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Moments now passed quicker than thought. Sup. ported on either side, he slowly mounted the ascent to the guillotine. Stepping upon a small board from which a smooth plank arose as high as his breast, a bandage was instantly passed around his back.
The board on which he stood and the plank before him then turned on a pivot, and placed him in a horizontal positionhis bare neck resting on the semicircular frame-work that was carved to receive it; the other half of the frame-work closed above and confined it. On either side of the neck thus placed arose a post to the height of fifteen feet; and aloof, between these, hung the heavy triangular blade which, on the removal of a peg, was to slide, with one ungle underneath, in the grooves carved in the neighbouring posts, and, in its passage downwards, was, by its weight, to sever whatever should impede its progress. Every part of the instrument was painted red.
From the time when the culprit left the cart to the present moment, not one minute and a half bad elapsed. For an instant, I turned away my eyes. When I again looked up, the bloody head of the murderer was falling into the case placed to receive it, and the body was lying, without the slightest convulsive movement, in the position in wbich I had last seen it. For a while, the executioners seemed affected, but, recollecting themselves, they suddenly loosened the thongs that bound it, and the headless trunk rolled into a large wicker hamper placed laterally beside it—and then again every thing resumed its wonted appearance.
Not five minutes has elapsed since he was first exposed in the cart, a living being, and now --Again I ask, what is life, what is death?
Though I had learned not to let that wbich I do not know interfere with that which I do know,* yet I could not but feel a sentiment almost of Envy for that poor murderer ; how much had not five short minutes raised him above all human knowledge; how much insight
* La seule chose que nous ne savou point est d'ignorer ce que nous ne pouvorssa voir.-Rousseau. This sentiment is repeated by Paley without acknowledgment.
had they not given him into the impenetrable mysteries of our creation! Yes, I assert it, nothing is more calculated than the sight of such a death to impress us with a due sense of the dreadful wonders that hover round our existence ; it makes us feel inferior to the wretch whose head we have just seen fall beneath the knife of the guillotine : for it is no longer him that we see; a lump of senseless flesh is alone before us, while the spirit that so lately animated it can appreciate at their true value the various passions that still degrade and exalt our ever-contradictory natures. Byron, too, has this sentiment:
" When the mountains rear Their peaks beneath your human foot, and there
You look down o'er the precipice, and drear
Retire : but look into your past impression!
Of your own thoughts in all their self-confession,
To the unknown ; a secret prepossession
With a sickening heart, I selected a narrow, unfrequented street, and with clouded, wandering thoughts, I heedlessly treaded my way from the Place de Greves --scarcely raising my looks from the pavement beneath my feet. Once, indeed, I bent an unconscious gaze on a dead wall, till my eyes resting upon a play bill, I quickly withdrew them with an involuntary shudder!
MY HOME-A SONNET.
An unsubstantial faery place!
That warble pensive music in my dreams,
The sunny vine is mantling on thy wall,
And voices soft and clear around thee flow, Blue violets gleam where laughing waters fall,
And thy old hearth imparts its wonted glow. My Home! these consecrations hallow thee :
But, oh! thou hast a holier spell than they; It is of smiles that charm'd mine infancy,
When, on the sward, in beauteous rest I lay. The birds and woods have magic in their tone,For they restore to me the image of the gone!Deal, May 27.
[' I think I never saw the sky looking more awfully grand than it did last evening; the sun was setting behind a very black cloud through which we could indistinctly see the deep red sky looking like flames of fire half hid by thick columns of smoke.' - Private Letter, June 5th, 1829.] Now day declines, and, pillowed on the breast Of mighty clouds, that hover in the west, In gloomy grandeur, shrouded from our view, Low sinks the sun, and bids the world adieu ; Yet, ever and anon, before he goes, From out the deep surrounding gloom, he throws A momentary blaze, intensely bright, That bathes the shrining clouds in living light; And, on the earth, amid the general shade, Some solitary spot is seen arrayed In all the radiance of his glowing beam, But soon is lost the bright and transient gleam, And all again is dark : e'en thus expires A mighty city, given to hostile fires, Huge clouds of stifing smoke ascend on high, And whirl their darkening columns to the sky, No light appears, save when (a moment seen Adding fresh horror to the dreadful scene) Some sudden blaze flames forth from out the gloom, As if to tell the prostrate city's doom, A beacon light to mark the common tomb. Wimbourne, July 6, 1829.
EXTRACTS FROM THE COMMON-PLACE BOOK OP
A LITERARY LOUNGER.NO. VIII.
HIGH SENSE OF HONOUR.
When Charles V. desired the Marquis de Villena to lend his house to the rebel Constable de Bourbon, the reply of the Castilian was, that he would not refuse gratifying his sovereign in that request, but that his majesty must not be surprised if, the moment the Con. stable departed, he should burn to the ground a house which, having been polluted by the presence of a traitor, became an unfit habitation for a man of honcur.
When Jean-sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy, after the murder of the Duke of Orleans, bad the audacity to return to Paris, where the king and princes were prevailed upon to send him, Louis de Clermont, Duc de Bourbon, was indignant at the idea of finding himself at the same court with an assassin. He rode out of Paris at the head of 100 gentlemen of his hotel, and, forcing his way through the Burgundian troops, who were about to arrest him, took the road to his domains, where he determined to spend the remainder of his days among his dear vassals.
While Henry V. was at Southampton, waiting to embark his troops for France, walking one day without the walls he saw a banneret arrive at the head of 120 knights, who saluted him; saying, “Seigneur King, I come to offer you this company, which I have raised at my own expense.' The king, overjoyed, desired to know his name. • I am the Sir William Olendyne.' • A knight, without doubt?' 'No my lord. I had embraced the monastic state, but I have forsaken the altar for a cuirass.' • Deserted the altar !' replied the king
you are a miscreant; begone, I do not want either you or your gifts.' Olendyne embarked ' for France, and fought against the English at Agin
with anger ;
Bound on a pilgrimage to nature vowed,
Then lift thy battle-axe, o blue Thorpe Cloud !
Edwards' Tour of the Dove. FATIGUED with the pursuits of an anxious profes. sion, I resolved to snatch myself from business, and devote the month of August to a country excursion. They may manage these things better in France; but I never could conjecture why people who are entirely ignorant of the attractive scenery of their native land should seek peace or pleasure amidst the bustle and mistakes of foreign pilgrimage. Italian skies and alpine hills are no doubt beautiful and sublime enough; but have you clambered up the sides of Snowdon, reposed in the vale of Llangollen, or rambled through the Peak of Derbyshire? If not, postpone your continental tour, repair to Lad Lane, or the fierce Saracen, and take your seat for either the north or the south
VOL. 11. Oct, 1829.