« PreviousContinue »
Pursuing these ideas, I sat down close by my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination. I was going to begin with the millions of
fellowcreatures born to no inheritance but slavery ; but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it near me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me I took a single captive, and having first shut him
in his dungeon, I then looked through the twilight of his grated door to take his picture.
I beheld his body half wasted away with long expectation and confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was which arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer I saw him pale and feverish: in thirty years the western breeze had not once fanned his blood-he had seen no sun, no moon, in all that time—nor had the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through his lattice. His children
But here my heart began to bleed—and I was forced to go on with another part of the portrait.
He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the farthest corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed; a little calendar of small sticks was laid at the head, notched all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there-he had one of those little sticks in his hand, and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened the little light he bad, he lifted up a hopeless eye towards the door, then cast it down-shook his head, and went on with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs as he turned his body to lay his little stick upon the bundle—He gave a deep sigh–I saw the iron enter into his soul-I burst into tears I could not sustain the picture of confinement which my fancy had drawn.
IV.-BURKE'S EULOGIUM ON HOWARD.
I CANNOT name this gentleman without remarking that his labours and writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has visited all Europe,_not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur; or to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; not to collect medals, or collate manuscripts but to dive into the depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infections of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain ; to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original; and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery, a circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt more or less in every country: I hope he will anticipate his final reward, by seeing all its effects fully realized in his own. He will receive, not by retail, but in gross, the reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter.
V.-HENRY THE FOURTH'S SOLILOQUY ON SLEEP.
Under the canopies of costly state,
VI.-ON LIFE AND DEATH.
Duke. Reason thus with life,
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains,
If thou art rich thou’rt poor ;
Isabella.--Oh, I do fear thee, Claudio ; and I quake, Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain, And six or seven winters more respect Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die? The sense of death is most in apprehension ; And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great, As when a giant dies.
Claud..Ay, but to die, and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot: This sensible warm motion to become A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
VII.-MARIE ANTOINETTE. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles ; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere, she just began to move in,-glittering like the morning-star, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have. to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded ; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap