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thrilling din the neighing of horses, the frequent blasts of the trumpet the whole made more solemnly imposing by the vast masses of cloud, which swept over the sky, now suddenly unveiling, and again eclipsing the sun, the great god of this idolatry, and from which few could withdraw their gaze; when, at once, this all broke upon my eye and ear, I was like a child, who before had never seen aught but his own village, and his own rural temple, in the effect wrought upon me, and the passiveness with which I abandoned myself to the sway of the senses.
4. Not one there was more ravished by the outward circumstances and show. I thought of Rome's thousand years, of her power, her greatness, and universal empire, and, for a moment, my step was not less proud than that of Aurelian.
5. But after that moment, when the senses had had their fill, when the eye had seen the glory, and the ear had fed upon the harmony and the praise, then I thought and felt very differently; sorrow and compassion for these gay multitudes were in my heart; prophetic forebodings of disaster, danger, and ruin to those, to whose sacred cause I had linked myself, made my tongue to falter in its speech, and my limbs to tremble.
6. I thought that the superstition, which was upheld by the wealth and the power, whose manifestations were before me, had its root in the very center of the earth, far too deep down, for a few, like myself, ever to reach them. I was like one whose last hope of life and escape is suddenly struck away. I was roused from these meditations by our arrival at the eastern front of the temple. Between the two central columns, on a throne of gold and ivory, sat the emperor of the world, surrounded by the senate, the colleges of augurs and haruspices, and by the priests of the various temples of the capital, all in their peculiar costume.
7. Then Fronto, the priest of the temple, when the crier nad proclaimed that the hour of worship and sacrifice had
• Ha-rus'pi-ces; Roman soothsayers. Fron'to; a Roman writer of distinction
come, and had commanded silence to be observed, standing at the altar, glittering in his white and golden robes, like a messenger of light, bared his head, and lifting his face up toward the sun, offered, in clear and sounding tones, the prayer of dedication. As he came toward the close of his prayer, he as is so usual, with loud and almost frantic cries, and importunate repetition, called upon the god to hear him, and then, with appropriate names and praises, invoked the father of gods and men, to be present and hear.
8. Just as he had thus solemnly invoked Jupiter" by name, and was about to call on the other gods in the same manner, the clouds, which had been deepening and darkening, suddenly obscured the sun; a distant peal of thunder rolled along the heavens, and, at the same moment, from the dark recesses of the temple, a voice of preternatural power came forth, proclaiming, so that the whole multitude heard the words,"God is but one; the King eternal, immortal, invisible!"
9. It is impossible to describe the horror that seized those multitudes. Many cried out with fear, and each seemed to shrink behind the other. Paleness sat upon every face. The priest paused, as if struck by a power from above. Even the brazen Fronto was appalled. Aurelian leaped from his seat, and by his countenance, white and awe-struck, showed that to him it came, as a voice from the gods. He spoke not, but stood gazing at the dark entrance into the temple, from which the sound had come.
10. Fronto hastily approached him, and whispering but one word, as it were, into his ear, the emperor started; the spell that bound him was dissolved, and recovering himself, making, indeed, as though a very different feeling had possessed him, cried out, in fierce tones to his guards, "Search the temple; some miscreant, hid away among the columns, profanes thus the worship and the place. Seize him and drag him forth to instant death!" The guards of the emperor, and the servants of the temple, rushed in at that bidding. They soon emerged,
a Jupiter was regarded by the Romans as the father of gods and men.
saying that the search was fruitless. The temple, in all its aisles and apartments, was empty.
11. The heavens were again obscured by thick clouds, which, accumulating into dark masses, began now nearer aud nearer to shoot forth lightning, and roll their thunders. The priest commenced the last office, prayer to the god to whom the new temple had been thus solemnly consecrated. He again bowed his head, and again lifted up his voice. But no sooner had he invoked the god of the temple, and besought his ear, than again, from its dark interior, the same awful sounds issued forth, this time saying, "Thy gods, O Rome, are false and lying gods! God is but one!"
