Puslapio vaizdai

The Sword.


WHEN states and empires have their periods of declension, and feel in their turns what distress and poverty is, I stop not to tell the causes which gradually brought the house of d'E**** in Brittany into decay. The Marquis d'E**** had fought up against his condition with great firmness; wishing to preserve, and still show to the world, some little fragments of what his ancestors had been, their indiscretion had put it out of his power. There was enough left for the little exigencies of obscurity, but he had two boys, who looked up to him for light-he thought they deserved it. He had tried his sword-it could not open the way-the mountain was too expensive-and simple economy was not a match for it— there was no resource but commerce.

In any other province in France save Brittany, this was smiting the root for ever of the little tree his pride and affection wished to see reblossom, but in Brittany, there being a provision for this, he availed himself of it; and taking an occasion when the states were assembled at Rennes, the marquis, attended with his two sons, entered the court; and having pleaded the right of an ancient law of the duchy, which, though seldom claimed, he said, was no less in force, he took his sword from his side-"Here," said he, “take it; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in condition to reclaim it."

The president accepted the marquis's sword-he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives* of his house, and departed.

The marquis and his whole family embarked the next day for Martinico, and after about nineteen or twenty years of successful application to business, with some unlooked-for bequests from distant branches of his house, returned home to reclaim his nobility, and to support it.

It was an incident of good fortune, which will never happen to any traveller but a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of his solemn requisition; I call it solemn-it was so to me.

The marquis entered the court with his whole family; he sup ported his lady, his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the line next his mother he put his handkerchief to his face twice.

There was a dead silence. When the marquis had approached within six paces of the tribunal, he gave the marchioness to his youngest son, and advancing three steps before his family, he reclaimed his sword. His sword was given him, and the moment he got it into his hand he drew it almost out of the scabbard—it was

*I.e. the place where important deeds, papers, or other valuable property were kept for security.

the shining face of a friend he had once given up. He looked attentively a long time at it, beginning at the hilt, as if to see whether it was the same, when, observing a little rust which it had contracted near the point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his head down over it, I think I saw a tear fall upon the place: I could not be deceived by what followed.

"I shall find," said he, "some other way to get it off."

When the marquis had said this, he returned his sword into its scabbard, made a bow to the guardian of it, and, with his wife and daughters, and his sons following him, walked out. O, how I envied him his feelings!

The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.


THIS immortal poet, moralist, and essayist, was born at Bristol, in 1770, and died at Highgate, in 1834. His classical and literary attainments still possess many a fortunate living witness.

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It is an ancient mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three,

"By thy long gray beard and glittering eye
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

"The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide, And I am next of kin ;

The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din."

He holds him with a skinny hand,
"There was a ship," quoth he.

"Hold off! unhand me, gray-beard loon!' Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye-
The wedding guest stood still,

And listens like a three years' child
The mariner hath his will.

The wedding guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed mariner.

The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,

Merrily did we drop

Below the kirk, below the hill,

Below the lighthouse top.

The sun came up upon the left,

Out of the sea came he!

And he shone bright, and on the right,
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,

Till over the mast at noon

The wedding guest here beat his breast,

For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;

Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The wedding guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed mariner.

And now the storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o'ertaking wings,

And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,

And forward bends his head,

The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast, And southward aye we fled.

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It cracked and growled, and roared and howled;
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an albatross,
Through the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hallo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white moonshine.


God save thee, ancient mariner,

From the fiends, that plague thee thus !—
Why look'st thou so?"-With my cross-bow
I shot the albatross.*


The Sun now rose upon the right:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the left

Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo!

* On the solitary habits of this bird, and its habit of following ships in order to obtain the refuse thrown overboard, see Wood's "Natural History," pp.374-5. The superstition in respect to killing an albatross, on which this poem is founded, no longer holds good, although sailors are at all times apt enough to entertain such fancies.

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious sun uprist:

Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist,

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, T'was sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the moon.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!

That ever this should be!

Yea, shiny things did crawl with legs

Upon the shiny sea.

About, about, in reel and rout,
The death-fires danced at night,
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.
And some in dreams assured were
Of the spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,

Was withered at the root;

We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

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