Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

seemed now to be deeply interested. "If you live in Philadelphia," said she, "perhaps you know our Ben."

13. "Who, madam?"-" Why Ben. Franklin; my Ben.; oh, he is the dearest child that ever blest a mother." "What," said the Doctor, "Is Ben. Franklin, the printer, your son? Why, he is my dearest friend. He and I lodge in the same room." "Oh, heavens, forgive me," exclaimed the old lady, raising her watery eyes, "have I suffered a friend of my dear Benny to sleep all night in a hard chair, while I slept in a good bed."

14. How the Doctor, discovered himself to his mother he has not informed us;-but from the above experiment he was firmly convinced, and was often afterwards heard to declare that natural affection does not exist.

1.

2.

LESSON 69.

The Frost.-MISS H. F. GOULD.

THE Frost looked forth one still, clear night,
And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
So through the valley and over the height,
In silence I'll take my way.

I will not go on like that blustering train,
The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
Who make so much bustle and noise in vain.
But I'll be as busy as they!"

Then he flew to the mountain, and powdered its
crest;

He lit on the trees, and their boughs he drest
In diamond beads-and over the breast

Of the quivering lake, he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The downward point of many a spear,
That he hung on its margin, far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.

3. He went to the windows of those who slept, And over each pane, like a fairy, crept; Wherever he breathed, wherever he stepped,

4.

By the light of the morn were seen

Most beautiful things; there were flowers and trees;
There were bevies of birds and swamrs of bees;
There were cities with temples and towers; and
these

All pictured in silver sheen!

But he did one thing that was hardly fair,
He peeped in the cupboard, and finding there,
That all had forgotten for him to prepare,

"Now, just to set them a-thinking,
I'll bite this basket of fruit," said he,
"This costly pitcher I'll burst in three;
And the glass of water they've left for me
Shall 'tchick!' to tell them I'm drinking!"

LESSON 70.

DEFINITION.

Am-phi-the-a-tre, a large circular building furnished with seats, in which shows were exhibited, particularly combats of wild beasts, gladiators, &c. for the amusement of spectators.

Conflagration at Rome of an Amphitheatre.
CROLY.

1. ROME was an ocean of flame. Height and depth were covered with red surges, that rolled before the blast like an endless tide. The billows burst up the sides of the hills, which they turned into instant volcanoes, exploding volumes of smoke and fire; then plunged into the depths in a hundred glowing cataracts, then climbed and consumed again.

2. The distant sound of the city in her convulsion went to the soul. The air was filled with the steady

roar of the advancing flame, the crash of falling houses. and the hideous outcry of the myriads flying through the streets, or surrounded and perishing in the conflagration.

4. All was clamor, violent struggle, and helpless death. Men and women of the highest rank were on foot; trampled by the rabble that had then lost all respect of conditions. One dense mass of miserable life, irresistible from its weight, crushed by the narrow streets, and scorched by the flames over their heads, rolled through the gates like an endless stream of black lava.

4. The fire had originally broken out upon the Palatine, and hot smoke that wrapped and half blinded us, hung thick as night upon the wrecks of pavilions and palaces; but the dexterity and knowledge of my inexplicable guide carried us on.

5. It was in vain that I insisted upon knowing the purpose of this terrible traverse. He pressed his hand on his heart in re-assurance of his fidelity, and still spurred on. We now passed under the shade of an immense range of lofty buildings, whose gloomy and solid strength seemed to bid defiance to chance and time.

6. A sudden yell appalled me. A ring of fire swept round its summit; burning cordage, sheets of canvass, and a shower of all things combustible, flew into the air above our heads. An uproar followed, unlike all that I had ever heard, a hideous mixture of howls, shrieks and groans.

7. The flames rolled down the narrow street before us, and made the passage next to impossible. While we hesitated, a huge fragment of the building heaved as if in an earthquake, and fortunately for us fell inwards. The whole scene of terror was then open.

8. The great amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus had caught fire: the stage, with its inflammable furniture, was intensely blazing below. The flames were wheeling up, circle above circle, through the seventy thousand

seats that rose from the ground to the roof. I stood in unspeakable awe and wonder on the side of this colossal cavern, this mighty temple of the city of fire. At length a descending blast cleared away the smoke that covered the arena.

9. The cause of those horrid cries was now visible. The wild beasts kept for the games had broken from their dens. Maddened by affright and pain, lions, tigers, panthers, wolves, whole herds of the monsters of India and Africa, wereenclosed in an impassable barrier of fire.

10. They bounded, they fought, they screamed, they tore; they ran howling round and round the circle; they made desperate leaps upwards through the blaze; they were flung back, and fell only to fasten their fangs in each other, and, with their parching jaws bathed in blood, to die raging.

11. I looked anxiously to see whether any human being was involved in this fearful catastrophe. Tomy great relief, I could see none. The keepers and attendants had obviously escaped. As I expressed my gladness, I was startled by a loud cry from my guide, the first sound that I had heard him utter.

12. He pointed to the opposite side of the amphitheatre. There indeed sat an object of melancholy interest; a man who had been either unable to escape, or had determined to die. Escape was now impossible. He sat in desperate calmness on his funeral pile. He was a gigantic Ethiopian slave, entirely naked.

13. He had chosen his place, as if in mockery, on the imperial throne; the fire was above him and around him; and under this tremendous canopy he gazed, without the movement of a muscle, on the combat of the wild beasts below; a solitary sovereign, with the whole tremendous game played for himself, and inaccessible to the power of man.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]
« AnteriorContinua »