besides being illustrative of some of the more terrible experiences in colonial history, during the infancy of settlement.

Had we room and time it would be easy to give many specimens in which the writer surpasses, whether viewed as a person of literary skill, of mental vigour, or of raciness of description and portraiture. But we must desist.

"My presence of mind almost forsook me at this crisis. Escape seemed impossible; and I felt that I was doomed to the most horrible of deaths— that of being burnt alive!

"The light of the flames increased, and the smoke inside the hut became almost insufferable! Feeling that if I remained where I was, death was certain, I determined to make a desperate effort to escape. There was a little wind, which blew the smoke in the direction of the back of the hut; the natives, as I knew by their cries, were assembled in the front.

"I determined to attempt my escape by the back window, hoping that the smoke in that direction would serve to conceal my exit at the moment of getting out of the window, when my position would be defenceless. I hastily tore down my barricade of logs, and jumped through the opening into the smoke. I was almost suffocated, but, with my gun in my hand, I dashed through it.

"For the moment I was not perceived; but the natives soon got sight of me, and a volley of spears around me, one of which struck me in the back, but dropped out again, proclaimed that they were in chase. I kept on running as long as I could towards a tree that was in the middle of the little plain over which I was passing, intending to make that my fighting place, by setting my back to it, and so to protect myself in the rear.

66 'The spears flew around me and near me, but I reached the tree, and instantly turning round, I fired among the advancing natives. This checked them, for they were now becoming afraid of my formidable weapon, and seeing that I stood resolute and prepared for them, they retreated to some distance; but they continued to throw some spears, most of which fell short, and kept up a shouting and yelling in a frightful manner, capering and dancing about in a sort of frenzy,-ferocious to get at me, but kept at bay by my terrible gun.

"My blood was now up! I was excited to a pitch of joyful exultation by my escape from the burning hut, and I felt that courage of excitement which almost prompted me to rush on my enemies, and to bring the matter to an issue by a bodily conflict with my broadsword. But prudence prevailed; and I placed my hope and my dependence on my trusty gun, which had already done me such good service.

"Taking advantage of the temporary inaction of the natives, I felt for my powder-horn, to reload the barrel which I had discharged. To my unspeakable horror and disappointment it was missing! I searched every pocket in vain! I had laid it on the table in the hut, and there I had left it! To recover it was impossible, as the hut was all in flames, and while I gazed on the burning mass, a dull report and a burst of sparks from the building made known to me that the powder had become ignited, and was lost to me for ever!

"In my agony of mind at this discovery, my hair seemed to bristle up;

[ocr errors]

and the sweat ran down my forehead and obscured my sight! I now felt that nothing but a miracle could save me but the love of life increasing in proportion to the danger of losing it, I once more summoned up my failing energies for a last effort. I had three barrels loaded; one in my fowlingpiece and two in my pistols; I had also my broadsword, but that would not avail me against their spears.

"If I could hold out till night, I thought I might be able then to elude my savage enemies, as the natives have a fear of moving about at night, believing that in the darkness an evil spirit roams about, seeking to do them mischief, and who then has power over them. Casting my eyes upwards to the branches of the tree under which I was standing, I observed that it was easy to climb, and there appeared to me indications of a hollow in the trunk between the principal branches, which might serve me for a place of shelter till the night should enable me, under the cover of its darkness, to escape from my pursuers.

"I formed my plan on the instant, and without losing a moment I slung my gun behind me, and, catching hold of a branch within reach, I clambered up. The natives who were watching my motions, renewed their shouts and yells at this manoeuvre, and rushed towards the tree in a body.

"I scrambled as fast as I could to the fork of the tree, and found to my infinite relief that my anticipation was right; there was a hollow large enough to admit my whole body, and effectually to shield me from the spears of the savages. As my foot reached the bottom, it encountered some soft body, which I quickly learnt was an opossum, the owner of the habitation, which asserted its rights by a sharp attack on the calf of my leg with teeth and claws: I was not in a humour to argue the matter with my new assailant, so with my thick bush shoes I trampled the creature down into a jelly, though it left its remembrances on my torn flesh, which smarted not a little. When I recovered my breath, I listened to ascertain the motions of my enemies outside.

