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DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII.1—Bdxwer Lytton.
Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer Lytton was born in 180r,, and appeared as an author in 1820, when he was 15 years old. Through life his industry was immense. Devoting himself chiefly to Action, ho added tale to tale, till his works form a very lengthened list. He was, however, rather a man of strong natural abilities than of genius. Besides Tales and Bomanees he also published Poems, Dramas, Books of Travel, &c. He died in 1873, and was burled in Westminster Abbey.
1. The cloud which had scattered so deep a murkiness over the day, had now settled into a solid and impenetrable mass. It resembled less even the thickest gloom of a night in the open air than the close and blind darkness of some narrow room. But in proportion as the blackness gathered, did the lightnings around Vesuvius increase in their vivid and scorching glare. Nor was their horrible beauty confined to the usual hues of fire; no rainbow ever rivalled their varying and prodigal dyes. Now brightly blue as the most azure depth of a southern sky—now of a livid and snakelike green, darting restlessly to and fro as the folds of an enormous serpent—now of a lurid and intolerable crimson, gushing forth through the columns of smoke, far and wide, and lighting up the whole city from arch to arch, —then suddenly dying into a sickly paleness, like the ghost of their own life!
2. In the pauses of the showers you heard the rumbling of the earth beneath, and the groaning waves of the tortured sea; or, lower still, and audible but to the watch of intensest fear, the grinding and hissing murmur of the escaping gases through the chasms of the distant mountain. Sometimes the cloud appeared to break from its solid mass, and, by the lightning, to assume quaint and vast mimicries of human or of monster shapes, striding across the gloom, hurtling one upon the other, and vanishing swiftly into the turbulent abyss of shade; so that, to the eyes and fancies of the affrighted wanderers, the unsubstantial vapours were as the bodily forms of gigantic foes,—the agents of terror and of death.
3. The ashes in many places were already knee-deep; and the boiling showers which came from the steaming breath of the volcano forced their way into the houses, bearing with them a strong and suffocating vapour. In some places, immense fragments of rock, hurled upon the house-roofs, bore down along the streets masses of confused ruin, which yet more and more, with every hour, obstructed the way; and, as the day advanced, the motion of the earth was more sensibly felt—the footing seemed to slide and creep—nor could chariot or litter be kept steady, even on the most level ground.
4. Sometimes the huger stones, Striking against each other aa they fell, broke into countless fragments, emitting sparks of fire, which caught whatever was combustible within their reach; and along the plains beyond the city the darkness was now terribly relieved; for several houses, and even vineyards, had been set on flames; and at various intervals, the fires rose sullenly and fiercely against the solid gloom. To add to this partial relief of the darkness, the citizens had, here and there, in the more public places, such as the porticoes of temples and the entrances to the forum, endeavoured to place rows of torches, but these rarely continued long; the showers and the wind extinguished them, and the sudden darkness into which their sudden birth was converted had something in it doubly terrible, and doubly impressing on the impotence of human hopes, the lesson of despair.
5. Frequently, by the momentary light of these torches, parties of fugitives encountered each other, some hurrying towards the sea, others flying from the sea back to the land; for the ocean had retreated rapidly from the shore—an utter darkness lay over it, and, upon its groaning and tossing waves, the storm of cinders and rock fell without the protection which the streets and roofs afforded to the land. Wild—haggard—ghastly with supernatural fears, these groups encountered each other, but without the leisure to speak, to consult, to advise; for the showers fell now frequently, though not continuously, extinguishing the lights, which showed to each band the deathlike faces of the other, and hurrying all to seek refuge beneath the nearest shelter. The whole elements of civilization were broken up. Ever and anon, by the flickering lights, you saw the thief hastening past the most solemn authorities of the law, laden with, and fearfully chuckling over, the produce of his sudden gains. If in the darkness, wife was separated from husband, or parent from child, vain was the hope of reunion. Each hurried blindly and confusedly on. Nothing in all the various and complicated machinery of social life was left save the primal law of self-preservation!
6. In parts, where the ashes lay dry and uncommixed with the boiling torrents, cast upward from the mountain at capricious intervals, the surf ace of the earth presented a leprous and ghastly white. In other places, cinder and rock lay matted in heaps, from beneath which emerged the half-hid limbs of some crushed and mangled fugitive. The groans of the dying were broken by wild shrieks of women's terror—now near, now distant —which, when heard in the utter darkness, were rendered doubly appalling by the crushing sense of helplessness and the uncertainty of the perils around; and clear and distinct through all were the mighty and' various noises from the Fatal Mountain; its rushing winds; its whirling torrents; and from time to time, the burst and roar of some more fiery and fierce explosion. And ever as the winds swept howling along the street, they bore sharp streams of burning dust, and such sickening and poisonous vapours, as took away for the instant, breath and consciousness, followed by a rapid revulsion of the arrested blood, and a tingling sensation of agony trembling through every nerve and fibre of the frame.
