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ROSES AND THORNS.*
" To kneel to pleasure, is to bow to pain."
This preternatural apparition of the majestic old man, did not long affeci me with horror. His countenance, though unmoving, was all benignity and compassion ; and, moreover, it was the only object visible to me through the dense vapour that surrounded us. sudden his lips stirred, and I heard, as from the hollows of the deep, the encouraging words, " Fear pothing." Immediately I could perceive from the backward motion of that enveloping inist, that we were hurrying on with great velocity; and in a space of time too short to be determined, we found ourselves in front of two gates very near each other, but in every point wholly dissimilar. We approached, and I examined them with close attention. That on the right hand was of the older architecture, but was incomparably superior to the other, in the state of its repair, and in the design and execution of its embellishments. On a bas-relief, surmounting the square door in the centre, was a sculptured paradise of angelical forms, innumerable as they were inimitable; and through a small lattice, at a convenient height from the ground, there was presented to the eye one of the most exquisitely charming landscapes that the mind of even Claude could imagine. On directing my view, however, to the gate on the left, all appeared gloomy and forsaken. The original arch that formed the entrance was so dilapidated, that what remained of it might be rather called an obstruction than a structure. That portion of it which was erect, seemed threatening annihilation to all beneath ; and the blackening fragments that indented the ground were matted over with every kind of noisome weed. Yet, as I mentioned before, this remnant of an edifice was clearly of a subsequent date to the other. It stood in its destruction like a child of sin, whose brow has been stained with crime before age has silvered it: and yet this was the portal alluded to in the following inscription which I read upon the neighbouring architecture: “ They who enter through me, shall depart through my fellow.” The awful writing over Dante's gate of Hell, was but little more disheartening; yet when my venerable conductor looked wistfully at me, as if to know my intention, I laid my hand on the brilliant pannels, and on their yielding to my first touch, advanced eagerly towards the scene that had so delighted me. My feet had scarcely planted themselves within these heavenly precincts, ihan all fatigue in advancing was at an end. Though my limbs moved as before, it was without exertion; so that I rather glided than
So entitled, because neither roses nor thorns are the subject.
Lucus a non lucendo. PRINTER'S DEVIL.
walked ; and yet the air was quite perceptible, for my eyes twinkled with the enchanting freshness that greeted them, and my senses were half dissolved in the seraphic sounds and ambrosial perfumes breathing about me. Such living green, such deep, deep blue, and such burning gold, I had never beheld even in dreams. The murmur of cascades, the trickling of rivulets, the sighing of spring branches, and the rustling of autumn leaves,—to say nothing of the more touching melody of the birds,--made up a concert of sounds that no single climate or season could elsewhere have provided. But after all the varied enchantments, far more than I can describe, which attended the progress of me and my guide throughout this unearthly domain, I still was fixed motionless in admiration and delight, when there feli upon my eye what I judged to be the fairy dwelling of the happy spirit to whom this paradise belonged. It was a palace of inconceivable magnificence! The very materials were an exhaustless mine of wealth; and the decorations, the mosaics, the sculpturings, with which the walls were enriched, were of a value that nothing but the magic of art can give to even the costliest of earth's productions. A glory burst from the whole face of the building that resembled nothing
ever had conceived: but it was not only the grandeur and the gorgeousness of the pile,-its divine symmetry and tastefulness were its chief attractions. I would have passed the fatal ferry to set but one foot in such a heaven as I deemed it to be. On gazing more and more steadfastly, as I approached gradually nearer, I perceived with some degree of amazement, that the left side of the palace was joined by a small low and dingy mass of ruins, that presented a most chilling contrast to the brilliancy and grandeur of what it thus clung to. Even the witching effect of the golden domes that swelled on the right hand like sunset mountains into the sky, could not prevent my glance from settling now and then timidly on the vile shed that so disgraced its neighbourhood. I soon discovered that this shed was, in fact, of stone; and my blood curdled, as I remarked the small barred windows, and smaller air-holes, with which the exterior was perforated; however, there were some openings, unglazed, and even ungrated, so yawningly large, as to bely the first appearance of its being a prison. I wanted no longer to enquire into these anomalies, but hurried, as if in fear, into the vestibule on the right, and my doubts were soon quieted, for I forgot them. The towering and variegated columns, the glowing cornices, the veined and mosaicwrought floor, and the gorgeous dome over all, struck me at once with a feeling of present beauty and magnificence, that no inanimate, no material, objects had ever before inspired me with. But enchanting as was the apartment I stood in, that to which it led made me soon lose all thought of the former. Nothing " which art can reach, or science can define,” was wanting in this hall of bliss. My soul was intoxicated with the lights, the colours, the sounds, the perfumes, and the thousand other witcheries that encircled me. There stood a goblet at the upper end of the saloon, that glittered like a constellation of gems. It looked brilliant as the sun, cool as the shower, and