12. Aurelian, pale as it seemed to me with superstitious fear, strove to shake it off, giving it, artfully and with violence, the appearance of offended dignity. His voice was a shriek, rather than a human utterance, as it cried out, "This is but a Christian device; search the temple, till the accursed Nazarene be found, and hew him piecemeal!" More he would have said; but, at the instant, a bolt of lightning shot from the heavens, and lighting upon a large sycamore which shaded a part of the temple court, clove it in twain.
13. The swollen cloud at the same moment burst, and a deluge of rain fell upon the city, the temple, the gazing multitudes, and the kindled altars. The sacred fires went out, in hissing darkness; a tempest of wind whirled the limbs of the slaughtered victims into the air, and abroad over the neighboring streets. All was confusion, uproar, terror, and dismay. The crowds sought safety in the houses of the nearest inhabitants, and the porches of the palaces. Aurelian and the senators, and those nearest him, fled to the interior of the temple.
14. The heavens blazed with the quick flashing of the lightning; and the temple itself seemed to rock beneath the voice of the thunder. I never knew in Rome so terrific a tempest. The stoutest trembled; for life hung by a thread.
a Nazarene'; a native of Nazareth; a follower of Jesus of Nazareth b Sacred firea fizes kept constantly burning on the altars in the heathen temples.
Great numbers, it has now been found, in every part of the
capital, fell a prey to the fiery bolts. The Capitol itself was struck, and the brass statue of Vespasian," in the forum, thrown down and partly melted. The Tiber in a few hours overran its banks, and laid much of the city and its borders under
DESCRIPTION OF A HERD OF BISONS."
1. "THERE come the buffaloes themselves, and a noble herd it is." Every eye was now drawn to the striking spectacle that succeeded. A few enormous bisons were first discovered scouring along the most distant roll of the prairie, and then succeeded long files of single beasts, which, in their turns, were followed by a dark mass of bodies, until the dun colored herbage of the plain was entirely lost in the deeper hue of their shaggy coats.
2. The herd, as the column spread and thickened, was like the endless flocks of the smaller birds, whose extended flanks are so often seen to heave up out of the abyss of the heavens, until they appear as countless as the leaves in those forests over which they wing their endless flight.
3. Clouds of dust shot up in little columns from the center of the mass, as some animal more furious than the rest plowed the plain with his horns, and, from time to time, a deep, hollow bellowing was borne along on the wind, as though a thousand throats vented their plaints in a discordant murmuring.
4. A long and musing silence reigned in the party, as they gazed on this spectacle of wild and peculiar grandeur. It was at length broken by the trapper, who, having been long accus
a Ves-pa'si-an; a Roman emperor of rare virtues, who died A. D. 79. b Bi'son; the American ox, being found only in North America. It is distinguished by the great projection over its fore shoulders, and dense hair growing upon the head, between the horns.
tomed to similar sights, felt less of its influence, or rather felt it in a less thrilling and absorbing manner, than those to whom the scene was more novel. 66 There," said he, "go ten thousand oxen in one drove, without keeper or master, except Him who made them, and gave them these open plains for their pasture!
5. "But the herd is heading a little this way, and it behooves us to make ready for their visit. If we hide ourselves, altogether, the horned brutes will break through the place, and trample us beneath their feet, like so many creeping worms; so we will just put the weak ones apart, and take post, as becomes men and hunters, in the van."
6. As there was but little time to make the necessary arrangements, the whole party set about them in good earnest. By the vacillating movements of some fifty or a hundred males, that led the advance, it remained questionable, for many moments, what course they intended to pursue.
7. But a tremendous and painful roar, which came from behind the cloud of dust that rose in the center of the herd, and which was horridly answered by the screams of carrion birds, that were greedily sailing directly above the flying drove, appeared to give a new impulse to their flight, and at once to remove every symptom of indecision.
8. As if glad to seek the smallest signs of the forest, the whole of the affrighted herd became steady in its direction, rushing in a straight line toward the little cover of bushes, which has already been so often named. The appearance of danger was now, in reality, of a character to try the stoutest
9. The flanks of the dark, moving mass, were advanced in such a manner as to make a concave line of the front, and every fierce eye, that was glaring from the shaggy wilderness of hair, in which the entire heads of the males were enveloped, was riveted with mad anxiety on the thicket.
10. It seemed as if each beast strove to outstrip his neighbor in gaining this desired cover, and as thousands in the rear