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he saw a tiny cloud, like a scattered handful of swans' down, float into sight. And it spread till the blue canopy was all fleecy white, which deepened in tint, till it merged into one dark and lurid cloud, which poured down a freshening shower.
And Herbert passed on.
Presently, he found himself standing upon the brow of a hill, and a noble city lay stretched before him in the valley beneath. Many a tall church steeple pointed upwards to the skies, and raised its glittering cross far above the surrounding buildings—meet emblem of the superiority of heavenly over earthly things. Busy multitudes were thronging the wide and well-built streets, each intent on his own business or pleasure.
But it was towards a miserable alley, in the most thickly populated part of the town, that the voice directed Herbert's attention.
He saw nought but a flickering light, that gleamed through the broken casement of one cottage yet more wretched than the rest. He strained his eyes intently, and at length found that it proceeded from the almost expiring embers of a wood fire that smouldered on the hearth.
It was evening, and of the busy crowd each returned to his own home, and the shades of night drew on. The voice bade Herbert fix his eyes on the now almost imperceptible flicker of that little ember on the peasant's hearth. Suddenly it shot up a tiny spark, which fell on the dry floor, and lo! the hut was instantly in a blaze !
The unhappy inmates, awakened from their sleep, filled the air with cries of terror, as they rushed, half clad, through the flames into the street. But they suffered not alone. A few moments longer, and the adjoining houses were also in a blaze !
It was even so—that one little spark,—that one spark had done its work. The city was in flames !
House after house now illuminated the very skies with a lurid glare, and now darkened them with thick columns of smoke. Onward they rushed, more fiercely than ever, and gathered strength every minute.
That morning's dawn saw the smiling and prosperous city one vast heap of black and smoking ruins !
* The beginning was small, but not so the result," sorrowfully whispered the voice,
Then Herbert thought he was in a grove of low shrubs, from the broad leaves of which hung bright yellow balls, like golden fruit.
“These,” said the voice, “ are the cocoons of the silkworm. It is from threads woven by a little crawling worm, that are formed the rich robes of silk and velvet worn by the great ones of the earth.”
Then Herbert found himself, as in an instant, floating in a light skiff upon the mighty ocean. “ Seest thou yon white speck, barely visible above the foaming waves ? It is a coral island, -the work of an insect, so small, as to be invisible to the naked eye. Yet has it increased day by day, atom upon atom, and will increase yet more.”
And then it seemed to Herbert as though many years had flown swiftly by, and he was again sailing in the light skiff.
And the voice bade him look once more towards the spot where he had last seen but a little speck; and behold! a green and fertile island.
“Now,” cried the voice, “ wilt thou not, impatient youth, be content with small beginnings ? Shall Nature, in all her forms, progress with slow and gradual development, whilst thou strugglest to grasp at once what thousands such as thou have acquired but with pains and difficulty, and by a steady course of patient application ? Distrust not, then, again, the power of Perseverance !”
Herbert heard no more ; for the rays of the morning sun darted in upon his face, and he awoke.—The Churchman’s Companion.
WHEN, in the beginning of time, nature had founded the mountains, and hollowed out the basin of the sea, she walked forth from her cloudy pavilion to the Gotthards, and spake, “ It is right that goodness should unite itself to greatness, and that an extensive sphere of activity should be allotted to strength. Thou standest firm, but I will give thee a son, who shall carry afar the power and blessing which thou receivest from the heavens.”
She spake, and the Rhine gushed out of the mountain.
Joyful and free, full of spirit and vigour, the young stream bubbled down from the mountain. Playfully he tumbled down into the lake; but the lake enchained him not. The waves parted asunder; unenfeebled, and in his own proper form, the stream came forth and advanced on his path. For he was a son of Nature, and born of the mountain.
He was now a youth, and he chose his own path. Noble Nature errs not in her choice ; she chooses greatness and worth. He cut for himself a way through rocks and mountains, which disciplined and tempered the impetuosity of his youthful vigour. Thus, too, vine-covered hills bordered the path of the youth. · Splendid was his career. A hundred streams and innumerable brooks mingled their lovely waters with his powerful flood. So the godlike attracts to itself the noble, and the high seeks to ally itself to the highest.
Manly and calm was now his step; more sedately he flowed along, but not more feebly. The rigour of winter would bind him in everlasting fetters ; but he rent them in pieces, as one rends a thread. He had practised his strength in his youth, and torn rocks asunder.
His surface now resembled a polished mirror. Not the joyful vine-branch, the fruit of the mountain, but richly blessing corn fields encompassed him; his back carried ships and floats. Thus calm strength produces the useful along with the beautiful.
