Page images
PDF
EPUB

the soul? I can shed tears over human griefs; but thus viewed, they do not discourage me: they strengthen my faith in God.

EXERCISE LXXXIX.

CATASTROPHE OF THE TOWN OF SCILLA.

Craven.

The shock which a great part of the Calabrian coast experienced from an earthquake, on the morning of the fifth of February, 1783, had been highly detrimental to the town of Scilla, and had levelled with the dust most of the houses situated on the upper range. The castle had also suffered considerable damage. It was the residence of the prince, whose advanced age and infirmities had rendered him almost indifferent to the fate which appeared to threaten his existence, in common with that of the whole population. He had determined on awaiting the event before the crucifix in his chapel, but was persuaded to leave the walls of a mansion which appeared scarcely able to resist farther concussion, and seek his safety in flight towards the mountains, where he possessed a magnificent residence.

But the road that led out of the town, was so encumbered with the ruins of the buildings which had been overthrown, that it was resolved to defer his departure till the following day; and a temporary, and apparently secure, asylum, was sought on the strand of one of the two small bays which are separated by the castle, and form harbours for the fishingboats. To the largest of these, on the southern side of the promontory, the nobleman retired, and prepared to pass the night in a felucca which had been hauled upon the sand, with all the other vessels belonging to the place; serving as receptacles for the remains of property or household goods, saved by their unfortunate owners, out of their fallen habitations.

Here all the surviving individuals had assembled, and, after a day of terror, hoped to pass a few hours of comparative ease and tranquillity. The Ave Maria * had been said, in which, the feudal despot, and his people, now reduced to one common level of humiliation, by the visitations they appre

* Pronounced, Altay Mareea.

hended, had joined with all the fervour of penitence and fear. The cries of motherless babes, and the lamentations of childless parents, had subsided with the commotions of the earth; while grief, terror, and even despair, lost their power of excitement, and all had sunk under the languor of bodily, as well as mental exhaustion. Not a breath of air disturbed the stille ness of the atmosphere, - not the slightest ripple was audible on the surface of the sea. It seemed as if the elements, mankind, and Nature herseli, had wasted their energies, and yielded to the necessity of repose.

At about half-past seven, a distant but loud crash proclaimed some new disaster, and awakened to a fearful state of suspense, all the silent sufferers. A powerful recurrence of the morning's shocks had severed a large portion of Mount Bari,

- which forms the next promontory, towards the east, — and dashed its silivered mass into the sea.

The darkness precluded an immediate communication of this event to the trembling population on the sands, and also shrouded from their knowledge the anticipation of its consequences. They were roused by the earthquake; but, extended on the beach, and out of the reach of all buildings, they thought themselves comparatively secure from real danger. A low, rustling noise was heard, and gradually but rapidly, increased to the roar of the most impetuous hurricane. The waters of the whole channel, impelled by the pressure of the fallen mountain, had rushed, in a single wave, over the opposite point of the Faro, which it entirely inundated. Thrown back towards the Calabrian coast, it passed with impetuosity over the shore of Scilla, and, - in its retreat to the bosom of the deep, - swept from its surface every individual who had thought to find safety in the barrenness of its sands ! — One abhorrent shriek, uttered by the united voices of four thousand human beings, thus snatched to eternity, reëchoed from the mountains; and the tremendous wave, returning, a second and last time, rose to the elevation of the highest houses that yet remained entire, and buried many of them in masses of mud and sand; leaving on their flat roofs, and among the branches of the trees which grew out of the impending rock, the mangled bodies of some of the victims it had destroyed. But these last were not many; for the mass, including the prince of Scilla, were never seen or heard of more.

EXERCISE XC.

MORNING. . Anon.

“Look now around the heavens! The sun,

Like a monarch returning, both blessing and blest,” is now far on his glorious journey. And now turn your eyes, blind with “excess of light," and behold again the refreshing green of the pastoral earth.

