« 上一頁繼續 »
them at the same time a golden future, and, like Launcelot, a pretty trifle of wives."
8. In regard to her chiromantic science, the gentlemen were obdurate, though each of them gave her one of those flat, polished pieces of silver, which were sixpences in our young days; and having done this, they rode on, turning for a moment or two their conversation to the subject of the Gypsies they had just passed, moralizing deeply on their strange history and wayward fate, and wondering that no philanthropic government had ever attempted to give them at "local habitation and a name," among the sons and daughters of honest industry.
9. In the mean time, the Gypsies drew round their fire, and, scouts being thrown out on either side to guard against interruption, the pot was unswung from the cross-bars that sustained it, trenchers and knives were produced, and, with nature's green robe for a table-cloth, a plentiful supper of manifold good things was spread before the race of wander
10. Nor was the meal unjoyous, nor were their figures, at all times picturesque, — without an appearance of loftier beauty, and more symmetrical grace, as, with the fire and the evening twilight casting strange lights upon them, they fell into those free and easy attitudes, which none but the children of wild activity can assume. The women of the party had all come forth from their huts, and among them were two or three lovely creatures as any race ever produced, from the chosen Hebrew to the beauty-dreaming Greek.
11. In truth, there seemed more women than men of the tribe, and there certainly were more children than either; but due subordination was not wanting; and the urchins, who were ranged behind the backs of the rest, though they wanted not sufficient food, intruded not upon the circle of their elders.
12. The language which the Gypsies spoke among themselves was a barbarous compound of some foreign tongue, the origin and structure of which have, and most likely ever will, baffle inquiry, and of English, mingled with many a choice phrase from the very expressive language called jargon.
ELOQUENCE OF PATRICK HENRY. 185
Eloquence and Humor of Patrick
PATRICK HENRY was a distinguished orator and patriot of Virginia, who lent his powerful influence to the cause of the Revolution.
1. Hook was a Scotchman, a man of wealth, and suspected of being unfriendly to the American cause. During the distresses of the American army, consequent on the joint invasion of Cornwallis and Phillips, in 1781, a Mr. Venable, an army commissary, had taken two of Hook's steers for the use of the troops. The act had not been strictly legal; and, on the establishment of peace, Hook, on the advice of Mr. Cowan, a gentleman of some distinction in the law, thought proper to bring an action of trespass against Mr. Venable, in the District Court of New London.
2. Mr. Henry appeared for the defendant, and is said to have disported himself in this cause to the infinite enjoyment of his hearers, the unfortunate Hook always excepted. After Mr. Henry became animated in the cause, says a correspondent, he appeared to have complete control over the passions of his audience; at one time he excited their indignation against Hook; vengeance was visible in every countenance; again, when he chose to relax, and ridicule him, the whole audience was in a roar of laughter.
3. He painted the distresses of the American army, exposed, almost naked, to the rigors of a winter's sky, and marking the frozen ground over which they trod with the blood of their unshod feet. "Where is the man," he said, "who has an American heart in his bosom, who would not have thrown open his fields, his barns, his cellars, the doors of his house, the portals of his breast, to have received with open arms the meanest soldier in that little band of famished patriots? Where is the man? There he stands, but whether the heart of an American beats in his bosom, you, Gentlemen, are to judge."
4. He then carried the jury, by the powers of his imagination, to the plains around York, the surrender of which had followed shortly after the act complained of; he depicted the surrender in the most glowing and noble colors of his eloquence; the audience saw before their eyes the humiliation and dejection of the British, as they marched out of
their trenches; —they saw the triumph which lighted up every patriot face, and heard the shouts of victory, and the cry of "Washington and Liberty," as it rung and echoed through the American ranks, and was reverberated from the hills and shores of the neighboring river. "But hark! what notes of discord are those which disturb the general joy, and silence the acclamation of victory! They are the notes of John Hook, hoarsely bawling through the American camp, Beef! beef! beef!"
5. The whole audience were convulsed; a particular incident will give a better idea of the effect than any general description. The clerk of the court, unable to command himself, and unwilling to commit any breach of decorum in his place, rushed out of the court-house, and threw himself on the grass, in the most violent paroxysm of laughter, where he was rolling, when Hook, with very different feelings, came out for relief into the yard also. "Jemmy Steptoe," said he to the clerk, "what the devil ails ye, mon?” Mr. Steptoe was only able to say, that he could not help it. "Never mind ye," said Hook; "wait till Billy Cowan gets up; he'll show him the law!"
