Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

It is situated in a most lovely country; and the countless travellers who pass Villa Franca have little idea of the inferno existing in their neighbourhood. Below the level of the sea there is a vast dungeon, in which the prisoners were chained in a double row to two long iron bars that traverse the whole length of the chamber. Only once, for about an hour in the day, were they permitted to walk in the yard of the prison. Never at any other time, day or night, were their chains unloosened. Lord Dudley was permitted to visit this dungeon, and to converse with the prisoners. He was particularly struck with the appearance of one man, whose face had no felonious expression, yet who was doubly ironed, and who was denied the indulgence of seeing the light, like the others, one hour in the day. The man was a political prisoner. He had dared to cry, 'Viva la Constituzione ;' and for that offence was condemned for life to this living tomb. Lord Dudley (then a very young man) immediately sought to effect some mitigation of his sufferings. Professing that he could not endure the stench of the dungeon, he requested permission to converse with the prisoner in the open air. The favour was granted; and by paying a daily visit to Villa Franca, Lord Dudley secured a few minutes of sunshine and fresh air to the captive. But he was suffering from a tumour in the throat; and an English surgeon, brought by Lord Dudley, declared that the man must die unless an operation were performed. It was contrary to the regulations that this should be undertaken by any but the surgeon of the prison, who, as the prisoner declared, had already forced a knife into his neck, with no other effect than that of making him worse. An opportunity was therefore seized when the officials were not on the watch, and the tumour was successfully opened by the Englishman, to the great indignation of the Governor: his prisoner was refused any further indulgence, but his life was saved. This, however, was not enough for Lord Dudley Stuart: he determined to effect the man's liberation. He had heard of a certain lawyer who was supposed capable, by some mysterious means, of effecting even a task so hopeless as the liberation of a political prisoner in Sardinia. The lawyer was consulted; but demanded a hundred ducats before he would undertake the business. Some of Lord Dudley's friends, who had heard of the circumstance, derided what they considered so foolish and Quixotic a scheme. Lord Dudley, however, did not think the price too much, even for the chance of delivering a fellow-creature from such bondage. He paid the money, asking (according to the contract) no questions as to its application. Some months after, whilst at Naples, Lord Dudley was surprised by a man rushing into his room, and throwing himself at his feet. It was the prisoner of Villa Franca. A free pardon had been forwarded to the Governor.”

Our version of the anecdote is this:-After the first sum of money was paid, some time elapsed, during which the liberator fancied that the mysterious agents were at work. A second application came for money. Deeply interested in the prisoner, Lord Dudley sent it at once, with the same reserve as before, asking no questions, and trusting in the unknown agent of the destinies. Time sped, and no result. The Englishman had gone to reside in Genoa. At length comes a third application for money. Patience is now exhausted ; and, supposing that he has been made the victim of a sharper, Lord Dudley writes an indignant refusal, puts the letter in his pocket, and walks to the post-office. As his band is raised to drop the letter into the box, a thought strikes him :—What if the lawyer be honestly working for the poor wretch's liberation, and has found more rascals to bribe than he had counted on at first ? It is but a few pounds. Perhaps the man's life is hanging on the turn of his thought. This “perhaps " decides it. He will give him one more chance. He tears up his letter of refusal, sends the money, and hears no more about it until the poor fellow breaks in upon him at Naples. The man is still alive, (or was a few months ago,) a prosperous citizen. He resides in Tuscany, and entertains a very pardonable idolatry of the name of Dudley Stuart.-Atheneum.

NEW BOOKS.

(Literary, Scientific, Educational.) STUDENTS of Egyptian antiquities have now the second volume of Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History. (Longmans.). The first volume appeared in 1848; and this one has the benefit, therefore, of six years' additional study and discovery, not only by the learned author, but by his friend and fellow-labourer, Professor Lepsius. What is hypothetical in this, as in all other works on Egyptology, has to be tested, of course, by future scrutiny; but the volume contains rich contributions of original material, specially in the form of surveys, transcriptions, and translations.

Osburn's Monumental History of Egypt, (Trübner,) in two volumes, is a magnificent and full compendium of as much as the learned author could colleet from the researches of Bunsen, Lepsius, Birch, and others, placed under the light of his own investigations, enriched with a splendid apparatus of typographical and pictorial illustration, and so digested and arranged as to form a firm and lofty standing-point for those who compare the precious monuments of Egypt with the text of Scripture and the most ancient profane history. It is extremely interesting to the general reader. We recommend it for the Libraries.