“Straight your eye hath caught new pleasures,

As the landscape round it measures :
Russet lawns and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray ;
Meadows trim, and daisies pied,

Shallow brooks, and rivers wide.” The grass tapers up like myriads of spears, raised in some fairy armament: here and there, the daisies show their silvercrowned heads, as though they were tributary kings of the lesser heptarchies, and smaller tribes of

“Elves, and fays, and fairies slim :" kingcups are lifted up at every step you take, like golden bowls filled to the brim with dew; primroses, cowslips, and violets crowd about the hills, and cluster under the hawthornsweetened hedges; and, “retired as the noontide dew," the lovely lily of the valley droops her delicate head, and looks as pale as passion in young human faces. Turn now to those 56 mighty senators of the wood,” those venerable oaks, overtopping all their verdant neighbours. Behold the graceful laburnum, dropping its yellow clusters about the face of morning, like golden ringlets falling from the fair forehead of Beauty ! "l'he whole vernal world is now, indeed, in its youth, and pride, and glory!

“No tree in all the grove but has its charms,

Though each its hue peculiar : paler some,
· And of a wannish gray; the willow such,

And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf;
And ash, far-stretching his umbrageous arm :
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak.
Some glossy-leaved and shining in the sun; .

The maple, and the beech, of oily nuts
Prolific; and the lime, at dewy eve,
Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass
The sycamore, capricious in attire,
Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet

Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours dressed.” The gardens, too, are full of the freshness and beauty of morning. There the rose breathes her delicate fragrance, that dies not with her summer of life, but clings still to her leaves, though scattered and wafted wherever the winds list. There “The lilach, (various in array, now white, Now sanguine, . . . . . . . . . as if, — Studious of ornament, yet unresolved

Which hue she most approved, — she chose them all,)” loads the air with fragrance. And there,

“ Copious of flowers, the woodbine, pale and wan,

But wel! compensating her sickly looks

With never-cloying odours,” clings, like weakness, to the wall. The jessamine throws “ wide her elegant sweets.” Sweet peas flutter like variouswinged butterflies, ready for flight. Blue-bells seem to swing silently in the air, — to our ears, — but, perhaps, to beings better endowed, with finer perceptions, and organs more delicately tuned, are ringing an aërial peal. The fox-gloves, – with whom the bees love to wrestle, - bloom, and invite them to the sportive war. Pinks throw far and wide their clove-scented breath; and every flower of the field and the “trim garden,” has arrayed itself in all its glories, to welcome and do honour to the Morn.

[blocks in formation]

English ladies have never adopted the fashions of France so implicitly as the American. They always modify them, in a greater or less degree, to suit themselves, and the climate of the country. A first-rate London dress-maker goes to

Paris twice a year for her fashions; but there she sees some things which she knows will not accord with English notions, and therefore she passes them by, and only brings over what she thinks will suit her more sober countrywomen. At this distance from the fountain of taste, our dress-makers cannot exercise the same discretion; they, therefore, are obliged to trust to agents, and to rely on prints representing the fashions. The Parisians, who furnish garments made to order for the Americans, are known to send out such extravagant specimens, as ladies of bon ton would not wear in Paris; yet these are implicitly adopted here, as the reigning mode.

There is some convenience in having a standard of fashion that all may conform to: the eye soon becomes reconciled to whatever is universally worn; but we ought to mistrust all extravagant French models, and, by modifying our copies of them, escape being made ridiculous, at the will and pleasure of a marchand des modes or a Parisian dress-maker. The ladies of Philadelphia are the best dressed in the United States; and may not this be attributable to the influence of the Quaker and the French population of that city ? — the one tending to moderation from principle, the other from taste.

There is one thing which is never sufficiently taken into account in the fashions of this country; and that is climate. Receiving our models from the equable temperature of France, they are often unsuited to the scorching suns of our summers, and the severe frosts of our winters. The English ladies set us a good example in this respect; they always accommodate their fashions to the dripping skies of their moist climate, and the chilliness produced by it: accordingly, there never has been a winter, for thirty years, when muffs were not generally worn. Broadcloth suits their drizzling weather particularly well; and therefore habits made of it, and coats and cloahs to wear in carriages, are always in use. Beaver hats, for riding on horseback, are always in fashion for the same reason; and so are coarse straw bonnets, particularly in the country, for an undress, and thick leather shoes, for walking through the mud. The most delicately bred fine lady in the land, puts on cotton stockings and thick shoes, to walk out for exercise, and would think it very unlady-like not to be so provided; and, on more dressy occasions, when she wears silk hose, she would on no account go out, in cold weather, without warm shoes, either kid lined with fur, or quilted silk shoes foxed with leather. To walk

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »