« 上一頁繼續 »
She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a silk net. She had, superadded likewise to her jacket, a pale-green riband which fell across her shoulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle: as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the string“ Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio," said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them the tears trickled down her cheeks.
I sat down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away, as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own—and then in hers—and then in mine-and then I wiped hers again—and as I did it, I felt such indescribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.
I am positive I have a soul ; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world ever convince me of the contrary.
When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if she remembered a pale thin person of a man who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before; she said, she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts—that, ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft—she had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which, she added, he bad half-promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it; she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril-on opening it I saw an S marked in one of the corners.
She had since that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St Peter's once-and returned back—that she found her way alone across the Apennines—had travelled
over all Lombardy without money—and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes-how she had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell—but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.
Shorn indeed! and to the quick, said I; and wast thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldst eat of my own bread, and drink of my own cup—I would be kind to thy Sylvio—in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would seek after thee and bring thee back—when the sun went down I would say my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldst play thy evening song upon thy pipe, nor would the incense of my sacrifice be worse accepted for entering heaven along with that of a broken heart.
Nature melted within me, as I uttered this ; and Maria observing, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would reeds go wash it in the stream.—And where will you dry it, Maria ? said I. I will dry it in my bosom, said she—it will do me good.
And is your heart still so warm, Maria ? said I.
I touched upon the string on which hung all her sorrowsshe looked with wistful disorder for some time in my face; and then, without saying any thing, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin.—The string I had touched ceased to vibrate—in a moment or two Maria returned to herself-let her pipe fall—and rose up.
And where are you going, Maria ? said I.-She said, to Moulines.—Let us go, said I, together.—Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string, to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulines.
Though I hate salutations and greetings in the marketplace, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopped to take my last look and last farewell of Maria.
Adieu, poor luckless maiden ! imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds—the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.
SPECIMENS OF PULPIT ELOQUENCE.
1.—THE CHANGE PRODUCED BY DEATH. It is a mighty change that is made by the death of every person, and it is visible to us who are alive. Reckon but from the sprightliness of youth, and the fair cheeks and full eyes of childhood, from the vigorousness and strong flexure of the joints of five and twenty, to the hollowness and dead paleness, to the loathsomeness and horror of a three days' burial, and we shall perceive the distance to be very great and very strange. But so have I seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was fair as the morning, and full with the dew of heaven, as a lamb's fleece; but when a ruder breath had dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on darkness, and to decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the head and broke its stalk; and at night, having lost some of its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces. The same is the portion of every man and of every woman; the heritage of worms and serpents, rottenness and cold dishonour, and our beauty so changed that our acquaintance quickly know us not; and that change mingled with so much horror, or else meets so with our fears and weak discoursings, that they who six hours ago tended upon us, either with charitable or ambitious services, cannot, without some regret, stay in the room alone where the body lies stripped of its life and honour. I have read of a fair young German gentleman, who living, often refused to be pictured, but put off the importunity of his friends by giving way, that, after a few days' burial, they might send a painter to his vault, and, if they saw cause for it, draw the image of his death unto the life. They did so, and found his face half-eaten, and his midriff and backbone full of serpents; and so he stands pictured among his armed ancestors. So does the fairest beauty change, and it will be as bad for you and me; and then what servants shall we have to wait upon us in the grave? what friends to visit us? what officious people to cleanse away the moist and unwholesome cloud reflected upon our faces from the sides of the weeping vaults, which are the longest weepers for our funerals. A man may read a sermon the best and most passionate that ever man preached, if he shall but enter into the sepulchres of kings. In the same Escurial where the Spanish princes live in greatness and power, and decree war and peace, they have wisely placed a cemetery, where their ashes and their glory shall sleep till time shall be no more; and where our kings have been crowned their ancestors lie interred, and they must walk over their grandsire's coffin to take his crown. There is an acre sown with royal seed, the copy of the greatest change from rich to naked, from ceiled roofs to arched coffins, from living like gods to die like men.
Is any man fallen into disgrace? charity doth hold down its head, is abashed and out of countenance, partaking of his shame. Is any man disappointed of his hopes or endeavours ? charity crieth out, alas! as if it were itself defeated. Is any man afflicted with pain or sickness ? charity looketh sadly, it sigheth and groaneth, it fainteth and languisheth with him. Is any man pinched with hard want? charity, if it cannot succour, it will condole. Doth ill news arrive? charity doth hear it with an unwilling ear and a sad heart, although not particularly concerned in it. The sight of a wreck at sea, of a field spread with carcasses, of a country desolated, of houses burnt and cities ruined, and of the like calamities incident to mankind, would touch the heart of any man; but the very report of them would affect the heart of charity.
3.-ON INFIDELITY. INFIDELITY is a soil as barren of great and sublime virtues as it is prolific in crimes. By great and sublime virtues are meant, those which are called into action on great and trying occasions, which demand the sacrifice of the dearest interests and prospects of human life, and sometimes of life itself; the virtues, in a word, which by their rarity and splendour draw admiration, and have rendered illustrious the characters of patriots, martyrs, and confessors. It requires but little reflection to perceive, that whatever veils a future world, and contracts the limits of existence within the present life, must tend in a proportionable degree to diminish the grandeur, and narrow the sphere, of human agency.
As well might you expect exalted sentiments of justice from a professed gamester, as look for noble principles in the man whose hopes and fears are all suspended on the present moment, and who stakes the whole happiness of his being on the events of this vain and fleeting life. If he be ever impelled to the performance of great achievements in a good cause, it must be solely by the hope of fame, a motive which, besides that it makes virtue the servant of opinion, usually grows weaker at the approach of death, and which, however it may surmount the love of existence in the field of battle, or in the moment of public observation, can seldom be expected to operate with much force on the retired duties of a private station. Though it is confessed great and splendid actions are not the ordinary employment of life, but must from their nature be reserved for high and eminent occasions, yet that system is essentially defective which leaves no room for their cultivation. They are important, both from their immediate advantage and their remoter influence.
They often save and always illustrate the age and nation in which they appear. They raise the standard of morals; they arrest the progress of degeneracy; they diffuse a lustre over the path of life :-monuments of the greatness of the human soul, they present to the world the august image of virtue in her sublimest form, from which streams of light and glory issue to remote times and ages; while their commemoration by the pen of historians and poets awakens in distant bosums the sparks of kindred excellence. .
Combine the frequent and familiar perpetration of atrocious