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Mingling their blood from mutual wounds, they lay
-Red evening comes; no husband's shadow falls
ALONE IN THE WORLD. The vaunted, “ well-beloved” Louis XV. died in 1774, and the new ministry appointed on the advent of his successor, having more kindly views, were determined to abate the iniquitous oppressions of the preceding reign. Thus, one of the leading acts of their clemency was an inspection and revision of the registers of those confined as state prisoners in the Bastile, but really in many cases immured there solely under the malign influence of individuals. Many were liberated, and among them one who had been pent within the chill and damp walls of a narrow cell during forty-seven years. Closed from all communication with mankind, beholding no face but that of the gaolers, who, in succession, had daily to provide him with food during nearly half a century, he had endured all these horrors with untiring constancy, although wholly unapprized of the existence or fate of his family or relations.
At length an unusual noise broke upon the stillness of the confines of his cell, the door opened, and a voice he had not heard before bade him come forth ! He scarcely knew the import of the words, and, not daring to trust his senses, fancied it a dream. The mandate repeated, he advanced with hesitation, and with trembling steps reached the stairs of his prison; bewildered and confounded he passed on; the hall, the court, and every space that met his eye seemed immense and vast beyond bounds. Stupefied with the novelty of all he saw, his sight became incapacitated to sustain the strong glare of the broad daylight, and he stood still with fixed eyes, unable to move or speak, questioning the reality of his own feelings. Admonitory accents fell on his ear to proceed, and with some further efforts, in which he was partially assisted, he passed beyond the main entrance.
With some consideration, a carriage there awaited him to conduct him to where he said he had formerly lived,
but the motion affrighted and hurt him. He begged to be released, and supported on his way, was led to the street in which was his former habitation; but the house was no longer there! on its site stood proudly a public edifice. None of the objects which were there in his youth had remained; the buildings, of which he had retained a partial recollection, had all changed their appearance. Even the passers by were to him a new race, and though he looked anxiously in their faces, he knew them not, nor did they know him. His remembrance of all things seemed passed, and he stood motionless and bewildered. Surrounded by living beings, he recognized no one, nor they him; tears involuntarily relieved the acuteness of his feelings, and in the earnestness of his sorrow, he entreated to be conducted back to his lost home-the cold and dreary cell.
His antiquated appearance, his prison garb, mention of the Bastile, and his imploring to experience it again as an asylum, soon caused a great crowd to congregate. The oldest present thought of others still older, who might be able to afford him some solution of his inquiries respecting his family. At last an old man appeared, whose infirmities had rendered him unable to work for fifteen years, but who had been a servant in his family. He failed to recognize his former master, and in reply to the inquiries as to his wife, said she had died of grief and want thirty years gone by : his agonized questions as to his children elicited simply some were dead, others had gone abroad, but no one knew where. No one of the friends he had borne in recollection were then living, and the old man's answers were uttered with all the stolidity and indifference of one who was speaking of events ordinarily long since passed and almost forgotten.
Wretched and unhappy, he felt the excess of his misery more amidst the crowd of strangers, no one of whom was in a condition to sympathize with him, though in a state of freedom, than before, when in his frightful solitude. He sought the minister by whose compassion he had been set at liberty, and throwing himself at his feet, begged of him to be sent back to the prison from whence he had freed him. “Who," said he, “can survive all his friends, all his relations, an entire generation ? Who can hear of the loss of every one who was dear or known to him, without wishing for himself the solace of the grave ? All these deaths which come one by one and by degrees upon other men, have fallen upon me in one instant. Separated from society, I lived by myself; here, I can neither live by myself nor with strangers, to whom my despair can only appear as a dream. It is not to die that is terrible, it is to die the last.”
The minister, moved with commiseration, directed everything that humanity could suggest to alleviate his sorrows. His old servant was placed in attendance on him, and with him he retired into a seclusion in the heart of Paris, hardly less solitary than the cell that had been his abiding-place for nearly half a century. His only consolation was to converse with him about his wife and children, with one constant result. A short period terminated his existence, and the thought that to the last appeared uppermost in his mind was the impossibility of his ever encountering any one who could say to him, “We have seen each other before”-in fact, that he was alone in the world.
AN OLD MAN'S IDYL.
Hand in hand, in the golden days
When skies were purple and breath was praise-
And the birds kept tune to the songs which ran
Through shimmer of flowers on grassy swards,
And trees with voices Æolian.
By the rivers of Life we walked together,
I and my darling, unafraid;
The burdens of Being on us weighed.
Mantles of joy outlasting Time, And up from the rosy morrows grew
A sound that seemed like a marriage chime.
In the gardens of Life we strayed together;
And the luscious apples were ripe and red, And the languid lilac and honeyed heather
Swooned with the fragrance which they shed. And under the trees the angels walked,
And up in the air a sense of wings Awed us tenderly while we talked
Softly in sacred communings.
In the meadows of Life we strayed together,
Watching the waving harvests grow; And under the benison of the Father
Our hearts, like the lambs, skipped to and fro. And the cowslips, hearing our low replies,
Broidered fairer the emerald banks ; And glad tears shone in the daisies' eyes,
And the timid violet glistened thanks.
Who was with us, and what was round us,
Neither myself nor my darling guessed ; Only we knew that something crowned us
Out from the heavens with crowns of rest; Only we knew that something bright
Lingered lovingly where we stood, Clothed with the incandescent light
Of something higher than humanhood.