Imágenes de páginas

'for my reception. I longed to wander alone, at the awful hour of midnight, through that forest, renowned for the mystic rites of enchantresses, whose green masses of foliage extend like draperies along the banks of the Peneus. Deep shades had collected over the widespread canopy of the woods; and all was dark, save where the tremulous ray of some pale and mist-encircled star shot a fitful twinkling through the scanty openings which the woodman's axe had left at intervals in the overhanging boughs. My heavy lids closed in spite of me over my weary eye-balls, which ached from tracing the white path that hid itself in the copse-wood; and I could only bear up against the drowsiness which oppressed me, by observing the measured tramp of my horse, as the sand seemed to murmur hoarsely, or the parched grass to sigh beneath the pressure of his hoofs. If he chanced to stop, I was instantly aroused by the unusual pause; and, repeating his name in a loud voice, I urged his tardy pace to one better suited to my weariness and impatience. Startled suddenly by some unknown object, he bounded wildly from the path, poured from his fiery nostrils the half-smothered neigh of terror, wheeled round in dismay, and staggered back, still more terrified by the lightnings which flashed from the broken flints beneath his feet. • Phlegon, Phlegon,' cried I, while my languid head fell on his neck, which he threw backwards in his alarm, • oh, my faithful Phlegon! is it not time to reach Larissa, where every joy, and sleep the sweetest of all, awaits us? One effort more of courage, and thou shalt stretch thee on a litter of the choicest flowers, for the golden straw which is gathered for the oxen of Ceres' is not fresh enough for thee.'-'See you not, see you not,' replied he, shuddering,' the torches which they brandish before us, consuming the wild heath, and mingling a baleful vapour with the air I breathe? How can you expect me to dare their magic circles, and their threatening dances, sufficient to appal the very horses of the sun ? And still the measured tramp of my horse's hoofs ceased not to echo in my ears, and a slumber more profound brought a longer respite to my uneasiness : only that, from time to time, a group of phantoms, lighted on their way' by fantastic wreaths of fame, passed laughing over my head-or that a mis-shapen spirit, in the form of a beggar or a wounded wretch, clung to my foot, and, in a phrenzy of horrible joy, suffered himself to be dragged along-or that a hideous old man, whose ugliness seemed to record the loathsomeness of crime, as well as the deformity of years, leaped up behind me, and folded me in his skeleton arms.

• Courage, Phlegon, cried I After this opening, the reader is somewhat prepared for, though he finds it hard to follow, the mazes of unreal terrors which fill up mainder of the work. The frightful train of adventures, of which the sleeping Lucius is the fancied witness, and in part the victim, are recited with a teeming and terrific minuteness. "Have you not seen at Athens, in the first days of the year,

when the all-regenerating rays of the new-born sun fall gloriously on the Ceramicus, a long train of wan and ghastly wretches lining its walls ? Their limbs are motionless, their cheeks hollowed by famine, their looks spectral and unmeaning. Some bend groveling to the earth, like brutes; others are standing, but they lean against the pillars, and seem half sinking beneath the weight of their emaciated frames. These living spectres have scarcely preserved a trace of aught human. Their

the re

skin is like white parchment outstretched on a framework of bones; their eye-balls shew not a single spark of soul; their livid lips writhe with horror and dismay, or with mirth still more hideous, for they cur] into a smile as fierce and scornful as the last thought of a criminal who braves and spurns his fate. Most of them are agitated by weak but unceasing convulsions, and tremble like the iron tongue of that sonorous instrument which children love to sound between their teeth. The most wretched of all are those who, by the dire award of all-conquering fate, are doomed to terrify every beholder by the monstrous deformity of their gnarled limbs and inflexible attitudes.

“ It is only during the periods which intervene between the regular returns of sleep that they taste any respite to their woes. Foredoomed to glut the vengeance of the enchantresses of Thessaly, they relapse into agonies which no tongue can express, as soon as the sun, sinking beneath the horizon, has ceased to protect them from the redoubtable queens of darkness. For this it is, that, with eyes rivetted on his path, they follow his too rapid career, in the ever-baffled hope that he may for once forget his azure bed, and remain suspended in the golden clouds of the west. But no sooner does night come to undeceive them, shedding from his wings of crape a gloom, unbroken even by one of those livid gleams which tinged just now the summits of the trees, than a fearful murmur arises amongst them. Their teeth chatter with despair and rage: they crowd together, or shun each other's contact, and seem at each step to shrink from an assassin or a ghost. 'Tis night! Hell re-opens!"

