Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

glee, broke from Gawtrey's lips. He swung himself on-nearnear-nearer -a yard from the parapet.

• You are saved ! cried Morton; when at that moment a volley burst from the fatal casement—the smoke rolled over both the fugitives—a groan, or rather howl, of rage, and despair, and agony, appalled even the hardiest on whose ear it came.

Morton sprung to his feet and looked below. He saw on the rugged stones, far down, a dark, formless, motionless mass—

—the strong man of passion and levity—the giant who had played with life and soul, as an infant with the baubles that it prizes and breaks—was what the Cæsar and the leper alike are, when the clay is without God's breath,—what glory, genius, power, and beauty, would be, for ever and for ever, if there were no God !

Bulwer Lytton.

SOCRATES.

SOCRATES was in middle age when this call came upon him, and at once, and with a devotion of which the Pagan world can give no other example, he arose and followed it. From that time, for thirty years, he applied himself to the 'self-imposed task of teacher, excluding all other business, public or private, and neglecting all means of fortune. For thirty years—for those thirty years which extend through the whole period of the Peloponnesian war—in the crowded streets and squares, where all Attica was congregated under, within the walls of Athens, to escape the Spartan invasions—during the horrors of the plague—amidst the excitements of the various vicissitudes of Pylus, of Syracuse, of the revolution of the Four Hundred, of Ægospotami, of the tyranny of the Thirty, of the restoration of the Democracy, Socrates was ever at his post, by his presence, by his voice, by his example, restraining, attracting, repelling every class of his countrymen :

• Early in the morning he frequented the public walks, the gymnasia for bodily training, and the schools where youths were receiving instruction : he was to be seen in the marketplace at the hour when it was most crowded, among the booths and tables, where goods were exposed for sale : his whole day was usually spent in this public manner.

He talked with any one, young or old, rich or poor, who sought to address him, and in the hearing

[blocks in formation]

of all who chose to stand by: not only he never either asked or received any reward, but he made no distinction of persons, never withheld his conversation from any one, and talked upon the same general topics to all.'

Under any circumstance, such an apparition would have struck astonishment into a Grecian city. All other teachers, both before and afterwards, either took money for their lessons, or at least gave them apart from the multitude, in a private house, to special pupils, with admissions or rejections at their own pleasure.' The Academus-grove of Plato, the Garden of Epicurus, the Porch or cloister of Zeno, the Lyceum or sanctuary, with the Peripatetic shades of Aristotle, all indicated the prevailing practice. The philosophy of Socrates alone was, in every sense, the philosophy of the marketplace. Very rarely, he might be found under the shade of a plane tree, or the caverned rocks of the Ilissus, enjoying the grassy slope of its banks and the little pools of water that collect in the corners of its torrent-bed, and the white and purple flowers of its agnus castus shrubs. But ordinarily, whether in the city, in the dusty road between the long walls, or in the busy mart of Piræus, his place was amongst men, and with men, in every vocation of life, living not for himself but for them-rejecting all pay, contented in poverty.'. Whatever could be added to the singularity of this spectacle was added by the singularity of his outward appearance. •

Amidst the gay life, the beautiful forms, the brilliant colours of an Athenian multitude and an Athenian street, the repulsive features, the unwieldy figure, the naked feet, the rough threadbare attire of the philosopher, must have excited every sentiment of astonishment and ridicule which strong contrast can produce. And if to this we adă the occasional trance, the eye fixed on vacancy, the total abstraction from outward things—or, again, the momentary outbursts of violent temperor, lastly (what we are told at times actually took place), the sudden irruptions of his wife Xanthippe to carry off her eccentric husband to his forsaken home-we shall not wonder at the universal celebrity which he acquired, even irrespectively of his great powers or of his peculiar objects. Every one knows the attention which an unusual diction, or even an unusual dress, secures for a teacher, so soon as he has once secured a hearing. A Quaker at court, or a Latter-day Prophet speaking in the language of Mr. Carlyle, has, other things considered, a better chance of being listened to than a man in ordinary costume and of ordinary address.

.

Q

And such, in an eminent degree, was Socrates. It was (so his disciples described it) as if one of the marble satyrs, which sat in grotesque attitudes, with pipe or flute, in the sculptors' shops at Athens, had left his seat of stone, and walked into the plane-tree avenue, or the gymnastic colonnade. Gradually the crowd gathered round him. At first he spoke of the tanners, and the smiths, and the drovers, who were plying their trades about him; and they shouted with laughter as he poured forth his homely jokes. But soon the magic charm of his voice made itself felt.

