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THE LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM.

187

Scaffolding, ropes, ladders, workmen ascending and descending, mar the beauty of the building ; but by-and-bye, when the hosts who have laboured shall come up over a thousand battlefields waving with bright grain, never again to be crushed in the distillery ; through vineyards, under trellised vines, with grapes hanging in all their purple glory, never again to be pressed into that which can debase and degrade mankind; when they shall come through orchards, under trees hanging thick with golden, pulpy fruit, never to be turned into that which can injure and debase ; when they shall come up to the last distillery and destroy it; to the last stream of liquid death and dry it up; to the last weeping wife and wipe her tears gently away ; to the last little child, and lift him up to stand where God meant that man should stand ; to the last drunkard, and nerve him to burst the burning fetters and make a glorious accompaniment to the song of freedom by the clanking of his broken chains—then, ah ! then will the copestone be set upon it, the scaffolding will fall with a crash, and the building will start in its wondrous beauty before an astonished world. The last poor drunkard shall go into it and find a refuge there. Loud shouts of rejoicing shall be heard, and there shall be joy in heaven, when the triumphs of a great enterprise shall usher in the days of the triumphs of the cross of Christ. I believe it; on my soul, I believe it. Will you help us ? That is the question. We leave it with you. Good night.

J. B. Gough

THE LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM,

THERE was a man,
A Roman soldier, for some daring deed
That trespassed on the laws, in dungeon low
Chained down. His was a noble spirit, rough,
But generous, and brave, and kind
He had a son, 'twas a rosy boy,
A little, faithful copy of his sire
In face and gesture. In her pangs she died
That gave him birth ; and ever since the child
Had been his father's solace and his care.

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THE LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM.

Every sport
The father shared and heightened. But at length
The rigorous law had grasped him, and condemned
To fetters and to darkness.

The captive's lot
He felt in all its bitterness; the walls
Of his deep dungeon answered many a sigh
And heart-heaved groan. His tale was known, and touched
His gaoler with compassion; and the boy
Thenceforth a frequent visitor, beguiled
His father's lingering hours, and brought a balm
With his loved presence that in every wound
Dropt healing. But in this terrific hour
He was a poisoned arrow in the breast
Where he had been a cure.

With earliest morn
Of that first day of darkness and amaze
He came.
The iron door was closed

for them Never to open more! The day, the night, Dragged slowly by ; nor did they know

the fate
Impending o'er the city. Well they heard
The pent-up thunders in the earth beneath,
And felt its giddy rocking; and the air
Grew hot at length, and thick ; but in his straw
The boy was sleeping, and the father hoped
The earthquake might pass by ; nor would he wake
From his sound rest the unfearing child, nor tell
The dangers of their state. On his low couch
The fettered soldier sunk, and with deep awe
Listened the fearful sounds; with upturned eye
To the great gods he breathed a prayer ; then strove
To calm himself, and lose in sleep awhile
His useless terrors. But he could not sleep :
His body burned with feverish heat; his chains
Clanked loud although he moved not; deep in earth
Groaned unimaginable thunders; sounds,
Fearful and ominous, arose and died
Like the sad moanings of November's wind
In the blank midnight. Deepest horror chilled
His blood that burned before ; cold clammy sweats
Came o'er him ; then anon a fiery thrill
Shot through his veins. Now on his couch he shrunk

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THE LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM.

189

And shivered as in fear; now upright leaped,
As though he heard the battle trumpet sound,
And long'd to cope with death.

He slept at last
A troubled, dreamy sleep. Well had he slept
Never to waken more ! His hours are few,
But terrible his agony.

Soon the storm
Burst forth : the lightnings glanced, the air
Shook with the thunders. They awoke—they sprung,
Amazed, upon their feet. The dungeon glowed
A moment as in sunshine, and was dark.
Again a flood of white flame fills the cell,
Dying away upon the dazzled eye
In darkening, quivering tints, as stunning sound
Dies throbbing, ringing in the ear. Silence,
And blackest darkness. With intensest awe
The soldier's frame was filled ; and many a thought
Of strange foreboding hurried through his mind,
As underneath he felt the fevered earth
Jarring and lifting, and the massive walls
Heard harshly grate and strain ; yet knew he not,
While evils undefined and yet to come
Glanced through his thoughts, what deep and cureless

wound
Fate had already given. Where, man of woe !
Where, wretched father ! is thy boy? Thou callest
His name in vain--he cannot answer thee.

Loudly the father called upon his child :
No voice replied. Trembling and anxiously
He searched their couch of straw ; with headlong haste
Trod round his stinted limits, and, low bent,
Groped darkling on the earth. No child was there.
Again he called-again at farthest stretch
Of his accursed fetters—till the blood
Seemed bursting from his ears, and from his eyes
Fire flashed. He strained, with arm extended far
And fingers widely spread, greedy to touch
Though but his idol's garments. Useless toil !
Yet still renewed : still round and round he goes,
And strains and snatches, and, with dreadful cries,
Calls on his boy. Mad frenzy fires him now:

!

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THE LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM,

He plants against the wall his feet; his chain
Grasps ; tugs with giant strength to force away
The deep-driven staple ; yells and shrieks with rage ;
And, like a desert lion in the snare
Raging to break his toils, to and fro bounds.
But see ! the ground is opening—a blue light
Mounts, gently waving-noiseless, thin and cold
It seems, and, like a rainbow tint, not flame;
But by its lustre, on the earth outstretched,
Behold the lifeless child !-his dress singed,
And over his serene face a dark line
Points out the lightning's track.

The father saw,
And all his fury fled ; a dead calm fell
That instant on him ; speechless, fixed he stood,
And with a look that never wandered, gazed
Intensely on the corse. Those laughing eyes
Were not yet closed, and round those pouting lips
The wonted smile returned.

Silent and pale
The father stands—no tear is in his eye :
The thunders bellow, but he hears them not ;
The ground lifts like a sea—he knows it not;
The strong walls grind and gape ; the vaulted room
Takes shapes like bubble tossing in the wind.
Soe! he looks up and smiles ; for death to him
Is happiness. Yet, could one last embrace
Be given, 'twere still a sweeter thing to die.

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It will be given. Look ! how the rolling ground, At every swell, nearer and still more near ISOT Moves towards the father's outstretched arm his boy: Once he has touched his garment. How his eye Lightens with love, and hope, and anxious fears ! Ha! see ! he has him now! he clasps him round Kisses his face-puts back the curling locks hadeal That shaded his fine brow_looks in his eyes-ognit Grasps in his own those little dimpled hands ndiyo Then folds him to his breast, as he was wont line To lie when sleeping; and, resigned, awaits that Undreaded death.

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And death came soon and swift, And pangless.

The huge pile sunk down at once Into the opening earth. Walls—arches-roofAnd deep foundation stones—all mingling, féll !

Atherstone.

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ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and

weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten loreWhile I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a

tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber

door “ 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, " tapping at my chamber door

Only this, and nothing more." Ah ! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon

the floor ; Eagerly I wished the morrow ; vainly I had sought to

borrow From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the lost

LenoreFor the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore

Nameless here for evermore. And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple

curtain Thrilled me_filled me with fantastic terrors never felt

before ; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood

repeating “ 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber

doorSome late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door:

This it is, and nothing more.”

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