Among the merciless magicians who sport in the misery of their victims, Meroé, the sorceress, is the leading personage; and, of all the hideous monsters who figure in her train, Smarra is her favourite and well-beloved familiar. This precious fiend receives from his mistress a special mandate to torment the persecuted sleeper. “She spoke, and the monster sprang from her burning hand, turned writhingly and rapidly in the air, outspread his wildly-fashioned wings, uprose, sank down, expanded, shrunk—and, in the semblance of a deformed and spiteful dwarf, with nails of a metal sharper than steel, which pierced without tearing the flesh, he darted upon my breast, enlarged to a monstrous size, raised his enormous head, and burst into a fiendish laugh. In vain my glazed eye sought for some object of support. Thousands of night-demons played around me:-women of stunted growth and drunken aspect-red and violet-coloured serpents spitting Hame-lizards, with hideous human faces, crawling in blood and mire -heads newly struck from still palpitating bodies, looking on me with glaring eyes, and bounding on the legs and feet of reptiles. They danced in a circle around me, deafening me with their cries, terrifying me with their atrocious gambols, and parching my quivering lips with their disgusting caresses. Meroé guided their

movements as she floated above them, with her long hair flashing forth flames of livid blue. Her features were the same as usual; but under their wonted loveliness I was shocked to discern, as through a transparent gauze, the leaden tints and sulphur-coloured limbs of the enchantress: her fixed and hollow eyes were floating in crimson; sanguined tears trickled down her cheeks; and her hand, as she waved it in the air, seemed to print upon the void the trace of a hand of blood."

After such a combination of horrors as this exhibition displays

Nocturnos lemures portentaque Thessala rides ? In this strain of still-increasing suffering, the dream of Lucius goes on, through episode and episode, leaving the agonies of Orestes and all other victims of Eumenides, goblins, ghosts, or witches, far behind. Of these excruciating torments we have already had enough, and we shall now take leave of them and their historian with tenderest feelings of compassion, (but not sympathy, thank Heaven !) if, as he admits by implication in his preface, he is himself the unfortunate subject from which his vivid pictures are drawn.*


to the ears;

Tho' I send them from Tours, yet my letters remain
As first they were scribbled at Paris--dear Jane.

I bought my new bonnet on purpose to wear
At th’Italian Boulevards, to which thousands repair
As the twilight approaches. Imagine three rows
Of chairs at each side of an avenue; those
Are quickly engaged in succession, till all
Are cover'd with parties, en habit de bal.
While lamps from the trees their effulgence are throwing,
Between them a dense population is flowing
Of all that is dashing and gay :-Cuirassiers,
Polish Lancers, and Guards, whisker'd

Large parties of English, with spruce-looking face;
Old Ultras—a fatuous, posthumous race;
Inundations of women, no longer in caps,
But extravagant bonnets worth six or eight Naps;
Cits, soldiers, and lovers, wives, husbands, and brats,
Cloaks, spencers, and shawls, turbans, helmets, and hats,
All jumbled together to form, when they meet,
A grand cosmopolitan rout in the street.

Behind roll the carriages--good ones are rareish,
For most have an aspect extremely Rag-fairish ;--
Calêches, with horses that pine for the pleasure
Of sharing the dinner of Nebuchadnezzar,
Fiacre, gig, tilbury, cabriolet,
And demi-fortunes, with their wretched display
Of one woe-begone horse, which on our side the water
Are sacred to knights of the pestle and mortar.
Some jump out, and saunter-some gaze at the throng,
Or nod to their friends as they rattle along.

Here parties of bowing Parisians stand,
With badges at button-hole, hats in their hand,
Who stop the whole tide as they congee, and show no
Reserve or compunction, but chatter

pro bono.
“ Madame, j'ai l'honneur-Je suis charmé, ravi.”
Je vous salue, Monsieur-Vous êtes toujours poli.”

Que vous-avez bonne mine!- Vous me fattez-Pardon!”

“Il y a beaucoup de monde.—Mais très-peu du haut ton.” * The Editor could not forbear giving a place to this paper, though he begs not to be made responsible for his correspondent's enjoyment of Mr. Nodier's “glowing style.'

The work of this Frenchman is, no doubt, removed from “ place,” but his taste is morbidly bad.


“ Je suis désesperé de vous quitter; bon soir."

Ah, Madame, vous me crévez le cæur-au revoir."

John Bull, with a shake, or a slap on the back,
Cries—" Harry, how goes it, my hearty?” “ What, Jack !
Weren't you spilt from your dennet in Bond-street? I say,

like the French 'wines--have you been to the play?"
Yes, I went to see Talma; what horrible stuff!
The French are all blackguards: the women take snuff.
Have you dined at Beauvillier's and Very's? Egad,
What would Tattersal say to their horses? D-d bad !
Rue de Rivoli's fine. But the credit is Boney's.
This mobbing 's a nuisance, I vote for Tortoni's.”

