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Not want for rum? Read that again!
I feel the spell! haste, drive me down
And I can wear the drunkard's crown. 19. Accept thy proffer, fiend? I will,
And to thy drunken banquet come;
With boiling, burning, fiery rum;
There's liberty to drink in hell !
Then starting from his haunted bed,
Then silent sunk-his soul had fled.
Was once a temperate drinker, too!
TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE GREAT NATURAL BRIDGE, VIRGINIA.
1. THERE are three or four lads standing in the channel below, looking up with awe to that vast arch of unhewn rocks, which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting butments “ when the morning stars sang together.” The little piece of sky spanning those measureless piers, is full of stars, although it is mid-day.
2. It is almost five hundred feet from where they stand, up those perpendicular bulwarks of limestone, to the key rock of
that vast arch, which appears to them only of the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel. The sun is darkened, and the boys have unconsciously uncovered their heads, as if standing in the presence-chamber of the Majesty of the whole earth.
3. At last, this feeling begins to wear away; they begin to look around them ; they find that others have been there be
l fore them. They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone butments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their knives are in their hands in an instant.
6 What man has done, man can do,” is their watchword, while they draw themselves up, and carve their names a foot above those of a hundred full-grown men, who have been there before them.
4. They are all satisfied with this feat of physical exertion, except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth, that there is no royal road to intellectual eminence. This ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach, a name that will be green in the memory of the world, when those of Alexander, Cæsar, and Bonaparte shall rot in oblivion. It was the name of Washington. Before he marched with Braddock to that fatal field, he had been there, and left his name a foot above all his predecessors.
5. It was a glorious thought of the boy, to write his name side by side with that of the great father of his country. He grasps his knife with a firmer hand; and, clinging to a little jutting crag, he cuts a niche into the limestone, about a foot above where he stands; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands. Tis a dangerous adventure ; but, as he puts his feet and hands into those niches, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself a foot above every name chronicled in that mighty wall.
6. While his companions are regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in rude capitals, large and
deep, into that flinty album. His knife is still in his hand, and strength in his sinews, and a new-created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he carves his name in larger capitals. This is not enough. Heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The gradations of his ascending scale grow wider apart. He measures his length at every gain he cuts. The voices of his friends wax weaker and weaker, till their words are finally lost on his ear.
7. He now, for the first time, casts a look beneath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings, with a convulsive shudder to his little niche in the roek. An awful abyss awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint with severe exertion, and trembling, from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is ex. posed. His knife is worn half-way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words, of his terror-stricken companions below.
8. What a moment ! What a meager chance to escape destruction! There is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to put his hands into the same niche with his feet and retain his slender hold a moment. His companions instantly perceive this new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that “freeze their young blood." He is too high, too faint, to ask for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, to come and witness or avert his destruction. But one of his companions anticipates his desire. Swift as the wind, he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon
his father's hearth-stone.
9. Minutes of almost eternal length roll on, and there are hundreds standing in that rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and awaiting the fearful catastrophe. The poor boy hears the hum of new and numer. ous voices both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting with all the energy of des
pair: "William! William ! don't look down! Your mother, and Henry, and Harriet, are all here, praying for you! Keep your eye toward the top!” The boy didn't look down.
10. His eye is fixed like a flint toward heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below. How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain! How he economizes his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts ! motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the very spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone.
11. The sun is now half-way down the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rocks, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to get from under this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is dying in his bosom; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shouts of hundreds, perched upon cliffs and trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands, on the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty gains more must be cut before the longest rope can reach him.
12. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully, foot by foot, from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are ready, in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more, and all will be over. The blade is worn to the last halfinch. The boy's head reels; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart; his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last faint gash he makes, his knife, his faithful knife, falls
from his little nerveless hand, and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet.
13. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is as still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his hopeless heart, and closes his eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there! one foot swings off! he is reeling-trembling—toppling-over into eternity!
14. Hark! a shout falls on his ear from above. The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought the noosed rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint, convulsive effort, the swooning boy drops his arms into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words, God, and Mother! whispered on his lips, just loud enough to be heard in heaven—the tightening rope lifts him out of this last shallow niche.
13. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful abyss; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him up in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitude, such shouting—such leaping and weeping for joy-never greeted the ear of a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.
A WORD IN KINDNESS.
1. A LITTLE word in kindness spoken,
A motion or a tear,
And made a friend sincere.