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THE NATURAL BRIDGE.

heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife, he cuts another niche, and another foot is added to th: 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 economises his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts. How every 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.

The sun is half-way down in 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 rock, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction to get from this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is in his bosom ; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shout of hundreds perched upon cliffs and trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands upon the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty more gains must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully, foot by foot, under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more, and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half-inch. 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 flint-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. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet the devoted boy lifts his devoted heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there ! one foot swings off ! he is reeling-trembling-toppling over into eternity! Hark! a shout falls on his ears 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 arm into the noose. Darkness comes over

CLERICAL WIT.

173

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 his last shallow niche. 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, and such leaping and weeping for joy never greeted a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.

Elihu Burritt.

CLERICAL WIT.

A PARSON, who a missionary had been,
And hardships and privations oft had seen,
While wandering far on lone and desert strands,
A weary traveller in benighted lands,
Would often picture to his little flock
The terrors of the gibbet and the block :
How martyrs suffered in the ancient times,
Anu what men suffer now in other climes.
And though his words were eloquent and deep,
His hearers oft indulged themselves in sleep.
He marked with sorrow each unconscious nod,
Within the portals of the house of God;
And once this new expedient thought he'd take
In his discourse, to keep the rogues awake.
Said he, “Whilst travelling in a distant state,
I witness'd scenes which I will here relate :
'Twas in a deep, uncultivated wild,
Where noontide glory scarcely ever smiled ;
Where wolves in hours of midnight darkness howl'd ;
Where bears frequented, and where panthers prowld;
And, on my word, mosquitoes there were found,
Many of which, I think, would weigh a pound !
More fierce and ravenous than the hungry shark-
They oft were known to climb the trees and bark !
The audience seem'd taken by surprise-
All started up and rubb’d their wondering eyes.

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At such a tale they all were much amazed ;
Each drooping lid was in an instant raised ;
And, we must say, in keeping heads ercct,
It had its destined and desired effect.
But tales like this credulity appallid.
Next day, the deacons on the pastor call’d,
And begged to know how he could ever tell
The foolish falsehoods from his lips that fell.
“Why, sir,” said one, “think what a monstrous weight,
Were they as large as you were pleased to state !
You said they'd weigh a pound ! It can't be true.
We'll not believe it, though 'tis told by you !”
“Ah, but it is !” the parson quick replied,
“In what I stated you may well confide :
Many, I said, sir ; and the story's good-
Indeed, I think that many of them would !”
The deacon saw at once that he was caught,
Yet deem'd himself relieved, on second thought.
“ But then the barking—think of that, good man!
Such monstrous lies ! Explain it if you can!”
“Why that, my friend, I can explain with ease-
They climbed the bark, sir, when they climbed the trees !

Anon,

THE BELLS.

HEAR the sledges with the bells

Silver bells !
What a world of merriment their melody foretells !
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night !
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding bells

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Golden bells !
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells ;

Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight !
From the molten golden notes,

And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon !
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells !

How it swells !

How it dwells
On the Future ! how it tells

Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells !
Hear the loud alarum bells

Brazen beils !
What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells !

In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavour,

Now-now to sit or never
By the side of the pale-faced moon.

Oh the bells, bells, bells,
What a tale their terror tells

Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!

What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air.

Yet the ear it fully knows,

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By the twanging,

And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling,

And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells;

Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells, bells,
In the clamour and the clangour of the bells .
Hear the tolling of the bells

Iron bells !
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels

In the silence of the night;

How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!

For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats

Is a groan.

And the people—ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,

All alone.
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone--
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-

They are Ghouls ;
And their king it is who tolls ;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

Rolls
A

pæan from the bells !
And his merry bosom swells

With the pæan of the bells !
And he dances, and he yells ;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells

Of the bells :

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