MR. CREASY has brought out the first of two volumes of a History of the Ottoman Turks. (Bentley.) Von Hammer must retain his pre-eminence as historian of Turkey, until some one of equal industry and power shall exhaust the original fountains. Meanwhile the labour of Mr. Creasy, in our own language, deserves to be welcomed as coming from an agreeable compendiator of the German scholar. If he fails to satisfy in the details, he nevertheless brings a sufficiently distinct general view within reach of English readers. This portion of history must now be made more familiar than it has been hitherto.

Historical Chapters relating to Many Lands, (Jackson and Walford,) from the French of M. Lamé Fleury, are modestly offered for children, but deserve the attention of young persons advanced beyond childhood. They are short biographical sketches of persons eminent in history.

The Works of Publius Virgilius Maro, by the Rev. Henry Thompson, M.A., (Griffin), "illustrated with engravings from the most authentic sources." The engravings are the distinguishing feature of this edition of Virgil, which has no notes. Their antique origin is impaired by the injudicious diligence of the engraver; but, nevertheless, they contribute frequent illustration, and supply the place of expensive editions to the young man who has not guineas at command.

The first volume of Studies from History, by the Rev. W. H. Rule, (Mason,) presents Richard I. of England, and Mohammed II. of Turkey, with a considerable mass of information scrupulously drawn from the original authorities. In the series of “Studies," of which the first two are now published, it is proposed to exhibit eminent personages and leading events with a completeness of detail that cannot be attained in compendiums of civil or ecclesiastical history, however skilfully they may be prepared, and also without the encumbrance of extraneous disquisition which is too frequently employed to supplement single biographies.

A Survey of the Geography and History of the Middle Ages, through a period extending from the year 476 to 1492, by WILHELM Putz, (Varty and Owen,) is a small, but comprehensive and extremely useful, book of reference for information that readers of medieval history absolutely need, but often find it difficult to obtain.

POETRY

SCENE FROM A BATTLE-FIELD.

'Twas a strange night;—the moon's beclouded beams

Threw a chill lustre o'er the deadly scene;
And, bursting forth anon in fitful gleams,

Disclosed in many a form what life had been :
For many a corpse the gory ground bestrew'd,
And many a brow death's clammy sweat bedew'd.

Full many a guardian spirit throng'd the air,

And bent in silent pity o'er its dead ;
But there was one, a wretched mourner, there,

Whose heart with grief's relentless torture bled :
'Twas a lone widow, sorrowing for her son,
Her only hope, her own beloved one.
Her step was hurried, and her look forlorn,

Her dark eye fill'd with an unnatural light,
Her raven hair in reckless tresses torn;

Her wails rang plaintive through the howling night;
Swifter and swifter o'er the field she flew,
And frantic as the winds that o'er her blew.

Yet she wept not ;-a deep untold despair

Had worn her tender frame; the delicate brow,

Deep furrow'd, spoke it, and a burning glare

From her wild eye as she flew past: but now
She stops : the mother gazes on her son;
But, 0! life's fleeting course is well nigh run!
He lies on the hard ground: the moon's cold beam

Plays on his marble features; one by one
The red drops gush from the deep wound, and stream

About his head : the fatal work begun,
Slower and slower heaves his gentle breath,
Swifter and swifter goes the work of death.
His is a tall and strangely haughty form ;

His brow is noble, and his bearing high
Even in Death's cold hand : yet many a storm

Has beat upon him, and life's dreary sky
Shrouded in clouds the face of hope's fair sun,
Blighting the bud of glory scarce begun.
See, she bends over him, her loving eyes

Filld with a terrible glare, and her pale cheek
Furrow'd with grief's deep pang: “Awake," she cries,

“And bless thy mother; wake, sweet boy, and speak;
Look-look on me, if life its presence keeps,
Look-look on me! for, 0! thy mother weeps."
Watch now the opening eyelid, the short quiver

About his parched lips, and the slight flush
On his damp brow; while life's returning shiver

Spreads o'er the leaden cheek a transient blush,
As, with a voice Death scarce avails to smother,
He utters in a gentle whisper,—"Mother!"
“My son, my son, that happy sound repeat,

And warm me once more with those loving eyes;
Look on me, ere my heart has ceased to beat;

Say it again, before thy mother dies !"
But, no! his heart was ever still, and run
Was the short course of the poor widow's son.
The winds grew silent:--and a piercing screa

Shook the cold earth, and rent the listening air ;
The moon in terror veil'd her silver beam ;

For there she lay,—the beautiful, the fair :
The transient blush from her boy's brow had fled,
And the young widow slept among the dead.

M. L. R.

scream

« AnteriorContinuar »