Imágenes de páginas

brilliancy with the silver moon herself, formed a landscape which even Claude would not have disdained to paint.

We spent nearly an hour in this quiet place, inhaling the fragrant tumbuk, and sipping the thick black coffee. Our conversation turned principally on England, and I was expected to enumerate all the wonders to be witnessed in that land of wonders, and to give my opinion as to the length of time a British fleet would take in blowing the forts we then saw out of the water. It is the general impression in Egypt that sooner or later this consummation must come to pass; but by the Levantines the idea is not considered at all pleasant, whilst the Arabs look forward to the event, if not with hope, at least with indifference. The Levantine population being principally Catholics, would prefer the domination of the French.

Having paid a few piastres to the master of the coffee-house, we returned to the precincts of the fair. By this time a vast crowd had collected from all parts of the city, of which, I think, the majority were women. I may take this opportunity of remarking, that if any person is fond of handsome eyes, he has only to come to this country to be satisfied. A great many of the women are in every respect exceedingly beautiful; so that it does not require the force of imagination that Shakspeare supposed to

[ocr errors]

On the present occasion, without desiring to be at all satirical on the fair Alexandrians, it was pretty evident that, in spite of their veils, their principal object in coming forth was to be admired. They took every possible means to attract attention, and in many cases their veils were so carelessly put on that a great part of their face could be discovered.

After rambling about a good deal, both in the square and in the narrow moon-lit streets and dark passages in its precincts, we returned, considerably fatigued, to our homes.




I Took a walk to see the statue of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park. There he sits, overlooking the multitude, wielding his truncheon—a great General. He has won battles, he has stormed cities, he has caused the slaying of thousands, and—he has gained a name !

I turned to go home again, and passed along Oxford StreetThere I saw a poor boy sweeping a crossing; but not such as is generally seen. He had formed a straight clean path across the road, edged with a narrow border of “street dirt.” He then (with the same material) made, as decorations along the outside of the crossing—a series of hearts, circles within circles, ovals, &c. : and that with a regularity that was perfectly astounding in a ragged beggar boy. It was done with almost artistic skill, and I felt that he had a mind above his station.

The philosophic, the scientific, the artistic, and the skilful in general, may jeer at my bringing such a paltry circumstance into notice; but of them I ask, Can they fathom the mind of man? If they can, let them read that poor boy's, and tell the world what it contains, that it may not for ever be steeped in the darkmess of ignorance 2

I still continued my way homewards, and these thoughts revolved in my mind. I thought, though the statue of the General may rear its head high up above men, and may, perchance, occupy that station for ages yet to come—still, the obscure beggar, who may be doomed all his life to grovel in the dirt of streets to obtain a pittance, proved to me that there exists a germ of beauty in every human mind, and only proper and sufficient cultivation is required to expand and fructify it.

S. W.


“They have no vision of a better world
To whom this present world seems not a dream.”

“HE who strives to unite the REAL and the IDEAL must endure toil and sorrow. In either of these regions he might find peace; but let him endeavour to unite them and he will need the spirit of prophecy, telling of bright things to come, to sustain his courage. Yet the only true life is in this labour. He who is solely devoted to the ideal is a dreamer; while he who is satisfied with the real is equally ignorant of the true life and the true work of man.”

Such was the meditation of a young poet, who sat looking from his study-window in the evening. “No l’’ he continued, as he saw the sons of toil pass by with joyless faces, “this is not the time nor the place for poetry. I can write visions of paradise upon this paper; but what can I do to write anything like true poetry upon the face of this real world ! ” Thus he meditated until his thoughts had wandered so far that he knew not where he was. The twilight gathered ; and the full, red harvest-moon was just rising over the hill, when a strange visitor entered the poet's study. He was an old man with a mild, benevolent and shining countenance. Without any introduction, he advanced towards the young student, looked upon him with a smile, and said:—“Will you go with me to that land of which you have been dreaming—the land where life is poetry, and men are happy?”

