« AnteriorContinuar »
ed, with new surprise, that their eyes locks, and clad in priestly garb, was were not the soft blue of northern kneeling in prayer before the altar, Europe, but of a tincture dark, steely, and by his side stood a young and and glittering, like those of Spain and blooming chorister, swinging a golden Italy; and as their mysterious forms
· My beloved Cordula !” exwhirled round him with appalling ve- claimed the delighted Arnold, “let locity, the alarmed student could not not that splendid altar blaze in vain. dispel an instinctive apprehension that Confirm at once my promised happisome inscrutable and tremendous evil ness, and bid that venerable priest was maturing amidst all this porten- unite our destinies for ever.” tous festivity. He fancied himself The blushing and agitated Countess gazing on a Shaksperean mask, or mid- answered not, but gazed upon him for night revel, and dreaded that, like the some moments with mute and tender ill-fated Romeo, he should see the significance; then took his offered splendors of this princely hall too soon hand, and accompanied him to the succeeded by the sepulchral gloom of margin of the lake, where rode a galtombs, the death of his sweet Cordu- ley, gorgeous as that which bore the la, and the sudden annihilation of all Queen of Egypt, and manned with his earthly felicity.
A velvet couch “ Enough! enough !” exclaimed under a silken canopy received the the Countess at his elbow, as she made beauteous pair, and the stately vessel, a signal to the band to cease. The yielding to the efforts of the rowers, dancers paused to refresh themselves, glided majestically over the tranquil and the sweet converse of his lovely bosom of the lake, while strains of mistress soon roused the dreaming solemn and triumphant music resoundArnold from his tragic visions, and re ed from its shores, and white-robed stored him to a full sense of his hap- nymphs in light gondolas, with each a piness. The large folding-doors were Chinese lantern on its prow, fitted now thrown open; the vivacious Flo- like water-sprites around the galley, restan bounded into the hall, and sum A fight of marble steps, descending moned the Countess and her guests to from the altar to the lake, was crowdview his fireworks from the castle gar- ed with a group of choristers, each dens. Immediately the mob of mask- holding in his hand a blazing torch. ers rushed like a torrent through the They welcomed the enraptured Arportal, and spread themselves in gay nold and his Countess with a hymeneand laughing groups along the margin al chant, and accompanied them to the of the lake. Upon an island in its foot of the altar, where the aged centre appeared an illuminated tower, priest greeted the happy pair with a modelled after the castle of St. Ange- benevolent and approving smile. He lo at Rome. A signal rocket rose joined their hands, and in deep and from the castle roof, and immediately a impressive tones proceeded to bestow girandole of a thousand rockets rushed upon them the final benediction. At with volcanic force and brilliancy this moment the bridegroom thought from the island-tower, filling the vault he heard a voice whispering the fatal of heaven with its blaze, and dazzling questions in his ear, “ Arnold! Who all beholders with its splendid corus are you ? And who is your bride ?" cations. The tower disappeared, and He turned hastily round to look at his the vivid outlines of temples, palaces, beauteous Cordula, and, oh horror! and pyramids, appeared in magical her bloom and freshness had disapsuccession, concluding with a lofty peared ; she was pale and deathlike altar of colored lamps, before which as a marble statue, and the position stood two colossal candelabras, whose in which she reclined before the altar, innumerable tapers blazed with serene was that of the Egyptian Sphinx. and steady lustre in the tranquil night Glancing hastily at the priest and air. A venerable man, with silver chorister, the alarmed student beheld
the fiendish smile of Mephistopheles of the tottering islet. Clinging with lurking on the old man's lips, and the the last energies of despair to a contiboy, before so different, was now the guous shrub, the breathless and halfvery image of the laughing Florestan. drowned youth regained his feet after “No, by all that's sacred ! Cordula ! the wave receded, and as quickly as thou art no human being ;" exclaimed the darkness would permit, sought a the gasping and horror-struck Arnold, tree, in the branches of which he as he started on his feet. The Coun- might attain at least a temporary retess uttered
a wild and unearthly fuge. He succeeded in finding a stem shriek, and in an instant the torches, strong enough to support him, but his lamps, and tapers were extinguished powers were so exhausted that he by a fearful gust which swept with could ascend only a few feet above the blasting speed over the lake and isl- ground. Again the lightning blazed and. The bride, and priest, and cho- upon the lake, and by its flitting glare, risters disappeared, and the stars were Arnold beheld the boiling labyrinth of veiled in darkness; the giant's harp waters articulate with life, and all the broke out in loud and wailing mur- slimy worms and bloated reptiles of the murs, the rain streamed down in tor- Nile gliding and quivering with open rents, hot lightnings hissed, and horrid jaws around him. With an inarticu. thunders rolled around the heavens. late shriek of horror he made a final The sleeping waters of the lake rose and desperate effort to escape the up in madness, enormous waves threw teeming waters, and succeeded in up their foaming tops, on which the gaining a higher branch. Vain hope ! lantern-boats, magnified by the dis- succeeding waves covered the yielding eased vision of Arnold into Sphinxes island, and the bending tree tottered of colossal bulk, toated like argosies. and creaked beneath its trembling ocPointing their monstrous paws and cupant. A monstrous gust came on eyes of livid flame at the crazed and with lightning speed, and lashed the breathless student, they jeered him waters of the lake to fiercer efforts; with devilish grins, and in voices the giant's harp rang out, and pealed, which rung through the hurricane