7. Suddenly the place became lighted with an intense and lurid glow. Bright and gigantic through the darkness, which closed around it like the walls of hell, the mountain shone—a pile of fire! Its summit seemed riven in two; or rather, above its surface there seemed to rise two monster shapes, each confronting each, as demons contending for a world. These were of one deep blood-red hue of fire, which lighted up the whole atmosphere far and wide; but below, the nether part of the mountain was still dark and shrouded, save in three places, adown which flowed, serpentine and irregular, rivers of the molten lava. Darkly red through the profound gloom of their banks, they flowed slowly on, towards the devoted city. Over the broadest there seemed to spring a cragged and stupendous arch, from which, as from the jaws of hell, gushed the sources of the sudden Phlegethon.2 And through the stilled air was heard the rattling of the fragments of rock, hurtling one upon another as they were borne down the fiery cataracts—darkening, for one instant, the spot where they fell, and suffused the next, in the burnished hues of the flood along which they floated!
8. The sudden illumination, the bursts of the floods of lava, and the earthquake, which we have already described, chanced when Sallust* and his party had just gained the direct path leading from the city to the port; and here they were arrested by an immense crowd, more than half the population of the city. They spread along the field without the walls, thousands upon thousands, uncertain whither to fly. The sea had retired far from the shore; and they who had fled to it had been so terrified by the agitation and the preternatural shrinking of the element, the gasping forms of the uncouth sea-things which the waves had left upon the sand, and by the sound of the huge stones cast from the mountain into the deep, that they had returned again to the land as presenting the less frightful aspect of the two. Thus the two streams of human beings, the one seaward, the other from the sea, had met together, feeling a sad comfort in numbers; arrested in despair and doubt.
"The world is to be destroyed by fire," said an old man in long loose robes, a philosopher of the Stoic* school: "Stoic and Epicurean5 wisdom have alike agreed in this prediction; and the hour is come!"
"Yea j the hour is come!" cried a loud voice, solemn but not fearful.
1 Pompe ii, a city near Naples, over- * Stoic, one of a class of ancient philo
whelmed by the ashes from Vesuvius sophers, so called from the painted
in the year A.D. 79. porch, or Stoa, in Athens, whero
2 Phlefr'ethon, a fabled boiling river their founder, Zeno, used to walk.
in hell. 6 Epicure'an, related to the doctrines
8 Sal'lust, a character in the tale. of Epicurus, an ancient philosopher.
murk iness, gloom.
impen etrable, not to be pierced.
prodigal, lavishly expended.
mim icries, imitations.
hurt ling, clashing or running against.
tur'bulent, restloss, disturbed.
abyss', deep gulf.
unsubstantial, thin, without substance.
combustible, that can be burned.
SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—
emit'ting, sending forth.
fu'gitive, one fleeing
for safety, enooun'ter, to meet, supernat ural, higher
than nature, civiliza'tion, tho state
opposed to barbarism.
com'plicated, the oppo-
ser'pentine, like a serpent.
bur nished, polished, preternat'ural, aside from the ordinary course of nature.
Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
GERTRUDE OF WYOMING.—Campbell.
(For a notice of Campbell see page 128 J On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming ! 1
Although the wild flower on thy ruin'd wall. And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring
Of what thy gentle people did befall,
Yot thou wort once the loveliest land of all
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
Delightful Wyoming! beneath thy skies
But feed their flocks on green declivities,
With timbrel, when beneath the forest brown,
And aye those sunny mountains half-way down
Would echo flageolet from some romantic town.
Then where of Indian hills, the daylight takes
His leave, how might you the flamingo see, Disporting like a meteor on the lakes,
And playful squirrel on his nut-grown tree;
And every sound of life was full of glee, Prom merry mock-bird's song, or hum of men,
While hearkening, fearing nought their revelry, The wild doer arched his neck from glades, and then, TTnhunted, sought his woods and wilderness again.
And scarce had Wyoming of war or crime
Heard, but in transatlantic story rung, For here the exile met from every clime,
And spoke in friendship every distant tongue,
Men from the blood of warring Europe sprung, Were but divided by the running brook;
And happy where no Rhenish trumpet sung,
Here was not mingled in the city's pomp
Judgment awoke not here her dismal tromp,