“I will go! ” said the young poet, “gladly ' "

“But,” said the visitor, with a serious countenance, “are you prepared to do your work when you return ? If I give you a glimpse of the New World, will you endeavour to copy some of its features in this Old World, of which you complain 7–for observe, to none is that brighter world displayed as a mere spectacle, but as a model, to be imitated here. In all ages visions of that world, (called ‘heaven,” or “paradise,” or the ‘millennial state,') have been granted to poets, prophets, and philanthropists, that they might return to this world inspired with zeal to improve its fallen condition. If you would be one of this band of men, come with me!”

“Gladly l’” said the poet, following his guide. They passed through villages and hamlets where the poor were going to rest under their roofs of straw ; then by noble mansions and through spacious parks and avenues of stately trees, until they approached the suburbs of a great city glittering with a thousand lamps. On the main road a lord's carriage was almost driven over a poor infirm man. “A type of this Old World!” said the poet. “We take better care of each other in our New World,” said the guide. As they passed over a bridge, on its battlements stood a woman about to throw herself into the water; but the guide seized her gently and whispered some words into her ear which seemed to aet as a charm. “See,” said the poet, “in one of these chambers, perhaps, sits some poor author distressed because his genius must not unfold for want of a little money; while in yon mansion, a merchant is studying the investment of an enormous capital. Men are so unlike each other here, that they cannot believe themselves to be brothers.” They passed by lanes crowded with children growing up in ignorance; and they met the carriage of a bishop returning from the House of Peers, where he had just delivered a speech against every mode of teaching the poor, excepting one which was quite impracticable. “Down that lane,” said the poet, “live poor women who ply the needle fourteen hours a-day for twopenee; and here comes the carriage of Madame Piccolo, who has earned five hundred pounds by singing in an opera to-night.” “This is such a strange, fantastic world, that it seems like a dream to me when I visit it sometimes,” said the guide; “but we will leave it now.” Then the scene suddenly changed; and nothing lay before the travellers but a wide expanse of country covered with moonlight. They passed along until they came to the sea-shore. “This is the sea,” said the guide, “which flows between the Old World and the New; it is the flood of Time, in which a great part of the Old World will be swallowed.” They embarked in a vessel, on the deep, clear, blue water. Below the waves they saw ruins which the waters had already covered. There were prison-walls, and chains, and scourges, all overgrown with sea-weeds, and bright-coloured fish were swimming in and out of the windows of old dungeons. “Thus,” said the guide, “all the grim monuments which distinguish the Old from the New World will be buried in these waters: then the two worlds will be alike, and a constant communication will be maintained between them over this sea.” As the voyagers proceeded on their way, the sky became clearer, and the face of the water assumed more beautiful colours. As morning dawned, a strain of sweet music was heard swelling over the water. The poet gazed in the direction from which the wind was blowing, and saw a green and gently-rising land. Snowy-white halcyons hovered over the blue sea, that laved the blooming coast. Along the slope there were lines of houses, each having a garden in the front. Streams and fountains played among the flowers, and gave life and freshness to the scene. On the summit of the hill rose a temple of white marble, from which the strain of music issued. “This is the Land of Rest,” said the guide, as the vessel touched the shore. “Let us go up to the temple, and join in the services.” So they walked through gardens, up the easy slope, until they came to the entrance of the temple. “It is the festival of Autumn,” said the guide, as they entered. Before them was a marble altar, covered with garlands of golden grain, fruits and flowers, and the teacher, clothed in a robe of white, with a scarf of emerald green, stood by the altar. “Religion with us,” said the guide, “maintains a communion with all the beautiful changes of nature, and with the progress of human life. It has the same basis as the religion professed in the Old World; but we develop it in a very different way. As God reveals his glory in various forms, we worship him in various modes." The most beautiful sight in the temple was the company of children, who sang with the men and women a hymn, in many parts, of gratitude to God for the harvest, and in praise of human industry. “The men who are singing,” said the guide, “are labourers in the fields, and these are their wives and children.” The hymn was beautifully sung. Sometimes one treble voice of a child gave out the subject, and then one voice after another stole into the strain, until it rose into a sweet and solemn fulness of sound. When the hymn was ended, the teacher gave an address, chiefly directed towards the children. “See, children,” said he, “all things live and work for each other. The sun, the rain, the dews, the earth, the moon, the

« AnteriorContinuar »