Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

lished a translation since Cary's, which, in all the highest qualities of a translation, has left its predecessors far behind.]

“ Through me ye enter the abode of woe :

Through me to endless sorrow are ye brought:

Through me amid the souls accurst ye go.
Justice did first my lofty Maker move;

By Power Almighty was my fabric wrought,

By highest Wisdom, and by Primal Love.
Ere I was form'd, no things created were,

Save those eternal-I eternal last :

All hope abandon-ye who enter here."
These words, inscribed in colour dark, I saw

High on the summit of a portal vast;

Whereat I cried : “O master! with deep awe
Their sense I mark.” Like one prepared, he said,

“Here from thy soul must doubt be cast away;

Here must each thought of cowardice be dead.
Now, at that place I told thee of, arrived,

The melancholy shades shalt thou survey,

Of God—the mind's supremest good-deprived."
Then, as he clasp'd my hand with joyful mien,

That comfort gave, and bade me cease to fear,

He led me down into the world unseen,
There sobs, and wailings, and heart-rending cries,

Resounded through the starless atmosphere,

Whence tears began to gather in mine eyes.
Harsh tongues discordant-horrible discourse-

Words of despair—fierce accents of despite

Striking of hands—with curses deep and hoarse,
Raised a loud tumult, which unceasing whirl'd

Throughout that gloom of everlasting night,

Like to the sand in circling eddies hurl'd.
Then (horror compassing my head around)

I cried : “O master, what is this I hear?

And who are these so plunged in grief profound ?”
He answered me: “The groans which thou hast heard

Proceed from those, who, when on earth they were,

Nor praise deserved, nor infamy incurr'd. Here with those caitiff angels they abide,

Who stood aloof in heaven-to God untrue,

Yet wanting courage with his foes to side. Heaven drove them forth, its beauty not to stain;

And Hell refuses to receive them too :

From them no glory could the damn'd obtain." “O master, what infliction do they bear,”

I said, “which makes them raise such shrieks of woe?”

He answered : “ That I will in brief declare. No hope of death have this unhappy crew;

And their degraded life is sunk so low,

With envy every other state they view. No record hath the world of this vile class,

Alike by Justice and by Pity spurn'd:

Speak we no more of them- but look-and pass.” And as I look'd, a banner I beheld,

That seem'd incapable of rest, and turn'd,

In one unvaried round for aye impelld; While shades were following in so long a train,

I ne'er forsooth could have believed it true

That Death such myriads of mankind had slain. And when I had examined many a shade,

Behold! that abject one appear'd in view,

Who, mean of soul, the grand refusal made. Straight I perceived, and distant recognised,

In that vast concourse the assembly vile

Of those by God and by his foes despised. These wretched ones, who never were alive,

All naked stood, full sorely stung the while

By wasps and hornets that around them drive. The cruel swarm bedew'd their cheeks with blood,

Which trickled to their feet with many a tear, ..

While worms disgusting drank the mingled flood.
Then, onward as I stretched mine eye, I saw

A mighty stream, with numbers standing near;
Whereat I said: “O master! by what law

Do these sad souls, whose state I fain would learn,

So eagerly to cross the river haste,

As by the doubtful twilight I discern ?" “ These things,” he answer'd me, “ shall all be told,

Soon as our feet upon the bank are placed . .

Of Acheron, that mournful river old.”. Mine eyes cast down, my looks o'erwhelm'd with shame,

Fearing my questions had oppress'd the sage,

I spake not till beside the stream we came. Lo! in a vessel o'er the gloomy tide .

An old man comes-his locks all white with age :

“Woe, woe to you, ye guilty souls !” he cried; . “Hope not that heaven shall ever bless your sight :

I come to bear you to the other shore,

To ice, and fire, in realms of endless night : And thou—who breathest still the vital air

Begone nor stay with these who live no more."

But when he saw that yet I linger'd there ! “ By other port,” he said, “ by other way,

And not by this, a passage must thou find ;

Thee a far lighter vessel shall convey." “ Charon," my guide return'd, " thy wrath restrain :

Thus it is willed where will and power are join'd; .