We follow'd such in, and they brought us a carte
Of the ices, ('lwould pose you to learn it by heart,)
So I glanced down the column of “ Glaces et Sorbets,"
And begg'd them to give me an ice“ framboisée,"
While Pa, having ponder'd and changed a good deal,
Cried “ Waiter !” and pointed to “à la Vanille."
In an instant I gazed on a conical mass,
Half pallid like Inkle, half

dark like his lass :
And as Yarico never yet doated on Inkle
As I upon ice, it was gone in a twinkle.
But Pa with a face that denoted disaster,
Swore his tasted of putty, of paint, sticking-plaster;
And after repeated attempts and frustration,
Made it over to me with an ejaculation.
The walks were now cramm'd, and I wish'd to renew
Our stroll—but he gave me a snappish Pho! pho!
And said he was tired, though I fancy the loss
Of his ice, not fatigue, made him grumpy and cross ;
And ?twas doubly provoking, for just at that minute
Lieutenant O’Fagan had “ stipt from his dionett,”
And joining our party, was quoting Lord Byron,
Admiring my bonnet, and calling me syren!

We went to the Gallery, Jenny, to see
The pictures—and thither our countrymen flee
To determine their bets. It's the fourth of a mile,
Which point causes daily disputes, and you 'd sinile
To hear them contesting how soon they could walk it,
Laying wagers, and straightway proceeding to stalk it.
Captain Strut of the Fourth was twelve minutes, and then
Lieutenant O’Fagan perform'd it in ten;
But Sir Phelim O’Stridle accomplish'd the task
lo nine without effort. I ventured to ask
What he thought of the pictures-" The pictures that's prime!
“ Who'll be staring at signs when he's posting 'gainst Time?"-
Here's an answer at once, if a foreigner starts
An idea that we're not getting on in the Arts.

Our countrymen flock, though they seldom have got any
Taste for Museums, or lectures, or botany,
To the Jardin des Plantes—not for rational feasts,
But to Autter the birds and to worry the beasts :
And these ('tis a fact that we all must agree 10)
Cut out our's in the Tower, and extinguish Polito.
Yet though on the whole they so greatly surpass us,
They haven't that big-headed brute, the Bonassus,

That's a point where we beat them, but even on this one
They come very near in a beast call'd the Bison.
The old one-eyed Bear I shall never forget,
Who some time ago, being rather sharp set,
Pick'd the bones of a hypochondriacal Gaul,
Who by way of a suicide jump'l in his stall.
Whose taste was the worst whose the frightfullest wish ?
The man's for his death, or the bear’s for his dish ?

But a truce to the Gardens and bear with the swivel eye,
For Pa has just entered to take me to Tivoli.
Paulline! ny new bonnet, Well, nobody knows
How I joy that 'twas “ doublé en couleur de rose.”
Quick-give me my shawl-where's my best bib and tucker:
Lud!-like my own ruff, I am all in a pucker!
Pa calls me— * I'm coming??

—so Jenny, you see
I can only subscribe iny initials,


THE SMITH VELANT.* The author of Kenilworth, whose brilliant and fertile imagination has turned to such good account the popular traditions of his country, has brought into notice that of the invisible Smith, called in Berkshire the Wayland Smith, who is said to have taken up his abode in the valley of the White Horse, in the midst of a number of upright, but rude and misshapen stones. There he is said to shoe all the horses brought thither, provided a piece of money be left upon one of the stones. It is known but to very few, perhaps, that this is far from being a mere local tradition. It is not only of very remote antiquity, but traces of it are found in various other countries besides England. It is not easy to decide which is the country of its origin. It is certain that it has been known in England for several centuries back. In an old romance upon King Horn, published by Ritson 1, it is thus mentioned :

Than sehe lete forth bring
A swerd hougandbs a sing
To Horn sehe it betaught
Wit is the make of minning
Of all swerdes it is king
And Weland it wrought

Bitterfer the swerd hight. But a still more ancient notice of the tradition of Velant is found in the Anglo-Saxon translation of Boethius by King Alfred ©, who says, " Where now are the bones of the wise and famous goldsmith Velant? Who can now point out his tomb?” This even is not the only proof that the Anglo-Saxons were acquainted with this tradition. In a heroic poem upon the Skyldingues, written in Anglo-Saxon, and pub. lished for the first time by Thorkeling, Danish counsellor of state, Biodulph the Goth requires, that if he should happen to fall in fight, he should be buried in his armour--the workmanship of Velant.||

The Wayland Smith in Kenilworth, communicated by M. Depping, of Paris. t Besides what is said of it in Camden's Britannia, it is also alluded to in Wise's Letter to Dr. Mead, concerning some Antiquities in Berkshire, particularly the White Horse. Oxford, 1738, 4to.

Ancient English Metrical Romances. London, 1802, vol.3. Š Oxford edition, 1693, page 43 and 162.

ii De Danorum rebus gestis, poema Danicum dialecto Anglo-saxonico ex biblioth. Cotton. Havnice, 1815, Chant 6.

« AnteriorContinuar »