« PreviousContinue »
He raised his hands in an ecstasy,
They spread the feast, the wine-cup drain,
And their last crimes were done that night.
A ruddy glow is o'er the skies,
It comes - it comes, the light’ning's blaze
Burst for an instant on the sigiit,
Again it comes with tenfold power,
the gorging flames expires,
C. T. Jones.
VOL. II. Sept. 1829,
THE GREY MAN. Ar the downfall of Buonaparte none rejoiced more sincerely than the good people of Berlin. On the night of the 7th of August, 1814, the king attended the opera, the theatre was thrown open, and the whole town was brilliantly illuminated. Great pains were taken by the goveroment to amuse the people and gratify their loyalty ; the public buildings were lit up with unusual brilliancy, and the monarch, as he rode slowly through the streets, graciously returned the salutations of the enthusiastic multitude.
"I do not remember ever seeing Berlin thus,' said a young military officer to his friend, a physician, with whom he was walking outside the linden trees.
• The people and the buildings appear otherwise than they did: a magical glow is imprinted on every countenance: the women, in particular, are strikingly beautiful; I am truly dazzled with the splendour which surrounds us.'
The rush of the crowd prevented his hearing his friend's reply, and, while struggling against the moving mass, he was pressed hard against a strange man with an extraordinary physiognomy. He was a tall, commanding figure, and wore a grey dress. His eyes were black and flaming, thick locks overshadowed them, and his nose was hooked and large. He panted violently, though his lips were closed. His gait was determined and quick, and he appeared to glide mysteriously through the crowd. On his head he wore a small military cap; and, on his cloak being drawn accidentally aside, the officer thought he discovered a blood-red mark upon his breast: it might have been the effect of a wound, or it might be a riband.
• What a strange figure,' said the officer, and they entered Charlotte Street. A long file of coaches, coming from the gens d'armes market-place towards Beech Street, obliged them to move aside : they leaned against one of the columns before the cassino, and silently looked on the softly moving procession. The nearly extinguished lamps giving but an ambiguous
faint light, the horses, men, and coaches grew dark together; and the officer's attention was fixed upon the cavalcade, when he heard a deep sighing behind him. He became-he knew not why-as cold as ice, his heart trembled convulsively in his breast, and he was unable
Come,' whispered the physician, 'come away, let us leave this place;' but, at the instant, the grey man walked round the column, and glided by; the iames of the fire pans, before the houses, casting their light upon him, the sign on his breast glowed as red as blood, and a humid veil seemed to rest on his dread
Do not detain me,' cried the officer, vehemently, as he disengaged his arm from that of his friend, who made a slight effort to prever.t his departure, “I mustI will see more of this strange figure.'
In a moment he was by the grey man's side, and continued to walk along with him, although his rapidity seemed every moment to increase. He spoke pot.
It was late; the candles were extinguished, a few men only were to be seen here and there in the streets, and the music at the opera square sounded feebly and lingeringly. The officer looked, from time to time, distrustfully upon his long shade-like companion : a disquieting resemblance, which he confusedly remembered, attracted his eyes : he had seen those features before : they recalled to bis recollection an event in the recent war, and he sighed; the grey man sighed too, and said, “It will soon be finished !!
The doleful voice resounded in the officer's ear: he stepped nearer to him; and they now stood before the trophies which were waving between and behind festoons of green leaves. The king passed by this instant on horseback, having finished his procession through the city. The officer looked cheerfully after him, and had almost forgotten the grey man, when the mysterious figure pressed his hands violently upon his eyes : a piercing frightful cry issued from his breast, and immediately he resumed his restless course, breathing indistinct lamentations. His tone of anguish and affliction entirely overwhelmed the young soldier's heart. He thought him unhappy, and wished to relieve him, but still he did not venture to speak. At length, vben they were in a dark street, and nearly alone, he softly and kindly said to him : 'Do you search for any thing, friend ? As you seem to be a stranger, probably I may be of service to you.' The stranger answered not, but looked upon him with surprise. The officer, however, continued : 'Do not misconceive my meaning ; I think I know your features, and again I beg to inquire if I can be of any service to
The stranger shook his head and whispered, hol. lowly, 'I seek for nothing, but something seeks for me!'
Perhaps,' said the officer, you have experienced a painful loss in the last war, and the solemnity of this day raises terrifying remembrances which you wish to elude?'
“Yes!' responded the stranger, in nearly as dreadful a manner as before.
The officer was still more interested, and kindly said, • It must console you, that you also fought the good fight, and, as I suppose by the sign on your breast, vanquished by cruel sacrifices.'
The grey man only groaned convulsively, and burried forward. An irresistible temptation to discover more of the mysterious stranger induced the officer to pursue his steps. They arrived near St. Nicholas' Church, where a few lamps were still burning, and here the grey man paused, his head sank upon his breast, and he stood, staiue-like, opposite the church. Tbe officer's eyes followed, with increasing expectation, the staring, constrained looks of the other; and presently an aged man, a woman who appeared to be his wife, and a young girl who might be their daughter, walked towards the church-yard. The girl, a slender figure, wore a long white dress, her delicate hands were joined, and her head, in a searching manner, was bent forwards. The father wore a black old-fashioned coat; in one hand