"They had ceased their yells, and there was a dead silence, so that I could hear my own quick breathing within the trunk of the tree. 'What are they about?' thought I. While I mentioned ejaculately this thought, I felt an agitation of the tree, from which I guessed that some venturous savage was climbing up to attack me in my retreat. I cautiously raised myself up to look around me, but the appearance of my hat above the hole was the signal for half-a dozen spears, three of which passed through it, one of them grazing the scalp of my head. That plan will not do,' thought I; 'I must keep close.'

"As I crouched myself down, I thought I heard a breathing above me. I looked up, and beheld the hideous visage of one of the savages glaring on me with his white eyeballs, which exhibited a ferocious sort of exultation. He had his waddie in his hand, which he slowly raised, to give me a pat on the head, thinking that he had me quite safe, like an opossum in its hole. 'You're mistaken, my beauty,' thought I; I'm not done for yet.' Drawing out one of my pistols from my pocket, which was rather a matter of difficulty in my confined position, I fired. The ball crashed through his face and skull, and I heard his dead body fall heavily to the ground.

“A yell of fear and rage arose from his black companions. I took advantage of the opportunity, and raised myself up so as to look about me, but their threatening spears soon drove me back to my retreat. There was now another pause and a dead silence; and I flattered myself with the hope that the savages, having been so frequently baffled, and having suffered so much in their attacks, would now retire. But the death and the wounds of their comrades, it appears, only whetted their rage, and stimulated them to fresh endeavours; and the cunning devices of that devilish savage Musqueeto were turned in a new and more fatal direction.

"As I lay in my retreat, I heard a sound as if heavy materials were being dragged towards the tree. I ventured to peep out, and beheld the savages busy in piling dead wood round the trunk, with the intention as I immediately surmised, of setting fire to it, and of burning me in my hole.

"My conjectures were presently verified. I saw emerging from the wood one of their females, bearing the lighted fire-sticks which the natives always carry with them in their journeys. I looked on these preparations as a neglected but not indifferent spectator, the natives disregarding my appearance above the opening, and waiting with a sort of savage patience for the sure destruction which they were preparing for me.

"The native women approached with the fire, and the natives, forming a circle round the tree, performed a dance of death as a prelude to my sacrifice. I was tempted to fire on them; but I did not like to part with my last two shots, except in an extremity even greater than this.

"In the meantime the natives continued their dance, seeming to enjoy the interval between me and death, like the epicure who delays his attack on the delicious feast before him, that he may the longer enjoy the exciting pleasure of anticipation. Presently, however, their death-song broke out into loud cries of fury; they applied the fire to the faggots, and as the blaze increased, they danced and yelled around the tree in a complete delirium of rage and exultation.

"The fire burned up!--the smoke ascended! I already felt the horrid sensation of being stifled by the thick atmosphere of smoke before the flames encompassed me. In this extremity, I determined, at least, to inflict some vengeance on my savage persecutors.

"I scrambled up from my hiding-place, and crawled as far as I could on one of the branches which was most free from the suffocating smoke and heat, and fired the remaining barrel of my fowling-piece at the yelling wretches, which I then hurled at their heads. I did the same with my remaining pistol, when to my amazement, I heard the reports of other guns; but whether they were the echoes of my own, or that my failing senses deceived me, I know not, for the smoke and flames now mastered me. Stifled and scorched, I remember only falling from the branch of the tree, which was not high, to the ground, when my senses left me.

"I was roused from my trance of death by copious deluges of water, and 1 heard a voice which was familiar to me exclaiming,


[ocr errors]

'Well, if this is not enough to disgust a man with this horrid country, I don't know what he would have more! For years and years I have been preaching to him that nothing good could come of this wretched den of bush-rangers and natives, and now, you see, the evil is come at last!'


