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above us, confirmed it. At first merely her lights hanging at her bow were dimly seen through the sheets of water which poured around us, but in a little time longer she appeared cleaving the waters with a dreadful velocity. She seemed an old square built vessel that had seen much service and was rapidly decaying, apparently one of those which pass regularly between Canada and Liverpool. Her mainmast was broken off close to the deck, and her tattered sails hung into the foam on each side of her. There was no one seen on the deck ; but the cries, loud, long, and terrible, which were distinguished when the thunder ceased for a moment, proved that she was not untenanted. When within a mile of the mainland, the wind slightly shifted and drove her towards another part of the beach. Those who were collected near us ran on towards that part of the shore to which she appeared destined ; and Davie and I followed after them about a mile, until we fell in with the Lord of who was in vain offering rewards to any one who would venture out to save those on board before the vessel should go to pieces. This she was expected to do instantly, for already was her keel heard scraping the hidden rocks, and her timbers sounded beneath the pressure of the billows.
* At length an immense mountain of water broke over her deck, a loud and desperate yell was heard, succeeded by the faint cries of drowning—then silence followed and nought was seen in the place where she had lately been, but fragments of wood, and floating barrels and bales of goods. Those on shore returned with sad looks and sad hearts, regretting that none was found daring enough to attempt the saving of human beings within sight-nearly within reach of us. Of those who had crowded the beach, none remained but a few professed wreckers, and some who hoped to save those whom the waters would wash to land. It was now past noon, and weary, wet, and sorrowful, I set out to return home, from which I had been absent for eight hours. When those who accompanied me on my return had proceeded about a quarter of a mile, our attention was attracted by a cry which we found to proceed from a person nearly within reach of the surf, who had fainted from the exertion of swimming to land from the wreck. His dress bespoke him as not a sailor, but there was a look about his eyes languid as they were, which proclaimed his ferocious temper. When we raised him we found him too much exhausted to move, and were obliged to carry him to Davie's cottage, where we procured a cart which conveyed him to my house. He appeared so ill with his sufferings that I had him immediately laid in bed, hoping that rest would recruit him. He awoke not until late on the following day, when his first effort was to cry out with a curse, demanding where he
was. He lay nearly insensible for three days, after which he regained his strength gradually, and in a month rambled all over the country, particularly on the cliffs which hung over the sea. Yet even when thus capable of exertion, he made no mention of departing, which we eagerly desired, as his company was far from agreeable.
“ From one of his excursions he returned unusually late, and seemed still more ill-tempered than usual. He began, after a long silence, by inquiring in a dissembled tone of indifference, if I knew a John Duncan. I replied, I had known him when alive, but that he had been dead seven years. * He died poor, did he? continued our mysterious guest in an eager tone." No!" answered I, “I have reason to believe not, for he left me, tho' only a distant relation, £1000, under condition of its reverting to his nephew, if he should ever return" . I am that nephew!" and starting up, he tapped violently at the window as a signal for the entrance of two old dames, who eager to make interest with the powers that be, readily identified him as Duncan's nephew, for which purpose he had placed them without the house. shall expect,” continued he, “that you leave the place to-morrow, for I shall take possession immediately, and if any resistance is offered, your ejectment will be through force."
We knew how useless it would be to resist, and being as unwilling as unable, to remain in a house where our stay would be through favor of one whom we disliked so much, on the following morning we set out on foot for Liverpool, leaving Ayreshire with far less ceremony than we entered it. We procured a passage for New-York, in which city and in Pittsburgh we have since supported ourselves, partly by the money procured from the sale of my paternal farm, but much more by our individual exertions. But lately being desirous of trying our fortune further west, we set out for a post about fifty miles beyond the Mississippi, whither we are now going.
'Thus Mr. M'Farland concluded his narrative, to the truth of which his emotions, during the recital, bore sufficient testimony; and his account of the ship-wreck and of the return of his relation, furnished materials for waking and sleeping dreams, as we say, that night on our beds, to which, as it was growing late, we immediately betook ourselves.
FOR THE AMERICAN MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
RISE AND DECLENSION
In all sublunary things the progress towards perfection is usually slow and gradual ; but upon reaching the highest point of elevation, we generally see a declension through the same stages which were traversed in the ascent.
It is thus with the character of man, with political and civil institutions, with states and empires ; and thus it is too in the world of letters. Turn to the history of Latin poetry, in which the rise from rude simplicity to courtly elegance may be traced almost step by step. We find the rustic Italians at first embo- . dying their fervid emotions in the harsh strains of the Fescenmine dialogue, a rude attempt at dramatic composition. Through hideous vizards, the performers said or sung their unpolished verse, composed, or rather uttered, in a style not unlike that of the modern improvisatori. The next step was to the more regular and elaborate comedy of Ennius and Plautus, which, while it manifested much humour and invention, was still disfigured by coarseness and rusticity. We are here forced to regret the loss of the works of Caecilius, which probably formed an intermediate step in this literary scale, and which the high commendation of Cicero leads us to suppose were well deserving of preservation.
Terence next contributed to purify the language and amend the style of Latin poetry ; and for purity and ease he yields to none of the Roman writers, and may be considered as the mild morning star which ushered in the splendid sunshine of the Augustan age.
It was during the reign of the enlightened and glorious prince from whom this era received its denomination, that literature obtained that munificent encouragement which will always ensure prosperity and excellence. Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and their contemporary poets, form such a constellation of geniuses as has never been equalled in the literary heavens.
In perusing the works of these men, we may observe that they were not the sudden ebullitions of boiling fancy, but well digested and laboured performances, displaying immense and varied learning, and evincing assiduous care in the polishing of the verse, and the structure of the periods. These poems, to which, at this day, we look up as models in composition, were not permitted to be exposed to public gaze wet from the poet's pen, as is now the custom. They were not suffered to see tho light until the impartial strictures of friends, the emendations of the author, and the continued scrutiny of years, had freed them from every visible blemish.
As Shaftesbury has somewhere in his works remarked, the authors of that time, after having spent the midnight and the morning hours in remodelling and pefecting their plans, and in pruning and chastening their works, until they had attained all the flow and the freshness of nature, were mainly solicitous that the world should not remain in ignorance of their expenditure of time and labour. They were not desirous, like a Laureate of modern days, to set forth an epic as the work of six weeks, or an elegy as the offspring of an hour.
But this golden age could not endure long. It lasted however a sufficient time to produce those immortal monuments of genius which will be the standard of literary excellence, as long as good taste and sound criticism exist. Á fondness for epigrammatic point, and smart conceits began now to appear, and the pure majesty of Virgil was exchanged for the tumour and verbosity of Lucan and Statius. The decline was then so great, that few works of that age have been deemed worthy of recollection.
In referring to Greece, we are astonished at the anomaly of a poet bursting upon us out of the very night of silence, who, if not absolutely perfect, has ever been considered as baving the justest claim to this character. This must doubtless be attributed to the unfortunate loss of all the works wbich preceded the Iliad. It is not to be believed that there were not, before Homer, many who struck to wild and lofty notes, the heroic lyre.
Contemplate for a moment the gradations of the literary progress in our own tongue. Who that compares the rugged. irregular, indelicate verses of Chaucer and Gower, with the musical and mellifluous numbers of Pope and Thomson, could believe that they were natives of the same island? And yet so gradual and perceptible was the change of style, that a difference can scarcely be noted between the manner of any two contiguous writers. The ascent through all the brakes and tangles of harshness and childish quaintness, to the lofty harmony of the last century, resembles so nearly the mutations just noticed in Latin poetry that they need not be particularized. The eighteenth century was undoubtedly the Augustan age of English poetry. This bonour will not be challenged in favour even of the periods which were graced by Shakspeare, and Milton, when we recollect that they are not fair representatives of their respective contempories. The darlings of the public were Johnson, Nicols, Donne, Cowley, Suckling. and Crashawe. • The etherial summits of a tract of the moral world are conspicuous and fair in the lustre of Heaven, and we take no thought of the immensely greater proportion of it which is sunk in gloom and covered with fogs."*
Neither can it be denied, mortifying as the concession must be, that good taste is at present on the wane. An age which bestows nought but smiles upon the unpruned luxuriance of Percival, and Moore, and Byron, may boast indeed that this is the sunny time of genius and fancy, but cannot claim the meed of chasteness and purity.
I am not ignorant that this generation has been favoured with “ the Pleasures of Hope," and the “ Fall of Jerusalem," poems of the true classical mould: but these are truly rari nantes in gurgite vasto; for Campbell himself has in his later writings done homage to the perverted taste of the day, and Millman has also in many instances yielded himself to the exuberance and jingle now so popular. In justice to the authors whose works are the favourites of the public, I would remark that in many instances their early productions have evinced a strict adherence to the ancient models, but the morbid voracity of the present race of readers, and the cry for sugared morsels, and pungent concetti, have induced these gentlemen to free themselves from the restraints which their own taste would probably have imposed, and to consult merely the opinion of the public.
The demand at present is not for what is profound, ar correct or grand, but for something new, for something w it has never entered into the mind of man to conceive.
gratify this perversity of the literary appetite, we see ow
ets going on strange and unheard of pilgrimages for subjects, ith Moore to Persia, to Arabia, to the land of spirits ; with Byron to the world before the flood ; we observe Southey composing in Hexameters, in Sapphics, and in the bald rhythmic prose of Thalaba. But these devices have not been sufficient to make their writings attractive; not content with passing the bounds of real, and human life, some have transcended all the barriers of morality, and sent forth to the view of the world, productions which cannot be perused by any man of modesty or religion.
Licentiousness is not, indeed, the chacteristic of the present age. The reading public has banished at least the grossness of vice from fashionable writing, nor does it tolerate any thing ap