He now approached the limit of his career. Nature divided him into manifold streams, which are called by other names. Men give him the name RHINE alone, when they speak of his greatness and his blessings.
Thus calm strength retains its dignity and honour.
HENRY DE NEMOURS; OR FRATERNAL AFFECTION.
The French people having in 1789 taken possession of the Bastile, that ancient state prison, where so many political crimes had been committed, where such fearful vengeance had been summarily and secretly executed, the whole edifice was ransacked, and totally destroyed. On that occasion, a great iron cage was found, which proved to be that in which the Cardinal de Belue, minister of Louis XI., had expiated for eleven years the atrocious guilt of being the inventor, but for other victims, of the instrument which thus served for his own punishment. In another dungeon was discovered a second iron cage, smaller, in the shape of a bowl, wide at top, and terminating at the bottom in a point so narrow, that any one shut up in it could neither sit, nor lie, nor stand upright. The last mentioned cage was the only one now remaining, of two, which had served, three centuries before, as the prison of two young princes, Henri and François de Ne. mours, sons of Jacques d'Armagnac, who in the reign of Louis XI. was Constable of France. It is well known to any who have read French History, that d'Armagnac had leagued with the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany (Bre. tagne) to deliver up France to the English. This plot, which would have snatched the sceptre from the hands of the French monarch, was discovered to Louis when just ripe for execution, and Jacques d'Armagnac was instantly arrested, and sentenced to be beheaded. He had two sons 80 young at the time of his treason and its punishment, that when these poor children were asked if they had not been the accomplices of their father, they might have an. swered with the lamb in the fable; “How could I, when I was not born?” Nevertheless, by a refinement of cruelty which even the barbarism of the age cannot palliate, much less justify, Louis XI. ordered white robes to be put on the two boys, and thus attired, they were placed under the scaffold on which their father was standing, and when he received the fatal blow, the executioner sprinkled the white robes and their innocent heads with the blood of the cri. minal. Nor was the vengeance of Louis satiated by the punishment of the Constable. The two orphans, dyed in a father's blood, were taken to the Bastile, dragged to the subterranean dungeons, and there put into the two iron cages described before. Henri de Nemours was then eight years old, and his brother François was nearly seven.
The unhappy children, thus condemned to continual torture, had no other consolation but putting their hands through the bars of the cages to grasp each that of the other. And all day long, and all night long, the young brothers were hand in hand.
François, the younger of the two, was the most despond. ing. “I am so much hurt here,” said he, “surely we cannot live long this way." And he wept. : “ Come, come,” replied Henri, “ a pretty fellow to cry
at your age ; besides you know that papa never liked that we should cry. You see they are treating us like men of whom they are afraid, so we must not behave like children. Instead of crying, let us talk of poor dear mamma.”
And then the poor victims of the cruel policy of Louis XI. talked of days gone by, and of the beautiful domain of Loctour, where they had passed the first years of infancy. Once again did they climb their own hills of Armagnac, once more wander in its thick woods, once more run races in the broad walks of the baronial park. But alas! it was only in imagination-yet the young prisoners found a momentary oblivion of their sufferings in that blessed magic of memory which makes the present cease to exist for us, by bringing us back into the past.
One other slight alleviation to their wretchedness was afforded to these infant martyrs by a very little mouse, which, having crept out of its hole one day, was at first so terrified by the sight of the young princes, that it ran back as fast as possible to its hiding place. In vain did the children try to coax it; it was not till the next day, that, pressed by hunger, she ventured out to pick up some of the crumbs which they had purposely let fall from the cages. By degrees, however, she became accustomed to the voices of the children, and a few days after her first appearance, she grew so tame, that she climbed up to the cages of her patrons, and at length used to go from one to the other, and eat out of their hands.
But it was a small thing to the vindictive Louis that the blood of d'Armagnac had stained the fair hair and white robe of his children. He heard that the two little prisoners of the Bastile were enduring their sufferings with fortitude; that, through custom's wondrous power they had learned to sleep soundly in their iron cage, nay, even to awake with an almost cheerful “good morrow" on their lips. He heard it can any heart that responds to one human feeling believe that it but impelled him to devise fresh torture for them ? He issued orders that a tooth should be extracted every week from each of the children.
When the person appointed to this office, a man too long accustomed, as the minister of the king's savage cruelty, to the sight of suffering, to shrink from inflicting it, was introduced into the dungeon, he could not suppress an exclamation of pity at the spectacle of the two unhappy,