The peculiar sweetness of its tone had an effect which even the thunder of Pericles failed to produce. The laughter ceased—the crowd thickened—the gay youth, whom nothing else could tame, stood transfixed and awe-struck in his presence—there was a solemn thrill in his words—the head swam, the heart leaped at the sound—tears rushed from their eyes, and they felt that, unless they tore themselves away from that fascinated circle, they should sit down at his feet and grow old in listening to the marvellous music of this second Marsyas.

But the excitement occasioned by his appearance was increased tenfold by the purpose which he had set before him; when, to use the expressive comparison of his pupils, he cast away his rough satyr's skin, and disclosed the divine image which that rude exterior had covered. The object to which he thus devoted himself, with the zeal, not simply of a philosopher, but of a religious missionary doing the work of a philosopher,' was to convince men of all classes, but especially the most distinguished, that they had the conceit of knowledge without the reality.'

Quarterly Review,

CAR-TRAVELLING IN IRELAND.

THE Irish car seems accommodated for any number of persons : it appeared to be full when we left Glengariff, for a traveller from Bearhaven, and the five gentlemen from the yacht, took seats upon it with myself, and we fancied it was impossible more than seven should travel by such & conveyance; but the driver showed the capabilities of his vehicle presently. The journey from Glengariff to Kenmare is one of astonishing beauty; and I have seen Killarney since, and am sure that

CAR-TRAVELLING IN IRELAND.

227

6

6

Glengariff

' loses nothing by comparison with this most famous of lakes. Rock, wood, and sea stretch around the traveller—a thousand delightful pictures: the landscape is at first wild without being fierce, immense woods and plantations enriching the valleys, beautiful streams to be seen everywhere.

Here, again, I was surprised at the great population along the road; for one saw but few cabins, and there is no village between Glengariff and Kenmare. But men and women were on banks and in fields; children, as usual, came trooping up to the car; and the jovial men of the yacht had great conversations with most of the persons whom we met on the road. A merrier set of fellows it were hard to meet. Should you like anything to drink, sir ?' says one, commencing the acquaintance; we have the best whisky in the world, and plenty of porter in the basket.' Therewith the jolly seaman produced a long bottle of grog, which was passed round from one to another; and then began singing, shouting, laughing, roaring for the whole journey— British sailors have a knack, pull away ho, boys !—Hurroo ! ny fine fellow, does

your mother know you're out?--Hurroo, Tim Herlihy ! you're a fluke, Tim Herlihy.' One man sang on the roof, one hurrooed to the echo, another apostrophised the aforesaid Herlihy, as he passed grinning on a car a fourth had a pocket-handkerchief flaunting from a pole, with which he performed exercises in the face of any horseman whom he met; and great were their yells as the ponies shied off at the salutation, and the riders swerved in their saddles. In the midst of this rattling chorus we went along; gradually the country grew wilder and more desolate, and we passed through a grim mountain region, bleak and bare; the road winding round some of the innumerable hills, and once or twice, by means of a tunnel, rushing boldly through them. One of these tunnels, they say, is a couple of hundred yards long; and a pretty howling, I need not say, was made through that pipe of rock by the jolly yacht-crew.

Thackeray.

THE SIEGE OF QUEBEC.

A.D. 1759

The closing scene of French dominion in Canada was marked by circumstances of deep and peculiar interest. The pages of romance can furnish no more striking episode than the battle of Quebec. The skill and daring of the plan which brought on the combat; and the success and fortune of its execution, are unparalleled. There a broad open plain, offering no advantages to either party, was the field of fight. The contending armies were nearly equal in military strength if not in numbers. The chiefs of each vere men already of honourable fame. France trusted firmly in the wise and chivalrous Montcalm : England trusted hopefully in the young and heroic Wolfe. The magnificent stronghold which was staked upon the issue of the strife, stood close at hand. For miles and miles around, the prospect extended over as fair a land as ever rejoiced the sight of man ; mountain and valley, forest and waters, city and solitude, grouped together in forms of almost ideal beauty.

The strife was brief, but deadly. The September sun rose upon two gallant armies arrayed in unbroken pride, and noon of the same day saw the ground where they had stood, strewn with the dying and the dead.

Quebec stands on the slope of the eastern extremity of that lofty range which here forms the left bank of the St. Lawrence; a table-land extends westward for about nine miles from the defences of the city, occasionally wooded and undulating, but towards the ramparts open and tolerably level : this portion of the heights is called the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe had discovered a narrow path winding up the side of the steep precipice from the water's edge. For miles on either side there was no other possible access to the heights. Wolfe's plan was to ascend this path secretly with his whole army, and make the plains his battle-ground. The extraordinary audacity of the enterprise was its safety: the wise and cautious Montcalm had guarded against all the probable chances of war: but he was not prepared against an attempt for which the pages of romance can scarcely furnish a parallel.

Great preparations were made throughout the fleet and army for the decisive movement, but the plans were still kept secret: a

« VorigeDoorgaan »