Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

"Let the tempest arise," and the tempest arises and moves on, leaving behind him death and desolation as the marks of his foot-print. The heavens are dark, the clouds gather, they assemble in solemn blackness over the lake; and the waters are dark, they foam and they toss in impotent rage; it seems as though they scorn, and would overleap their barriers. There is a deep silence. The bird is away to its nest on the shore, and covers its young with its trembling wing. The fishes have retired to the depth of the wave, every living thing has sought its covert. There is a heaviness on the air worse than the stillness. Now the fury of the storm breaks forth. The cloud has burst, and, lo! torrents descend from the opened windows of the sky. The waves arise, terrible in their blackness; the thunder rolls hoarsely; it approaches,—it is the voice of wrath. A flash of lightning lights up with terrible distinctness the rolling waters. There is a slight speck tossing about,-it sinks-it reappears-it is a boat, and there are living creatures in it. They cry for help, but their cry is vain; they toss of despair. They are in the middle of the lake, where the depth of the waters has never yet been sounded! Heaven help them! Another flash,-they have disappeared, and the waves have closed over them. Who would believe that these are the waters of whose still beauty we sung erewhile. Farewell to thee, Lake Leman! Farewell to thy roaring mountains of fathomless waves! Terrible art thou when the spirit of the storm is abroad upon thee! Terrible art thou in thy tempests!

their arms in the agony

THE YOUTH OF D'AUBIGNY.

[ocr errors]

There are, perhaps, few continental cities that offer a greater variety of attractions to travellers of all classes, than Geneva. The sentimental may roam on the shores of its lake, and manufacture rhymes respecting its balmy air and waters fair; the gourmand may luxuriate over the delicious trout with which those same waters abound. I must indeed give a passing sigh to those exquisite specimens of ichthyology myself; I venerate those trout, and dear to me is the remembrance thereof. Such trout! oh ye gods! — diviner food than your ambrosia - but I digress I beg pardon- those trout!! - The artist may walk to Ferney, look from Voltaire's terrace, and confess that even his critical eye is satisfied: in fact, if he have a soul, he cannot, just then, think of criticising. The lover of ascending heights may clamber to the summit of Mont Antoine, and acknowledge that his trouble has been seldom so well repaid; and fine ladies and children of all ages may visit Monsieur Bott's magazine, and behold the fairy tales of Araby the blest, enacted. Birds that trill, and warble, and quaver, and at last sink down exhausted with their own sweet song, into the flowerbell from which, at the magician's touch, they did emerge, apes, playing on harps with a mien as fantastical as half the harp-players of fairer form, caterpillars that crawl, and mice that nibble; and yet are all these creatures unendowed with the breath of life. But it is not for any one of the attractions here enumerated that I love Geneva. I love Geneva for the spirit of real religion that dwells in the city, and

for the hospitable and tolerant spirit with which at all times she has received and honoured those, who, persecuted by bigotry and party spirit in their own lands, have hastened hither as to a city of refuge. Yes; I love Geneva, and though many a time my ancles were twisted and wrenched by the vile round stones of her narrow dirty streets, I made many a pilgrimage to her churches, to look on the spot wherein the brave and the upright were buried. Touching one of the holy dead who sleeps in the precincts of St. Peter's Church, I heard many particulars which interested me deeply, for he was one of the truest-hearted and most valiant among France's heroes when France was a land of chivalry.

He, of whom I am about to speak, prosecuted his youthful studies at Geneva, and at the early age of ten years had given so decided a promise of the future firmness of his character, that when, being imprisoned on a charge of heresy, they offered him the terrible alternative of death or the mass, he answered, "The fear of the mass has taken away the fear of death!" Theodore d'Aubigny was the descendant of a noble family, but so poor that he saw no other prospect than that of cutting his road to fortune with his own good sword. But while he was busily engaged in various sieges and battles, it happened that the inheritance of his fathers fell to him. Still poor, and covered with honourable wounds, he returned to claim his lands, but a stranger had taken possession of the orphan's property, and he was disowned by his relations. Sick of fever, fever brought on by rage and disappointment,―smarting under a bitter sense of injustice, so hard to bear, he dragged his

weary limbs to Orleans, and there with the paleness of death on his brow, and indignation in his heart, he forced his way into the presence of the judges. Faint and sick, with death quivering on his lip, he insisted on pleading his own cause. He stated his claims, brought forward convincing proofs of his right, and then pleaded so pathetically, and spoke in words so touching of his wrongs, his sufferings, and his extreme distress, that the judges called out with one voice, "None but his father's son could speak thus!" and without hesitation they awarded to him his patrimony.

We have seen our young hero as a soldier and an orator; let us now behold him in a different character. It was a bright afternoon in the early part of September, when a very happy though small party assembled on the old stone terrace, at the back of the Chateau de Talcy. A fairer spot for the free communing of happy hearts could scarcely have been devised. The terrace overlooked a splendid prospect of hill and valley, redolent of the bright hues of autumn, and at this moment burnished with the rich sunset; round the heavy gothic pillars that skirted the terrace, some fair hand had trained a sweet variety of creepers, and they grew luxuriantly, and their bright flowers of every hue contrasted sweetly with the old grey stone. At one end of the terrace, under a group of fine orange trees, rich at once in blossom and in fruit, sat an old knight of grave yet not stern aspect; and by his side a fair and innocent girl who leaned confidingly against him; and at their feet reclined a young and graceful cavalier, to whom they both listened, as they listen who love to listen. It

was of battles and sieges that the young man spoke, and though yet in the very first bloom of early manhood he spoke only of those in which he had himself taken active part. The old man, who had been a warrior, in early days, listened with breathless attention to details of the siege of Pons, of Archiac; of the battle of Jarnac, and the great skirmish of la Roche Abeille. The old man's eye lighted up and his brow kindled, as he drank in the spirited words of the young soldier's speech; but the maiden's colour changed and her lip quivered only when he spoke, as truth sometimes obliged him to speak, of the part he had himself borne in these affrays. Suddenly there was a stop in the animated discourse. A sound as of the trampling of armed men was heard; the sounds seemed to come along the high road in front of the Chateau. The old man arose with troubled aspect, and he said "Away, away, chevalier! thy persecutors draw nigh; I will keep them in parley while thou dost escape to the hidden bower in the garden. My child will show thee the way.'

[ocr errors]

Now, it happened that this old terrace was supported by two stone pillars of enormous thickness. Theodore advanced to the parapet wall: he was about to throw himself from it; but a low sweet voice whispered, "They will be here in a moment; they will see you in the garden from hence; follow me."Lightly the girl crossed the terrace; she looked for a moment on the marble squares with which it was paved, touched a spring, and, lo! the stone rose up and disclosed to view a narrow winding staircase, concealed within the huge round pillar whereof we spoke anon. "I cannot descend," he said, and his brow

« ÎnapoiContinuă »