infinite in variety of hue as even the rainbow. In a paroxym of thirst, I hurried it to my lips, when my eye caught this sentence inscribed on the crystal rim: They who drink out of me, must drink out of my fellow." The momentary delay which occurred as I read this, did but inflame my eagerness to drink. Every drop was an ocean of delight. I could not have believed myself capable of sustaining so high an excess of enjoyment. When the goblet was drained, I saw by the moderated light which now prevailed, a girl of the most maddening beauty. She had eyes-oh! what was the blaze of the chandeliers, the liquid purity of the mirrors, the intense blueness of the unclouded dome, what were all these to those eyes, and the halo shed around them? Her forehead, amidst all the red glare of the spicy lamps, was as fair as if the moon were shining full on it; while her cheeks and her breathing lips, in spite of all the emulous glow around them, were unequalled in their deepest of dye as carnations in the midst of a rose-bank. Who shall describe her hair? It was like the dark wavings of the willow seen against the silver twilight! But her forehead had a band of unwrought gold, and the startling words upon it ran thus: “ He who loves me, shall embrace my sister."
“ Thy sister!" I cried,—“And is it possible that two such angels of bliss can have sprung from one parent, or be held by one world ?” My transport is redoubled even at the thought. I am no mortal. This is not earth I tread on. Spirit of all ecstatic joys,” said I to the sweet trembler before me, thy charms are nigh consuming me; but even as the moth rushes franticly towards the taper that may destroy it, I devote myself in this one wild embrace to all that dear ruin which thou dost bring." It was over, in a moment, that electrical touch; and the fatal Sister stood before me. She held in her left hand the fillet, on which were graven the conditions of that enjoyment I had proved, and with her right she clasped me to her skinny and sweltering neck, less disgusting only than the bosom which hung under it. The poison of her breath, and the malignity of her eye, soon dispersed all the odour and brilliancy with which Í had been surrounded. Nothing met my sight but her sickening ugliness; and all the rest of my senses were wrapt in the hellish influences this fury shed about her. I quickly found that in one and the same instant, I had reached the apex of both rapture and agony. Without dilating upon the horrors of my new situation, be it enough to say, that if the demon who so embraced me had left an increase of my torture at all possible, the augmentation was effected by the draught she forced on me from the fellow-goblet of that which had before entrapped me in delight. My blood curdled, my heart sickened, my knees trembled, and my brain throbbed, until I was brought to a state of torture which no words can give a notion of, and which, but for the evil power that sustained me, would have been utterly insupportable. When the bowl had dropped, and the fiend had vanished, I found myself alone in a dungeon-like apartment, which, from the shape and size of its windows, I knew must belong to the vile building which had previously caught my attention. There was
a heap of dying embers laid in one corner of the room, and giving just light enough to make the loathsomeness of the place fully apparent. I might well indite a volume on the soul-chilling noises and visions that assailed me in my progress through this hall of terrors. Dead limbs crossed mine, and threw me frequently on the noisome floor, where slimy reptiles and clammy hands received my face as I fell. Stenches, the most suffocating and nauseating, made me reel with weakness and disgust. I made no motion, I uttered no sound, but my pangs were instantaneously deepened ; and when at length i reached the outer door of this Pandæmonium, I thought I had
passed and proved” all the pains of which human nature could be susceptible, and far more than it had ever yet endured. I turned my face upwards, and fætid secretions were shaken from the rank boughs that now twined over me. Splintered stumps lay in my track, and precipitated me continually into the mire. My face was mutilated by jagged stones, and thorns transfixed my bursting feet: I emerged from the avenue of trees, and the big rain beat heavily down upon my head. My eyes were bruised with hail, and parched with lightning; while the crashing of trees, and the bellowing of the clouds and adjacent ocean, filled my ears with anguish. I soon recognized the inner side of the dilapidated gate I had formerly noticed; but it seemed an age before the mazes of the wilderness I was in, would admit of my escape. On a sudden, however, I tripped, and my head was dashed against the ragged edge of the only part of the ruin left upright. A strong hand lifted me, and the old man I had so long forgotten, motioned me to look back at the two gates of PLEASURE and Pain. I turned loathingly away, and saw that my brandy and water had almost frozen, while the glow of a good coal fire had been tinging my fancy with those whimsical hues which I have endeavoured to exhibit to my readers.
