
Pan to keep you from decay:
So unfold, and then away!

After these, the modern sonnet sounds somewhat tame:

'Tis not alone a bright and streaky sky

Soul-cheering warmth—a spicy air serene--
Fair peeping flowers, nor dews that on them lie-
Nor sunny breadths topping the forests green-
That make the charm of Morning:-thoughts as high,
As meek and pure, live in that tranquil scene,
Whether it meet the rapt and wakeful eye

In vapoury clouds, or tints of clearest sheen.
If to behold, or hear, all natural things

In general gladness hail the blessed light-
Herds lowing-birds sporting with devious flight,
And tiny swarms spreading their powdery wings-
And every herb with dewy shoots up-springing-
If these be joys-such joys the Morn is ever bringing.





[Ir has been justly said by Mr. Craik, in his admirable 'Sketches of Literature and Learning in England,' that "Burke was our first, and is still our greatest, writer on the philosophy of practical politics. The writings of Burke are, indeed, the only English political writings of a past age that continue to be read in the present. And they are now, perhaps, more studied, and their value, both philosophical and oratorical, better and more highly appreciated than even when they were first produced." Of the justness of these remarks, the extract which we give will furnish an example. It is a part of a celebrated speech on the economical reformation of the Civil and other Establishments--a subject which in itself now possesses only an historical interest, for the abuses of which it complains have been long ago swept away. But see how, in the hands of this great philosophical orator, what was temporary and partial becomes permanent and universal. We may add, in the words of the judicious critic just quoted, "If it was objected to him in his own day, that, 'too deep for his hearers,' he

'still went on refining,

And thought of convincing while they thought of dining;'

that searching philosophy, which pervades his speeches and writings, and is there wedded in such happy union to glowing words and poetic imagery, has rescued them alone from the neglect and oblivion that have overtaken all the other oratory and political pamphleteering of that day, however more loudly lauded at the time, and has secured to them an existence

« PreviousContinue »