6. Mr. Cowan, however, was so completely overwhelmed by the torrent which bore upon his client, that, when he rose to reply to Mr. Henry, he was scarcely able to make an intelligent or audible remark. The cause was decided almost by acclamation. The jury retired for form's sake, and instantly returned with a verdict for the defendant. Nor did the effect of Mr. Henry's speech stop here. The people were so highly excited by the Tory audacity of such a suit, that Hook began to hear around him a cry more terrible than that of beef; it was the cry of tar and feathers; from the application of which, it is said, that nothing saved him but a precipitate flight and the speed of his horse.
LESSON LXXXVIII. The Angel of the Leaves; an Allegory.
1. "ALAS! alas!" said the sorrowing Tree, "my beautiful robe is gone! It has been torn from me. Its faded
THE ANGEL OF THE LEAVES.
pieces whirl upon the wind; they rustle beneath the squirrel's foot, as he searches for his nut. They float upon the passing stream, and on the quivering lake. Woe is me! for my fair, green vesture is gone. It was the gift of the Angel of the Leaves! I have lost it, and my glory has vanished; my beauty has disappeared My summer hours have passed away. My bright and comely garment, alas! it is rent in a thousand parts.
2. "Who will weave me such another? Piece by piece, it has been stripped from me. Scarcely did I sigh for the loss of one, ere another wandered off on the air. The sound of music cheers no more. The birds that sang in my bosom were dismayed at my desolation. They have flown away with their songs.
3. "I stood in my pride. The sun brightened my robe with his smile. The zephyrs breathed softly through its glossy folds; the clouds strewed pearls among them. My shadow was wide upon the earth. My arms spread far on the gentle air; my head was lifted high; my forehead was fair to the heavens. But now, how changed! Sadness is upon me; my head is shorn, my arms are stripped; I cannot now throw a shadow on the ground. Beauty has departed; gladness is gone out of my bosom; the blood has retired from my heart, it has sunk into the earth.
4. "I am thirsty, I am cold. My naked limbs shiver in the chilly air. The keen blast comes pitiless among them. The winter is coming; I am destitute: Sorrow is my portion. Mourning must wear me away. How shall I account to the Angel who clothed me, for the loss of his beautiful gift?"
5. The Angel had been listening. In soothing accents he answered the lamentation. "My beloved Tree," said he, "be comforted I am with thee still, though every leaf has forsaken thee. The voice of gladness is hushed among thy boughs, but let my_whisper console thee. Thy sorrow is but for a season. Trust in me; keep my promise in thy heart. Be patient and full of hope. Let the words I leave with thee, abide and cheer thee through the coming winter. Then I will return and clothe thee anew.
6. "The storm will drive over thee, the snow will sift through thy naked limbs. But these will be light and passing afflictions. The ice will weigh heavily on thy helpless arms; but it shall soon dissolve into tears. It shall pass
into the ground, and be drunken by thy roots. Then it will creep up in secret beneath thy bark. It will spread into the branches it has oppressed, and help me to adorn them; for I shall be here to use it.
7. "Thy blood has now only retired for safety. The frost would chill and destroy it. It has gone into thy mother's bosom for her to keep it warm. Earth will not rob her offspring. She is a careful parent. She knows the wants of all her children, and forgets not to provide for the least of them.
8. "The sap, that has for a while gone down, will make thy roots strike deeper and spread wider. It will then return to nourish thy heart. It will be renewed and strengthened. Then, if thou shalt have remembered and trusted in my promise, I will fulfil it. Buds shall shoot forth on every side of thy boughs. I will unfold for thee another robe. I will paint it and fit it in every part. It shall be a comely raiment. Thou shalt forget thy present sorrow. Sadness shall be swallowed up in joy. Now, my beloved Tree, fare thee well for a season.'
9. The Angel was gone. The muttering winter drew The wild blast whistled for the storm. The storm came and howled around the tree. But the word of the Angel was hidden in her heart; it soothed her amid the threatenings of the tempest. The ice-cakes rattled upon her limbs; they loaded and weighed them down: 'My slender branches," said she, "let not this burden overcome you. Break not beneath this heavy affliction; break not, but bend, till you can spring back to your places. Let not a twig of you be lost. Hope must prop you for a while, and the Angel will reward your patience. You will move upon a softer air. Grace shall be again in your motion, and beauty hanging around you."
10. The scowling face of winter began to lose its features. The raging storm grew faint, and breathed its last. The restless clouds fretted themselves to atoms; they scattered upon the sky and were brushed away. The sun threw down a bundle of golden arrows. They fell upon the tree; the ice-cakes glittered as they came. Every one was shattered by a shaft, and unlocked itself upon the limb. They were melted and gone.
11. The reign of Spring had come. Her blessed ministers were abroad in the earth; they hovered in the air;