(BY ROBERT MONTGOMERY.]
Thou pearly boon of passion's changing move,
To plead the burning grief, or raptured love!
Thy spring---the anguish of the throbbing heart;
Nor sweetly feel one kindred feeling start?
Steal from thy fount, and cool the glowing cheek :---
Had no interpreter but thee to speak.
Than joy-lit eyes with beaming tear-drops dewed ;
Till streaming forth in gems of gratitude !
GOOD THINGS BY GOOD AUTHORS.
" Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira voluptas
Juv. 1. “ There is not a man in the world but desires to be, or to be thought to be, a wise man; and yet if he considered how little he contributes himself thereunto, he might wonder to find himself in any tolerable degree of understanding." CLARENDON.
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service ; but idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments, or amusements that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears, while the key often used is always bright.
As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest Aowers, and the sharpest thorns ; as the heavens are sometimes fair and sometimes overcast, alternately teinpestuous and serene ; so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joys and Sorrows, with pleasures and with pains.
We should manage our thoughts in composing a poem, as shepherds do their flowers in making a garland ; first select the choicest, and then dispose them in the most proper places, where they give a lustre to each other : like the feathers in Indian crowns, which are so managed that every one reflects a part of its colour and gloss on the next.
I had rather never receive a kindness, than never bestow one: not to return a benefit is the greater sin, but not to confer it is the earlier.
Pride, ill-nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill manners ; without some one of these defects, no man will behave himself ill for want of experience, or what, in the language of fools, is called knowing the world.
'Tis not juggling that is to be blamed, but much juggling, for the world cannot be governed without it.
There is this difference betwixt a thankful and an unthankful man : the one is always pleased in the good he has done, and the other only once in what he has received.
As the fertilest ground must be manured ; so must the highest Aying wit have a Dædalus to guide him.
Parody is a favourite power both of ancient and modern literature. It is a species of ludicrous composition, which derives its wit from association : and never fails to produce admiration and delight, when it unites taste in selection with felicity of application. Even licentious specimens of it move to laughter; for we are always inclined to be diverted with mimicry, or ridiculous imitation, whether the original be an object of respect, of indifference, or of contempt. A polished Athenian audience heard, with bursts of mirthful applause, the discourses of the venerable Socrates burlesqued upon the stage ; and no Englishman can read the Rehearsal without smiling at the medley of borrowed absurdities which it exhibits.
There is scarce a village in Europe, and not one university, that is not thus furnished with its little great men. The head of a petty corporation, who opposes the designs of a prince who would tyrannically force his subjects to save their best clothes for Sundays ; the puny pedant who finds one undiscovered property in the polype, or describes an unheeded process in the skeleton of a mole, and whose mind, like his microscope, perceives nature only in detail : the rhymer, who makes smooth verses, and paints to our imagination, when he should only speak to our hearts ; all equally fancy themselves walking forward to immortality, and desire the crowd behind them to look on. The crowd takes them at their word. Patriot, philosopher, and poet, are shouted in their train. • Where was there ever so much merit seen ? No times so important as our own; ages, yet unborn, shall gaze with wonder and