« VorigeDoorgaan »
for years before they came together to the college, and a predilection for the same studies, a strong bias for general literature, and more especially for those courses of enquiry which are the amusement, rather than the task of minds given to the pursuit of knowledge, had, in the course of four swift years, bound them together in one of those friendships which young men are apt to persuade themselves can never possibly be dissolved; while no sooner are they separated for a time, than every event they meet with in the course of common life, tends insensibly to obliterate this youthful union, as the summer showers imperceptibly melt the wreath of snow upon the mountain. We shall speak of them by the names of Campbell and Graham ; it can interest but few to say, that these are not their real names.
One morning, in the course of their tour, they descended towards what is called the Sound of Jura, through many a dell and bosky wood; sometimes loitering as they stopped, to examine the botanical treasures which came in their way; sometimes gaily walking over the barren muir.
" As the ebbing tide,” says Mr. Graham, whom we shall now leave to tell in his own words the melancholy sequel of his adventures, 6 began to discover to us the black side of the rocky islets, we procured a boat at a small hamlet that overhung a little bay, and went on a mimic voyage of discovery. While we returned again to the main land, the warmth of the day, and the beautiful transparency of the water, which, as the whole extent of the west coast is rocky shore, is highly remarkable, tempted Campbell to propose that we should amuse ourselves with swimming. Owing to a horror I had acquired when a boy, from an exaggerated description of the danger of the convulsive grasp of a person drowning, or dead grip, as it is called, I always felt an involuntary repugnance to practise this exercise in company with others. However, we now indulged in it so long, that I began to feel tired, and was swimming towards the rocky shore, which was at no great distance. Campbell, who had now forgot his philosophia
cal reveries in the pleasure of a varied and refreshing amusement, was sporting in all the gaiety of exuberant spirits, wben I heard a sudden cry of fear. I turned, and saw him struggling violently as if in the act of sinking. I immediately swam towards him. He had been seized with the cramp, which suspends all power of regular exertion, while at the same time it commonly deprives its victim of presence of mind; and as poor Campbell alternately sunk and rose, his wild looks as I approached him, and convulsive cries for assistance, struck me with a sudden and involuntary panic, and I hesitated to grasp the extended hand of my drowning friend. After a moment's struggle he sunk, exclaiming, • My God!' with a look at me of such an expression, that it has ten thousand times driven me to wish my memory was a blank. A dreadful alarm now struck my heart, like the stab of a dagger, and with almost a similar sensation of pain; I rushed to the place wbere he disappeared; the boiling of the water caused by his descending body, prevented a distinct view, but on looking down, I thought I saw three or four corpses struggling with each other, while, at the same moment, I heard a loud and melancholy cry from the bushes on the steep bank that overhung the shore. As the boiling of the water settled, I was partly relieved from extreme horror; but I had the misery to see Campbell again, for the water was as clear as the air. He stood upright at the bottom among the large sea-weeds; he even reached up his arms, and exerted himself as if eodearouring fruitlessly to climb to the surface. I looked in despair towards the shore, and all around. The feeling of hopeless loneliness was dreadful. I again distinctly heard the same melancholy cry. A superstitious dread came over me as before, for a few seconds, but I observed an old grey goat, which had advanced to the jutting point of a rock; he had perhaps been alarmed from the unusual appearance in the sea below, and was bleating for his companions. I now recollected the boat, and swam exhausted to the shore, while every mornent I imagined I saw before me the hand of my friend, which I should never more grasp,
I rowed back, more than half distracted. The water, where Campbell had sunk,," was between twelve and fourteen feet deep; and, as I said before, remarkably transparent. Some people are capable of sustaining life under water far longer than others, and poor Campbell was of an extremely vigorous constitution. I saw bim again more distinctly, and his appearance was in the utmost degree affecting. He seemed to be yet alive, for he sat upright, and grasped with one hand the stem of a large tangle; the broad front of which waved sometimes over him as it was moved by the tide, while he moved convulsively his other arm and one of his legs. I remember well I cried out in agony, . Oh, if I had a rope !' With great exertion, and by leaning over the boat with my arm and face under water, I tried to arouse bis attention, by touching his hands with the bar. I was convinced that, had there been length of rope in the boat, I could have saved him. He evidently was not quite insensible; for upon repeatedly touching his hand, he let go his hold of the tangle, and after feebly and ineffectually grasping at the oar, I saw him once more stretch up his hand, as if conscious that some person was endeavouring to assist him. He then fell slowly on his back, and lay calm and still among the sea-weed.
“ Unconnected ravings and frantic cries, could alone express the insufferable anguish I endured. His stretched-out hand! I often, often, see it still! But the heart that would not save his friend, that saw him about to perish, yet kept atoof in his last extremity, perhaps deserves that suffering which time seems rather to increase than alleviate.
" It is in vain that I reason with myself;. that I say, • all this is too true: I hesitated to save him, I kept aloof from him, I answered not his last cry for help, 1 refused his outstretched hand, and saw him engulphed in the cruel waters; but yet surely this did not spring from selfish or considerate care for my own safety; Before and since I hazarded my life, with alertness and enthusiasm, to rescue others; no cold calculating prudence kept me back; it was an instinctive and involun
tary impulse, originating from a strong early impression, and in finding myself suddenly placed in circumstances which bad been long dreaded in imagination !
“ But all this reasoning avails nothing. I still recollect the inestimable endowments and amiable possession of my early and only friend; unemory still dwells upon our taking leave of the city, our passage of the Clyde, our researches and walks in the woodlands and sequestered giens of Cowal; the first cry of alarm, outstretched hand, and upbraiding look; the appearance of the sinking body, the bleating of the goat, my friend's dying efforts among the sea-weed!
• It is nearly seven and thirty years now; yet, day or night, I may almost say, a waking hour has not pass. ed, in which I have not felt part of the suffering that! witnessed convulsing the body of my poor friend, under the agonies of a strangely protracted death.
(For the Monitor.]
This stone a monument to all,