like and labored in the storm, louder than Indian gongs, tore his distempered battle-trumpets; and, at length, a ears with the horrid enigmas, “ Who mountain-wave, rising above the head are you? And who am I?” The of the devoted Arnold, swept man, and agonized youth was on the brink of tree, and island into the yawning absolute insanity: his brain collapsed gulf. with horror, his joints shook, his arte At this awful moment-a sbrill ries swelled almost to bursting, and voice shouted in the ear of Arnold, every fibre of his frame was racked “ You have dropped your stick into with torture. He felt the foundations the garden, sir!” Opening his eyes, of the little island loosening beneath the amazed student found himself him, and it was too evident that it seated by moonlight in his verandah, could not long resist the repeated and the old woman who took care of shocks of the agitated and rising wa- his apartments standing by him with ters. Exerting his last remains of the Sphinx stick in her hand. Thank strength and consciousness, he clung God !” exclaimed the inexpressibly to the highest of the marble steps, and relieved youth, as he wiped his streamawaited his inevitable fate in silent ing forehead, and threw his stick into agony. Soon a loftier wave rushed the garden well--- Thank God ! 'twas up the staircase, drenched the luckless but a midsummer-night's dream, and Arnold to the skin, tore up the solid that cursed Sphinx was nothing but a marble, and covered the highest level nightmare.”
THE SUPERIORITY OF THE WORKS OF NATURE ABOVE THOSE
What skill, what force divine,
That, as they still succeed, they ravish still.-Thomsos. To the mind possessed of a refined the innumerable tribes of animal and taste, and which delights in the exer- vegetable nature exhibit amazing skill cise of its reflective powers, the and contrivance ; the depths of the works of nature, as they are generally ocean, the womb of the earth, and the termed, have ever been pregnant with regions of the air, all unite to set forth the most satisfying and delectable the glorious and inimitable perfections sources of investigation. They have of the works of nature, while all conyielded, and still continue to yield, spire, by the regular and harmonious innumerable objects for the natural performance of their respective funcphilosopher to examine, as well as for tions, however more or less operative, the unlettered to admire ; and, replete to send up a grateful song of praise to with the most positive beauties, and their wise and benevolent Author. communicative of the most agreeable That the works of art assume to sensations, they will never cease to themselves the extensive and wellengage the attention, till all that is earned meed of approbation and admibeautiful and sublime in nature loses ration, will not be denied. That they the power of captivating, and the mind may well be held up to the observabecomes incapable of receiving de- tion of the wise and good, and that light.
they should be generally patronized as Wherever we turn our eye, some conducive to the comfort and pleasure object of admiration presents itself; of life, will be conceded without hesiinto whatever recess we penetrate, our tation. But that they fall infinitely attention is arrested by the charms of short of the nice and inimitable perfecsome natural curiosity; and the more tion, the well-regulated utility, and extensively we examine, and the the positive beauty wbich characterdeeper we search, the richer will be ize those of nature, is a fact which the conquest we attain. A more de- few can venture to disclaim, without licious feast cannot be presented to sacrificing truth and judgment at the the curious and contemplative mind, shrine of ignorance and impiety. No than to roam amidst all the luxuriances very deep insight into nature, or very of nature, and view her sporting in a extensive experience in art and scithousand blooming and fascinating ence, is requisite to determine so obvicharms, or sublimely moving amidst ous, though interesting a point. the stupendous and wonderful works The superiority of the works of naof the universe.
ture may be argued—first, from their Above and around us, in the illimi- originality. Here all is fully, legititable regions of space, roll the mil- mately, the sole production of an alllions of orbs, which afford to us the wise Author: here all bears internal blessing of light-which, it is presum- evidence of originality—for as they ed, bear a strong analogy to our were called into being from nothing, own globe ; these display the sublimer they could not be copied from any glories of nature. Scattered over the thing antecedently existing. But with diversified surface of the earth, for regard to the works of art, they are various useful and important purposes, only copies from the masterpieces of
nature, and few will be bold enough meadows, in its several varieties, is so to deny, that many of the most splen- replete with divine skill, that it has did and elaborate works of art, become been frequently said, “a single blade so, simply from their unequalled mo- of grass contains more than will ever dels. Scarcely a performance is exe- be discovered by the most patient and cuted by man, which does not glory in minute investigator.” Nature, while being a transcript from nature ; not she sports in her wildest vagaries, is an invention is made, without being never inconsistent. All her works, analogous to some principle or opera- though surprisingly diverse, are yet tion of nature, whether more or less not less regular; and while beautiful secret. It is truly to the hidden to the eye, they will bear no less exsources of nature, that men look for traordinary investigation. the most brilliant trophies of their The modern discovery of the microtalent and research ; it is with delight scope has unfolded the hidden beauthey hail any appearance of nature, ties of nature in a manner never beupon which they may display or exert fore known. Unexpected wonders their genius ; and with no less ardor have been by this laid before our eyes. than pleasure, do they avail them- Specimens of nature have been brought selves of whatever may present itself to light, which were before unknown, to notice.