I opened my eyes at these words. It was the voice of Crabb, whom heaven had directed with a party of friends to this spot to deliver me! Overcome with the intensity of my emotions, racked with pain, and sick from the very fulness of joy at my escape from death, I uttered a piercing cry of mingled pain and delight, and fainted!"

ART. XVIII.-Sacred Poems, from Subjects in the Old Testament.
JOHN EDMUND READE, Author of " Italy," &c.


We have frequently noticed Mr. Reade's poetical efforts in terms of high commendation. There is not one of our living writers who has a deeper and more abiding sense of the requirements of his art, or who approaches his subjects with greater sincerity and earnestness than does the author of these Sacred pieces. He is not of the number who imagine that a set of verses strung together without forethought and steady purpose can be fitting either as respects the purposes of Poetry, or his own character. As he himself observes, the great ends of Poetry are like those of Truth, "with whom she is one, the sister and the adorning handmaid-to hold up the evil and the good in their most impressive colours." Accordingly he never thinks of applying his art as a mere plaything, but makes its employment a matter of conscience. Most sedulously has he sought to improve his skill by study, by travel, and by careful revision; and we may be sure that when he essayed sacred themes he did not rush unadvisedly into the temple, nor read his texts with an undisciplined imagination.

These Poems have for their subjects some of the most remarkable events and characters to be met with in the Old Testament, which abounds with passages of the very highest capability for poetical treatment, and which at the same time impose the highest responsibility upon him who approaches them with the design of bringing out parts of the picture more fully than has been done by the inspired penman, or of enlarging a sentiment that may be but incidentally or indirectly suggested by the text. An example from the collection before us may be given to illustrate our meaning, and at the same time, to convince the reader of the beauties which shine in these The lines are taken from the piece called "Jephthah's Vow."


The shouts of victory rose, the timbrels sounded:

The old men came forth with their laurels green;
And in the dance glad Israel's maidens bounded,

Circling their mistress with triumphant mien :
For Jephthah's honoured daughter they surrounded,-
Handmaids of beauty waiting round their queen.

She stood among them yet alone,
Peerless and pure as is the moon
Among the lesser planets shown:
Her hair, unbraided now, was strewn
In masses o'er her shoulders bright,
Glistening in threads of amber light!

But where they parted o'er her brow,
And left her temples bare, ye traced
The violet vein that stained their snow;
And where those tresses, interlaced
With their own tangled braids, descended,
Veiling that swan-like neck of pride,
And with her heaving bosom blended,
Shadowing the forms they could not hide,
They looked as they had stolen the rays
Of sunset in their golden maze.

All this is fairly within the scope of the sacred narrative, and certainly a very beautiful enlargement. We think that it would be idle after such a specimen to offer any further words of general recommendation.

ART. XIX.-Marriage; a Poem in four Cantos. By the Rev. Dr. HENRY EDMUNDS.

DR. EDMUNDS is Minister of St. John's Chapel, Dover, and is author of "Piety and Intellect relatively estimated;" "Our Female Servants," &c. He now sings of matrimony and marriage, although at the period when his muse, delivered herself of this poem, he had not yet been wedded, but was only going to be, and to an unrivalled and peerless lady; for he exclaims,

"Come forth behind the scenes, my matchless bride,
Nor blush, nor faint, nor falter, by my side:
Thy virtues well deserve an angel's tongue,
On thee through life, my hopes, my heaven are hung.
Happy, thrice happy they, of human mind,
Who one the least resembles her shall find.
Proud Wellington, and Peel, and Brougham retire—
For such, though humble swains, rank justly higher.”

Has not the Rev. Doctor spoken prematurely? Could he not have waited at least till the honeymoon was o'er ?

ART. XX.-A Voice from the Vintages, on the Force of Example, addressed to those who think and feel. By the author of "The Women of England." MRS. ELLIS has here entered upon the question of temperance, balancing the claims of moderation and total abstinence in the use of intoxicating drinks. She advocates the adoption of the latter principle and practice.

London: Printed by G. Lilley, 3, Queen's Head-passage, Paternoster-row.

« VorigeDoorgaan »