Therefore submit, nor question us again." The dark lake's pilot heard ;- and at the sound

Fell instant his rough cheeks, while flashing ranged

His angry eyes in flaming circles round.
But they—soon as these threatenings met their ear-

Poor, naked, weary souls--their colour changed;.

And their teeth chatter'd through excess of fear. God they blasphem'd, their parents, man's whole race,

The hour, the spot,--and e'en the very seed

To which their miserable life they trace : Then, while full bitterly their sorrows flow'd,

They gather'd to that evil strand, decreed

To all who live not in the fear of God. Charon, the fiend, with eyes of living coal,

Beckoning the mournful troop, collects them there,

[ocr errors]

And with his oar strikes each reluctant soul.
As leaves in autumn, borne before the wind,

Drop one by one, until the branch, laid bare,

Sees all its honours to the earth consign'd:
So cast them downward at his summons all

The guilty race of Adam from that strand,

Each, ás a falcon, answering to the call.
Thus pass they slowly o'er the water brown;

And ere on the opposing bank they land,
• Fresh numbers to this shore come crowding down.
“ All those, my son," exclaim'd the courteous guide, .

“Who in the wrath of the Almighty die,

Are gather'd here from every region wide:
Goaded by heavenly Justice in its ire,

To pass the stream they rush thus hastily;

So that their fear is turnid into desire.
By virtuous soul this wave is never cross'd;

Wherefore, if Charon warn thee to depart,

The meaning of his words will not be lost."
This converse closed--the dusky region dread

Trembled so awfully, that o'er my heart

Doth terror still a chilly moisture shed.
Sent forth a blast that melancholy realm,

Which, flashing a vermilion light around,

At once did all my senses overwhelm;
And down I sank like one in slumber bound.

277.—THE NILE AND THE DESERT.

H. MARTINEAU. (FROM EASTERN LIFE, PAST AND PRESENT.] ise DIODORUS Siculus tells us that Ante (supposed by Wilkinson to be probably the same with Ombte) had charge of the Ethiopian and Lybian parts of the kingdom of Osiris, while Osiris. went abroad through the earth to benefit it with his gifts. Antæ seems not to have been always in friendship with the house of Osiris, and was killed here by Hercules on behalf of Osiris; but he was worshipped here, near the spot where the wife and son of Osiris avenged his death on his murderer, Typho. The temple sacred to Ante, (or, in the Greek, Antæus,) parts of which were standing thirty years ago, was a rather modern affair, having been built about the time of the destruction of the Colossus of Rhodes. Ptolemy Philopater built it; and he was the Egyptian monarch who sent presents and sympathy to Rhodes on occasion of the fall of the Colossus. Now nothing remains of the monuments but some heaps of stones ; nothing whatever that can be seen from the river. The traveller can only look upon hamlets of modern Arabs, and speculate on the probability of vast“ treasures hid in the sand."

If I were to have the choice of a fairy gift, it should be like none of the many things I fixed upon in my childhood, in readiness for such an occasion. It should be for a great winnowing fan, such as would, without injury to human eyes and lungs, blow away the sand which buries the monuments of Egypt. What a scene would be laid open then! One statue and sarcophagus, brought from Memphis, was buried one hundred and thirty feet below the mound surface. Who knows but that the greater part of old Memphis, and of other glorious cities, lies almost unharmed under the sand? Who can say what armies of sphinxes, what sentinels of colossi, might start up on the banks of the river, or come forth from the hill sides of the interior, when the cloud of sand had been wafted away? The ruins which we now go to study might then appear occupying only eminences, while below might be ranges of pylons, miles of colonnade, temples intact, and gods and goddesses safe in their sanctuaries. What quays along the Nile, and the banks of forgotten canals! What terraces, and flights of wide shallow steps! What architectural stages might we not find for a thousand miles along the river, where now the orange sands lie so smooth and light as to show the track—the clear foot-print-of every beetle that comes out to bask in the sun! But it is better as it is. If we could once blow away the sand, to discover the temples and palaces, we should next want to rend the rocks, to lay open the tombs; and Heaven knows what this would set us wishing further. It is best as it is; for the time has not come for the full discovery of the treasures of Egypt. It is best as it is. The sand is a fine means of preservation; and the present inhabitants perpetuate enough of the names to serve

« AnteriorContinuar »