and unthought of; and not only so, The works of nature are superior but we have been enabled to become to those of art,-secondly ; in their better acquainted with whatever was workmanship and perfection. Examine before known. Subject, then, the any of the former with the most scru most delightful productions of nature tinizing eye, and you will find it to be to microscopic observation, and, notframed with the nicest skill and pro- withstanding the magnitude to which portion; all the parts exactly corres it is thereby increased, its finest parts pond and harmonize with one ano- will appear not more blunt or less elether; all perform the respective parts gant: but let any of the works of art, assigned them by eternal Wisdom, however fine in their workmanship, be without the least deviation ; and put to a similar test, and they will thereby the great ends of nature are lose all the beauty and skill with regularly and effectually accomplished. which, to the naked eye, they seemed There is not a single object in nature, invested, and appear unsightly, and that may not court the strictest inves- unworthy of attention. tigation as it regards its perfection; Among the many mechanical inand though many objects of course far ventions of men, none, however perexceed others in wonder and beauty, fect and regular, can ever equal the yet each in itself lays open an inte- extensive and admirable mechanism resting view of consummate skill—a which constitutes the frame of man. pleasing exhibition of divine goodness. Here, amidst the vast diversity of
The tints which adorn the petals of bones, and muscles, sinews, veins, and a flower, and the delicate wings and other apparatus of this machine, all is body of an insect, may well bear the test in the most positive and valuable harof examination; and the finest and mony, each part being adapted to the most delicate specimens of the pencil, other, and in systematic and perfect in comparison of such, cannot but ap- operation. pear coarse and imperfect. The co Thirdly ; in their variety, extent, lor, the frame, the texture, of the mul- and utility, the works of nature excel tifarious diversities of coloring for the those of art. It is really astonishing brute creation, and the nice adaptation to behold the vast diversity which prethereof to their natures, are so exqui- vails in the grand system of animal site, as to outvie every attempt of art and vegetable nature, both in the to rival them. Even the beautiful number, peculiarities and properties verdure which clothes our fields and of its subjects. It is calculated, that
there are at present known between ostensible, but not less certain man-
. ing variety; and to direct our atten- Very many of the other works of nation to the heavens alone, would be a ture have remained with equal perfecdecisive proof, that her works are in- tion, from the moment of their creadeed incomparable and multitudinous. tion to the present. And even all the
The works man, diverse as they animal and vegetable tribes, notwithmay be, cannot, in any degree, equal standing they decay and die at stated those of nature. It is recorded of and regular periods, may be said to a certain ancient artist, that he carved have endured from the beginning; figures of animals in ivory with the since they have been, and still are, most exquisite skill, and of which an continually reproduced in succession : astonishing number might be contained and thus, one continued series exists
, in a very contracted space : but what and the animal world is ever repleshall we say, when not less than a mil- nished. But it is too true, that mutalion of animalculæ may be held on the bility and corruptibility are inseparapoint of a needle, and to which a ble from the works of man; they, like spoonful of water is, as it were, an himself, are frail, and a few fleeting unbounded ocean! What shall we years are sufficient to mar their beausay, when an incalculable number of ty, and spoil their excellence. The insects, all perfectly and delightfully most ancient relics of art we possess, formed, invisible to the naked eye, are frequently so mutilated and desacroam and sport over the leaves of ed by the consuming hand of time, as plants and trees, as in a spacious mea to become valuable, not for the skill dow! Surely these display skill more exhibited in their workmanship, but than human; wisdom of more than solely on account of their antiquity. earthly mould.
Nature's works, however, are always But what constitutes, in no small blooming, are always beautiful in degree, the superexcellence of the themselves. works of the great framer of all things, Nature, in many of her operationsis, their general utility. The most if at any time she appears to advance beautiful productions of art are mostly in age, may be said to renew her those which are only calculated to youth; she frequently seems to underplease and captivate-to which the go, in her own system, a renovation, epithet of elegant may be appended, ra- which gives a perpetuity to all her ther than that of useful : whereas in works : while the beautiful and costly the system of nature there is not a works of man, notwithstanding the plant or animal, or any inanimate sub- props and patchings they sometimes stance, but is of some service in the receive, eventually yield to time, great plan, and performs some function whose breath completely scatters anů devolving upon it, however more or destroys them. less indirectly. One is adapted to the The comparison might be carried support and nourishment of the other : further than in the four preceding -this, tends to the benefit of man in a particulars ; but certainly where origimore positive degree; that, in a less nality in design, beauty and perfection